The Italian bee breed survived the ice age and is genetically very different from other species. It adapts perfectly to different climatic conditions, including temperate and subtropical climates (except for humid regions).
Depending on the habitat, Italian bees come in golden and gray colors. Several yellow or brown stripes are visible on the belly.
The individuals of this breed are smaller and have a long proboscis to collect nectar and pollen. This feature allows Italian bees to penetrate into inaccessible places and collect honey, for example, from clover flowers.
The weight of the uterus on average reaches about 210 mg. The body itself is flattened, and the hairs are much shorter when compared with the Central Russian ordinary bee.
During the selection, American-Italian bees changed their appearance. Breeders increased yellowness on tergites, and this has become a distinctive characteristic. Therefore, in the Italian part, the bee has a yellow color on the first three tergites (three-lane Italian), while the fourth and fifth tergites (golden Italian) will be clearly visible in American individuals.
In this video you can clearly see what the Italian breed of bees is and make sure of its productivity after a month of work:
Insects are famous for their high level of productivity, as well as the ability to instantly switch to a new honey plant. Bees are not adapted for early collection, so activity begins only in July.
The uterus is capable of laying from 2300 to 2500 eggs per day. The breeding season begins in early spring and lasts until late autumn.
How experienced beekeepers plant a clean Italian uterus in the family, you will see in this video:
Honey Harvest Features
Bees show high productivity, especially in the middle and at the end of the season. In conditions of not very strong honey collection, they can bring up to 30 kg of honey per family. Insects are highly entrepreneurial in their search for new food sources. Perhaps that is why they are prone to theft and assault on other families.
After collecting honey, the bees stack it in the upper case. When it is full, they print it with a mixed gray or white wet print. During the working process, insects secrete a lot of wax, which makes it easy to rebuild honeycombs that look neat and beautiful.
Bees can easily settle in a neighboring hive, since they do not own a good orientation. They find their home using a color palette. Beekeepers also need to know that shuffling or transporting hives is impossible, since insects do not tolerate this kind of stress and can die.
Bees are distinguished by their humility and hard work. They start working in the morning and finish later than everyone else. Sometimes you can observe affection for individual favorite types of flowers.
But remember that when it is cold outside, it pours rain or other adverse conditions are present, the bees refuse to work and wait until the weather improves.
Features of behavior and breeding zones
The main feature of Italian bees is a thirst for theft. After a strong family is formed, it begins to rob weak nests that are close in the neighborhood. But, despite this habit, insects are quite peaceful and allow beekeepers to easily examine hives.
The birthplace of bees is considered Italy (Apennine Peninsula). From this place they spread widely to many continents, including Canada, the USA, Japan, Australia and other countries. The breed is especially popular in the United States, where it was best bred in nurseries.
One of the first who received the Italians and began to study them was E. Grechina. Actions took place in 1897 in Vyborg and Pskov.
The Italian breed of bees is very popular in the USA. According to historical data, they got there in 1859 and soon replaced almost all types of dark European bees from the continent. The name of the species was invented by the then-famous British beekeeper Thomas Wade Woodbury.
Since the habitat climate was warm and the summers dry, their breeding in the northern latitudes with harsh winters and cold lingering spring presents significant difficulties, and the honey collection process will not be so active.
Threat of extinction
The Federation of Italian Beekeepers has reason to believe that Italian bees are in danger and may disappear. Despite this statement, the breed successfully continues to breed and spread around the world. The only nuance is that the number of individuals born does not exceed the number of deaths.
Among the main reasons that may be associated with the threat of extinction are chemical processing of flowers and unscrupulous care in apiaries.
How to contain Italians?
The beekeeper needs to know what to do to maximize the comfort of the Italian breed.
The main food of individuals who are older than 10-12 days are carbohydrates in honey. Proteins and fats are brood and bee-fed from pollen.
On average, the feed supply for the Italian bee breed in the autumn-winter period should be at least 2 kg of honey per 200 g of bees. In general, a normal family consumes about 80-100 kg of honey and 20 kg of pollen.
The calculations provided are taken from the average data.
One of the disadvantages of the Italian breed is considered low frost resistance. This is due to the place of origin, therefore, in such a difficult period, the beekeeper should insulate the dwelling of insects as much as possible and stock up with enough food to feed them.
Remember that a harsh winter can ruin a whole family of bees.
During colds, insects are best fed with honey and pollen. Please note that it is not recommended to give them honeydew, as it can cause intestinal problems and lead to diarrhea. This will weaken the bees, shorten their lifespan, and may even lead to the extinction of the whole family.
Like any living organism, the Italian can undergo various diseases. Some of them are not very scary, while others, on the contrary, are deadly.
The most common diseases of Italian bees are:
- bagged brood;
Italian insects do not tolerate wax moth caterpillars, but are resistant to European decay. This is due to the fact that they have a highly developed instinct for cleansing their nests.
The loyalty of the Italian bee breed is average. In adverse conditions, the figure can reach 30% of the apiary. But with the onset of the period of honey collection, insects come out of this state.
Provided that the nest has a lot of room for family development, insects do without swarming.
Secrets of keeping bees: the experience of beekeepers
Here are a few secrets that will help novice beekeepers:
- Get a hive with any hull frame, because insects will carry honey up. On average, one family occupies about 40 frames of Dadan (300 mm), some may even reach 50.
- The uterus will not climb and pass through the wax. For example, if you take layering in the amount of 4-5 frames and give 2 frames with a wax, the uterus will be clamped on 1-2 frames, although there will be free cells on the sides (through the wax).
- Bees perfectly repair honeycombs in the upper cases. The lower hulls will always remain with the brood, even with a strong bribe. Between honey and nest cases it is recommended to place gratings.
- The basic rules of wintering are feeding with sugar syrup and a categorical ban on the withdrawal of late queens. Otherwise, there is a 50% chance that they will worm before the start of spring.
- Strong enough bees polis nest. This phenomenon is especially active in autumn.
- Individuals are very tenacious on the frame, so when pumping it will be necessary to work well with a brush or blow it off with air. As an option, use bee removal, for example, Quebec.
- The hot period of the year is not scary for Italian bees. Very effective in late bribes and sunflowers.
Pros and cons of the breed
The main advantages of Italian bees include:
- high fertility of the uterus;
- moderate loyalty;
- the ability to quickly build a strong family.
The disadvantages of this species are poor frost tolerance and high feed consumption during the winter.
Maxim, 48 years old.
I have been doing Italians for some time. I want to note that in the spring they have excellent development, but there is one “but”. Do not count on good honey collection from early bribes. Those who are going to purchase this breed of bees should know that after a bribe from acacia you are likely to come across a picture that there will be a lot of bees in the hive. Signets and brood will be darkness, and honey - zero. Keep in mind that such a hectic number of individuals will need a huge amount of feed.
Igor, 28 years old.
I am a beginner beekeeper, and on the advice of friends I acquired Italian bees. Now they live in beehives. While all is well, leaving does not take much strength. The nests are clean enough, the bees themselves do not show aggression, which made me very happy as a novice. I read that the view does not tolerate transportation, now I'm trying to find out the details of this issue.
Barbara, 42 years old.
I have been dealing with Italians for more than 10 years. I can say with confidence that the nature of these bees is very calm and friendly. Throughout the year I get an excellent supply of honey, although in the winter, these insects absorb a lot of my reserves. In principle, there were no problems, so you can safely get this breed in your apiaries. The only thing - make sure that the hives are not damp or dirty, otherwise the bees can pick up diseases that are better not to encounter.
The Italian breed of bees, like all other species, has its pros and cons. You can recognize Italian by her colorful appearance, which varies depending on the location. The productivity of these bees is very high, although it will depend on many details, including proper care and sanitation in the hives.