Italian Honey Bees
When you first start thinking about becoming a beekeeper one of the first things that you must consider is what type of bees that you want. The most readily available bees are the Italian, Carniolan, Russian, Caucasian, Minnesota Hygenic Italian, Buckfast, and Cordovan Italian. The amount of choice that you have can be a bit overwhelming at times. In the next few weeks I'm going to be writing about the pros and the cons of each one of these bees, and hopefully this information will help you when it comes time to make your decision and place your order.
The most common type of honey bee in the U.S. today is the Italian. The Italian bees were first brought to this country in 1859, and they quickly became the favored bee for a lot of beekeepers because of their gentleness and their ease to work with. These characteristics are what still makes this bee a favorite today. Italian bees are a very good choice for beginning beekeepers.
Italians start building their colony populations in early spring, and they can easily maintain a good population strength all summer long, which means that you will have a strong hive with a lot of worker bees when the honey flow starts. This strong work force and the fact that they are very good foragers makes them excellent honey producers. There is one downside to this continuous brood rearing all summer long - if you don't take off your honey supers right away after the end of the honey flow, then the surplus population of bees will move up and start consuming your honey harvest.
Italian bees can easily adapt to most climates. They are less prone to disease, they produce minimum propolis and they keep a clean hive.They are also great builders of comb, which will give you a lot of wax to sell or make into candles. They have a low tendency to swarm, but they do have a higher tendency to rob honey from the weaker hives in your yard.
They have the ability to overwinter well. Since Italians produce bees all summer long, they will have a larger cluster of bees going into the winter. You need to make sure that you leave them with enough feed to make it through the winter, especially if you live in a colder northern climate, or else they will end up starving to death.
Italian bees are also easily confused about which hive is theirs and they may drift to other hives in your yard. This is true for all types of bees - the best thing to do is to paint your hives different colors to help the bees orient themselves. It will also make your bee yard a very colorful one!
Above all, remember that beekeeping is a fascinating hobby that is meant to be learned from and enjoyed. Bees are full of many wonders no matter what type you choose, and you will find yourself eager to learn more from them and to build up the number of colonies in your yard.
This is Kimberley Lappe from Lappe's Bee Supply -
Good Luck & Happy Beekeeping!