Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's All About the Bees...

A few folks have asked some questions about our bees so I thought I'd take a moment to pass on some "edu-macation" as my grandfather used to say.  Our bees are quintesential beekeeper's bee--basically the bee species that most beekeepers, er, keep.  Italian bees are generally yellow with brown or black stripes. Drones and queens have large, golden abdomens.  The picture below shows an example of what our bees look like.  Cute, huh? :)

I copied this from an online beekeeping page:
The 3 Kinds of Bees in the Hive
  1. Queen - her primary duty is to lay eggs, up to 1500 a day (possibly more). She also secretes pheremones that keep the workers happy. Queen bees can live for 3-7 years.
  2. Drone - the drones only duty is to fly out and find a virgin queen from another hive to mate with. Once mated, the drone dies.
  3. Workers - as the name implies, the workers do all of the work. They are non-fertile female bees and they have a very structured life from the moment they emerge from their cocoons. Throughout their life they will be nursery bees, construction bees, storage bees, guard bees and foraging bees. They live, on average, only 20-30 days from the time they emerge from cocoon.
Italian bees (Apis mellifera ligustica)

Italian bees are by far the most common bee raised in the world. Having evolved on the moderate to semitropical Italian peninsula, Italian bees adapted to long summers and relatively mild winters. They begin their season’s brood rearing in late winter and continue producing brood until the beginning of winter or later.
Italian bees never really stop producing young, but they do slow during the shortest days of the year.

Beekeepers living in southern climates are faced with few management problems. There are nectar and pollen plants available during almost all of the bee’s active months. But Italian honey bees kept in moderate and cool regions are challenged by a shorter growing season to make and store enough food to last through the long winters.

Package producers prefer Italian honeybees because they can star the rearing process early and raise lots of bees to sell. Beekeepers who pollinate crops for a living also like this trait because they can produce populous colonies in time to pollinate early season crops. And Italian honeybees produce and store lots of honey when there is ample forage and good flying weather.

Italian honeybees are also attractive to beekeepers because they are not markedly protective of their hive. Italians are quiet on the comb when you remove and examine frames, they do not swarm excessively, and they do not produce great amounts of propolis. Italians are yellow and dark brown or black in color and have distinct yellow and dark brown or black stripes on their abdomens. The drones are mostly gold, with large golden abdomens that lack stripes. The queens are easily identified because they have a very large, orange - gold abdomen that is strikingly different from all the other bees in the colony.


  1. You're using my copyrighted image of a honey bee on your website. Please credit me or remove it.

    1. Sorry, I'm new to blogging so I'm still trying to figure out the etiquette. I'm posting your link so people know who to credit. Once again, sorry.

  2. The proper credit for the bee photo (I didn't know any better, oops) can be found at:

    I was just wanting to show everyone what our bees look like, I wasn't trying to take credit for someone else's photo. Y'all who know me know my Hubs is a photo instructor so I would never knowingly rip someone off like that.