Ligustica bee. An Italian bee (Apis mellifera ligustica) on Sweet Sweet Clover (Melilotus albus). The pollen collected in the "basket" can be clearly seen on the hind leg. Recorded in Keila, Estonia. Photo: Ivar Leidus (License:

The Italian bee ( Apis mellifera ligustica , also: Italian bee ) is a naturally occurring race (subspecies) of the western honey bee ( Apis mellifera ). It is also simply called Ligustica by the beekeepers.

The bee is native to the Italian peninsula. Their color always tends towards yellow with a variation between lemon yellow and buff brown. As a bee that originally lives there, it has excellent qualities in terms of honey collection and peacefulness. She is considered the best collector of blossom honeys, which was soon recognized by beekeepers in other parts of the world.

This breed is now the most commonly kept honey bee in the world. Even in Scandinavia and Alaska it is used successfully for beekeeping. It was never able to establish itself in Switzerland, however, unlike the Carniolan bee from Carinthia, no efforts were made to select it for local conditions.

Essential characteristics of the Italian bee according to Friedrich Ruttner:

  • Shape:
    • medium-sized
    • slim
    • long body appendages
  • Body armor color of worker bees abdomen:
    • clearly 1 – 3 rings, yellow coloration varyingly extensive:
    • Felt bandages (4th dorsal scale): broad, yellowish
    • Overcoat of the 5th dorsal scale: short