HIVE: Re-Direct:

17 April 2014


If you live in North America or Western Europe, when you think of a honey bee, you’re thinking of the Italian bee. All honey bees of are one species, Apis mellifera. The differences are often in the subspecies. The Italian bee is formally named apis mellifera ligustica (or “A. m. ligustica” for short). When you think of the black and lemon yellow striped honeybee, again, you’re thinking of the Italian bee.

Brought from southern Europe to England and the United States in 1859, this bee replaced the German or Black bee that had been the favorite in those countries. After several attempts, the Italian bee was successfully introduced to Australia sometime between 1862 and 1880.

The Italian bee is less defensive and more resistant to disease than the German bee and, soon after its introduction, was exclusively favored by beekeepers. On the down side, compared to the German bee, the Italian bee is less able to cope with extremely cold winters and wet weather in the spring.

All bees consume their own stored honey. But the Italian bee is a particularly “hungry” bee. Beekeepers must withdraw honey promptly after it is stored by these bees because it will be quickly eaten. When their honey runs low, Italian bees frequently raid other hives for the honey stores. Aside from creating social problems, this “sticky-fingered” behavior is a problem for bee keepers because it tends to spread disease more quickly from hive to hive.

Mark Grossmann of Hazelwood, Missouri

HIVE: Re-Direct:

10 April 2014


There are many types of carpenter bees (Xylocopa) all over the world. They are called “carpenter” because they build their nests by tunneling into dead wood, bamboo or the wood in buildings. They build shallow passages in the wood by vibrating their bodies as they file away at the wood with their jaws (mandibles).


In North America, there are only about 5 species of carpenters. They are sometimes mistaken for bumblebees because they have a similar size and color pattern. But the carpenter has a shiny rather than hairy abdomen like the bumblebee. Male carpenters have a white or yellow face and larger eyes than the females. Unlike most types of male bees, the carpenter male, sometimes, flies around outside the nest and even approaches animals. Only the female carpenter can sting, but members of this calm species seldom do unless they sense serious danger.


Carpenters are active and their contribution as the pollinators of open-faced flowers is significant.  A few types of carpenters are quite creative in their pollination strategies and even “rob nectar” by cutting slits in the sides of flowers to remove the pollen.


Most carpenters build nests in wood. But a few types nest in the ground. Compared to the honeybee’s hive, the carpenters’ nests are small with only a few bees to a nest.  As bees go, the carpenter is relatively solitary. But all bees are social. Even though each nest is home to only a small group of bees, carpenters often build nests in groups – giving them a kind of “neighborhood” populated with the nests of other carpenters.