The honey bee (Apis Mellifera L.) is a hymenoptera belonging to the family of apids, it is native to Africa and through France has spread throughout Europe. L'A.mellifera it is the most bred species but to the genus Apis three other species belong:
The breed most bred in Italy and mostly widespread all over the world is the ligustica, although there are others that are divided into three groups:
Within the various breeds there are also subraces and strains with different characteristics compared to other groups of the same breed, for example the American bee is a particular strain of Apis mellifera ligustica.
The breeds of greatest interest and diffusion are:
· Apis mellifera ligustica Spin.o Italian bee; it takes place of origin in northern Italy, in Liguria and Piedmont. It is a particularly hardworking, very docile breed, characterized by early, prolific queens and with a low tendency to swarm even if, on the other hand, it has a propensity to pillage and drift.
· Apis mellifera mellifera L. or black bee; originally from northeastern Europe, it is currently widespread from Spain to Siberia. It is less docile than ligustica, not very swarming, develops in late spring, it has good ability to winter in adverse weather conditions.
· Apis mellifera carnica Pollmann or Carnic Bee; originally from the Austrian Alps and the northern Balkans, present in Austria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. It has a dark color and dense grayish hair, is very docile and prolific, hibernates in adverse conditions, has no tendency to pillage and is resistant to brood diseases, but is inclined to swarm.
· Apis mellifera caucasica Gorb or Caucasian bee; originally from the Central Caucasus and now widespread in Russia, very docile with a high propolisation tendency, used to produce hybrids.
· Apis mellifera adansonii Latreille or African bee; originally from central-western Africa, very aggressive, swarming and with a high tendency to pillage.
: the result of the coupling between males and queens of other breeds, show different characteristics and often better than the parents (heterosis). This has prompted many beekeepers and queens breeders to make crossings but, if the product of the cross (1st generation hybrids) or the re-cross (2nd generation hybrids) have generated positive effects, in other cases, instead, they have led to lower results compared to the breeds of origin. In plants this does not happen because the hybrid is sown every year, while for bees this is not possible and therefore the risk of polluting the genetic heritage of native breeds, or in any case with good characteristics, is high.