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Thread: russian bee

  1. #1
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    Hi I have been reading these forums for several months now and have really enjoyed them. I do have a question that has really confused me. I have seen russian bees described as both caucasion and as carnolian. Can someone please clear this up for me.

    ------------------
    Thank You

  2. #2
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    He Genecot,

    They are neither. The bees behave very differently and look completely different. They are a taller and more slender bee. They have been classified more closely to the Macedonian bee than anything else.

    Few people want to spend $500 for a 'pure' queen so most Russian field queens can be a mixture of Russian and American mutts.

    Regards
    Dennis

  3. #3

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    Most of my Russian beekeeping experience has spanned the 1500 miles between the Caucasus mountains in the west (Europe) and the Ural mountains in the east (Asia). Based on personal comments from the head of the Sverdlovsk Oblast (state) apairy inspector, the main bee imported into the Primorsky Kry region (via the trans-Siberia railroad, mentioned in the link below, mostly during the 1920's) were of the Apis mellifera Caucasian race.
    http://msa.ars.usda.gov/la/btn/hbb/rus/Russia1.htm

    Dennis, I would be interested in reading your source material that says the Macedonian bee was the main honeybee transported east. This is a bee from Greece and the Carpathian mountains just north of Greece (on the WEST side of the Black Sea) - I'm finding it difficult to believe that someone advanced this idea - thus I'd like to read the original source material for this idea.

    The Varroa resistant races of A. mellifera which developed over the course of the last century were brought to the Primorsky region by man (not via natural migration). It is this progeny that the USDA captured and brought to America. And while I'm quite sure there are some physical variations, I can't say that I've seen a "completely different" look about them.

  4. #4
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    I seem to recall reading the Macedonian concept in one of B. Adams works.

  5. #5

    Sad

    Hummm... I'll have to look into that. I'm fairly familiar with Br. Adam's work (the last time I met him was admittedly in 1992, so it's been quite some time ago). And I believe he died in 1996. So this comment must have been made at least a couple of years before the USDA began their "Russian Bee Program"! As far as I know, I don't believe that Br. Adam was looking into what kind of Varroa resistant bees existed in eastern Russia. In fact, for the last several years of his life, he wasn't doing much research of any kind (his health just didn't permit it).

  6. #6
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    Hi Guys,

    The info was published in one of this years bee mags. I think Dr. Ridner did the work. I will get back with the details.

    An interesting post on Bee-L from a Russian quoted Russian literature on the matter. Stock also transported east included Apis M. M. and some of it's varients. I think the yellower lines could have been Macedonian. I research that also and get back with the details.

    The behavior of the Russians I've used was very different from the Caucasians I'v erun in the US, especially regarding queen rearing. One amazing aspect I've never seen is how easily they will draw out a hundred viable emergency queen cells and fill them with eggs using a laying worker(theletoky).

    Regards
    Dennis

  7. #7
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    Hi TxBeeGuy and Everyone,

    I've found a little from the Russian beekeeper concerning Primorsky bees in Russia. It's quoted below:

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    From: Viacheslav Sheveliov (slavash@aha.ru)
    Subject: Re: Russian bees
    Newsgroups: sci.agriculture.beekeeping
    View: Complete Thread (19 articles) | Original Format
    Date: 2001-12-11 13:18:37 PST


    Hi!
    Sorry for delayed response, I have many work.

    Adam Finkelstein <adamf@panix3.panix.com.null> ÐÉÛÅÔ ×
    ÓÏÏÂÝÅÎÉÉ:9ur3rs$9mq$1@panix3.panix.com.. .
    > In article <9uoorp$1rfo$1@storm.comstar.ru>,
    > Viacheslav Sheveliov <slavash@mail.ru> wrote:
    > >Russian bee and lesser - Italian and Korean bees. Actually, this bee strain
    > >is very heterogeneous.
    >
    > Most bee strains are. Bees are selected by man. Most honey bees
    > are synanthropic--meaning they have changed over time due to direct
    > interaction or association with humans.

    May be, but Far Eastern bees was not included in state program of bee zoning
    in Soviet times, so no breeding work have been done and was no breeding
    apiaries offering genuine Far Eastern bees/queens. According to state zoning
    program, central Russian strain was designed for Far East. Still there are
    discussions about origin of Far Eastern bees. Most researchers agreed that
    they are originated mostly from Ukrainian bees (Apis mellifera acervorum).
    In Primorsky region in mid 19-th century was settled with many Ukrainians,
    and still there are areas in Primorsky region populated mostly with
    Ukrainians. So, among Far Eastern bees there are families most relative to
    Ukrainian bees and ones relative to Russian bees (Apis mellifera mellifera).
    Russian bees are very aggressive, Ukrainian are less, so bees described by
    Steve seems are more relative to Russian bees or they are pure central
    Russian bees.

    OK, I stop my amateur reasoning and give citation from serious book (sorry
    for my terrible English)

    ==============================
    Bilash G.D., Krivtsov N.I. Breeding of honey bees. - Moscow, Agropromizdat,
    1991 - 304 pp. ISBN 5-10-001701-5

    Pages 83-85
    -----------------

    Far Eastern Bees. Those bees can and should be classified as primitive
    strain, however officially they are not accepted as a strain, despite there
    are no any serious reason against such decision. They populate territory of
    Chitinsky, Amursky, Khabarovsky and Primorsky regions, where Far Eastern bee
    formed as primitive strain from the end of 19-th century till present times
    as result of excursive crosses of bees introduced by frontiersmen mostly of
    Ukrainian strain, less - central Russian strain, lesser - yellow and gray
    Caucasian strain and much lesser - Italian strain, and also as result of
    natural and artificial selection. As result of heterogeneous origin Far
    Eastern bees differ from other strains by greater amplitude of variability,
    however according main characteristics quite answer to conditions of
    primitive strain (array of specific features, their stabile inheritance from
    generation to generation, great number of families, which exclude
    probability of relative crosses in big scale and so on).

    V.V. Stasevich (1913), known specialist of Far Eastern bee-keeping,
    considered that Far Eastern bees are product of successful combination of
    central Russian and Ukrainian bees in conditions of Primorsky region.

    V. Grudnov (1913) reported, that in Amursky region settlers introduced
    central Russian bees from Altay, from Perm and Voronezh regions, Ukrainian
    bees - from Poltava region, and Caucasian bees (most probably, yellow
    ones) - from northern Caucasus. Caucasian bees badly hibernated here, they
    was very swarmed (up to 4 swarms, and sometimes 7-8 swarms per family during
    summer), but was outstanding by honey production.

    Prominent personality of Far Eastern bee-keeping, one of the founder of
    Dalpcheltrest G.F. Muryi denoted, that in the Far East gray Caucasian bees
    was also introduced as well as queens of Italian strain (included ones from
    Australia).

    Body of Far Eastern bees is bit smaller than body of central Russian bees.
    By coloring they divided to pure gray and with yellow stripes on first 2-3
    sternites. Size of proboscis is 6.1-6.8 mm. Weight of one day old bee is
    near 105 mg, queen not laying eggs is 180, laying eggs queen is 230 mg. Bees
    are moderately defensive (notably less defensive that central Russian bees),
    more enterprising in finding of food sources and bit sooner switch from
    worse to better nectar sources (less enterprising, than Caucasian bees).
    Inclination to honey stealing is moderate. Propolising of hives is light.
    Cell capping is different - from white through several transitional forms to
    dark. Cases of "quiet" changing or coexistence of queens are very rarely
    observed. Well resist to wax moth.

    Light honey production don't limit, but increase young production. At period
    of main honey productions bees store honey uniformly - in brood part and in
    supers.

    Far Eastern bees are good in hibernating, resistant to Nosema apis,
    toxicosis from non-floral honey _(what is right English terminology?)_,
    European foulbrood, but slightly cedes in those characteristics to central
    Russian bees, and exceed bees of southern strains. Spring development of
    families begins relatively early and proceeds intensively, however egg
    production of queens is not high (in the range of 1100-1600 eggs per day,
    rarely it is 1700-1800).

    A.P. Volosevich showed, that number of egg tubes and productivity of
    Ukrainian queens was slightly higher (6.3 and 8.4% respectively), than ones
    of Far Eastern queens. Supposedly, that decreasing of those characteristics
    of Far Eastern bees is explained by influence of Caucasian strain (both gray
    and yellow ones), which productivity remarkably low comparing to central
    Russian and Ukrainian bees. Probably, thus in Far East splits are widely
    used, without them over there almost impossible to get big bee families by
    the time of main honey production.

    Far Eastern bees quite prune to swarming, but remarkably less than central
    Russian bees. Before main honey production time up to 50% of families can be
    in swarm conditions, best way to reduce it is forming of splits. Number of
    queen cells is differ from 4 to 150, as a rule, gray bees builds less queen
    cells and less prune to swarming than yellow ones.

    Far Eastern bees are outstanding in seldom capability to very effectively
    use strong, exuberant nectar production from linden: accidents described,
    when family brings during a daytime up to 30-32 kg of nectar, and collects
    during season (together with ÏÔ×ÏÄÏË) up to 300 kg of honey. Wax
    productivity of Far Eastern bees is slightly less, than wax productivity of
    central Russian and remarkably higher than wax productivity of Caucasian
    bees.

    Based on multiannual experiments (V.S. Koptev) was established, that Far
    Eastern bees and their F1 crosses in West Siberian conditions and in
    conditions of some European regions of Russia collected more honey, than
    endogenous central Russian bees; in conditions of Adygea - more, than
    endogenous Kuban bees (S.V. Aref'ev); in Ukraine - more, than families of
    Ukrainian bees, however ceded them in quantity of young production (A.P.
    Volosevich).

    Those bees are rich heterogeneous material for further effective breeding
    for productivity and other qualities. Long ago have been raised a question
    about granting them official status of primitive strain. Origin and complex
    of characteristics, characterizing this group of bees, occupying territory
    and number of families (several hundreds of thousands), more than earnestly
    says for such decision. Motivating, according which it was not done earlier
    and which consists in argument that Far Eastern bees are nothing more than
    pure descendants of Ukrainian bees, cant stands against any critics.

    ==============================

  8. #8
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    Hi Everyone,

    I need your help. I remember an article on the classification of the Russian bees in the US. It was printed mid summer in Bee Culture. I have searched all my issues but am unable to locate the August edition.

    Anybody got an August copy of Bee Culture? Could you check it for an article on the Russian bee?

    Thanks
    Dennis

  9. #9

    Smile

    Hi Dennis,
    First off, thanks for posting the info (I had not seen that posting previously). And if you know it's the August issue of Bee Culture - that's good enough for me to look it up (thanks).
    Back to your B-Line posting. I'm not at odds with anything said there. I see mentioned predominately there, two names that kept cropping up in his posting: Ukrainian bees (which he called Apis mellifera acervorum) and Caucasian bees. While I haven't heard of A. m. acervorum, I'm guessing they must be a close relative of Caucasian. Since the Caucasus Mountains run almost up into Ukraine (just on the north side of the Black Sea), it seems logical these bees must be closely related. I've also been to Ukraine a couple of times (Kiev and Lviv) and can't honestly recall "acervorum" being mentioned (perhaps this is some problem related to translation). It may also have to do with whether the poster was ethnic Russian or Ukrainian.
    Another interesting thing mentioned in that posting was the comment about the "central Russian" bee strain and the lesser use of Italians. Both of these bees were also mentioned to me, by the Sverdlovsk Oblast inspector. He's actually located in Ekaterinburg (in the heart of where the 'central Russian' bee is located). He also made the comment that they used to use Apis m. m. (the central Russian bee) but now they much prefer the Caucasian race. I rather doubt the yellow line is from the Macedonian bee since it's range was west of both the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. More likey, the yellow line was from the small number of Italians introduced from the west. Additionally, Macedonian beekeepers did not have ready access to the trans-Siberian railway, thus making for a very difficult trip over two mountain ranges and a couple of thousand miles. [And as a side note: WHERE did that mention of Korean bee come from? - I have NEVER heard that before!]
    When the apiary inspector told me that mainly Caucasian bees were transported east into Primorsky Kry, he most likely would have been including the Ukrainian bee (if, in fact, it is a separate sub-species of A. mellifera) in that comment.
    I certainly will agree that the "Russian" bee that the USDA brought over is undoubtly a hybrid mix of several races (with Apis m. m. playing a role). That's probably why, the on the government's bee lab link (posted previously) they don't make any mention of exactly what race they think it is. But my comment about the Caucasian race being the "main" honeybee race transported east was from a native Russian bee expert (PhD) - so I'm inclined to go with his assessment as to the "core" race that makes up this bee. Just as we don't call the Buckfast honeybee an "Italian" - I don't think we can call the Russian honeybee a "Caucasian".

  10. #10
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    I remember a while back on BEE-L Bob Harrison quoted someone who had analyzed the Russians and I seem to remember the Macedonian as being dominant.Sorry for the vagueness,I cant get the bee-l search to work for some reason.

  11. #11
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    Hi Guys,

    I found it! It wasn't in my missing August Bee Culture. You can see it at:
    http://www.beeculture.com/beeculture...mar/03mar1.htm

    Some breeder queens behavior and queenless hive behavior is very Macedonian(as described by B. Adam) and not Caucasion at all. Some of the lines are very A.M.M. like as A.M.M has been described by others. I have only kept US bees.

    How I would like to travel around the world and work with other bees. My grandfather was Ukranian and was a beekeeper but I don't remember him at all. Just goes to show that beekeeping is a genetic disposition. :> )

    Regards
    Dennis

    [This message has been edited by BWrangler (edited November 12, 2003).]

  12. #12

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    Kim Flottum said:
    > Maybe I just assumed...or maybe somebody told me, that these bees were Carniolan...
    and
    > Finally, they are different from Carniolans...

    No question about that. I don’t know of any experts who have ever said they were of Carniolan race.

    > ...sent samples to Dr. Fredrick Ruttner, probably the world’s foremost authority on honey bee taxonomy.
    > ...Ruttner himself defined, characterized and named the Macedonian bee…

    While I might have respect for all PhD’s of entomology, the fact that he is the same individual who "defined, named and characterized" the Macedonian bee seems to put him in a conflict of interest with the Russian honeybee identification. In a true scientific, blind test, it appears that some other expert(s) [who don’t have a stake in the matter] should have been called in to make the identification of the Russian honeybee. Is this not perhaps, looking for what you expect to find?

    Again, several Russian experts I’ve personally talked with (some of whom, also had PhDs in entomology) indicated to me the basic nature of the USDA bees to have originated primarily with the Caucasian race of honeybees. (Certainly, as mentioned earlier, influenced by a mixture of various other races).

    Kim Flottum wrote:
    > Moreover, the location of this race of bees corresponds to some degree with the origin of the people who moved east from the central European area to colonize the far eastern part of Russia...

    I sure would like to know the basis of this comment from Kim Flottum! This is at odds with what the earlier Russian guy (Viacheslav Sheveliov) wrote on the Bee-L and is at odds with my knowledge of Russian history. As I pointed out earlier, just to access the trans-Siberian railway from this area, was a 2,000 mile trek; not to mention the other 5,000 (+ ?) miles to get to the Primorsky region. I believe Mr. Sheveliov mentioned that many Ukrainians moved east. This makes much more sense to me – they were physically much closer to the trans-Siberian railway and it is well documented that Stalin had both Ukrainians and Belo Russians sent east during the 1920’s. I don’t recall ever reading that Yugoslavs (Macedonians) had any great mass population movement to the Russian far east. I don't believe Kim Flottum is correct here.

  13. #13
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    Hello Everyone,

    I found a brief description of the Macedonian bee that could be interesting. It's taken from pag 529 of "Honey Bee Pests, Predators and Diseases:

    Apis mellifera macdonica Ruttner

    This recently named subspecies occures in parts of Ukraine, the former Yougoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, and northern Greece. Behavioral and apicultural attributes include low defensive tendency, little inclination to swarm, reduction in brood rearing in the fall, good overwintering abilities, and high use of propolis. Morphologically, A.m. macedonica differs from the nearby A. m. carnica by having a smaller dody, longer legs, longer proboscis, higher cubital index, and more yellow pigmentation.


    Best Regards
    Dennis

  14. #14
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    Sounds like a nice breed of bees!

  15. #15
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    Wink

    Thanks for all the replies. The discussion was very intersting. Txbeeguy in one of your earlier posts you stated that you were keeping caucasions. Is this because you went to Russians because of mites? or were you already keeping caucasions? I find the fact you are keeping caucasions interesting, because everything I have read seems to suggest that darker bees are more adapted to colder regions, Since I am,(by Texas standards) a close neighbor could you expand on why you beleive these bees have done well for you? and why is the common belief that they are'nt suited for an area such as ours not true

    ------------------
    Thank You

  16. #16

    Big Grin

    genecot:
    To answer your question, yes, my primary motivation in going to Caucasians and Russians is for the {hopefully} potential Varroa mite resistance - only time will tell if this is truly beneficial. A good quality supplier of Caucasians is Bolling Bees (in the state of Georgia). But let me be clear here, this particuliar supplier of Caucasian queens may not make any claims as to mite resistance - I don't know, I haven't ever personally used him - my Caucasians came from a slightly different "Georgian" source. I have a lady beekeeper friend a few miles away who has always used Caucasians from Bolling and I've worked her bees several times over the years. Her honey harvests have always out performed mine even when I had Buckfast in the early days. And since I've worked her bees with her, I can atest to their gentleness.
    Now, you also asked about the commonly written statements about dark bees and colder climates. First of all, the Caucasus Mountains are an old mountain chain (more-or-less equalivant to our Applichain Mts) and the original home range of the Caucasian honeybees is approximately the nation of Georgia which is about the same latitude of Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania (...well, you get the drift). And just as the Italian race (again, from roughly the same latitude) does well from McAllen to North Dakota, I don't see that the Caucasian race is any the worse for wear either. As to the "why" these types of comments are written, I can only say some writer throws out an idea, it "sounds" logical and so it gets repeated with evermore viger (without the benefit of a scientific study to prove it one way or the other - but it sures "sounds logical" and more and more people see it in print so it must be true!).
    And lastly, I'm not sure what I think about the idea that any small grouping of honeybees can readily adapt to their immediate geographical surroundings (at least within a few hundred generations). Certainly, long term, they do - the fact that we have different races of honeybees is proof of that fact. But for someone to say they have raised bees in their single lifetime that are adapted to a certain geographic environment is a concept I'm just not sure I "buy into". Even the potential Varroa resistance of the Russian honeybees have taken almost a 100 years to develop just one trait to the point where it has become noticeable to humans (maybe).
    So far, my [Texas-located] Caucasians are doing well producing honey and I haven't medicated for Varroa in over four years.
    I have, however, had to use Apistan on my Italian collected swarms in this same time period.

  17. #17
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    seems alot of beekeepers consider if the latitude is similar to the home environment of the race of bees in question,but i think there are also alot of other enviromental factors to consider,such as altitude,jet streams/winds,humidity.i think these things and others also play roles in how these bees evolved,and also how well they will do in your neighborhood.

  18. #18

    Big Grin

    hoosierhiver,
    I don't disagree with your comment; that's one reason I mentioned a variety of U.S. states that lay along roughly the same latitude and have dissimilar climates (like Nevada and Pennsylvania, as an example). I also believe you have to consider temperature means and extremes, average humidity during the various seasons of the year, etc., etc.
    It's one reason I'm skeptical of any writers that make generalized comments like, "for the past xx years I've raised bees that are adapted only to my region". The fact that weather changes so radically, so quickly and climate changes from year to year (some mild winters / some severe winters) I have strong doubts that honeybee genetics can be adapted that quickly with just selective breeding (perhaps it's possible if the genetics are intensely manipulated like Br. Adam did - but not for your average backyard queen breeder).
    It's also the problem with the original comment that genecot was asking about. Comments that he (and the rest of us) have read that basically state, "dark bees equal bees adapted to cold climates" with the implication that dark bees won't work well in warmer climates. I have witnessed (first hand) for more than ten years a consistently high performance out of Bolling Caucasians, here at a north Texas location and I also know that Texas and Georgia climate is not similar to the climate of the Caucasus Mountains. If I had to guess which of our states would have a climate more similar to the nation of Georgia, my guess would probably be Pennsylvania and the southern New York region. So this logic would have you believe that Caucasians would be wonderfully adapted to work in PA or NY and not so good in the hotter climate of Texas - and this is something I just haven't experienced. For me, based on my experience, this generalized notion is debunked. I will admit that it's possible that making a judgment based on only one breeder's (Bolling Bees) line of Caucasians may not be representative of the entire race. But so far, like I mentioned earlier, my Caucasians are doing fine (and they are not from Bolling).

  19. #19
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    Hi Everyone,

    Brother Adam brought back a bee from a Mediteranian island. That bee, when placed in a cold climate, had a variety of excellent attributes for dealing with the winter which it didn't experience in its native range.

    I think the honeybees ability to adapt to very diverse invironments is the result of a wide range of instincts inherent in all honeybees and not so much the result of a lucky line of natural selection. When behavior between different races of bees is compared, a broad overlap occures. They have more in common than that which is different. Sometimes there is more variation in behavior between individuals in the same race than there is between races.

    And the bees don't attempt to maintain 'pure' lines but outcross at every opportunity. This results in broad areas of interbreeding between native populations.

    I've long since given up on using bee color as an indicator of bee behavior with our American mutts. And it seems that when reading about bees in their native range, colors aren't so pure either. They often include a range from dark to lighter.

    For every race that is black most of the time, a leather brown/yellow race can be found in the same kind of climate somewhere else.

    Some Thoughts
    Dennis


  20. #20

    Smile

    Well stated Dennis.

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