I caught a glimpse in one of this months bee mags and saw a discussion on the russians by Charlie Harper. If you havent worked russians before, charlie should give you a good idea about them in general terms.
Charlie Harper's article is in this months (December) Bee Culture...
I got a chance to give the article a read. Think its awful good advice for those of you looking at maybe getting some Russians. Charlie is one of a handful of guys that have loads of experience working these critters.
The Russian bees not only keep emergency queen cells in the hive throughout the summer, they don't toss the drones out at the end of the year. At least not when on they are on small cell sized comb.
These 'symptoms' would indicate a failing queen in any other kind of hive. Yet, it's just normal behavior for the Russians.
Watching Russian drones flying in December
I read this article, but one question I have that it did not answer is what environmental conditions do the Russian bees do best in? Since they are inherently a cold-climate species, do they not do as well in the southern states or the Mid-atlantic, like MD where I am? What species is recommended for warmer climates? (Yes, I know, AHB, haha!)
Most of the testing on the Russian is being done in Louisiana and Iowa. I think Louisiana is far south of you. All of Russia is not a frozen Siberia either.
Most (all that I am aware of) breeds will do fine anywhere in the USA. Most variability in production and hive survivability derives from the BEEKEEPER, not from breed of bee. There is alot of variabilty in qualities within each breed also.
This wide variability is deceptive to a small beekeeper, who buys 1-2 queens of a particular breed and finds their qualities either exceptional or objectional. Buy 100 each of 3-4 different breeds in the same year, place them in a similar environment, then watch them for 2 years. When I have done this, I have not found measurable differences in honey production, survivability, temperament. While wide variability is found in each group, the average of each group is quite similar.
I understand the Caucasian Mountains to be quite different from the Appelachians; much taller, and in a very different position on its continent.
The Caucasus region is also famous for genetic diversity, in everything from wheats to plant diseases, and has been called 'a mountain of languages' for its linguistic complexity.
As Ice Ages come and go, certain regions happen to avoid associated widespread rapid and extreme climatic change, preserving their genetic diversity while most temperate areas must start again, usually from a few colonist from these genetic refugia. These areas are often mountainous; it is thought that plants, etc. can move up or down to keep in nearly the same tempurature, or around mountian ridges to keep in similar humidity/precipitation regimes, during great climate change.
Perhaps similar, but more subtle climate patterns on shorter cycles have led to the accumulation of languages, cultures and human genetic diversity in the Caucasus.
Could the Russian stocks have, in addition to Varroa mite resistance, some Vespa mandarina japonica resistance?
(I just stumbled back through web material on it, and on Apis cerana genetic resistance; I put lots of links in a new topic in 'Queens and breeding' here. The topic's best read when terror's welcome.)
I didn't know any of those bee massacuring hornets were a problem for anyone here. Are they? They remind me of the cicada killers I have around here.