Last weekend I went through my colony of SMR, I believe that they are Russians. I had reversed them once this Spring and installed checkmite. That was seven weeks ago and it was time to remove the strips and manipulate the frames.
This colony was a package that I installed last spring. It built very slow and never filled the second broodbox. I fed it heavily and also fed it pollen patties last fall to get it into shape for the winter.
It survived the winter, as all my hives did, and I started an early feeding program. I have one brood box with Perco frames and one with wax coated plastic foundation. They are poor builders, at first I blamed the Perco, but they draw wax just as badly on the other foundation as well. They cross connect frames and will draw away from the foundation and do a freestyle inbetween the frames.
So far this year they have yet to finish the second body.
They still can't draw a good looking frame of wax.
I saw them flying more when it was cold,42 degrees, than they are now.
AND they are VERY ANGRY and down right MEAN. At this point they make my Buckfast look tame.
They are very clean, the bottom board was spotless. AND ZERO MITES.
I had put the slatted rack on upside down and they had built under two frames an area about two and a half inches by about ten inches of drone brood. I unfortunatly removed all of it and took it back for a close inspection. After inspecting about seventy five of the unfortunate little critters I found absolutely no mites.
Would I go out and buy them again? No.
But I can see why they show promise. My plans for them is to not treat them anymore and see what their survivability is. I don't think that having the drones around will hurt, it may be a benifit.
I have installed a box of Permacomb above the two brood boxes. I figure if they can not draw wax, maybe they need a little help. Maybe that will change their habits, I'll keep you informed.