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.
It is rather disappointing that you havent had good luck with the SMR. The behaviors which you describe sound an awful lot like those which are observed in pure SMR stock. The hope of the bee lab has been that the suppression genes would be passed along in open matings to the resulting production colonies and that these colonies would be good layers/vigorous unlike the pure SMR queens. Perhaps this daughter didnt have a good mating or maybe she is just a bad queen? It is just hard to say.
I think it could be worthwhile to keep her around for the drone source if you happen to have queens mating in the area. Maybe the next generation will carry the suppression trait while keeping a good overall colony.
The super clean bottom board is a housekeeping trait which I always like to see. I suspect it has nothing to due with SMR trait itself but that it is a behavior which existed in the original stock and has managed to be passed on to this inbreed line.
My own verdict is still out on SMR. I raised about 50 of them last July and just managed to get them thru the winter so I can't say much about them. Some starved before spring but that is simply due to when I started the nucs. Those with ample stores this spring built up middle of the road for me.....they weren't as slow as Russians but they didnt keep up with the carniolan mixes....reminded me of buckfast mixes. Those without ample stores held back until there was ample nectar/pollen which isnt necessarily a bad thing.
So far this spring they seem at least average but I havent moved any to pollination so I don't know how they would respond to that level of stress.
From an temperment standpoint, some seem peaceful and others are not but I suspect that is a function of my drones/matings.
I got to my bee yard Friday evening with two of the four nucs I bought from a local beekeeper only to find that the SMR hive had a beard of bees on it in an unbelievably huge cluster.
Sunday, noon, I went out to check on them and found them in a tree. Great. I ran to get a box and as soon as I got back, (ten minutes) they were gone. Drat.
Monday afternoon they were clustering again. Maybe I will requeen them afterall.