On May the 18th I purchased a five frame Russian nuc, it was loaded with bees. The following day I introduced them to their new home which was a standard size brood box. Six days later I opened the hive to check its condition, everything was great lots of eggs, brood etc. And I was able to find the queen she was very, very large dark almost black. For the next 4 weeks I tried not to disturb them to much, lifting the cover to see that they were drawing out more comb etc. However one of my Italian hives(they preferred a nearby hollow walnut tree) swarmed and made me panic so I suited up yesterday June 25 and went through all 3 of my hives frame by frame to check for swarm cells etc. While checking the Russian hive I was pleased to see that all looked great, no queen cells of any sort, brood, eggs, drawn comb. However when I found the queen I was shocked to see that I no longer had a beautiful dark Russian, I now had a slightly smaller lovely yellow(obviously productive) Italian queen. With no sign of old supercedure cells how did this happen. The hive has been active growing and appeared normal throughout this 38 day period.
My first guess would be that they raised a queen eventhough you didnt see any cell sign. As you mentioned, you hadnt been in the colony much and they could have easily torn down a couple of cells and just left cups at this point.
Classic swarm cells on the bottom of the frames are easy to see but it is also easy to miss actual cells on the face of a comb especially if it is covered with bees. You would be surprised how many cells can hide right under your nose. Sometime when you have a chance shake the bees off a frame that has emergency/supercedure or swarm cells on it. You might be surprised to see more cells mysteriously appear where you saw only bees before.
The second possiblity is that a new queen returning from her mating flight got lost and ended up in the Russian colony and the Russian was lost. If you have your colonies close to one another and another colony swarmed this is a possibility.......maybe the Italian offspring simply got lost on the way home. Queens are fairly suspectible to drifting. They end up in the wrong mating nucs all the time.
All of my Russian queens are brown and indistiguishable from an Italian. My guess is it's a supercedure although all the other senerio's are also possible.
The first Russians released were a dark bee. The newer releases have some lighter colored bees in some of the lines.
My Russians are a yellow bee. They are much more docile than the earlier releases although they still have those unique patrolling and defensive characteristics of the earlier lines.
One of those characteristics is the maintenance of emergency queen cells. They resemble mature supercedure cells but the queen will not be superceded unless she skips a beat then instant supercedure.
I'll bet that's what happened. Look at her offspring. Outcrossed Russians still have the same type of legs and abdominal connects as the Russian parent. Very distinctive.
>One of those characteristics is the maintenance of emergency queen cells. They resemble mature supercedure cells but the queen will not be superceded unless she skips a beat then instant supercedure.
This one I've noticed.
>My Russians are a yellow bee. They are much more docile than the earlier releases although they still have those unique patrolling and defensive characteristics of the earlier lines.
All of mine have been "yellow" or brown and have been gentle enough. What other "unique patrolling and defensive characteristics" do you see?
I went thru both my Russian breeders yesterday. Both were still there and laying which sorta surprised me.....was anticipating that they would have been superceded by now. Guess I get one or two more grafts off both.
All the workers I have noticied in both the "purple line" and "yellow line" are black with gray lines across the abdomens, drones are pretty much black and queens are deep dark brown.
A cold front moved thru earlier and they were rather irritated. I had spent the morning making nucs in the rain and it didnt even compare to trying to pull a frame from them for grafting. They could be alot worse though so I wont complain. Instead, I'll continue to complain about the horrible swarming tendency which I have experienced so far in their daughters!
Only having started keeping bees I don't have a lot of comparison to draw from but I did notice a big difference between the way my Italians and this 1 Russian hive defended their hives. The Russian hive would patrol vigouously. Guards would often tackle incoming bees in the air whether they were robbers or not. I watched one instance of a single quard bee in his quest to get rid of a jumping spider that had already caught one bee. The spider was rather large but this bee would cirle the hive not just the entrance and when the spider would peek out from under the hive the quard would attack, I watched for about 15 mins as time after time the two would tumble to the grass break up and try again. This same hive though has proven to be very gentle when being worked. Heck my wife hit the hive with the riding mower which turned it sideways, she got off the mower straightened up the hive and never got stung.
Attack the predators and leave the humans alone. Sounds good to me.
Hello Michael and Everyone,
>What other "unique patrolling and defensive characteristics" do you see?
The bees have a very keen sense of smell and will routinely investigate any change in the area around their hives (25yards). Most bees focus on the hive entrance and odor as they get closer to the hive.
Anything moving in the patroled area will be head butted by the bee. The first releases were especially bad with head butting up to 75 yards from the hives.
They will buzz run the hair. This resembles an attack from a stinging bee that gets entangled in the hair but without the sting. The bee will burrow through the hair while buzzing furiously. Free itself and repeat the operation without stinging.
Some of the initial releases would bite and pull at the hair without stinging.
I like to sit in the beeyard and watch the bees. When I realized the bees wouldn't sting I would just laugh at the behavior.
But the bees got the last laugh as this defense is amazingly annoying after a time and I would always leave.
Working the Russian hives is very unpredicatable. One time no trouble, the next time lots of trouble. They are very easily controlled with smoke regardless. I would not mess with a Russian hive now without a smoker going.