I like my russians. They are gentle and disease resistant, which are my two biggest concerns. If they could draw out comb just a little better they would be ideal for a hobbiest/beginner.
Tried them,never again.Ain't worth it up here.
B. roger eagles
My experience is with similar numbers as the WineMan (actually a higher number). I never discount the observations of other beekeepers.
After four years of research on the Russian and Russian hybrid I believe certain hybrids would be the best for certain locations. Three out of around ten have met with my approval. Others have displayed in *certain hives* about all the bad traits talked about.
The problem with these hybrids is their creation. you need the Russian/Russian queen . Attempts at creating Russian hybrids using only Russian drones has met with failure for those attempting such matings I have talked to and myself.
The second problem (at least for me and another breeder) is the best hybrids I tested (but one) involve using a drone source which can not handle varroa untreated so like WineMan says the bees certainly will need treatment in the second season. Which makes the use of such a hybrid questionable.
The best hybrid I have tested has been the pure Russian/Russian queen mated to the Purvis Brothers Gold line bee drones. I prefer the Purvis Gold line bee better for several reasons but the Blue line Russian queen/Gold line drones runs a close second.
Dann Purvis & I have both considered dropping the Russians but we are close to finding a workable Russian although hybrid queens would need to be created for use in commercial beekeeping. Not hard for me as I keep many pure lines in different remote areas as dose Dann. I live in a very remote area like Dann Purvis.
Several of my friends are using thousands of hybrid Russians and are pleased. I do not know which hybrid they are using nor which queen breeder they get their queens from. From the queens brought back from Texas from Jerry Browns split making last year I suspect the hybrid was Russian/carniolan. Tim Tucker helped make the splits on Jerry Brown's thousands of hives in Texas. Jerry Brown is Richard Adee's nephew. No queens were saved but the 28 queens brought back by Tim last spring. Tim said he was amazed at the strength and traits of the hives they were splitting. He brought back 28 of the best queens from over 5,000 hives and is raising queens from those queens. They are a Russian hybrid. I am watching closely those queens.
As I have said before you can not paint the Russian bee with a broad brush. I believe in time a very likeable Russian will emerge. In Baton Rouge they are now selecting for traits other than varroa tolerance and thinking of another import.
Myself and others are considering a private import done through Australia by Terry Brown. Terry has a Russian beekeeper girlfriend which would be a big asset to finding queens ourselves in Russia.
Terry is setting up as we speak an import of Purvis Brothers queens into Australia through the Australian import system. Expensive but would give his bees the varroa tolerance to go two years and up untreated.
My article on the Australian import update and Terry Brown's (Browns Bees Australia)visit to Missouri will be in I believe the October or November American Bee Journal. Allready completed and waiting for publication.
While I realize that expensive dollar queens are not always practical, Glenn apiaries has successfully mated SMR queens to russian drones. These are very nice ladies and according to a recent USDA article, the most mite resistant queens tested in a production setting. As a bonus, the drone offspring are 100% SMR. If you're looking to blow 75 bucks, they're definitely worth a try.
I have had good luck with most Glenn apiaries II breeder queens we have bought.
One arrived dead but replaced. Two SMR queens with shotgun brood patterns. Rest were great!
SMR is simply a trait. We raised hundreds of SMR queens and open mated to several lines. We found the F1 from the SMR Glenn Apiairies II queens to be too inbred. spotty brood patterns.
Maybe others have had different results.
Another queen issue:
I got a long distance call late last night from a commercial beekeeper about a Russian/Italian cross he did. Both lines had no chalkbrood but the queens he raised are full of chalkbrood.
I said was a queen problem and sorry for his troubles as these queens headed hives headed for California almond pollination but now are worthless.
Does the list have any ideas why a Russian line and a highly respected California queen breeder Italian line (both normally free of chalkbrood) would produce a bee which is crashing from chalkbrood?
my understanding was that chalkbrood is primarily related to damp cool hive conditions. Maybe this is not correct, but I would think two weeks in the Medesto sun would clear those hive right up. Maybe the bees were lacking hygienic traits of SMR and cool weather tolerance of russians.
Can it be the combination of two recessive traits resulting in the expression of those recessive traits? Is that called homozygous recessive?
Well, I don't know what's going on with the chalkbrood, but my geuss is that many genes at different loci are involved. Sometimes F2 hybrids are needed to reveal the potential/drawbacks of a queen.
Might work down there,but won't make honey up here.Just got done 2nd pull on 17 hives,got4 1/3 barrels,still got one pull and final left.Tried russian,120 lbs at most.Like rob says,won't tolerate varroa.Had one leave hive in sept,2 years ago.
B. roger eagles
What is your strategy for varroa? What do you use for queens now and where did your Russians come from? Just curious.
Unfortunately there are almost too many variables at this time to give clear indications for a queen line/apiary/other, that has an outbreak of one particular desease(chalk) or another. If you look at the bacteria/viral issues just associated with v-mite alone, they number 17 or 18 at this time. I am sure more will follow.
Will one virus trigger another? Will the infection with one part of a desease cause the immune/defense system of a bee to break down and allow a minor desease to surface at some level normally not seen? Are there dominate/recessive traits that could be triggered when cross breeding? Does not mother nature just sometimes throw a wrench into the mix from time to time?
If you took a queen with resistance to any desease, whether t-mite, chalk or anything else, and raised 100 queens from that breeder, the following could happen. You would get a small percentage with a higher level of resistance, you would get something like 95% with the same resistance, and a small percentage with a lesser degree of resistance. Mother nature is good at making small variations. Variation, and all the fancy terms for genetic variables will be withstanding. Now, if you just happen to take that one in a hundred queen, raised from a proven resistant stock to chalk, but it now has a genetic weakness to that chalk, and breed from it, what do you have? A whole line of queens with problems with chalk.
Breeding programs have thier faults. Continual culling of the bad, and an ongoing program is needed. I am not sure any breeder could deny that an occasional good line doesn't goes bad, or a good queen going bad, etc.
Unfortunately finding a problem such as "why one line has more chalk" or other related questions, will no doubt not get answered with any definate answer.
B. roger eagles
who is your russian queen supplier?? are you happy with what you got...
Glenn Apiaries. I am very very happy, and they ALWAYS ship when they say they will. Others have told me that their hygienic strain is also worth trying. Bring a big wallet though.....