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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    830

    Default Russian management

    After reading posts about the "problems" with russian bees I'm wondering if the way they are managed needs to be adjusted?

    I read about their VSH behavior and how frugal they are and how winter hardy they. I also read about how they can plug a hive with stores, don't build up fast enough and then tend to swarm.

    I have also read how they are the gentlest bees in the beeyard and how testy they can.

    I'm wondering if trying to manage russians like italians is like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole?

    Do russians need more room in the spring/during flows? Do practices like reversing and checkerboarding help reduce swarming? Do you need to put more supers on with russians? Do russians require less feeding?

    Are there other management practices that take advantage of the positive traits of russians while reducing the negative traits?

    Tom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Munfordville, Ky. U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,245

    Default Re: Russian management

    I THINK that you are exactly right. I think that I will make sure they have plenty of empty undrawn comb in the brood nest. I'm thinking that I will have to do some extracting in the early spring. I think we need to not feed anything including pollen unless we are completely sure they have to have it. I believe that they may be great with a considerable amount of management. I think that I will put supers on early and often, with entrances at the bottom of all supers. I think that every time I am into the brood chambers I will tear down every swarm cell I can find. I know that they say that they will swarm any way, but I don't completly believe that. At least you can slow them down. I don't know if they are going to be worth all the extra work, but WE will find out next year. Now what do you think about what I'm thinking?
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Seneca, sc
    Posts
    830

    Default Re: Russian management

    Not worth the trouble.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    951

    Default Russian Mismanagement

    Quote Originally Posted by scdw43 View Post
    Not worth the trouble.
    I second that motion.
    All in favor say "Nay!"
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Phelps Co. Missouri USA
    Posts
    856

    Default Re: Russian management

    I've had Russians for five years, now interbred I'm sure, let's call them Russian mutts this year. I need to requeen next spring, with pure bred Russians again.

    I've had no more problems, swarms, meaness, or maladies then I had before when I had all European mutts for years.

    I've talked to a couple of people who have said :
    " I would not have Russians "
    asked them, " Ever have any "
    reply, " No but I talked to a guy who said he heard from a drinking buddy "

    Every one do their own thing.

    Oh, I won't down grade any ones choice of bees !

    Good luck in your decision.

    PCM

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Malabar, FL
    Posts
    1,268

    Default Re: Russian management

    As i have said many times in the past...they did not work for me, but they might work somewhere else (cooler climate, later blooms)...i speak from experience not my beer drinking buddies...we had 100 hives with Russians. I think its easiest to explain it this way....I consider several races of bees such as Italian, Cordovan, Carnis kind of "auto pilot bees"(dont get me wrong these have to be managed)....Russians I considered those 13-15 year old teenaged boys that no matter how you tried to steer them they still didnt listen and did exactly what THEY wanted to do, and they got mean.
    In a smaller operation with more time to dedicate to the Russian bees, and a cooler climate with later blooms/flows, they might do better than they did here in FL. That being said I think they do require more "managment" and a different management strategy...for me too much work with little return on investment when there are so many breeders out there breeding bees of non-Russian descent which show fantastic hygenic behavior and are a lot easier to manage.
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Russian management

    Nay!!! I third that motion!!!
    I wouldnt own Russians, way to much management for me!! "IMO"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Connersville Indiana USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Russian management

    About 10 years ago I stoped keeping Italian bees. Here in Indiana we need a bee that can servive our winters. And in our area we have trouble with mites.
    The most hives I have kept at one time is 4. But with the Italian's, I would loose one or two hives each year. And yes I treated the hives against mites.
    So now I have two russian hives. They are not that hard to manage but this fall they get a little aggresive. But I never get in a hive without being dressed and with smoke.
    Compared to replacing hives each year I don't think the [carniolians] or russian's are that much trouble. I just hope they are more mite resistant than the Italian's.
    I never got much honey from my Italian bees. But you can't get much honey from weak hives. And the russian bees seem to be very very strong.
    The russian bees may not be for everyone or for all locations, but I think breeding a more mite resistant bee in the USA is great for the pollination reguirements for the country.
    After all, Bees it our area were just about gone. And the russian bees are better than no bees at all.
    Good luck to all Jerry
    Last edited by jldoll; 11-14-2010 at 03:01 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Covington, Ga, USA
    Posts
    1,549

    Default Re: Russian management

    I Have had them for a year and they out produced the MHI's 3 to 1. They built up faster, produced more honey, and are more frugile with their stores. They are hybrids and not pure. I did have 2 swarm themselves to literal death, but, i also lost 2 italians. So far, i like the russians better.
    "You laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh at you because you are all the same."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Central Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Russian management

    I'm just noticing that a lot of the "nay's" live in warmer climates.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,379

    Default Re: Russian management

    Quote Originally Posted by bigevilgrape View Post
    I'm just noticing that a lot of the "nay's" live in warmer climates.
    Nay from the soon to be frozen north.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Phelps Co. Missouri USA
    Posts
    856

    Default Re: Russian management

    I believe most of the nay's are not from " Hobby " beekeepers !

    Several talk about shipping to the Almonds, or their many hives.
    I have seen pics. of one nay's many pallitized hives.

    Right fellows ?

    PCM

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    1,986

    Default Re: Russian management

    Not Southern (ever,) not commercial (yet.)

    I won't write them off completely yet as a hobby breed, but my two month experiment with them has not been going that well.

    As I mentioned elsewhere, I paid a good bit of money for two hives with Russian queens that came from a noted Vermont beekeeper. This was mid-September, both hives were booming with bees and the seller said both hives (three 8-frame mediums) were empty in the bottom boxes. I got them home, fed them and in about a week or so, one of them swarmed. They completely packed the hive with pollen and syrup and off they went to their doom. The swarm-cell queen never mated of course (it was October) so the hive got combined with a nuc containing a Carni queen.

    I caught the other hive in time and mucked around with it for weeks using a variety of swarm-prevention techniques to keep that one from swarming too. October in Maine is no time to have to be performing swarm-prevention.

    The remaining Russian hive, assuming it doesn't also do something stupid like swarm in the dead of winter, will get split in the spring. Since most of my hives will be in outyards, I'm going to keep the Russians here at home where I can keep a daily eye on them just to complete the experiment. I'll put some in a deep long hive and some in a new top bar hive. Since top bar hives are noted for throwing off swarms, I figure I can combine the two nuisances in one. Hopefully, over the summer I can get some value from my investment other than the experience of watching it fly away.

    There is a guy here that likes to post a quote from Kim Flottum whenever Russians are discusssed, something to the effect that Russian bees belong in every hive in the US. Yeah, right. Even for a hobbiest, these two hives were way too much of a time-suck.

    Wayne

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    940

    Default Re: Russian management

    As a beginner last year I lost both of my Italian hives and restarted this year with two three pound Russian/Carniolian packages. I installed them into the single deeps that were from from my two failed hives. They built out and filled two deeps and a medium super each. One even started a second super.
    I followed Walt McBride's checkerboarding procedure and was successful in keeping both hives intact. Maybe they did not swarm because they are first year hives and in the "establishment mode"?
    I live in the high desert 110*+ summers and freezing temps in the winter evenings (warmer days). I only had one time that they got hot enough that I closed them up and walked away for the day (I think I induced that situation). Obviously I do not have a broad base of experience to draw from but as a hobbiest I am enjoying their performance and temperament. With that said I give them a "yay" vote.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Munfordville, Ky. U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,245

    Default Re: Russian management

    For all the nays, do you like the robbing, miting, nosemaing, absconding, and other problem Italians better? If not what do you like?
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    1,986

    Default Re: Russian management

    Half my hives have Michael Palmer northern-bred mutts that appear to have quite a bit of Carniolan in them. The other half of my queens are pure Carniolans (II) that were introduced this year.

    Wayne

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Pigeon Falls, WI
    Posts
    2,527

    Default Re: Russian management

    I noticed the last few years that when I see pretty yellow bees at the entrance the chances are much higher of seeing a large population of bees and supers filled with honey. When the bees at the entrance are darker there is a higher chance of having a smaller population and empty supers. This is noticeable mid summer, late summer, and now when the bees are getting ready to be put on the semi for the trip to CA almonds. I also have those hives that are a darker bee that build up to the point that they will produce honey and they swarm. I don't requeen every hive yearly and a few(4-6) years back I know some russians were brought into these hives I have. A queen supplier that I have purchased queens from in the past has some russian stock and all queens are open mated.

    If my suspect hives do have russian lineage I wouldn't want to manage all my hives if they had those genetics. I guess my management would lead me to all entances having yellow bees since the bees are what feed me and my family.
    Leer Family Honey Farm-Shannon Leer

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Central Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Russian management

    thanks for the replies from northern beeks.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Saluda, SC
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Russian management

    I purchased two Russian nuc’s this year. I received them in April and have been very satisfied. They built up quick and I was amazed that I actually made about 60-70 pounds of fall honey (golden rod) after everyone in our beek club said it was time to take off any excess supers. They have done an outstanding job of storing honey, pollen, and they both had excellent brood pattern. They have all 10 frames of their honey supers filled and capped, and several of the deep frames in the brood box as well. They have been very calm and easy to work with just a hat and veil. I purchased them from someone who is a member of the Russian Bee Breeders Assoc. My experience next year might be different, but right now I’m very impressed with them.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,121

    Default Re: Russian management

    The Russians' only "claim to fame" is mite resistance. Mine died from Varroa mites the same as the others. Well, they did seem to tolerate higher loads before they died, but that's like a water resistant watch. The water still ruins it, but it sure fights it for a while...

    Now that I'm doing small cell, none of them are dying from mites. So I fail to see the up side of the Russians.

    I didn't mind them, but they were different and yes, I think you should manage them differently. Somewhat anyway.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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