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Thread: Russian Queens

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Yellowstone, Montana, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Russian Queens

    I am wanting to use some russian queens in my hives. Who out there knows a reputable breeder of good quality russians?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,136

    Default Re: Russian Queens

    I saw an article in this month's ABJ, and from that I gathered that the people with access to all of the lines of bees that USDA released and are certified by the bee breeders group have the purest, most diverse Russian bee genetics.
    That would be these guys. http://www.russianbreeder.org/members.html
    It also said that queen availability is limited.

    Yet the article also left me wondering why the organisation is not bigger, and why we don't see more of these bees around? If I understood it correctly, the article said that the genetic diversity within the russian bees they have is as great as the diversity within all the italian honey bees in the US.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,429

    Default Re: Russian Queens

    The Russians were over hyped a few years ago and as a result beekeepers who were expecting the hype to be true have been disappointed. And Russians have behavioral practices - like keeping numerous queen cups ready to go - that require different management. The ABJ article described them as close to what we are looking for as a bee that can thrive without treatments and make a good honey crop.

    My experience with them has been completely treatment free - and they have made little honey and are in the process of being done in by varroa and associated viruses. One yard of 6 hives was recently inspected by the State of Maine - 5 of the 6 (going into their 2nd winter) were observed to have serious virus issues, serious enough that the inspector thought they would not make it through winter. The 6th was a split that was made up this year with a purchased queen. That seemed to be doing ok. By the time I got around to wrapping, 1 hive had already succumbed - the others had enough population still that I went ahead and wrapped them. The State guy is pretty good and I don't have high hopes.

    I'm starting to wonder if the Russians would thrive with regular mite monitoring and "soft" treatment(s) on a hopefully annual basis. I'm looking at other stock reputed to not require treatments and may give up on the Russians if they don't make it through the winter.

    The article went on to note that the rules for the Russian Bee Breeders require that Russian Bees are the only stock that they breed. That I imagine is a double edged sword - good for maintaining the integrity of Russian Bee genetics, but bad for breeders that already have investments in other stocks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,136

    Default Re: Russian Queens

    Andrew, thanks for the explanation. I think it is good that they keep the genetics as pure as they can, but if your experiences are typical I can see why they haven't taken off.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    675

    Default Re: Russian Queens

    My experience with Russian genetics is mixed. The first year honey production was good. The next year most of my efforts were spent trying to keep them from swarming. I have gotten rid of all my Russian genetics and moved to Carniolan.

    I think the Russians will work if you allow them to swarm and can capture those swarms.

    They will requeen themselves. I found the hives got hotter with time.

    Tom

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pierce/Thurson County, Wa
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Russian Queens

    I have found my Russians to be out much earlier in the mornings and out much later in the evenings. I saw a couple of drones hanging out on the outside of the hive last Thursday, but did not have time to look inside the hive (it started raining), so I am going to guess that they may have kicked out the drones. My Russian daughter still has uncapped brood. My Russian hive is the biggest one going into winter. I like them for their tolerance to cold.

    Edited to add: I have yet to do any treatment on them, and since you were asking about breeders, this is where I got mine from. http://www.wildernessbees.com/
    Last edited by seyc; 11-06-2012 at 12:26 PM.
    If you think anything organic is good for you, go drink some organic solvents.
    geek, learning how to be a beek

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