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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
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    461

    Smile Russians, pros & cons

    Started beekeeping last year with two hives of Italians. I still have two Italian hives. but all packages and queens I purchased this year are Russian Hybrids, and Yugos. So far I really like these bees much better than my Italians. I was wondering what breed of bee most of you prefer and why? Thanks.
    Last edited by Bill91143; 06-20-2013 at 07:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Concord, NC, USA
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill91143 View Post
    Started beekeeping last year with two hives of Italians. I still have two Italian hives. but all packages and queens I purchased this year are Russian Hybrids, and Hugo.
    What is a Hugo?
    "Everything turns to dust -and there is nothing you can do to stop it".

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Looking at my post I had to laugh. Should have proof read it. It should say Yugos. Which are a bee bred by Honeybee Genetics of California. They are basically a Russian/Carniolan cross. A really nice bee in my opinion. They are very gentle and build really fast. The 4 queens I got were all very black.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Starkville, MS
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    I was gonna start with all Russians, my mentor got a couple hives of them and loved them the first year. They explode in the spring when building up, much faster than italians. However, my mentor wound up requeening with italian queens due to the fact that the Russian hives get nearly completely propolized. He told me that he has never had to work so hard on a hive as the Russians. I wound up getting VSH lineage Italians and love them. They are gentle, and for my expectations, produce very well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Laurens SC
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    We are kind of wanting to requeen 4 hives of ours this fall with something better than the mutts we have. They did make it through the winter ok.. Don't see to have too much trouble with mites.. The hive beetles give them a hard time at times. Some of them are mean, slow to build up and poor honey producer...

    I am thinking I would like to try requeening with something better than what I have that would do well in SC zone 7, I think. Kind interested in a Yugo from the sound of it?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cache, Utah, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    I'm a new beek this year and my one hive was a swarm I caught. Since I am in Zone 5a and our winters get cold for extended periods what breed would be good for me. the Russian comment of building up fast in the spring sparked my interest since we don't get much precip after May and its pretty dry until late Sept at which time we can have occasional snow by end of Oct. When I think of Russians I think of fur hats and long wool coats. Seems their bees would dress the same. Any thoughts?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Starkville, MS
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    The Russians do overwinter better than most breeds. However, do get ready to deal with a huge amount of propolizing inside the hive. They can be a pain wo work.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Posts
    855

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    It seems that all beekeeping is local. I am starting to think that locally bred queens are the best choice for a beekeeper. Just because a queen does great in northern California or Texas, etc., doesn't mean it will do well in central Colorado.

    JMHO
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Laurens SC
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    When I first order my first bees I wanted Russians. I order 4 nucs from a feller in NC and ended up never getting them from him after waiting over a year. I was worried the guy was sick or something, then was just told that is the norm with him.. So I ended up getting NUCs from a man, that got them from a man that got them from a man.. Turns out they were just some wild bees with all the normal problems. I really got a bad deal but I think caused me to learn a great deal... so maybe that was a good deal...

    I still want something better than than what I have but not sure what that could be. I keep leaning to Russians but have noticed that out of the 8 beeks, that have them, I know, all but one will go near their hives without a full bee-suit. I am just thinking if I had started with Russians, I would be used to them now. So the fast build up, I would be prepared for etc.. Now after having these Italians I have, I am guessing that may be hard for me to adjust to. I for sure don't want something that meets me at the door..... I have one have that does that and I am about ready to burn it... I tried to re-queen but they killed my new queen and raised another mean one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    830

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    There have been numerous threads on Russians, do a search and you will find lots of information.

    I started out with Russians. I was very happy with them. They produced honey and overwintered well.

    The next spring they started out with a small cluster and built up relatively quickly. They did not build up quick enough to make surplus honey in the spring. Once they got to a 'full' colony size they tried to swarm. I spent the next few weeks working to keep a full-sized colony in the hive without swarming. They superceded their queens and become much hotter. I was able to extract a little honey. Because I worked so hard to keep them from swarming mites built up. Both hives died over the following winter. I did not, and will not, get more Russians.

    Russians have a reputation for being hard to requeen with different genetics.

    I don't think Russian bees are any more mite resistant than any other honeybee. I do belive they can overcome mites by a higher propencity to swarm, thus breaking the brood cycle.

    The Russian bees tend to get hotter in succeeding generations. This may or may not be a problem for you.

    I did not find them to be excessive propilizers.

    If you want big colonies of bees to make honey go with an Italian strain.

    Tom

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    So far I really like my Russians and I really, really like my Yugos. I got 10 pckages of Russians from Hardimans. I could not get Yugos as a package so I ordered 4 queens and got some nucs minus the queens and added my Yugo queens. The Russians have exploded. I have 3 and 4 supers on them and so far they haven't been at all mean. They are a little runny on the comb, but if that is my only problem with them, then we'll get along just fine. The Yugos are building almost as fast as the Russians and are much more docile than even most Italians I've delt with. Personally I'm not that impressed with Italians. They are lazy, they are bad at robbing and they need much more stores for winter survival, and one of the two Italians I have is the meanest hive I own. I haven't had them long enough to know that much about them, but so far I think they would be a perfect bee for the beginner or anyone else for that matter.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Posts
    855

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Michael1964 - I had a very defensive hive this year, and I couldn't requeen it fast enough. IMHO, the reasons for requeening a hive because it is unacceptably defensive is a little different than requeening for better production or over-wintering, etc.

    Just my limited experience: I had two hives last year doing poorly. One I requeened with a queen from a nationally recognized highly regarded queen supplier from a region with a climate totally different than mine. The other I requeened with a locally produced queen from a beekeeper no one outside my area has ever heard of. This year, the nationally recognized queen is doing poorly, while the locally produced queen is doing great. The hives literally sit right next to each other. In hindsight, it makes complete sense to me that a locally developed queen would deal with the local climate better than "foreign" queen.

    My above experience is obviously very limited. And, you can't draw general conclusions from just a couple of queens. But I think my experience is consistent with alot of other people's experiences in that locally bred queens frequently do better than non-locally produced queens.
    Last edited by shinbone; 06-20-2013 at 10:22 AM.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Litchfield county, CT USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Bill,

    While I am by no means an expert (I am only on my third year and these are only my experiences) I have several Russian hives. I like them and often work them in just a veil, a couple of times without even that for a quick check. I have noticed they are a little testier if there is not a flow or the weather is going to change for the worse, but by no means do I need a full suit just to do an inspection. They do well over winters and with mite load. I do not treat and have had what some would call a high mite count and they have not been phased. I find high counts on the sticky boards in my SBB but not many on the bees. I consider this a good trait. They do swarm if you do not give them space. I do not use queen excluders and am switching to all mediums, this gives them unlimited brood space and they seem to like this. They are slow to get started in the spring but once they are strong they go like crazy. I also have an Italian hive that is by far my hotest and will requeen them soon as well as some carniolans which I got this year and so far like them. They seem to have similar traits as the Russians. As far as propolis I don't have much to compare to but it does not seem to be out of control.

    The one thing I have noticed (and as Micheal Bush says "works for me") is that it is much more dependent on the individual queen than the type of bee. Also I am becoming a huge believer in locally raised bees/queens. Try to find someone in your area that is small scale, has healthy strong colonies and raises their own queens. I think you will find they do better than making our decision off of a particular type of bee. Hope this helps and good luck with your expansions.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    I have often thought of getting some of those Yugo queens (ARS YC1) but never have. I am very interested in how they work out.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    . In hindsight, it makes complete sense to me that a locally developed queen would deal with the local climate better than "foreign" queen.
    .

    Why? A queens job is to lay eggs based on input from the local forage, its 85 in the hive all year round... so why would it matter? seems to me that like saying people from The south can't survive in the north....??? My locally breed queens do about the same as those gotten from other places...... Haven't been able to procure any far north queens. its also interesting to note that most Canadian operations run Californian queens because they can get them when they need them.

    I treid 5 russians lst year, only one made it thru the winter (not there fault, Mine) I can't see and advantage or any real disadvantage.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,104

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Local mutts are my favorite...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Noah's Ark, I am raising a few queens from my Russians and Yugos. I have trapped several starts of bees and I have been queening them with my home grown queens. I have been using the Hogan bee trap and I have caught several starts of bees. I've only caught one queen so I give the trapped bees a frame of fresh brood or a queen cell if I have one, and let them queen them selves. I usually cut out some extra cells when available and start a few nucs. I am holding 6 extra queens in some nucs now. It's only my second year in bees so everything is still an exciting adventure for me. One of the things I love about the Russians is they almost always have a, just in case queen cell in the hive and in an emergency I can go and cut one out and add it to a hive in need of a queen and have an 8 to 10 day jump over adding a frame of brood.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Belews Creek, NC, USA
    Posts
    330

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    I have Italians and pure Russians. One of my Italian hives superseded and the resulting queen appears to have crossed with a Russian drone...she's really black. Unbelievable hive...really strong and she's an awesome layer. Took frames from the Italian/Russian hive and started a nuc. They made a black queen and she's laying like crazy...already put them into a deep and she's laying like crazy still. And our flow's been over for a couple of weeks. These 2 hybrid hives are my best. As far as the pure Russians go, I've found them to be no more aggressive than my other hives. You have to keep your eye on them early in the spring as they build up quickly...2 of them swarmed. I did not notice them being any more mite resistant than my Italians...I treated them all with Formic in the fall. There is no more propilis than my other hives. My Italians consumed a lot of stores over the winter as the population was huge. Not so for the Russians. Personally I like the Russians a lot. I will always have Russians or at least their genetics.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Big Stone Gap, VA
    Posts
    966

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    It seems that all beekeeping is local. I am starting to think that locally bred queens are the best choice for a beekeeper. Just because a queen does great in northern California or Texas, etc., doesn't mean it will do well in central Colorado.

    JMHO
    I like my local bees as well. They ramp up and down to match our short intense flows, not unlike Carnis and Russians.

    Shane

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Kingston, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    264

    Default Re: Russians, pros & cons

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    I have often thought of getting some of those Yugo queens (ARS YC1) but never have. I am very interested in how they work out.
    I have three nucs that I started this year with a Yugo queen. So far one of them likes to build queen cells, for the past month they have started 2-3 queen cells each week which I have cut out. Don't know yet if that a trait of the yugos or just that one nuc. Maybe a good trait if you want to raise spare queens.

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