Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Humboldt County, CALI
    Posts
    8

    Default Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Hi everyone,

    I was hoping someone who keeps Russians can let me know how big the population should be going into winter. I started my hives from package bees in late April and they filled nearly 4 medium supers during the nectar flow. Now they are down to just 1.5-2 medium supers. I've heard Russians keep a smaller winter population than Italians but I'm not sure if this is too small. The hives will be wintering in coastal california where the temperature is usually mild.

    Both hives were hit hard by varroa and I've been treating w/ Apiguard. Making this more complicated is that one hive is queenless and there are 3 queen cells, and I think a queen will emerge from one of them in a day or two. I realize it is kind of late in the year for a virgin queen, esp in a hive that seems weak.

    Alternatively, instead of combining I could put this colony, new queen and all, in a nuc above the stronger hive for the winter. I'm new to all this so not sure what the better option is.

    Thanks,
    Darcey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    989

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Even in my mild winter area (bananas and avocado), drones were ejected the first week of October. There are ones and twos still visible in some hives, but not sufficient for wild out-crossing.

    If the hive has a crown of beebread it will always have a (very) few drones hatching. Remember the hive's own drones don't mate very successfully with the queen (producing shotbrood-- a sign of inbreeding). The drones are unfertilized eggs (haploid), and are very similar to one half the queens own genetics. A sexual "race" system (16-20 different 'flavors') requires the queen to mate with a compatible out-group race-- so not from her own colony.

    Your location is not specified in your profile, but unless you are in Florida or South Texas, I would guess queen mating is completely over for the year at your colony. edit::: I read your other post and it said in the body text No. Cal for your location. Look for drones, they smell the emerging queens and come visit the new queen colonies to check on the queen flight schedule. If you see drone traffic you stand a chance, but my guess is none of the putative fathers are still around.

    You could stack the hives in the faint hope the new queen starts laying after mating, but a combine seems like the course you will need to take eventually. It would be easy to combine after stacking, so you can do this in stages.
    Last edited by JWChesnut; 10-11-2013 at 06:28 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Humboldt County, CALI
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Thanks for the speedy reply. I've been agonizing over what to do the past 24 hr. I forgot about the drones! I even opened up 3 drone cells from this queenless hive to see if mites were in them. But then again, I dont think the virgin queen will want to mate with drones that are 1/2 brothers (I think)? Not sure how inbred the lines get.

    I'm relieved I can combine the hives. Now I can worry just about 1 hive instead of 2! Well, and the 2 nucs that hopefully will make it (although one is also waiting for its queen to emerge...)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    lafargeville ny usa
    Posts
    945

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    you might consider buying a queen some place. you probably will not find a Russian one but some other one like caorilan would be fine ,if it is not what you want, do a second requeen early next summer. 1 1/2 or 2 mediums is ok strength for a Russian colony this time of year. or you could combine now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,504

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by darcey View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I was hoping someone who keeps Russians can let me know how big the population should be going into winter. I've heard Russians keep a smaller winter population than Italians.

    Both hives were hit hard by varroa and I've been treating w/ Apiguard.

    I realize it is kind of late in the year for a virgin queen, esp in a hive that seems weak.


    Thanks,
    Darcey
    1. Russians don't necessarily go into winter with a small cluster. In the following 4 months they will shrink down to 2-6 frames if they are true Russians.

    2. Where in the world did you purchase true "Russians" that were late April 2013 packages and have become "loaded" with mites so early in their lifespan? My bet is they are not Russians. Something doesn't add up.

    3. Good luck on the queen mating if the cells are just hatching. Its possible but since you are at the end of the drone season and the weather is turning this past week you might be out of luck?

    4. You don't state your location.........besides California Coast. That is everything from San Diego to Crescent City and the weather conditions vary quite substantially in that stretch. A better pinpoint would help you get better answers!!!!!!!!!!

    5. We no longer keep pure Russians for a wide variety of reasons. We are not the only ones who jumped on this bandwagon for mite reasons and then jumped back off. You are going to be hard pressed to find any commercial Beek in California who keeps these things as far as I know. They were all the rage ten+ years back but with all the issues they brought to the table they have been mostly pushed to the trash basket of beekeeping history in the Golden State. Just another attempt to better beekeeping in California that just did not pan out as hoped.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Humboldt County, CALI
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Thanks for the responses. I could try to find a Carniolan queen to requeen the hive, alhtough I'm leaning towards combining.

    Sorry, forgot to mention that they will be wintering in southern coastal california (la county) starting Nov 11. Right now I am still in Humboldt county, where the weather is supposed to pleasant until I move -- 60s and 70s during the day and 40s at nite.

    Yes, my Russians came with mites -- I noticed a couple of them on the sliding tray under the screened bottom board the first month I had them, and was assured that it was normal for package bees to come with a few mites. They were sold as Russians -- my class got them from a breeder in Sonoma County. I got the russians mostly due to their purported resistant to varroa mites. Obviously not the case here. I need to do more research on bee genetics. I went along with my beekeeping class and didnt know that Russians have issues - my instructor swears by them. Perhaps they are suited for Humboldt's climate.

    Thanks again!
    darcey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,504

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by darcey View Post
    They were sold as Russians -- my class got them from a breeder in Sonoma County. I got the russians mostly due to their purported resistant to varroa mites.

    darcey

    I am pretty familiar with who is doing what with queen production in Norcal and I have no clue as to who in Sonoma county would even have "Russians." If you can dig up the info on the breeder or package producer from your club and PM me I might be able to tell you what you really got in that package. To have mites falling off bees in a package from the git-go is a little more than troublesome. My bet is they came from someone who is "treatment free" and not necessarily from Russian stock.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,191

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    I don't either, honey bee genetics vacaville sells a russian mix, as does Noble apiaries in Dixon.
    There is a guy down south by san louis abisbo who buys his breeder queens from the russian bee breeders assoc. & sells open mated queens from them. they are www.cabeeco.com
    Dan

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    5. We no longer keep pure Russians for a wide variety of reasons. We are not the only ones who jumped on this bandwagon for mite reasons and then jumped back off. You are going to be hard pressed to find any commercial Beek in California who keeps these things as far as I know. They were all the rage ten+ years back but with all the issues they brought to the table they have been mostly pushed to the trash basket of beekeeping history in the Golden State. Just another attempt to better beekeeping in California that just did not pan out as hoped.
    Care to share some? I've never tried them myself, though I was considering doing so next year.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    adair county, kentucky, usa
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    Care to share some? I've never tried them myself, though I was considering doing so next year.
    Like you, I'm interested to know what he considers the down side to Russians. This spring I purchased 5 packages of Russian Hybrids, and so far I'm very pleased with them, but these queens are hybrids and the jury is really still out, until we see what winter holds.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Humboldt County, CALI
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Quote Originally Posted by KQ6AR View Post
    I don't either, honey bee genetics vacaville sells a russian mix, as does Noble apiaries in Dixon.
    There is a guy down south by san louis abisbo who buys his breeder queens from the russian bee breeders assoc. & sells open mated queens from them. they are www.cabeeco.com
    My class (and classes from the previous 5 yrs) got Russians from Taber's honey bee genetics in Vacaville (I confused Sonoma with Solano County). They are in fact a Russian mix, as you mentioned above.

    I hadnt heard of CA Bee Co. Thanks for the info.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,191

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    I had a tabers russian mix years ago, it was a good hive.
    Had a Noble apiaries russian mix hive the queen lasted 3 years, she swarmed once but I caught her.

    The CA bee Co russian is about the closest to pure you'll get without ordering from the russian bee breeders assoc. yourself. Haven't tried them yet.
    Dan

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lassen, California, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Darcy, where did you get your Russians from?
    TIA!

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

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    I have always wanted to try those Russian/Carnies that Taber's has - but always chicken out during queen buying season.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    562

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    ya Russians have a very small cluster i have had the Rrussian/Carnolian mix (Yugo) from honey bee Genetics the were a very good bee.as far as wintering over i had one that wintered over in a grape fruit size cluster calling this one "A".surprised the ....... out of me I thought they were doomed when i checked them.since the other cluster "B"was twice as big same type of bee breed.Installed at the same time,I figure they had more of the Russian trait.also i wintered them in double deeps and the cluster "A" only consumed one deep frame when i checked them in the spring.so i removed some of the honey from "A" and replaced with empty drawn frames so they wouldn't be egg bound.then they surprised me with the amount of brood she can lay in a short time when the nectar flow starts this year i caught two swarms from that hive.I would say don't under estimate that breed especially if it's Russian dominate

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Russian hive size for winter -- should I combine?

    Now I want some Yugos again... I have a plan to open mate their offspring up here at high altitude.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads