Russell Sunkist Queens
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  1. #1
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    Default Russell Sunkist Queens

    Hi....
    Question ....anyone know if a Russell Sunkist Queen (not breeder) would make a good breeder?

    Larry

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    If they make it thru winter to spring, mine are going to be. If you are going to raise queens for yourself, why not. A breeder queen is an II queen or one that has been open mated and tested to see if they are only mated to SKC drones. That is what I will do by watching to make sure that the only thing in their hives are SKC's. I will also pick the best brood layer, quanity and pattern. Good luck!!
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  4. #3
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    May 2011
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by valleyman View Post
    If they make it thru winter to spring, mine are going to be. If you are going to raise queens for yourself, why not. A breeder queen is an II queen or one that has been open mated and tested to see if they are only mated to SKC drones. That is what I will do by watching to make sure that the only thing in their hives are SKC's. I will also pick the best brood layer, quanity and pattern. Good luck!!
    How will you know if they are all sunkist in the hive? The Sunkist queens produce several different color bees.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyDusty View Post
    How will you know if they are all sunkist in the hive? The Sunkist queens produce several different color bees.
    Sorry, or glad to tell you the above statement should not be true. If they are mated as Russell Apiaries try to get them mated then the progeny are ALL going to be Cordovan, the exact same color. It doesn't mean that there might not be mating with a drone that is not Cordovan. That is the reason they can't be sold as breeders. I have 9 that I am introducing to Russian genetics so if all 9 survive then all I have to do is watch the hives to see if all progeny in it are Cordovan. If so I have an acceptable breeder Queen. If I have 2 hives that are homozygous Cordovan then 1 will be used to produce drones to set out drone nucs away from my Apiary, in the hopes of getting any raised queens mated with homozygous drones. Hope this helps as RRussell would say. Good luck!
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I think what DirtyDusty means is that all Russell Apiaries SunKist are not Cordovan, they also have non-Cordovan SunKist queens.

    Right now, I too am in the process of raising daughter queens that are homozygous for the Cordovan trait from four original Russell Apiaries SunKist Cordovan queens. Then I am selecting some of the most fecund individual daughters to head my full-size production hives and encouraging them to raise plenty of drones. I believe it is a good idea to have lots and lots of genetic diversity of drones, but with the right kind of diversity (as wide a diversity of sex alleles, as practical - but in my case, all Cordovan, if possible).

    It would be even better if I can get them to swarm and spread the SunKist Cordovan genetics out into my local feral population. Then I'd be even more likely not to get my daughter queens bred with undesirable drones, though I'm sure there are many local drones that also provide desirable genetics, as very few Cordovan daughter queens that I produce actually go on to establish hives with a preponderance of undesirable traits.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Yeah I just had Cordovan in my mind. Could be he didn't understand that they have more than the Cordovan line of Sunkist. I think that the Sunkist (not cordovan) are their Italian resistant line. They are a very productive line as well.

    Yes to diversity! I was thinking as I thyped the post that I would need to make sure that the drones didn't come from 2 sister Queens. I will contact Robert later, but I bet he sent me a diverse bunch of Queens. He said that he was going to cage mine himself. He knows my intent so he certainly knows how it all works. Good luck!
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  8. #7
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    May 2011
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    "SunKist are the line that my father (JN Russell) has spent his entire life perfecting. They are of Italian origin, and have been selectively bred since 1951 for heavy laying, low swarming,*honey production, distance of foraging, mite and disease resistance, gentleness, comb building, and early build up. They were created for his use as cell builders and for package production. They have been exclusively available to the commercial and university market up until last august, when I began releasing them to sideliners and hobbyists to help replenish their losses to shb. They produce a much higher than average number of bees per hive.... with swarm levels around 100-120k. The SunKist Cordovan was*created in 1996 as a way to more easily locate the queen in a hive with so many bees. The SunKist line produces bees of 3 bands, 5 bands, black, grey, and amber.... The SunKist Cordovans produce bees of 3 bands, 5 bands, and amber coloration."

    This was copied from Russells website, I thought, after reading the last sentence, that the cordovan sunkist threw 3 diffrent colors of bees. I requeened a hive a month or so back with one of the Sunkist Cordovans from his private stock. Most of the bees are the amber color, but there are still many banded bees in there too. I am not sure if they are just some left overs from the last queen or what.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    The SK cordovan production queens are indeed open mated and do produce mostly amber colored progeny, with a few mixed colors here and there... the average ratio should be somewhere around 95% Cordovan / 5% banded... this mix in color is easily note when grafting from the colony of a production queen, as some of the daughters will not be of cordovan color... the Sunkist Cordovan breeders do however produce a fully Cordovan colony... so grafting from the breeder queen will give you 100% cordovan daughters...

    That said, there is an easy way to determine the color or the daughters that you create from a production queen... I call them hatchery frames and they are very easy to make using a regular frame and California mini cages (you need to use jzbz wide based cell cups for this), or you can purchase a queen bank frame like the ones that Tim makes at Honey Run Apiaries (I have tried his queen banks for hatching virgins for ii, and they work very well. Two thumbs up Tim :-)..) simply raise your cells as you prefer, then instead of planting them into nucs before they hatch, place them in the hatchery frame and put the frame into a queenless colony (starters work well)... this way, your queens can emerge and be fed and cared for as they dry... then you can judge them for color and size, then plant the choice ones into mating nucs...(tip... when using the home made hatchery/queen bank frame with California mini cages, you can simply pluck the cages that you want off of the bank and place them into your mating nucs... for using the banks that Tim produces, I recommend using the California mini cages to place over the opening in the bank to allow the queen to walk from the bank up into the cage, then plug the cage with the cell cup and plant the cage.)

    Valleyman, you are exactly right about the diversity of your queens... none are related... that is true for all of our shipments of 40 or less queens... each one is non-related (from a different queen mother).

    Hope this helps!

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Thanks Robert for another insightful post!!!! My queens are looking good so far!

    In my experience with breeding seedstock cattle, I found that even those that were homozygous for a color or other traits, that there could be a variation of that trait. It would be close to the predicted, but still a variation. For instance, a black cow that is homozygous black could still produce a reddish brown progeny, and a homozygous polled could still produce progeny with small scurs. Probably more than 95%/5%.
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Today it was sunny 41 F and slightly windy. Of my 5 hives my Sunkist and Sunkist Cordovan hives were the only two out flying. Both are looking good for the winter so far, however with the poor season we had all needed some extra food.
    "...fascists divide themselves into two categories: fascists and antifascists" Ennio Flaiano

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I am very much interested to find out how the "Russell Sunkists" survived in the heat and drought we had last year in the southern great plains. None of the responses sofar have been from the extreme drought & record heat areas.

    While we are at it did anyone have queens that did survive and produce in the drought and heat?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    My experiences with the Russell Sunkist was not good at all, simply put it was a complete failure. Although I tried only a few of the queens I must say that the reason for the failure may be not all the bees fault. I will lay 50% of the blame on Russell. After ordering and paying for the queens in December I was informed of April shipment, that date came and went, although weather was said to have been the reason for the delay. When the bees did arrive they were obviously not as fresh as expected and two of the five were dead. I informed Russell and these were replaced immediately.
    Now here I was into June with new Queens in Florida, as you Florida beeks know Florida can be tough on bees in the summer. We were extremely hot in the summer, and dry. There again, no fault of the supplier, but mother nature was not giving me a lot of assistance. My queens were under achievers, poor starters, poor brood producers and overall not suited well to my conditions. I make about 100 plus splits during the late spring and summer, my success rate is extremely good, but these were well below my standard rate of success. In closing I can honestly say that I would not purchase these queens again for my conditions, I will stick to my trusty homebrew queens from some stock that I bought from Glenn Apiaries.

  14. #13
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I had some sunkists and they did fine. Russells had tornados taking out SK mating yards, floods, illness and death in the family. Many queens and mine got delivered later than initially projected. Personally I think they did well on their bee farm. Ya just can't harvest be it a queen or wheat til it is ripe. I am thankful that they took the time to make sure I got the quality product I pay a premium price for. Farmers are all at the mercy of the land, we learn to live with it. Mine DID NOT have to live with a hot dry climate but they do offer northern and southern select of many of their strains. Enquire about that possibility before ordering. I think you would be happy with sunkists jusdging from my experieince.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I am going to order a couple sunkist queens to try out this year, they look very interesting and I love trying new things!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I'd suggest taking it one step further. If possible, discuss your region with the staff at Russell's, if not with Dr. Russell himself (although he is a very difficult man to get a hold of). Most of the time they will be able to identify your region and suggest a strain, or a subset of a strain. They have Sunkists that are Northern bred, some that are southern bred.

    I bought five hives off a guy that was getting out of beekeeping a few years back. Drove a ways to get them, and found their tendencies to be somewhat odd. I explained them to Russell, and he was able to identify where I bought the hives from. Not only the state, but the region of the state. When I was shocked and asked him to explain how he knew, he said his company was involved in populating the bees in the area. The tendencies were particularly bred to survive the area that I went to. Particularly bred by Russells. So my hives likely mated with drones from queens that came from his yards. Or second or third generations of them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Over here, this past season it was hotter and drier than usual. After the mesquite flow (which itself was weaker and shorter than usual), there were only a few sporadic creosote bushes providing a little nectar and pollen, so, I've basically been feeding since June 2011, both pollen sub and sugar syrup. We have had some Autumn rains, hopefully they will be enough to bring wildflowers into bloom by sometime in February.

    I too received two Russell Apiaries SunKist Cordovan queens in June, the USPS had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to safely deliver them, so by the time I first saw them, they were deceased. Russell kindly sent replacements -- this time they all arrived safely. After I received them I quickly began raising daughter queens, then requeening all my full-size hives with these daughters, so a large population of desirable drones would soon be available to improve the status of my open mated queens. Nearly every colony, full-size and nucs are still going strong (now, nearly all switched over to SKC genetics) - a few have succumbed to starvation, due to selective robbing, no doubt perpetrated by the many stronger colonies. We had a few weeks of frosty nights near or at freezing, with daytime temps in the 40-60'sF, which slowed wildflower development and stressed all my colonies, which mostly only have enough stores to take them through a few days at a time. My sugar bill has never been higher.

    In these circumstances (which we've also seen in years past, but rarely), I've been able to expand from three or four nucs, to nearly fifty and from eight full-size colonies to almost twenty. These SKC daughter queens grow strong colonies, have continued to produce and maintain strong drone populations and allow me to continue raising queens, even now. I have recently just about completed my effort to replace the first round of daughter queens, in the full-size colonies, with a second round of daughters from the same mother queens (the first round had mated with many non-Cordovan drones), hoping that, as has been seen with most of the recently grown queens, they will mate with many more Cordovan drones, which are now in the area. Colonies with populations exhibiting a preponderance of Cordovan heterozygosity, appear to display a stronger, more uniform degree of the most desirable traits and fewer undesirable traits.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 01-04-2012 at 10:04 PM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  18. #17
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    Default

    I love my Sunkist (non-cordovan colored) nuc that is now two 8 frame deep and a super on them plus I was able to pull frames and make splits from another Russell Queen (italian-carni).

  19. #18
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    Jan 2011
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I bought 20 SKC last August. Half died in the heat during transit. Replacements were shipped within a week and they are doing very well. It gets hot and very dry were I live and have had no problems. BeeGhost I should have a few queen cells in March that you can have if you want them. Livermore is about 30-40 minutes away from where I live.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    I've got one SKC queen and so far the hive has been doing awsome It was around 45*F the other day and they were flying around.So far I've got one problem we had a great fall flower bloom this year and all my hives filled up execpt my SKC she just kept laying.Wouldn't surprise me if there's not brood in the nest right now I've feed over 30Lbs of sugar and they are still lite.I've got five more comming this April and cain't wait.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Russell Sunkist Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by hystad View Post
    BeeGhost I should have a few queen cells in March that you can have if you want them. Livermore is about 30-40 minutes away from where I live.
    That would be awesome Hystad!! Actually, i'll be moving to Tracy in February, so even closer!! If you wouldnt mind I'd like to come and check out your sunkist colonies sometime and pick your brain on them!! Take care bud!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

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