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This subject came up on the biologic beekeep forum and Dan (DRUR) suggested a thread of it's own. I agree it would be interesting to pursue.

We personally do not know any commercials (or hobbyists for that matter) using them. But most of the commercials I know go into almond pollination and big bees are needed in Feb. They all have the same complaint.
They winter in too tiny a cluster and will not be pushed into early brood rearing. I have talked to brokers who say "If they pop a lid and it is dark, it will not make grade" A gross oversimplification I am sure, :rolleyes: but....it seems our dinks are often darker too....?

The Russian bee breeders are aware of this negative trait and are trying to breed for them to be better early pollinators. They talked about just that at the Fresno Honey Producers meeting a year ago.

In addition, with our early nectar flows here in Wisconsin, they are unsuitable honey producers in this area as well.

What say ye?
Which has a better chance of success? Breeding Russians to be good almond bees or breeding Italians to be mite resistant?
Sheri
 

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I talked to one of the big commercial beekeepers a few years ago, asked him whether he had considered Russians. He told me they tried a few colonies in his operation, but the Russians didn't build up enough for almond pollination and shut down too quickly during any dry spell in the summer for them to get as much of a honey crop off them as they did off Italians.
 

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>What say ye?
>Which has a better chance of success? Breeding Russians to be good almond bees or breeding Italians to be mite resistant?


Mite resistance is the major trait of this bee for me... medium honey producer. But only 2 hives. Also very winter hardy.
 

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I am actually going to try and bring in a couple of Russians and use the Carni drones to see what I get and how they do this year. I will let you guys know.

But to answer the question...don't know any comm. guys using Russians. Lots in these parts are moving to Carnis...Italians just won't shut down soon enough and eat all their stores BEFORE winter...the pigs.
 

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This may not be the thread to ask this, but I'll do it anyway. (Move or delete this if I'm out of line, please.)

How big a problem is Varroa for commercial beekeepers now? The impression that I've gotten from talking to the guys around here is that mites are an issue, but not necessarily any more of an issue than some of the other problems in beekeeping.
 

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Sheri,

This seems to be the catch 22 with Russians. My opinion is... the conservative nature of most Russians is what imparts some resistance. Such behavioral characteristics as small winter clusters, slow build up and modest use of resources to produce brood hinders Varroa development. I see such characteristics at work in many races/strains.

However, the commercial industry needs/wants a big broody colony, but this is also good for Varroa population develop.

This is why it is no easy task to develop a bee that is suitable for most of the commercial industry yet expresses some Varroa tolerance. To breed a Russian that is like an Italian would most likely sacrifice any advantage the Russians may have to offer with regard to Varroa tolerance. Again, strictly my opinion

There are some commercial operations who work with Russians, but I do not know of any that use them as their primary source of production colonies.

Joe
 

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This may not be the thread to ask this, but I'll do it anyway. (Move or delete this if I'm out of line, please.)

How big a problem is Varroa for commercial beekeepers now? The impression that I've gotten from talking to the guys around here is that mites are an issue, but not necessarily any more of an issue than some of the other problems in beekeeping.
In the 30 years of comm. beekeeping the mite has been the biggest and most costly problem that I've come across. I replace my bees every year at the cost of $30k+ a year. Out of four comm. beekeeper in NW Ohio, I am the last one since the mites came along.
 

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We personally do not know any commercials (or hobbyists for that matter) using them.

This past spring I purchased 10 Russian packages from Hardeman in Georgia. (I don't know how Russian these so-called Russians are. I don't think Hardeman is on the Russian breeder list, but they say the packages have a Russian queen.)

From what I understand, the Russians and Carniolans are almost identical bees, with the exception that the Russians came from the Primorsky region in Russia where they coexisted with the varroa mite, yada yada yada. Overwintering clusters, spring buildup, dearth shutdown, and characteristics and behaviors are supposed to be similar between the Russians and Carnis.

Allen Dick www.honeybeeworld.com says he was one of the first commercial guys in Canada to use Carniolans. Now everyone there runs Carnis. He also did canola pollination, but that is in July, when hives had time to build up.
 

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From my experience with my Russians, I don't see how they could possibly work in a commercial pollination scenario. Tiny overwinter clusters, very slow build up in spring(mine won't take pollen sub either), queens shut down when no pollen coming in. My understanding of commercial pollination....got to have big colonies ready to go for each bloom. So, I don't see how Russians/pollination are a good match especially for almonds. I think the only thing they have to offer is some genetic resistance to mites that can be bred into our bee gene pool.
 

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Maybe the trick is managing them a little differently. If you know the shortcomings, maybe you find ways to get around the problems.
 

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From my experience with my Russians, I don't see how they could possibly work in a commercial pollination scenario. Tiny overwinter clusters, very slow build up in spring(mine won't take pollen sub either), queens shut down when no pollen coming in. My understanding of commercial pollination....got to have big colonies ready to go for each bloom. So, I don't see how Russians/pollination are a good match especially for almonds. I think the only thing they have to offer is some genetic resistance to mites that can be bred into our bee gene pool.
ACBees I think these are myths!
Couldn't be further from the truth. Last summer my hives had between 70.000 and 100.000 bees each and produced around 150lbs of honey each.
Do NOT use antibiotics or any chemicals. Only herbs and herbal meds.
 

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I pinched all mine.Mine were NOT a good 'almond pollination bee'-meaning if you need 8 frames of bees in Feb you are sol with Russians. Doesn't mean they wouldn't work under other conditions,as some seem to find them just fine for their operations.
 

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Pcelar, I see you are from Hamburg, NY. I lived there when i was a kid, on Walden Drive. I'm familiar with the winters in N.Y., lake effect snow etc. Possibly the Russians are best suited for cold climates. Maybe I have the misfortune of them not doing well in the panhandle of Texas.

The question I have from a commercial use standpoint, how fast can they build up for Almonds and other early pollination needs? I would think since I'm in a climate that warms up earlier in the spring, they would start building up earlier. Not so from what I'm seeing with my Russians and I can't stimulate them to build up either. Right now, even though the days are warming, there is no pollen to be had anywhere. I think that is the problem. No pollen, no laying queen. It happens during the summer as well whent here is a dearth of pollen. But, they won't touch pollen sub either. Just what I'm seeing with my Russians.

Any of you russian owners out there have some secret to stimulating these bees to build up early when there is no natural pollen source?
 
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