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,
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?