I have russians and varroa both in the same hive Imagine that! However, maybe they are not as susceptible to the damaging effects of high mite counts. I have'nt had tyime to evaluate yet I guess i'll know next spring.
I have Russians now for a few years. My observations with them is that they seem to tolerate the mite better than other bees. I would not say they are resistant but can keep tabs on the mites better. I do like them since the fly at lower temps (great for apple pollenation), nice temperament, and overall (in my opinion
Russians can be deceiving because of that trait. If you don't monitor, you may not know mites are getting to a serious level because the bees don't show any symptoms of it until it is too late.
Had the same thing with 3 of my hives this year (not russian, but NWC). The hives had great brood paterns, no deformed wing to be found or any other symptoms to speak of, yet they had the higher mite levels than I've ever seen. Litterally 10's of thousands on treatment.
I just attended a Bee Field Day here in Baton Rouge this past weekend. One of the main points was that the Russian bees have reduced Varroa Mite counts and they had plenty of graphs supporting this claim. Here are some links if you want to find out more info from the presenters. Maybe you could request their slide decks as well. Phone and address in last link.
I attended the Baton Bee Breeding Lab field trip Saturday. I can tell you from the research and from my experience that the Russian bees are very resistant to mites and samall hive beetles. The turning point for the Russian bees was in 2004 when the lab did not import any more Russian bees. The lab started breeding the Russian bees for honey production and gentleness in 2004. The Russian bees are now very gentle and outproduced the Italian bees in honey production this past spring. The secret, however, is not to buy Russian hybrids. Buy Russian queens mated to Russian drones!
This one is a no brainer. Yes they are resistant. Numerous carefully controlled studies have confirmed what over 100 years of life in the Primorsky has told the Russians: bees can be selected for varroa resistance.
I think there a host of items that all play a part in making russian bees mite resistent. Genetics, shutting down during dearth periods, swarming tendencies, overwintering characteristics, etc.
At the risk of once again being attacked for questioning the "establishment" and those far more educated than I, let me say one thing. I question the fact they brought russian bees to the states, and established them in Louisiana and other southern climate areas as a main point for research and breeding.
I think the russians are ideal bees for the northern beekeeper. But is breeding them in the deep south, and perhaps changing some of their natural cold climate survival traits a good thing?
I think we are taking a bee that has adapted well in cold climate areas, and we now want it to change. We want to breed it in the south. We want to make it less defensive. We want to make it like all the other bees that we have bred over the years. Is that good or bad?
Makes me wonder if years from now well just have another hole in our foot, and be surprised by the bleeding from another self inflicted wound by our own hands.
You'll be happy to know that that USDA has recently established a breeding partnership in Iowa, which is somewhat closer to a Northern climate. I agree with you about the effects of Southern breeding. I think the reasons for establishing the facilities there had more to do with quarentine and USDA locations than with the ideal climate.
I only lost 1 hive out of 15 hives last year. I do not use any chemical treatment for mites. I use Russian queens mated to Russian drones. The Russia bees are also more gentle than in the past, and they are more productive.
Before I switched to Russian bees I raised a lot of wax worms. I lost 28 out of 30 hives in 2001!
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