I think the Russian queens sound tougher. I have a survivor colony that is darker in color. They say the russian bees can take the winter better. Will you split and introduce the queens at the same time? I'm asking so that I will know too. They are beautiful; remember Alaxandria?!
Thanks for noticing! To answer the question I will actually be doing some splits tomorrow if the weather holds ok for me. With Russian queens their pharamones are totally diff than those of the italian queens i currently have in the hives, so to introduce these girls to the splits takes a little more time then normal. According to the Russian Honeybee Breeder's Association http://www.russianbreeder.org/
They say to keep her in the hive for 3 days min before removing the cork for the candy end, which should give a 5 day release. Or Just keep her in there for 5 days and do a manual release.
When I make my splits i'm going to make sure there is no larva young enough to make a queen with, and give them plenty of house bees. This should give them a good start.
They are darker in color than the italians, but honestly Russian bees are actually a hybrid that evolved over time in Russia between the Italian, Carniolan, and Caucasian bees. It took 150 years to become what they are today though. They are supposed to have better VSH and Hygenic abilities, and be immune to several other things. Not to mention they are reportedly the best over winter bees there is.