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I have been thinking about giving Russian bees a try. I have read about some of the +/s vs -/s but what do you Beeks that have been keeping them awhile think overall? I am a traditional hobby beekeeper with lots of experience with the Langstroth system. Soon I will be setting up a Modified Warre hive with Kelly foundationless full frames that I will cut down to fit the Warre hive bodies. In the end I hope to have a Hive that requires less maintenance, medication or inspections. I don't care that much about maximum honey production. I am looking for a bee candidate for a more natural style of beekeeping. Less medication, more natural disease/parasite resistance, gentleness/handling, cool/rainy weather adaptability.
 

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"Let them bee, let them bee, let em bee , oh let em bee. In Russians I'll find the ans-wer, oh let them bee ee eeee " :popcorn:

Big Bear
 

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I've had Russian bees in my apiary since 2007 (along with Italians and Carniolans), and I think they're great. They're survivors. This is just anecdotal based on my experience, but they seem to tolerate mites and winter weather better. They do build up more slowly in the spring, but if honey production isn't a big priority, then that won't be a problem. I've heard some beekeepers say they're more agressive, but I haven't found that to be the case.
 

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We're running Russians right now in most of our hives, we are in the process of switching back to Italians which we feel will be a better fit for our climate, goals, and production. They are slow to build in spring (to slow for us with very early blooms), but when they do they put on quite a bit of honey. We were happy with the mite resistance we have seen so far but alas they are not the silver bullet ( we didnt expect they were going to be, we wanted to see for ourselves how well they would do comparatively). I have noticed in almost all the Russian hives that as these queens get older the agressiveness in the hive has risen considerably, if it were just a problem in a few hives I would not mention it, but as stated it is something we have noticed in many of these hives recently, while our Italians and cordovan are as gentle as can be.
 

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"Let them bee, let them bee, let em bee , oh let em bee. In Russians I'll find the ans-wer, oh let them bee ee eeee "

Big Bear

BigBear, I take it that's an endorsement?

Thanks BearHill & PKApiaries for the real world feedback on Russians. I have been reading about them on the web and generally people like them but not necessarily prefer them over other types of bees? I guess there are things about them, like the slow buildup and being slightly more aggressive, that cancel out the benefits in some people minds. I think it depends on your circumstances and priorities, that determine which type of bee to use. It rains allot up in the NW and is generally cool compared to other parts of the country. I went with Carnolians this time because they are perceived by the local Beeks to be a better choice for our climate. So far they have been doing great despite the cool, soggy spring we have been having and I have been watching them closely.

We have a big breeder of Russian bees in the area. He has crossed them with survivor stock and are claimed to be very resistant to Varro and to a lesser degree Nosema. They also exhibit good hygienic behavior so they sound great on paper. I have never been around Russian bees at all so I wanted to know from people that have direct experience. I realize there are no silver bullets in beekeeping but I want to really give this natural bee thing a try. I'm thinking Russian bees might work the best for my application along with a more natural hive design. I plan to use a Modified Warre with foundationless frames and a screened bottom. The plan is to use allot less treatments and traditional inspections, keeping the hive closed up except for a maximum of 3 openings a year. I have absolutely no problem using chemical treatments but I'm really hopeful I can get by using far less chemicals or using soft forms of treatment instead.

Some criteria used for bee type selection. I underlined those more important to me:

Fast spring buildup
Maximum honey production
Varro resistance
Hive beetle resistant
Nosema resistant
Hygienic behavior
Gentleness & easy handling
Cool/wet weather hardiness
 
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