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The "russians" you may get are not purebred, they have been crossbred to try to eliminate their worst traits but keep the best.

Now that most folks have given up on attempting treatment free beekeeping, russians are not as popular as they were once.

However this link has some of the certified russian breeders

Members - Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association, Inc. (russianbreeder.org)
 

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"The "russians" you may get are not purebred, they have been crossbred to try to eliminate their worst traits but keep the best"

Not true IF you buy from a certified breeder

From the Russian Breeders website

"Certification

To become a certified breeder for the Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association members must annually demonstrate their qualifications by producing queens from designated lines in isolated mating yards. These mating yards must be stocked with sufficient numbers of appropriate drone source colonies. Line queens must be produced in sufficient numbers so that a large number of colonies started with these queens can be monitored for further selection and additional queens can be shipped to fellow members to lead drone source colonies and also so that the lines can be evaluated by the entire membership.
Once all data is collected and evaluated at the end of a monitoring period emerging workers from the most highly rated colonies are tested by the USDA-ARS Honey Bee Genetics and Physiology Lab in Baton Rouge, LA for genetic purity."

The problem has always been that demand is greater than the supply.None of the breeders are pkg producers and some may sell nucs but only locally.
Coy Bee Farms sells nucs for pick up only but is sold out for 2021.

Oldtimer is correct in that many "Russians" being sold are hybrids.Some beekeepers are honest and call them Russian crosses, others............?

Your best bet is to order a Rus. queen from one of the breeders NOW and make a split yourself in the spring.Introduction is not easy,especially with Italians.Carniolans are better.Use a push in cage with no attendants.
Another trick is to remove the attendants and tape over the candy end for 4 or 5 days.Check for bee aggression before removing tape.

Great bees if you can get some.
 

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Personally I think if you breed out the Trait of the Russian (their not so great demeanor ) you can't call them a Russian
;)
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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If I were to select a trait to breed out, it would their propensity to put propolis EVERYWHERE. Only one of my hives is "warm" to work. They almost always need smoke and do not like the lawn mower. The rest couldn't care less.

Hope to get a few of Jason's Rep.of GA Caucasian queens this spring to get rid of the Italian that is creeping into my yard from open mating.
 

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Last year I purchased 3 queens from Coy’s in Miss. One laid up 2 frames then swarmed (I think this was the Father’s Day swarm I caught, but not sure).

I caught several daughters from that colony as they emerged after that swarm (shout out to Lankford at Woolie B’s for the idea), and this started me on a journey of raising my own queens.

I had all three in EZ-Nucs. One had completely laid up all the way to the outside within 2nd generation of adults. I placed her in a 10-frame for my son, added 2 more frames of brood and didn’t use her for a donor. They laid up the remaining deep frames and almost 3 medium supers (capped), but this was with some feeding.

The other Russian is the mother of most of my nucs. Only have 1 Italian left that I used for a brood donor, to bring back a laying worker etc. When she is gone I will not be doing Italians again.

One thing of note, the pure Russians will keep some emergency queen cells loaded through most of spring/early summer. Even the slightest hybridization will do away with this trait. Sometimes you will have capped QCs and think they will swarm only to open up 2 days later to find your old queen still laying and all QCs torn down.

I kept making nucs, then dropping them in my 10-frame hives as stuff happened to my Italians (such as swarming and not seeing any sign of returning mated queen). So I have some mutt Russians I guess, but they started from a RHBA founding member. Right now I have 14 of 14 surviving, but some were very late and very, very small. It’s also a little unsettling to see even the big Russian hives drop the cluster size down much smaller than Italians.

I may not have a living bee in Feb as we have only had one night at 15F. That said, Coy’s shipped these air mail (which was $45-50), but the container and everything about the experience was top notch. I may order a few more queens more out of appreciation than needing more queens.

On heat, these are all within 15-20’ of my house. One colony is a bit testy when opened, but going slow I still get by. I work them with a light veil, t-shirt, and keep a smidge of smoke handy. If it’s light work and the foragers are busy I can usually pull frames gently and do about anything. No difference in temperament from the Italians.

Hope this helps.
 

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I live where it gets cold and can stay cold! My expiences with Russian bees have not been happy. The outcrosses tend to be hot and swarmy. Carniolans would serve you better. Russians are expensive because they are not in big demand. Why would that be?
 

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I found pure Russian bees to be ok. They produced just fine. They get A+ for wintering. But 2-3 frame clusters in spring make spring splits and equalizing was horrible. They always peaked for the main flow almost perfectly. They didn't yield up much brood or bees for mating nucs. Thankfully I never had more than 10% russian stock. Not the best bee for someone that makes there living from bees. Took 3 years for the spicyness to settle out. I found they were decently varroa tolerant, and all over the place with resistance.
 

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I live where it gets cold and can stay cold! My experiences with Russian bees have not been happy. The outcrosses tend to be hot and swarmy. Carniolans would serve you better. Russians are expensive because they are not in big demand. Why would that be?
I don't think I paid more for the actual queens than I would have anywhere, just opted for air mail which wouldn't have been a big deal on 100, but you feel it on 3. The East TN bee inspector (Jay) keeps Russians and we have a mutual friend who said his are admittedly testy. I don't have any Carnies, but I notice a lot of commercial guys on YouTube going that route, so, in essence you may be right. For me, I don't care if I make an oz of honey (although they made just as much as Italians under the same circumstances). I was going for some level of inherent resistance to mites and general survival. Too early to tell, and I've skewed my test result by spending inordinate amounts of time and money at the same time as changing breeds.
They get A+ for wintering. But 2-3 frame clusters in spring make spring splits and equalizing was horrible.
I was able to keep these brooding pretty heavily, but they completely stopped laying mid-Nov and there was no brood by Dec 7-10. None.

You have me thinking though, I did go into this experiment depending on some Italian queens (mainly pkgs installed on drawn comb) that were laying wall-to-wall, for brood donors. Hopefully I can get these girls ramped up enough to make 10-20 nucs (my current plan).

I like the Russians, and intend to try for a year or two. Thankfully, it is just a hobby for me. Economics changes everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I live where it gets cold and can stay cold! My expiences with Russian bees have not been happy. The outcrosses tend to be hot and swarmy. Carniolans would serve you better. Russians are expensive because they are not in big demand. Why would that be?
Seems like you have it backward.The higher the demand the higher the price.
What gave you the idea that they are not in big demand.
 

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Clayton brings up the major drawback of Russians for commercial keepers.
They are slow to build in early spring so pkg production and early spliting is very difficult compared to Italians.The same goes for almond pollination.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have decided to wait until later in the year and go into my hives and get two frames of bees. I am going to put them in a five frame nuc with a frame of stores and two empty frames. I will then go into the Russian hive and get one of the "just in case" queen cells they are always making and add it to the nuc.
Of course I am going to make sure the queen cells are there before I attempt this.
 

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I have decided to wait until later in the year and go into my hives and get two frames of bees. I am going to put them in a five frame nuc with a frame of stores and two empty frames. I will then go into the Russian hive and get one of the "just in case" queen cells they are always making and add it to the nuc.
Of course I am going to make sure the queen cells are there before I attempt this.
Just remember to make sure you don't tranfer any, I mean any 2-3 day-old larvae or eggs. i.e. transfer capped brood or old larvae.

I had the same idea and tried it twice, once with Italian frames/bees and Russian "just in case" cells, the next time with "just in case" and bees/brood from the same hive. Both times they tore out the "just in case" cells and made some other QCs. Even though the last one was basically just a pre-made split with what I thought would be a jump start. Silly bees, always deciding they know best. In the second case I got the queens I wanted, just a few days later.
 
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