I have just gone to a bunch of trouble to introduce Russian Queens to Italian Hives - the jury is still out on what the final take rate is.
I would not have gone to the trouble if didn't want to see with my own eyes the Russian's ability to coexist with mites. I visited one of the yards last year of the person I got my queens from and his bees were not at all pissy.
I have Russians and Italians and so far they're all doing great. My Russian hive might be a little more pissy than my others, but they've gone gang busters as far as hive growth and winter build up so... that's my 2 cents.
I have 3 Russian and 1 Italian, Love my Russians, jurry still out on Italians, Started package in May and have had queen problems until recently, they are mostly Russian now til the new queens eggs start hatching good.
I was the one who posted the "The only good Russian is a dead Russian." The reason is that they got very hot on about the 3rd generation, at least in our experience. We started out last year with 21 Russian nucs and over the course of about 6 months built up to just over 100 hives, all Russians from 2 different reputable queen breeders. When we started raising our own queens the 2nd generation was a little nastier, but not too bad. Our real problem was that they did not build up fast in the early spring for the citrus flow. Luckily we had a late flow which lasted longer than usual due to cold weather down here, which gave them time to build. After we split them this year, the 3rd generation was just plain nasty hot! The good news is that we never found any mites to speak of and they do like to store honey. But, the queens shut down frequently and since we have flows close together it was impossible to keep them strong enough. So, we switched to Italians. I gave a couple Russian queens to my brother and he was ready to shoot me after trying to work the nasty critters. If I lived up north with its later flows they would most likely be good bees to work with, but I would definitely buy some breeder queens and requeen with 1st generation queens.
I started two Italian nucs and two Russian packages. Honestly, the Russian packages have built up better that the two Italian nucs. Go figure. I have no idea how they are gonna do in the long run. But, they have been sucking down the syrup and building comb like little machines. They will sting ya, but hey, they are bugs......As long as I suit up, they cant get me!
Fish Stix... I'd be curious to know where your Italians are on the 3rd generation. If your hives are in FL, could you be picking up some aggressive AHB genetics in drone populations?
I've got gentle Russians crossing with gentle Italians and so far have had gentle crosses on the 2nd generation... but only have a few hives so its not near the sample of Fish Stix.
You don't have to buy a breeder queen to get pure Russians. The members of the Russian breeders association have to sell Queens mated with only Russian drones. They are checked for purity regularly and have to pass for them to stay in the association. The Russians of course are mite resistant, just in general healthier than most genetics. They will fly in colder,and wetter weather than any other. they do shut down brood rearing earlier so they don't go into winter with a large cluster, because of this they build up a little slower. But they say that they catch up to the Italians. Oh, and they don't rob out their weaker neighbors like the Mafia Italians do.
For more info: www.russianbreeders.org
I bought a 3# package with a Russian queen last year for my first hive. I got them because they were supposed to be somewhat mite resistant.
By December, the hive was dead. It never was that healthy. The bees seemed to start strong, but then they just dwindled away.
This April, I replaced the hive with a 3# package of Italians and they are going like gangbusters. I had to add a second hive body early on, one super is filled and harvested with two more well on the way.
I did have a minor setback last week when someone decided to spray. That was unfortunate, but I guess it happens. That's a subject for a different thread though.
dmacmtb; our Italians are great! Gentle, easy to work. It's possible we could have had some queens mated with AHB drones, but our AHB population is very small in our area. I've only heard of a couple confirmed cases in our county and both were 20-30 miles away. Plus, that would not explain why virtually all the Russian hives were hot. Even with a lot larger population of AHB in TX, NM, AZ and CA, queen breeders still are able to get European mated queens and gentle bees. It's a mystery I'm not going to worry about since we have only 3 or 4 of the Russian queens left and they have a very short life expectancy!
I've had Russians for 4 years, made splits with them, they're doing well. From what I understand though, the hotter the climate, the worse they do. Better further north, so they ought to work for you just fine. No chemicals for mites at all.
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