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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2 days ago we had another 14" of snow. After that snow I noticed dead bees outside the Russian hive but not outside the Italian hive. Since the Italians seem to make a sport out of falling on the snow and dying, I figured that wasn't a good sign.

Today the hot February sun is shining full strength and the Russians are flying all over the place - many landing in the snow and not moving, but at least there's activity. The Italian hive, I knocked on all the supers, and no sign of life.

If the Italians are done for, I am never ever buying another Italian package. They are so proliferate all summer, huge and pack away a lot of honey, but don't seem to stand the elements well.

But, I'm sure there's still lots of honey in that hive, I'll have a lot of resources to make Russian splits in the spring I figure.

Oh, and this winter, bought equipment for 2 new hives. Bound and determined to get use out of those.......

I WILL NOT ADMIT DEFEAT. Tally ho.
 

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The Italian hive, I knocked on all the supers, and no sign of life.
Many people have told me that if knock on a hive in winter, and you don't hear anything, the hive is dead. That is NOT the case with my bees. I can knock loudly on my hives in the winter, and they make no noise. I wouldn't count your Italians out yet.

I had some Russians that would forage in the low 40's in the spring. The other hives would be hunkered down. The lowest I recall my Russians flying was 39.

Shane
 

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Newbee, that's a little quick to be making assumptions with results from one Italian hive. I'd recommend a few more years and a few more hives! Good luck
 

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Do not count them out yet. My italians make no noise at all but just pop a top and they are all over you. Mine have survived -38F this year and are itching for spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Don't give me false hope! :D

Outdoor thermometer in the sun reads in the 80s (air temperature is 45 today). The Russians are all over the place. But, we'll see........ It ain't over till it's over. (This is my 2nd year with Italians, the first winter they didn't do so hot either.)

Another frigid cold snap scheduled in a few days.
 

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Fossil evidence shows that the Italian bees survived the last Ice Age in the Alps. The "Russians" (Primorski is their proper name) honey bees migrated north after the Ice Age. It is 47 here right now and my Italians are not flying... They may just be smarter then the "Russians".
 

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Check my hives out yesterday here south of Ithaca, NY. It was barley 40, and thought I saw one come out of my Carni hive. Definatley had more than I wanted flying out of my 3 deep super Georgia/Ithalians. Unfortunatly I saw none flying out of my two hives that each have 3 deep supers which are of California mite resistant Italians. I know all had good numbers going into fall, and plenty of food stores. I too await more fair weather, and will assess then. I find that at this stage of the game the best practice is to plan your expansion accordingly, and Ma Nature will take care of the rest. I know you have been having the same winter in NH as we are in NY, and I have never lost my Italians yet, though last year we started expanding, so sooner or later I know I will loose a hive or two. Definatley don't give up on the Italians though. Given how hard the winter, you have to expect som loss. Cheers
 

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My russians were bearding the front of six hives (mouse guards probably causing a traffic jam) yesterday with temperature about 58 f. My Italians are no where to be found, but I'm pretty sure they are alive. Keep hoping and good luck!
 

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Outdoor thermometer in the sun reads in the 80s (air temperature is 45 today). The Russians are all over the place. But, we'll see........ It ain't over till it's over. (This is my 2nd year with Italians, the first winter they didn't do so hot either.)
If it's that mild, open the lid and see if they're moving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
bmat555 - if they were bearding already, could there be danger of swarm?

I would've popped the top rkereid, except there was still snow on top covering the 2 big rocks up there that I would've had to heave in a foot of snow or so, plus the Russians were so active I didn't want them flying at me by accident with no veil.

If this were the end of the bitter cold snaps I'd feel a little better. As it is, every thaw they lose more bees in the snow and the cluster must be smaller. Maybe they're starting to hatch replacements in there tho.
 

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I was convinced my Italians were dead after our big 2/14 snow storm had buried the bottom of my hive in over 2' of snow.

When knocking on hive I didn't get the buzzzzzz. But, today they were out flying. Not a lot but a steady clip all day long. Maybe 20/30 in the air around the hive at all times.

I took the quilt off to see what was up and they still have not gone after the sugar cake on top of newspaper I put down during last warm period.

The ball o bees is still huddled up right under the mound of sugar in the top medium box...

Fingers crossed.
 

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If the Italians are done for, I am never ever buying another Italian package. They are so proliferate all summer, huge and pack away a lot of honey, but don't seem to stand the elements well
I love this site. Sometimes, though, I find the ascertains to be anecdotal and not necessarily based on science.

I understand that you have Russians and Italians and so it would appear to be a side-by-side demonstration of which is heartier. But interestingly, we both purchased our Italian bees from the same supplier in NH and picked them up on the same day. I looked foward to reading your posts for this reason.

My Italians are still buzzing and I am 150 miles north of you in the mountains. But believe me, I know it is too earlier to claim victory! I also don't for an instant suggest that I am better beekeeper or more knowledgeable than you; in fact I think it is quite the contrary. But I wonder if other factors didn't influence their eventual demise?

I didn't review your posts but I do recall that our bees were delivered quite late (well into May) following several delays in delivery out of GA. When I did get the package, the weather was atrocious. It snowed! and rained all week and was below freezing. I had the bees in the garage waiting for an opportunity to hive them and lost at least a pound of them before they ever made it into the hive.

I seem to recall that your bees swarmed quite soon, right? Also, and I may have this wrong, but didn't you choose to not medicate them in any way? I wonder if all these factors could have influenced the result and not just the strain of bees?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow Beerz you remember my bees better than I do! :) I had completely forgotten those conversations. Did we pick up on the same day? Huh. I don't remember waiting to install mine; it could have been snowing up your way and not down here.

I don't think mine swarmed; maybe I posted at one point (worrying out loud) that I was afraid they might have, but I don't remember a swarm issue happening.

I don't medicate. But I didn't medicate the Russians either (altho they're rumored to be more hardy).

Could've been any number of factors (if my Italians are indeed goners). I don't know if it snowed up there as much as it has down here this winter.

This hive was very prolific all summer - I borrowed quite a few frames of brood and honey for the growing Russian hive. They probably had 3x the population of the Russians going in. I didn't harvest any honey from them tho, just the frames borrowed for the other hive.

I still think Russians are more hardy, and I'd rather focus on 2+ yr. old hives than to have to keep repopulating every spring. I'm not buying any Italian packages this spring, have a Russian queen on order for late June to split the existing hives.

Let's compare notes on our hives when spring comes. Not to say our packages even had the same family of bees, but it would be interesting to compare.
 

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I am curious to try the Russians after reading this thread
I do have to say that the Italians seem to be good at keeping numbers up dispute huge losses. Both years I had them they had huge piles of dead bees infront of the hive going into winter. I pulled a frame in December with eggs on it. Last year they came through with a small cluster. I guess the question is whether a small cluster will cut it for spring build up and honey production. It didn't last year. This year the hive seems to be hanging in there again but I am considering requeening with Carnies or Russians.
 

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I often wonder if the vast majority of bees sold as "Russian" here in the US actually are? The USDA brought in a rather small selection of stock barely over a decade ago and only released them to a select number of breeders. It seems there are way too many "Russian" bees given the circumstances under which they came here.
 

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It seems there are way too many "Russian" bees given the circumstances under which they came here.
You stole my thunder. It is fairly easy to follow the lineage of an AKC registered collie. But how do you really know what you are getting for bees? I am intrigued by Russians, too. But I'm at a loss as to pedigree. Anyone?
 
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