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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

I'm getting my first Russians from Dwight Porter this year after having Italians.

I would like to hear some feed back on your keeping experience with Russians and how they compare to your other breeds. I know all the facts on the Russians, so I just want some experiences. Looking for any positive or negative feedback.

Thanks
 

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I have done exactly the same that you are doing. You will find an older thread about this. You are going to get mixed reactions here. I think most of the people that bad mouth them are the ones that had them before the USDA developed todays Russians. I still don't think that they are the answer to all problems. But I think they are mite resistant, highly hygenic bees and deserve more credit than they are getting. After having researched for a couple of months I really wanted to try them. However my problem is that the closest Russian breeder is still a 7 hour drive for me and I have Arthritis in my spine, am 66 years old. So I have found survival bees that will have MN. hygenic queens on them 30 minutes away. So I will use the Mn. hygenic queens on my splits, and buy some nucs here locally. But man I really wanted some Russians. :thumbsup::(
 

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Valleyman, I notice you're in Kentucky. Doesn't Kelley's sell packages of Russians? not sure how far from you they are though.

I got my first nucs of Russians last year. Two colonies, both built up well, got a surplus off one. So far they've wintered well, but I'll really know about them by this coming September.
 

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Bought 10 nucs of russians last May and installed them in 10 frame deeps. Only one of the ten built up well over the summer. Lost two during the summer months, they didn't thrive or build up despite feeding, adding frames of brood etc. Lost another hive in September, same reasons. Lost another hive in January. January clusters on remaining hives were very small.

I now have six left that have so far made it but it will be a while before anything is producing pollen/nectar here. Tried feeding those six pollen sub, they won't touch it.

I find the russians tempermental in their brood rearing. No pollen coming in, the queen quits laying. My russins were gentle to work. I haven't seen any mites on them.

I give the russians a thumbs down for my area. I wouldn't buy any more.
 

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We have 68 Russian hives (hybrids). Gentle, bring in lots of honey when they're strong. But, they build up slow. In FL we need bees that will build up starting in January so that they're booming by orange blossum flow in early March. So far, we have about 50% that are strong, not good enough! However, we've had extreme cold weather for FL for the past 6 weeks so I'm going to reserve judgement for a couple more weeks. We'll be moving them into the orange groves this weekend but it looks like the flow will be delayed a couple weeks so they might be OK. They're packing away oak and maple pollen; some have 3+ frames of solid pollen. If you're willing to do battle with mites I recommend Italians! :D
 

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I've had Russian and Italians from my very first hives, and I can tell you that I prefer the Russians, hands down. I've found them to be quiet and gentle, and having a much better temperament than the Italian hives I've had and I've had about 1/2 and 1/2 so far.

I have found that a couple of the Russian hives did not build wax as well as the Italian hives but so far that has been my only complaint. They can be a little bit testy during the first round of brood rearing, but that levels out very quickly.

All in all, its Russians all the way for me. Last year I actually installed Italian packages, and re-queened with Russians prior to Winter. Of course, its a matter of preference, but that's my take. Love 'em.
 

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Two things that I noticed about Russians that really frustrates me.

1. The queen RUNS as soon as you smoke the hive. It makes it really difficult to find her. I've noticed on more than one occasion the queen hiding under a clump of bees in the bottom corner of the bottom board.

2. They build queen cups like crazy. They just love having them around just in case. Frustrating if you arn't use to them. I kept checking to see if brood was in there, if they were going to swarm. Never was, but still took extra time to check them.

Other than that, they appear to be fine. Just as gentle as any Italian strain I've had, decent honey producers.
 

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I bought two Russian packages last spring. I highly suspect the the queens were Russian but the bee breeder dumped Italian workers in the box and not Russian workers. Within two weeks the bees got rid of the Russian queens and made supercedure cells. When the new supercedure queens emerged they only last about three weeks before the bees created supercedure cells once again. Those queens emerged and the bees finally settled down but by that time it was a lost season. Moral of the story: Buy Russian nucs where all the bees are Russian.
 

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Now for the big question!!!!! How many of you had the pure RussianS that can only be gotten from a member of the Russian Breeders Assoc. When you get them they will have to have been tested for purity, and must have 90+% genetic Russian. I'm not sure what thE exact % it is but it is high. That is what the USDA requires before they sell them more new genetics the next year at a bottom basement price. An around $12,000 queen for $250.00. To accomplish this purity they flood the drone area with pure Russian drones. Doesn't sound possible does it. These are just some of the requirements. And they sell their queens and nucs for less than most beeks. So can you understand why there are not more PURE Russian Breeders. What Kelleys has are Queens that are mated with any drone in the beeyard, therefore are hybrids. I could be wrong about some of the requirements, but after a long conversation with Ray Revis of RevisRussans in Marion Nc. He sounded very convincing and honest and cooperative. Remember he has no trouble selling out evey year. He is just selling what he thinks are the best. PURE RUSSIAN BEES!!!:applause:
 

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Interesting topic. I've opened a few Russian hives and have followed the project from the start. I personally know and like many of the people involved in the project.

As it happens I wound up sitting with Tom and Charlie at the EAS banquet this year and so, of course, I asked them a few pointed questions. I had no idea I would be reporting here. I'm just naturally curious and I hate small talk.

A few years have passed since I last checked in on the Russians, so I asked them both, "Do you ever treat the bees for anything?". Both said, "no!".

So, I asked, "Do you ever see any AFB?" I can't recall what Charlie said -- it was basically a negative -- but Tom said, "Hardly ever, and if I do, it is never a problem". He then went on to say. "If anyone should have a problem, I should have, since I swap equipment with every Tom, Dick and Harry from everywhere". (I may be paraphrasing a little).

Anyhow, the Russians are apparently very good survivors and stay clean. Are they good producers? A Saskatchewan beekeeper claimed a record crop from a hive headed by an early Russian project queen.

My U.S. commercial friend, Bob, says they do not build up fast enough for him and they do not respond to stimulation like Italians. You just cannot fool those bees. They build up fast only when you "Show me the (real) pollen", but that is hard to do in January.

People headed for the California (Pollination) Gold Rush find them a little slow building that early, although I have heard some loads "Did Good'.

Anyhow, Baton Rouge has noted that and is working on better buildup and bigger clusters. It is not that the bees do not perform well -- they do -- it is that they just do not show well according to what people are conditioned to expect, and if you are paid by the frame, well...

They invited me (and anyone else who is interested) to attend the Baton Rouge Open House October 3rd 2009. I'd have loved to go, and I tried, but I cannot be everywhere and I missed it. There will be one next year, and I would say don't miss it if you can go. I think they even feed you. They did last time I went.

There are some pictures of a lab vist on this page http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/2003/diary011003.htm and we do have a few hives open.

It is getting late, and I am not having any luck searching, but somewhere on my site, I have a picture Aaron Morris of BEE-L fame took of a queen battery box with regular and Russian queens in cages sitting exposed to flying bees. The 'normal' queen cages are covered with passing workers, but the Russian cages are not so much. It seems that in some ways, at that time, these bees and 'normal' bees were a bit like oil and water. Getting acceptance for a Russian queen in a non-Russian hive was sometimes a bit difficult. Has that changed? I don't know.

In order to stay with the program it was necessary for a queen producer to buy new pure queens each year. I don't know if that is still true, but I do know that many of the so-called Russians on offer are actually crosses and/or open-mated in areas which may or may not have a lot of the Russian drones.
 

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FWIW

this guy resurfaced lately online after being "underground" in 2009, there are beekeepers still looking for either queens or a refund from the 2008 season.

http://mybeebusiness.com/

he correctly states he is no longer a Russian Bee Breeders Association member on his web page.

buyer beware!:no:
 

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I agree with Valleyman and would further state that I know of zero RBBA members who sell packages.

If its a package its probably a hybrid. Like I said in an earlier thread on this topic. They ain't enough real pure Russians out there to even be having this conversation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've heard only good about them except on here, that's why I was asking. Sounds like there are some sellers out there that sell what they want to call "Russians". It's kind of like when you come across someone selling sourwood when no one else is. Makes you wonder.

However like I said in the original post, I bought my from Dwight who has been a member of the Russian Association for a good number of years and who I've heard speak. They are not allowed to treat with anything and are to have a minimum of 200 hives. I'm hoping for a good experience and without having to treat.
 

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OK, so there are not so many pure Russians out there. I also ordered Russian hybrids from Kelly. I would assume the hybrids do not posses all the desirable traits of the pure Russians. If this is correct why buy the Russian hybrids at all? Are there any advantages to the hybrids? If I do not go with pure Russians should I just stick with the Italians?
 

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Going Russian is a commitment unlike what kind of queen should I order this year. If you keep bringing in more stock even hybridized and isolate your mating yards you can move towards a more pure stock through your own breeding program.

I think highly of the Russian bees and RBBA program but most members are not in it to sell queens or bees, thus there is not a real good model set up for disseminating those bees.

My point I wanted to make is we don't have enough pure apiaries out there and beekeepers running them to have any sort of gee whiz guys what do you think discussion. I don't want to discourage anyone from looking into this just realize for every Dwight Porter or RBBA member, you got a half dozen others who got a russian breeder and grafted off some queens that got mated with whatever. These guys are capitalizing on the Russian craze and the lack of understanding in hobbyist beekeepers.

IF its worth having its probably not easy to acquire!
 

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Interesting stuff here.... First, I'd like to say that Russians may not be geared up to tolerate warmer winter climates and areas like FL & TX. That's one strike against them. Both my hives of Pure Russians, and I know it for a fact, have been just amazing on how easy they are to take care of. Mostly, they take care of their own issues.

A friend of mine 4 miles down the road has Italians. 5 hives total. 2 swarmed after the 2008/2009 brutal winter into spring time. She was also the trainer in some of the classes I took and met several seasoned beeks, one into it for 54 years ! He has Russian hybrids and loves them and has seen where some of the hives actually grew during the winter in population ! They are extremely thrifty eaters in colder months and consume around 5 full frames of honey the entire winter. Probably a small hive, I'd agree. Anyway my friend is constantly treating for diseases and using preventatives with Italians, whereas, my mentor does nothing at all. They're on their own.

From what I've heard and verified with known Pure Russian beekeepers, the queens MUST have a few 70 plus degree days to mate properly, thus having a later delivery date when ordering packages and nucs. Yes, they are rather few and far between, however, worth it, I feel. I'd rather be certain that those queens are properly mated before the shipment is sent. The wings are clipped and they're marked because of the obvious reasons and the fact that a mated queen needs no reason to fly outside the hive to mate with a foreigner honey bee for purity sake. And one other thing, the bees that I order come from a field that's isolated by at least 10 miles and no other bees around except for the wild ones & bumble bees.

My experiences have been nothing less than wonderful so far. Over the winter I've bought 4 antique platform scales to measure their progress ! In about a month, I'll set them up and take pictures to post on my web page.

Take Care,
SwedeBee1970
 

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One main point has not been made in this discussion. If you put a pure mated Russian queen in a hive of Italians, and get her accepted, which is not easy to do, in 42 days what breed of bees are you going to have?:doh:
The Russian breeders will give you a procedure to get her accepted. Me personally I had planned to use Micheal Bushs' queen cage made out of #8 hardware cloth, fully home made. Also you can requeen every year to keep them pure.;)
 

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If this is correct why buy the Russian hybrids at all? Are there any advantages to the hybrids? If I do not go with pure Russians should I just stick with the Italians?
reasons to go with the hybrids. during the first year you can order a straight russian queen and replace the queen that came with the packages and get easier acceptance of the queen.

you can order a straight russian queen, breed off of her and when her daughters mate with the droans from you hybrids, they will also be straight russian queens:D
 
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