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Author Topic: Russian Bees ???  (Read 2136 times)
Windy Ridge Apiary
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« on: December 12, 2008, 10:45:00 PM »

I am getting ready to buy bees for spring. Tell me the good, bad and the ugly about the Russians.
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mlewis48
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2008, 12:28:16 AM »

 Can't think of too many bad things about the ones that I have. You have to stay one up on them in the swarm season. They build up very fast in the Spring and they will swarm if they don't have enough room. The ones that I have are pretty laid back. Easy to work with. They out performed the Italians that were started at the same time. They over winter in a smaller cluster than the Italians. I will get more of them in the Spring. Good luck with them, if they are what you want to go with.
                                                          Marc grin
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jdpro5010
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2008, 10:54:56 AM »

I would definetly diagree with mlewis!  The russians that I had (4) were as mean as all get out.  Two of the four were dead by August and the others were dead by spring.  I also do not remember the russians being very fast in the build up either.  They do  have swarm cells going all the time though.  I would think an Italian or Carniolan of some sort would your best bet.  Especially if you are just starting out.
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Gware
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2008, 02:26:21 PM »

I have also heard that in the spring they could actually starve themselves to death  because of the rapid population growth if  spring stores are not good.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2008, 05:54:15 PM »

When Russians were first brought over, it did not take long for southern producers to find out that they were not conducive to what they wanted in a bee. Russians seem to stop in a dearth, overwinter in a smaller cluster, and do not build fast until a flow starts. Large commercial types need bees that brood endlessly, overwinter in large clusters, etc. That's why some large producers started with Russians and then changed back to Italians. And so you heard that Russians were mean, they were aggressive, they produced little honey, and so on. Seems, it may be in their best interest to make sure Russians, and even carni's are not seen as something worthy.

But what may good for large producers may not be good for beekeepers, and northern beekeepers to be specific. I want frugal bees, I want bees that shut down when no nectar is coming in. I want a bee line that may be better at handling increased mite loads. And I think their adaptability is more in line for survival with northern climates.

I actually use Russians and I am really fond of carniolans. When I started culling out my Italians 6 years ago, and went with no treatments, I lost 60%. I have culled out most Italians and now have a hybrid Russian and carni line that last year lost 16% with NO treatments. I can not say I could of accomplished that without the Russians and carni lines. And I also will not say that it was entirely due to the strain of bee, but other management and IPM played into it. But starting with a good stock and building upon the advantages they give you, is a good way to go.

Which takes me to the next point.....Many people market and sell bees on a "label". A breeder and a person to consider getting bees from should be more than a person who orders a fresh standard breeder queen every year and sells first generation daughters. A breeder should be perpetuating a line tailored to your requirements. And no breeder can select for everything. Ask questions, and get to know your options. Perhaps instead of asking about Russians in general terms, asking who breeds good Russians, and what traits are they known for, is a good way to go. A breeder may have much more to do with quality and traits you want, than what type breeder queen they started with.

« Last Edit: December 13, 2008, 08:29:17 PM by BjornBee » Logged

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1of6
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2008, 07:23:40 PM »

I have been very happy with my Russians as well as my mongrels from a superceded Russian queen.  I've had good output and they've tolerated mites with a little drone comb removal so far.

They do seem to overwinter on less.  This past spring my Russians still had a LOT of honey left.

Yes, initial buildup is slow and they do shutdown during a dearth, but when they do build up they explode.  It's my opinion that you'd have to make them starve for it to happen, unless someone's flows are that drastically different than mine.  One could possibly make them starve I guess by supplemental feeding too far before the spring flow and then shutting the feed off afterthey've built up, but I suspect they'd simply shut down and conserve.  ***This is just supposition though, as I've not tried such a thing.***  I know that around here, my Italians would starve before my Russians would in most cases.

As for grouchiness, mine have really only been grouchy in an extreme dearth, and right before dark.  I feel that these times of grouchiness are seen in most strains and should fall into the list of times when a beek should normally expect bees to be a little grouchy.
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Windy Ridge Apiary
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2008, 11:17:28 PM »

Thanks for the information. It sounds like there pretty good bees, but need to be watched closely.
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dpence
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2008, 11:32:49 PM »

Talk to Chuck Norton, he is a Russian Breeder. 

http://www.mybeebusiness.com/

I have had good luck the first year with two hives of Russians, but it could be different this coming year. 

David
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tlozo
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2008, 11:50:35 PM »

"Talk to Chuck Norton, he is a Russian Breeder."
Don't waste your money.(You can search the web under his name for problems.)
If you are looking for Russian queens go to Russianbreeder.org to find someone.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2008, 12:13:53 AM »

11 pages- huh  Wink RDY-B
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=223068
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1of6
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2008, 08:53:35 AM »

I will not take either side, but I will add a couple snippets:

1)  What an awful thread.  Spare yourself the embarrassment of having read the whole thing and read the first few posts, then skip forward to post #103 for the final update from the original poster.

2)  Read up a little on Chuck's pages.  http://mybeebusiness.com/ - talks a little bit more about the problems that he ran into this past year.

3)  Understand that this is probably just a case of 'bad business skills'.

It's a shame to see things get this ugly though.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2008, 09:34:49 AM »

Awful???....you should of seen the stuff that was actually deleted.... rolleyes
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Brandy
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2008, 11:50:56 AM »

OK Bjornbee, is it possible to continue a little on this Russian theme.  Have you kept your Russian & Carni mating yards separate from the other yards.  Did you find that the first generation of Russian & or Carni's you grafted were hotter, etc.. then future generations.  Did you find it best to start with the II Russian & Carni to get one or more generation's of truer stock.  Just kind of curious once both of these lines start open mating with your or other feral or managed Italians what the product looks like. Thanks for any additional thoughts.   
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BjornBee
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2008, 12:07:45 PM »

OK Bjornbee, is it possible to continue a little on this Russian theme.  Have you kept your Russian & Carni mating yards separate from the other yards.  Did you find that the first generation of Russian & or Carni's you grafted were hotter, etc.. then future generations.  Did you find it best to start with the II Russian & Carni to get one or more generation's of truer stock.  Just kind of curious once both of these lines start open mating with your or other feral or managed Italians what the product looks like. Thanks for any additional thoughts.   

Hello Brandi,
To tell the truth, I never had "hot" Russians. And I bought them from at least 7 different places over the years.

But I will also admit that I did not really care for the pure Russians. Although I think the claims of being hot, runny, and other claims, were exaggerated for whatever reason, I did find them "different". It's hard to fully explain. They ran more on the comb, and  were finicky. I bought them for the overwintering ability, and for that, they were the best I ever had. But they were not as nice to deal with as the carni's, and not as productive as the Italians. The Italians I gave up on, since dead bees are no use to me in the spring. That's why over the past three or four years, I introduced carni lines into my mating program. I am not trying to keep pure lines as my website states. But what I have found is that Russians and carni make a good hybrids.

I still keep my Russian and carni lines separate in different yards, from a breeder queen standpoint. But my drone yards are a full mix by this time.

I think that having a few pure Russians for breeding is one thing. Running a bee operation with pure Russians may not be what you think it will be.

At this point in time, my mating yards are transitioning over from separate strains, to yards that have different mating genetic material, based on the best of the best, and not necessarily on what kind of bee it is. Hybrid vigor, genetic diversity, and selected criteria, is much more important than maintaining lines of one label as compared to another.
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Brandy
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2008, 12:57:44 PM »

"At this point in time, my mating yards are transitioning over from separate strains, to yards that have different mating genetic material, based on the best of the best, and not necessarily on what kind of bee it is. Hybrid vigor, genetic diversity, and selected criteria, is much more important than maintaining lines of one label as compared to another."

Thanks for more thoughts, I was curious about the hybrid crosses and until you see the crosses for yourself it's hard to understand.  I'm with you with the "best of the best" but curious about some of these crosses.  Seem's you can't go far these day's without Russian's somewhere in the conversation. 
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1of6
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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2008, 09:30:33 PM »

...Seem's you can't go far these day's without Russian's somewhere in the conversation. 

...And that's not really a bad thing.  They definitely have good traits to contribute.
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jdpro5010
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« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2008, 01:57:32 PM »

I would also like to add in fairness to the Russian supporters that my Russians were a cross with Italians.  Now it is my understanding that this is possibly the worst cross to do with Russians..  But these bees were EXTREMELY HOT!  They would chase you literally for a couple hundred yards or more during a flow not just in the fall or dearth when you expect them to be a little touchy.  I would highly recommend to any beginning beekeeper to  avoid this breed in the beginning and maybe try a NWC or something like Bjorn bees (local) for something to learn with and then go from there.
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Keith13
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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2008, 04:19:29 PM »

I would also like to add in fairness to the Russian supporters that my Russians were a cross with Italians.  Now it is my understanding that this is possibly the worst cross to do with Russians..  But these bees were EXTREMELY HOT!  They would chase you literally for a couple hundred yards or more during a flow not just in the fall or dearth when you expect them to be a little touchy.  I would highly recommend to any beginning beekeeper to  avoid this breed in the beginning and maybe try a NWC or something like Bjorn bees (local) for something to learn with and then go from there.

I had a nuc like this one. You could not walk within 150 meters of the hive, they would wear you out they  were Russian. But my breeder Charles Harper replaced them and since then those russians have been awesome

Keith
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