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Author Topic: How to manage Russian Bees?  (Read 2608 times)
lcsdday
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« on: December 22, 2010, 06:12:30 PM »

I would love to hear from anyone who keeps Russian bees. This is my first year with two Russian hives that I purchased as nuc's from Dwight Porter in Pickens Co. South Carolina. I loved them! The were very gentle and even though I received them very late in the year one of the hives made an extra full super of Fall honey. I plan on buying two more nuc's and hopefully spilting my existing hives. Can anyone tell me what to expect for my next year. When is the best time to split a hive of Russians and how do you super during the honey flow to keep ahead of them to prevent swarming. I also have a feral hive that I collected and if they make it through the winter I will requeen with a Russain, any advice on requeening?

Any advice will be greatly welcomed.

David, Saluda SC.
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Keith13
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2010, 08:31:34 PM »

I had two nucs of russians both were outstanding producers a first year hive from a nuc well over 100 lbs of honey, and gentle. the other were great producers as well but if you got within 100 yards you better look out they are out for blood. I got my supplier to replace those with another nuc and they also did really well and are fairly gentle. I quit buying them only because i found out i didnt need to buy bees anymore between swarms and JP giving me some cut outs I had more bees then I knew what to do with. I have very good opinion of the russians they can be a little swarmy though

Keith
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hankdog1
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2010, 12:17:55 AM »

It's been my experience with 2 packages from Walter T. Kelly with Russian queens that they are tempermental.  If you have ever been around someone that is bi polar then you know what you'll get with Russian bees.  One day you go in they are as gentle as a new born baby.  But see that's how they get you into a false sense of security.  The next time you go in they may be fine too but then they turn on you.  I have never seen bees so tempermental in all my life without any sign of stress being on them.  I have to admit i lost both hives and wasn't at all sad to see them go.
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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2010, 08:32:37 AM »

It's been my experience with 2 packages from Walter T. Kelly with Russian queens that they are tempermental.  If you have ever been around someone that is bi polar then you know what you'll get with Russian bees.  One day you go in they are as gentle as a new born baby.  But see that's how they get you into a false sense of security.  The next time you go in they may be fine too but then they turn on you.  I have never seen bees so tempermental in all my life without any sign of stress being on them.  I have to admit i lost both hives and wasn't at all sad to see them go.

Like the Red Scare?
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Grid
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2010, 09:18:33 PM »

I've had Russians for 3 years now.  I like them.  The ones I have are gentle, good producers and winter well.

Grid
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2010, 09:44:20 PM »

I've had my Russians going on six years;

Been Stung ?  Yes, generally from doing something STUPID !!

Swarmed ? No more than the Mutts I had before, again caused by something I did or didn't do !!

I am not a bee breeder, don't sell bees, nor do I talk any bee breeds down.

Good Luck in your choice.

Bee-Bop
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AR Beekeeper
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« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2010, 12:15:08 PM »

When the Russians were first released they were wild as a March Hare.  Now the ones I have are gentle enough to be worked without smoke and are no more swarmy than my MN Hygenics.  They handle the SHB and varroa well.  They need stimulative feeding in March and in August to build up populations for foraging and to overwinter, but that is not unusuall for most bees.
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Sparky
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« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2010, 02:45:46 PM »

Do not have the experience as others here with only one Russian but the re queening of a different variety of bees can sometimes be a challenge. Robo has a very good method that has worked 100% for me to change types of queens. See the link.   http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/downloads/beekeeping/QueenIntroFrame.pdf
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2010, 06:07:18 PM »

I like Russian for several reasons, one being their varroa resistance which is partly due to their characteristic of creating occassional brood dearths at the begining of a large to moderate honey flow so that at the end of the honey flow there is less bees so that any onset of bad weather can be survived by the bees (Italians have the charateristic of growing and growing so that adverse weather can actually kill off the hive due to starvation, even in the middle of summer).
I split several of my my hives into 4 nucs which I then transported 500 miles to my older brother's placewith the help of my youngest brother.  We put the hives down where he wanted them, opened them up and after a brief few minutes of bees in the air they all settled down and got back to routine.  Neither I nor my 2 brothers were stung and none of us were wearing veils or gloves.
I have found the Russians to be extremely gentle bees but with the same tendency as other varities of bees whose temperment varies with weather and other considerations.
I would bet that if a beekeeper were to analyze when his bees were proddy verses the times they are calm has much to do with the weather, pre or post storm, humidity, temperature, etc.
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lcsdday
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2010, 06:09:59 PM »

I appreciate all the responses so far. I've noticed that there is not a large following when it comes to Russian bees, both here or on the web, which makes it hard to read up on what to expect.  Even our beekeeping club members have very limited knowledge on managing them, so any information I get is welcomed and appreciated.

 Had a break in the weather and was able to check on them.  The two Russian hives had more bees than I expected and also saw several drones (approx. 5-7 on each frame).  Both queens were there and had a very small patch of brood.  What was really interesting was it didn't look like they had gone through any of the honey in the top super yet.  All 10 frames were still capped from end to end.  The feral hive had no drones and had already started eating from the super, but not much.  The temps have been in the upper 20's and lows in the teens for about three weeks.

Thanks,

David
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lenape13
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« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2010, 06:33:22 PM »

One day I would like to play with some Russians, just to see how they do here.  My concern is the small children that roam around.  My Italians and ferals have been as docile as can be, which has won over any concerned neighbors I may have had in the beginning.  If I could find an nice isolated bee yard, I would like to start with a couple of Russian hives and evaluate them.
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2010, 09:23:46 PM »



Here's picture of my home yard, notice the neighbors house in back, six kids and 3 horses.

My Russian Bees know about  footballs, tag, hide & seek and whatever six kids can think of, plus 1 old man that likes to play kids games  grin

Bee-Bop
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" If Your not part of the genetic solution of breeding mite-free bees, then You're part of the problem "
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