I bought 10 packages with Russian queens this Spring. Started them on drawn comb. Two didn't take, o.k., expecting that, another went queenless soon after, o.k.. Would check them, would find a small brood pattern, but tight, and solid with capped brood, no "shot brood". All season kept telling myself "They will take off any day now." "Any day now..." "Any ..." "..."
Well, here we are at the end of the season and they are still not built up. One hive was destroyed by robbing before I could catch it. One I combined with another hive about three weeks ago because it was only two frames worth. Most of the others are at a half of a deep to one deep. The best of the lot is at one deep and a medium.
Meanwhile, my other bees have all filled two deeps or their equivalent, and they were all splits, cut outs, or swarms. Heck, I have a swarm I caught at the end of August that has filled three eight frame medium boxes.
Our goldenrod flow was a bit disappointing, it hadn't rained for a month, but the rest of the season was very good here. What gives? And what do I do now? I have heard Russians can overwinter on small clusters, but how small? And what kind of performance can I expect next year with this behavior?