My wife and I have been keeping bees since spring '04 here in Central Illinois. Have been to the Forum as guests a few times in the past, so decided to join.
We started with 2 Russian nucs that we drove to Tess Arnold's in Knoxville, Tenn. to pick up. We'd read alot about different bees in deciding which kind to get and settled on the Russians. Most of what we had read about them mentioned their mite resistance and mildly aggressive behavior. We figured since we had raised teenagers we could handle the behavior!! We have not been sorry about our decision. We love 'em! We've seen other bees much more aggressive than our Russians, and have had very little problems with mites. Have a picture of our grandson with a hive that I might post later.
Into 1st winter with 6 hives-wrapped with roofing paper and put in some wintergreen grease patties. All survived.
2nd winter-10 hives-no paper, some wintergreen grease patties. All survived. One produced a late queen that never bred, but she and her bees were still there come spring. Got 3 more nucs from Jester in Arkansas. Raised some of our own queens.
3rd winter-17 hives-no paper, no patties. All survived. No queen in one, and what had been a good queen in another was laying nothing but drones, but both still had lots of bees. Combined their boxes using newspaper with other hives.
We're waiting for a breeder queen (Russian, of course) to come in another week or so, depending on the weather with hopes of doubling our hives (if God's willing and the bees agree). We use SBB's with 10 frame brood boxes and medium supers, with mostly wax and some plastic we started last year.
Are getting hit with a cold blast today and a few days to come with below freezing temps and wind chills in the teens. Right after the bees worked so hard on those apricot and peach blossoms. Set entrance reducers back in temporarily and covered assorted entrance holes. Ah, springtime in Illinois!
Looking forward to participating in the Forum,
acbs (short for Arvin and Colleen's Bees)