The Russian Bee
The Russian is a Caucasian bee with Italian and Carniolan genes mixed in. It might well be a mix up of other breeds, but is definitely it's own character. The origin of the species is the Primorsky Krai region of Russia and was imported into the USA in 1997. After quarantine and testing it is now quite common.
Russian bees have an incredibly resistance to mites and this is one of their greatest strengths. They are very clean within the hive, but can be aggressive towards mites and this is the key to their success. They are generally quite calm with beekeepers, but do have a tendency to want to swarm if there isn't enough space. Unlike other species of bee, they always have queen cells ready 'just in case'.
Introducing a Russian queen to a non Russian colony is tricky and requires more care and time, but if accepted will do well. The top plus point for Russians is their over wintering ability. They can survive much colder temperatures than other species and are incredibly frugal with their winter stores. They end the year with a much smaller cluster than other types of bee. However, come spring with ample pollen, the population will explode, seemingly over night.
Many US beekeepers extol the virtues of Russians, saying they are the calmest bees they have ever kept.
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