Are Russian Honey Bees More Resistant to Varroa and Tracheal Mites?
Are Russian Bees Aggressive By Nature?
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Ask the Expert: Are Russian honey bees more resistant to varroa and tracheal mites?
There is some research suggesting Russian honey bees are somewhat resistant to varroa mites. Similar to the Asian honey bee, the Russian strain of European bees have evolved alongside varroa for longer than other common strains (Italian, Carniolan, etc.). The evidence suggests Russian bees may possess some genetic components that give them some resistance.
That said I think it’s important to acknowledge a couple of important caveats.
1) This is a mild form of resistance, NOT immunity. A colony of Russian honey bees will eventually perish to varroa mites if left unchecked. Their resistance may result in the colony living longer than, say, an Italian colony would under the same circumstances. However, without some form of mite control intervention, even Russian bees will die eventually from varroa.
2) The resistance seems to be present only in pure Russian honey bees. Pure Russian bees are a bit more difficult to come by in the US (though it is getting easier) so it is critical to be certain you are getting them from a reputable source.
You can learn more about Russian bees’ resistance to varroa on the Russian Honey Bee Breeders Association. If you’d like to buy Russian honey bees, I imagine the association can also direct you a reputable source.
Are Russian honey bees more aggressive than other bees?
My understanding is Russian bees are no more aggressive than any other honey bee race such as Italians. While I have never kept Russian bees, I am told they are just as easy to work with as most other types of European honey bees.
I hope this helps and wish you all the best in your beekeeping adventure!
Please let me know what other questions you have.
All the best!