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Information for Beekeepers / August 1999 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Availability of Russian Honey Bees

By Marcia Wood
August 1999

Russian honey bees now being tested at the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Unit in Baton Rouge, La., and reared at Bernard's Apiaries, Inc., in Breaux Bridge, La., are generally gentle and produce honey at about the same level as commonly used commercial stocks, according to Thomas E. Rinderer of the research unit.

Through a newly signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, Bernard's Apiaries, Inc., in Breaux Bridge, La., is now taking orders for breeder queens.

The breeder queens will be produced this fall and winter for shipment to customers early in the year 2000.

Breeder queens can be ordered from Bernard's Apiaries, Inc., 1025 Bernard St., Henderson Station, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517-7875, phone and fax (318) 228-7535, e-mail

According to Bernard's, orders must be received by September 30, 1999, to ensure delivery. Orders received after September 30, 1999 will be accepted on a first-come basis, based on queen availability. The order of acceptance will be based on fax or e-mail time and date, or postmark date.

"Our experience with hybrids of Russian and domestic stocks during the past year has been favorable," Rinderer noted.

"However, depending upon the drones that a beekeeper uses to mate with the Russian queens," he said, "the characteristics of the hybrid offspring may be highly varied. That's why were asking everyone who buys a Russian queen to let us know about the performance of their bees. We can use that information in our ongoing program to improve the performance of the Russian stock."

"The Russian bees that we are working with are very good," Rinderer said, "but we think we can make them even better. We're hoping that beekeepers who end up with superior colonies of Russian bees will be willing to work with us, so that we can bring these top-performing bees into our breeding and selection program."

The lineage of Russian queens provided by Rinderer's laboratory to Bernard's Apiaries, Inc., this year will differ from that provided next year, and thereafter. "That will help prevent inbreeding," Rinderer said.

In addition, Rinderer and colleagues anticipate making additional expeditions to Russia to collect more Russian bees.

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