Russian Bees have been touted as being able to sustain themselves without chemical assistance in the face of the Varroa mite. To test how well this theory works I now have two yards of Russians – One made up last year from Italian packages requeened with Russian Queens from a RBBA member, and a second created this year using Italian nucs from the same source.
The requeening method was 1) find and remove the old queen, 2) let the hive be queenless for 24 hours and 3) install a Queen cage containing the new queen with no attendants. The first year the exit tube on the queen cage was covered with masking tape for three days to delay the new queens introduction.
About ten days after introduction of the new queens the colonies were inspected. The first hive checked the new queen was seen and there was plenty of freshly capped brood along with eggs and larvae. Things were looking good! Unfortunately in 4 of the 5 remaining colonies there was no young brood, eggs or larvae, leading me to conclude that queen acceptance had been poor.
So I waited a week and again inspected. This time in 3 of the 4 “queenless” colonies I saw queens, but still no young brood, eggs nor larvae. What was going on? In thinking about it I realized that the summer dearth had just begun and that the new queens had been accepted just fine but in keeping with Russian tendencies, the new queens “felt” their colonies didn’t “need” any additional workers – hence no eggs! (And no signs that the hive was queenless)
I’ll inspect again today to see if things are ok. If not a whole lot of combining will need to happen as new queens in quantity are not available.