The Russian bee


Russian bees are dark brown to black in color and the yellow part of the abdomen is paler.


Russian bees originated in the Primorsky region, which is also home to Varroa and Tracheal mites. As such, they’ve developed a natural tolerance to these hive pests.

Due to this tolerance, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) brought them to the US in June 1997 to breed mite tolerance into US bee stock. They went on sale to the public in 2000.


Russian bees are highly resistant to mites and accustomed to cold climates. As such, they overwinter well. Unfortunately, they also tend to swarm, so it’s important for the beekeeper to provide extra space in the hive to prevent unwanted swarming.

Russian bees are highly sensitive to the amount of nearby foraging resources available. They will regulate the production of brood in times of dearth, which may be beneficial in climates where the amount of food available is heavily is dependent upon seasons.

Russian bees tend to be slightly more aggressive, although this doesn’t always mean stinging. They’ve been observed engaging in head butting rather than stinging potential threats and guard their hive vigilantly, making them less likely to be robbed.