|Single Frame from Hive|
|Virginia & Carl Webb of MtnHoney.com|
A researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture started a program in the 1990s of importing special verroa mite-resistant Russian bees. They came from the Russian Far East area of Primorsky Krai. The bees' very hardiness and hygienic behavior make it easier for them to fend off the mites. When the Agricultural Research Service began offering the bees to US breeders in 2000, Carl Webb of Clarksville, Georgia was one of the first to purchase a breeder queen. "From that time on I was so enthused about it because I didn't have to use the harsh treatments for mites anymore. And they could live and produce and they're really good honey producers. So, I've been breeding them ever since."
In 2007, the Webbs and a few others in their field formed a Russian Honeybee Breeders Association. Carl says, "What we're doing is we're testing and breeding Russian bees that are most resistant to mites and best honey producers." The Webbs set up test yards for certain genetic lines and select the best specimens to be next year's breeders. They currently maintain eleven bee yards.
|Bees Entering Hive|
At their MtnHoney.com business, the Webbs collect large amounts of honey, pollen and beeswax for commerce. Because they use Russian bees, honey yields are abundant, and even award-winning for the unmatched flavor of the sourwood honey. However, it is the Russian queen breeding that further sets this apiary apart from others. Virginia notes, "We have our bees tested every year via DNA to ensure the purity of them." The Webbs say they've sold 160 Russian starter hives in the past year to people wanting to try honey production or use bees to enhance other agricultural efforts like organic gardening. Central to those hives are the prized Russian queens. Carl says with a rare mixture of pride and humility, "But we're not able to produce enough of them, unfortunately, but we're working at it."