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- Russian bees do not build their colony populations until pollen is available, and they shut down brood rearing when pollen is scarce. This characteristic makes them suitable in areas where the main honey and pollen ﬂows occur later in the year. By contrast, Italian bees maintain a large brood area and worker population regardless of environmental conditions. This trait can result in more bees than the hive can feed and may lead Italian colonies to early winter starvation. It also explains the Italian bee’s tendency to rob other colonies of their honey stores.
- Russian colonies maintain active queen cells through out the brood-rearing season. In Italian colonies, the presence of queen cells is interpreted by beekeepers as an attempt to swarm (reduce overcrowding by establishing a new colony) or to supersede (kill and replace) the resident queen. This is not the case with Russian colonies, as the workers often destroy the extra queen cells before they fully develop.
- Russian bees can vary in color, but they are generally darker than the Italians.