The Primorski area of Siberia was the natural home of Apis Cerena, the Asian honeybee. Consequently this region also has varroa. After the completion of the TransSiberian railroad european Apis Meliferra bees were imported into the region. The Primorski Russian strain of bee resulted from survivors of Apis Meliferra bees being raised in the Primorski region of Siberia for the past 100+ years. In this time period they were able to develop a tolerance to the varroa mite through the process of natural selection. (Back in those days chemical treatments were not available, so only the strong survived.) In a few short words the Primorki Russian has a 100 year head start over western bees in coping with the varroa mite. They have developed several traits which allows them to cope.
With the desire and drive to become a beekeeper Sue was able to rapidly expand through use of "Hive Sponsorships" and grants. Through her research she thought the Primorski Russin bees would be a good match for her area. Since about 2005 she has slowly but continuously expanded her operation. She has about 5 out apiaries in addition to her home operation. To ensure her stock remains of pure Primorski Russian stock she was worked with all beekeepers on the island and convinced them to also use Russians. The location of the island prevents interbreeding with other bee stains from the mainland (ie Door County). Any new bees come from the Russian Bee Breeders Association which also ensures pure stock.
Sue ran through some of the peculiarities of the Primorski Russian strain. A few of them are:
1) A smaller winter cluster which consumes less honey.
2) A more rapid population buildup once pollen and nectar are available.
3) The trait of keeping a "just in case" queen cell almost always in development. This cells and queen larvae is discarded by the workers if the queen is in good health. If for any reason they become queenless there is an already fully developed queen larvae at the ready.
4) But the ability to tolerate varroa is probably the most important trait. Sue uses no chemical treatments.
5) Introduction of a Russian queen into other types of hives requires care and patience. Sue shared her 21 day sure-fire method.
For this 2016-2017 winter Sue indicated she has had a 89% survival rate (and that's without any chemical mite treatments.)
Being in the beekeeping business Sue and her family have expanded into other bee related products: queens, nucs, 8 frame cedar hives with extra thick walls, lip balms, candles, soap, etc.
In the summer SMF conducts an open house/field day several times.
People interested can search for: www.sweetmountainfarm.com or call 920-847-2337
A detailed description of the Primorski Russian bee can be see at: http://www.russianbee.com/Russians.html