Additional Testimonials & Articles


“We were very impressed with the honey from your bees it was excellent. Thank you”




“From his web site he appears to be doing a wonderful job of selecting for different problems.

I don’t see that in many USA Russian breeders, and certainly not any that are publishing their data like he does.”

Delano, MN USA


“Just for interest the Russian bees have been averaging 131 lbs per colony for the last 4 years compared to Hawaiian, Australian and letting a colony make it’s own, they have been averaging 104 to 116 lbs. One Russian queen I replaced today was in her third year. She has been so good I couldn’t replace her last year but I did notice a decline in honey this year.   Her hive produced 115 lbs this year with a noticeable difference in colony strength. Her colony has always been the busiest and consistently pulling in 133 to 136 lbs.

I’ve also noticed a pronounced increase in mites on my screened bottom boards. I hope to treat with Formic in 2 weeks. I haven’t treated since last year.

Prior to the Russian stock I was pretty much set on the Carniolan strain.  I purchased them from Neil Orr in Wooler On.  However, after he passed away I was not able to find any local that I liked.  Once I “adapted” (most of the time) to their rapid spring build up to the point of swarming, I liked all of the rest of the strains characteristics.   The Russian appears to have all the pleasant characteristics without the swarming tendencies.  At least, I haven’t had a Russian hive swarm yet.

I had one Hawaiian queen purchased last year that produced a huge amount of honey… 176 lb.  It was so mean that once I was within 20 yards they were bouncing off my veil. When they were just out of a nuc they stung my 10 year old son in the face.  We were standing 10 ft to the side watching the
bees fly like we always do.  She was replaced by the queen I bought off you last year. Just looking for the queen to execute I was covered head to toe by angry bees.   This just shows what you can get when you don’t buy local. This hive was not included in my averages as I’m still trying to forget it.
I am also very pleased to see that you have worked with the Tech Transfer group developing better bees.  Your web site is also very good and informative.”

Inverary, ON CANADA


“I’m finding that the Russians are better at serving our winters so far.”

Smithville, ON CANADA – Jan 09 


“I purchased 3 queens from you that arrived on Aug 29, 2007.  All survived the winter well and proceeded to build up in 2008 in what I would consider normal.. That is by May 24 two of those queens had bees covering 5 frames and one covering 7 frames on a mid day inspection.  The dandylions were in their last flower. 

I purchased another two queens from you around July9, 2008.  Of the two, 1 started off weak and completely stopped laying by the end of July. This is the one I called you about and you kindly sent a replacement on about Aug 19.  This queen was laying a good pattern early September and went into winter with a good population of young bees.  The other queen appeared to be ok but she to weakened by the end of August but didn’t stop completely.  I moved a couple of frames over to give it a boost.  So the queens of 07 seemed good but the queens of 08 were not so hot.

Overall honey production is good.  I’m averaging 124lbs per hive over the last 2 years. 2008 saw a drop of 20%. I think this was due to the wet weather we had.  The temperment is very good.  Mites do not seem to have a drastic affect on them.  I have seen very very little deformed wing.

As for the winter they appear to be normal.  There is about a dozen or so dead bees in the snow outside each of the hives.  I wrap with tar paper.  No sign of dysentery.

I use formic acid in the fall only.  I feed Fumigillan also in the fall.  These are the only treatments I use.”

Inverary, ONTARIO – Jan 09


Answer from Pilgrim Honey House: A couple of points to consider:

  1. About the queen who stopped laying altogether early in the season.  I noticed the same thing in my queens.  I am not sure what caused this. May be nosema.  I have not treated with Fumagillin for a long while now.  I am planning to start a breeding project for nosema resistance this year, which should last 4 years.  I will pay closer attention to nosema level and treat if necessary.
  2. However the Russian queens usually stop brood rearing earlier than other strains of bees, that is in early September, even late August sometime if you get an early frost.  This is part of their mechanism to control varroa mites.  They should not suffer from this over the winter.  This stock can overwinter on smaller cluster and still do fine next spring.  They will wait for the pollen to come in well before they start raising lots of brood.  They conserve their energy that way, but explode in population very fast when the weather breaks and warms up.
  3. You may want to consider treating with oxalic acid – sprinkling method – later in the fall, just before wrapping.  It is inexpensive and works well to knock down those mites.  Especially if you do not treat in the spring like I do.  It will help the bees to wait for next fall for next treatment.
  4. For the 2008 queens, it is too early to evaluate well.  Let’s wait to see how they do next season.  But you did well to mention the one who stopped completely by the end of July.
  5. The number of frames of bees recorded in May 2008 seem low to me.  Although it is true you introduced the queens late August.  They should come out of the winter slightly smaller than the fall, and start increasing when pollen start coming in.  In my operation, I run single brood chamber. Typically, a good queen overwinter on 8-10 frames of bees, and comes out in the spring (April) with 6-8 frames again.  By the first week of May we start adding 1 super on the 8 frames colonies. Then it rapidly builds up and by the end of May,  the bees occupy the first honey super, so we add another or two. By the time the honey flow rolls around (June21), we should have 4 honey supers in place.

« Le développement était très rapide, plus que mes reines québécoises. La compaction du couvain était aussi excellente. Peu d’essaimage la première année mais c’était des nucs alors… »
Abitibi, QUÉBEC – Nov 09

Translation from Web editor : “Spring build up was very fast, more than my Quebec stock. Brood pattern was also excellent. Not much swarming the first year, however they were nucs, so…”


“I got 36 cells in 2008. I run single brood chamber. The resulting colonies survived their first winter well and were OK in spring 2009. Only 3 queens developed good colonies and I got up to 150 lbs per colony in summer 2009. The rest of the queens, so-so. But a little bit hot compare to my bees. Those 3 colonies got the same production as my own best colonies. One brood chamber had up to 10 frames of brood.  But it was too much rain in the 2009 summer. I didn’t see any swarming problems last season. The rest of your queens were not very good to build brood, it was just 5-6 frames of brood. This spring 2010, they all survived the winter again.”

Toronto area, ONTARIO – March 2010


“I got 2 nucs last year in the spring of 2009. They built up slowly, and did not produce much honey.   But then again, it was a bad summer for honey production. This spring 2010, the 2 nucs are strong, and are ahead of my other strain of bees.”

Cobourg area, ONTARIO – April 2010