Are Russian Bees Gentle or Aggressive?

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Russian honeybees are very popular with beekeepers in the United States due to their gentle temperaments and ability to survive in colder winter conditions than other breeds that are commonly used.

Russian Bee Temperament

Russian honeybees are known to be moderately gentle as far as breeds of honeybees are concerned. Although the temperament of a species of bees can vary between different strains and hives, as a general rule Russian bees are not known to be overly aggressive or to swarm excessively.

Russian Honeybees Compared to Other Breeds

Russian honeybees are often compared to Italian honeybees because they are two of the most popular breeds for those who raise honeybee in the United States. The Italian bees are considered to be more docile than Russian bees. Neither breed is known to be prone to excessive swarming. The Carniolan and Caucasian bees are known for their gentle natures more than Russian honeybees, but neither of them fare as well during the winter as the Russian bees, who were bred to live in significantly colder conditions.

Understanding Bee Aggression

Although some types of bees are known to be aggressive, most honeybees are bred for their gentleness. Many honeybees usually attack only in defense of their hive if they perceive a threat. When walking near a bee hive, it can cause a disturbance if you are standing in the flying path of the bees, much like if you were to stand in the middle of a busy intersection. This can cause bees to become aggressive so it is imperative to be aware of where beehives are located and where the flying paths are to avoid being the victim of a bee attack.

Aggressive Breeds of Bees

Africanized honeybees are known to be extremely defensive of their hives. Bred with the purpose of increasing the bee population in the Unites States, these bees are fierce and swarm with much less provocation than their Russian counterparts. Because of the struggling populations of other breeds in the United States, it was thought that Africanized bees' aggressive nature would help them survive and rebuild the bee population. This was somewhat effective as is slowed the decline of the bees in the United States, but research is still being done to help rebuild the bee population.

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Based in Lexington, Ky., Christina Root has worked as a blogger, writer and freelance consultant since 2009. As a mother, animal lover, natural alternative medicine enthusiast and a student of all things, she loves learning and sharing with others.