3. Setting up experimental colonies of uniform strength

This section describes two variations of an objective mode for setting up uniform colonies for experiments. The first (3.1.), which we call the classical objective mode and a variation (3.2.), the so-called “shook swarm” method. Table 1 explains the pros and cons.

Table 1. Pros and cons of two variations of an objective mode for starting up colonies of uniform initial strength.






1. Results in colonies with initial populations of adult bees normalized for genetics and pathogen load

1. Disease and parasite legacy effect in brood, although normalized, is nevertheless sustained into the experimental period.


2. Results in colonies with brood of all stages, accelerating colony growth

2. Because brood of all stages is present, progeny turn-over from new experimental queens is correspondingly delayed.


3. Results in maximized colony uniformity in regards to initial adult bee populations





1. Does not require use of a customized cage to house common pool of bees

1. Because adult bees are not normalized, between-colony variation in genetics and pathogen load remains at pre-experiment levels.


2. Sustains colony-specific identity from pre-experimental to experimental period

2. Because colonies begin broodless, colony growth is delayed.


3. Because of #2, drift is not a concern and it is not necessary to move experimental colonies from the source apiary.



4. Because all brood is removed and replaced with frames of foundation, disease and parasite legacy effect is minimized.



5. Because of #4, if varroa control is an element of experimental design, the initial broodless period provides an ideal opportunity to treat for mites.


3.2. Shook swarm objective mode