3.2. Shook swarm objective mode

 1.     With this method it is assumed that investigators will use a pre-existing apiary and modify it for the experiment’s purposes. It is important that the experiment start at a time of year that the bees can draw out foundation into comb.

2.     In the days leading up to set-up, queens in each colony are caged and returned to the colony to save time on set-up day. Colonies are removed from the apiary if they are expressing disease symptoms, significantly under-performing, or otherwise causing excessive between-colony variation. New colonies are imported if needed to reach the target colony number and treated similarly.

3.     A number of empty hives equal to the target number of colonies is brought to the apiary, each stocked with brood chamber frames of new foundation, including honey supers with frames of foundation if the nectar flow warrants, and sugar syrup feeders. If affordable, it is good to start new colonies on factory-new woodenware to avoid confounding issues of any disease legacy effects.

4.     Each hive in the apiary is moved aside and an empty hive set in its place. Roughly half of the frames of foundation are momentarily removed to create space, then the caged queen is suspended between two centre-most frames of foundation.

5.     Combs of bees from the original colony are then sequentially removed and the adult bees shaken off the combs into the new box. Bees are bounced or brushed out of the supers and the bee-free combs returned to them and covered to discourage robbing behaviour.

6.     Once all bees are shaken into the new hive, the frames of foundation initially removed are now returned to the new boxes, gently to avoid injuring bees which may be heaped on the floor. Unless there is a strong nectar flow in progress, it is advisable to feed experimental colonies sugar syrup to encourage drawing out the new foundation.

7.     The old bee-free boxes of combs are then removed from the experimental apiary and the combs used as needed elsewhere as supplemental brood or feed.

8.     After one day, the caged queens in experimental colonies are released. Colonies are subsequently monitored for queen performance and normal colony development. Poor-performing queens are replaced as needed to minimize within-apiary experimental error. Once colonies reach a development state consistent with the experiment’s objectives, treatments may be applied and the experiment begin.

9.     The expected outcome of this manoeuvre is a high degree of within-apiary consistency in colony developmental state.