2.2. Independence of observations for laboratory cage experiments involving adult workers

A fundamental aspect of good experimental design is independence of observations; what happens to one experimental unit should be independent of what happens to other experimental units before results of statistical analyses can be trusted.

Until shown otherwise, workers within the same cage are not independent, so each cage becomes the minimum unit to analyse statistically (i.e. the experimental unit). Caging workers individually is therefore extremely desirable because each honey bee can be considered to be an independent experimental unit. Although a method for maintaining workers individually for one week exists (section 5.2.3), one that enables individual workers to be maintained in isolation in the laboratory for even longer periods would be beneficial for certain experiments (so long as social interaction is not the focus of investigation or necessary to the phenomenon(a) investigated).

Additionally, careful consideration is required when performing experiments on which volatiles emitted by workers can influence measured parameters. This might require using separate incubators.