3.2.4. Establishment of test colonies

We recommend the use of package bees (“artificial swarms”; Fig. 13) as the healthiest and most uniform start of test colonies. The artificial swarm has to contain at least 2 kg of young and healthy bees. The bees are placed on wax foundation in a disinfected hive. The queen is introduced at the same time as the bees. Bees should have access to sugar solution in feeder. Newly formed colonies are fed for the first few days with small amounts of sugar solution (1:1).

Starting test colonies by requeening existing hives or as nucs with brood is less recommended as it bears a higher risk of contamination with diseases that are not always clearly visible (varroa, nosema, chalkbrood, viruses). However, if this method has to be used for practical reasons, we recommend establishing nucs with at least two frames with brood, two frames with pollen and honey and the rest of the frames with wax foundation. At least 1 kg of bees should be in each nuc (see the COLOSS BEEBOOK paper on measuring colony strength parameters (Delaplane et al., 2013)). The source of the bees and combs with brood and honey must be from healthy colonies.

Fig. 13. A uniform and hygienic establishment of test colonies can be achieved by placing artificial swarms placed on wax foundation. Photo: D Krakar. 

Figure 13