4.2.5. Hive description
1) A first selection of the hives is made before experimentation in order to choose appropriate colonies. At least two apiarist visits are needed in the beginning and at the end of experimentation, in order to assess colony development. Parameters taking into account include adult bee population and the quantity of brood the quality of the brood (different stages observed), and amount of reserves (see Delaplane et al., 2013b).
2) The structures of colonies are comparable to each other at the beginning of the test period. Colonies are homogenous regarding population, colony strength, food storage, brood and preparation. Beehives, each with a colony of approx. 15,000 to 20,000 bees (see Delaplane et al., 2013b), are local bred. The colonies have queens of the same maternal origin and the same age, one to two years old. Preparation of the colonies starts in an appropriate temporal distance to the beginning of the study. The colonies are established in Dadant hives with 6 to 10 frames comprising 4-5 frames for brood of all ages, and at least 1 storage frame and 1 empty frame. Hives are introduced into the tunnels 2 to 5 days before crop plot treatments during flowering. In case of applications before flowering, the hives are established in the tunnels during early flowering.