Hey folks, Seeing Chas10's pictures and then jfb58's questions about spotting varroa mites made me want to share my own experiences.
We've been running observation hives a few years now and I love them. My first one (with the attached photos) I built from a couple of old windows that just happened to be 20 inches and some 2x4. It is two frames wide and does not conform to bee space, which has been pretty fun. It is 2 deeps and a western tall, and I have a little two frame wide super that we can add on. She lives in the kitchen with access out the kitchen window. At this point we run a few observation hives. We've got a hexagon aquarium set up in the shop with top bars, we've got a two frame hive we set up in the summer with various experiments, take to schools and fair, and I have glass to build a few more. Love em.
We set this one up a few years ago as an "egg nuc," just three frames of brood and some extra shakes, and have watched them raise queens, grow, and shrink the last couple years. We have gotten to see it swarm from inside and out, a couple of times. This last fall they had pretty high mite loads. The queen really shut down for a while, resuming brood rearing late in the fall. She dwindled down to only a couple of frames this winter but at this point has bounced back really fast is full up on brood and bees, and I added the super a couple days ago.
Anyway, here are some photos from last summer. The queen layed out the burr comb on the glass with drones. We got to see mites crawling around, we got to see nurses pick out infected pupa, we got to see them metamorphose, overall one of the coolest things I have seen.