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Science experiment ideas

1653 Views 9 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Gypsi
We have a couple hives and my daughter and I are thinking about a 7th grade science experiment. Thinking about doing something with mite control, but open to any other ideas. Anybody been down this road already, or have ideas?
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I'm assuming you've got a very limited amount of time to complete the experiment, so that limits some of my ideas. But something fairly simple like comparing the efficacy of two kinds of treatments is very doable over a short-ish period.

Protocol could look something like this:
- Measure pre-treatment mite load (%) in HIVE 1.
- Measure pre-treatment mite load (%) in HIVE 2.
- HIVE 1 gets 42 day treatment with Apivar.
- HIVE 2 gets four weekly treatments with OAV (to cover more than one drone brood cycle).
- Measure post-treatment mite load (%) in HIVE 1 after 42 days.
- Measure post-treatment mite load (%) in HIVE 2 after 42 days.
- Determine percentage of mite load decrease for each treatment method, and thereby conclude which was the most effective treatment in this case.
- Discuss upsides and downsides to each type of treatment, the need to vary treatments, the challenges for effectively treating for mites, etc.
- Discuss the limitations of this experiment (namely the very small sample, differences in colony genetics, etc.).
- Your daughter could then hypothesize why each treatment worked the way it did, and suggest a follow-on study to gain more insight.

That's just one possible route and I think fairly age-appropriate for 7th graders. Interested to hear other folks' ideas.
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I like the idea above; here's another one.

Weigh both hives, then spend the duration of the experiment feeding both the same quantity of feed, only one gets regular 1:1 and the other gets XYZ and weigh each again at the end of the time period. See which hive gained the most weight by % with different feed. XYZ could be that stuff Mann Lake sells or HFCS or something else.

Of course if you're in a flow or you don't feed, then this won't work.
Bee Arthur, This is really great and likely exactly what we will do. I have two hives, both with relatively new queens, and neither of which i plan on harvesting honey from this year. This makes using Apivar a fine option. Really appreciate your response.
My son did an experiment for his summer project: he tested that bees are color-blind to the red color. He placed the pieces of cloth in front of the hive and recorded all the details and how the bees were behaving.
I often look for the experiment ideas here (zoology > bees projects on the Science Fair Projects website
Since I have access to natural combs (all I run is natural), we took a frame and studied the cell compositions on it (shapes and sizes).
The point was - to demonstrate how the natural cells are NOT what they are normally depicted all over (and in people's minds too) - as if perfect uniformed hexagons.

The demo stand had several color prints of zoomed in comb areas with pointers, text boxes, perfect hexagons depicted for proportional references.
We had the actual frame with us to - the life sample and a proof of the real deal.

Was a popular stop at our middle school science fair - a myth buster type presentation, based on the real observation.
Couple of thoughts ...

Firstly, suggest you try to identify at least 3 possible experiments, so that your daughter is given an opportunity to choose which one she likes the sound of best - thus making it 'her' experiment.

Secondly, my own suggestion would be to construct a bee-oriented experiment rather than a hive-oriented experiment - 'cause you've only got 2 hives to work with, but many hundreds of foragers ...

So - how about placing a number of feeders, each containing a different solution, a short distance from the hives - then observe the number of bees drinking from each feeder at regular intervals throughout the day ?
The 'feeders' could be nothing more than ordinary saucers with a folded kitchen towel holding the liquid (to hopefully prevent drowning). The solutions could be (say): rainwater; tapwater; dilute sugar solution; dilute salt solution; dilute bleach solution; dilute nettle 'soup' - and so on. (Best to make up the solutions in bottles, so as to have plenty available for 'topping-up') Results could be displayed in either tabular, graphical or bar-chart format.

As far as I know, this would be a piece of original research, for I've never yet read of such an experiment being conducted. If I'm wrong on this, then no doubt someone here will correct me. I anticipate that the idea of doing something original would itself be inspiring. :)
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been down that road, won a Four year tuition scholarship to College at a Science fair with a Bee wintering experiment.

My suggestion - start 2 packages - one only on old comb and the other only on Dadant wax foundation. Compare the brood patterns by counting the open cells in capped brood. Also track area of capped brood for each. You may be surprised at what you find.

Crazy Roland
Test the effect on the bees of two different mite treatments. Count the number of dead bees on the floor every day for one week prior to treatments. Then treat, and count the number of dead bees every day for one or two weeks.
I like Bee Arthur's idea. Very very clear plan.
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