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My 9-year-old daughter is thinking about doing a science project with our bees this winter. I thought maybe I'd better ask a little advice first. I'm a first year beekeeper with 3 hives that seem to be healthy and active this winter. I live in So. Utah where it gets chilly and windy... but hardly ever freezes. (January highs and lows-- 55 and 35.)

So here's the idea for the project-- feed sugar water in a top feeder and see what kind of food the bees like best. 1/2 would be plain sugar, and the other 1/2 would be made (like usual) with Honey-B-Healthy mixed in. Maybe we would add other flavors to the sugar water as well and test that. We'd measure how much liquid was left at the end of a time period.

Is there anything dangerous :no: about this idea? Are there any other ideas out there that you have seen?

My daughter is way excited about doing this, and she loves working with me on the bees, so I think it would be fun. I just don't have a lot of experience so I don't know much about what I could do here.

Suggestions, please!
:s
Thanks!
 

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I would be careful about the "other flavors"...

You might do different sugar densities as well. I would consider setting up two feeders on each hive: one hive could compare w/without HBH, another compare the consumtion of 2:1 syrup to 1:1 and the third...?

Just an idea.
 

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From a scientific point of view, the problem with comparing one hive to another is that with the same feed there are often dramatic differences. I'd tend towards putting two feeders on the same hive and swapping which is in which location to even out habits and luck and then measure the difference in consumption. You could do this same thing on more than one hive, of course, but if you do it differently on each hive you'd need a lot of hives to even out the differences between one hive and the next so that you're measuring just the difference in preference. If you do both on the same hive and swap the two on a regular basis, you would get more of a preference measurement.
 

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We are planning something similar for my son's science project similar. I made several freestanding feeders that I am centrally locating between the 2 hives I keep on my property (eliminate robbing and hive differences). Each feeding stand holds 2 boardman style jar feeder, and we plan on trying a few different feed variations in each measuring the consumption rates.


Not only that I have found the natural instinct of the bees to fly and scout for food out weighs the hive top style. I got two NUCS last year in late July after the flow here and it took them till almost September to fill out the first deep, and they would not touch the hive top feeders. I put out the freestanding feeders and in two weeks they filled out the second deep, and started putting stores away. I also lost no ladies to drowning.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the ideas. I talked about it with my daughter, and she likes the idea of feeding between hives and the different ratios of sugar.

Thanks. :thumbsup:
 

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While you are at it, use relatively small (measured) quantities of syrup and repeat the test a few times. Reproducibility is an important concept in experiments. 9 year olds can grasp that, but you can probably skip the statstics...
 

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I agree with the notion of making accurate measurements. I would weigh the sugar and express as percent weight to volume. The distance to the feed should be in meters. Part of the education should come from learning to use common units found in science.
Its a great opportunity to introduce the concepts behind the scientific method and instill an appreciation for logic. Along the way get her to be critical about each decision while recognizing the limitations of any conclusions made. I would always ask the people working for me what the expected outcome might be and then to defend that outcome before it happens. On many occasions they would discover that their expected outcome was indefensible and the experiment had to be redesigned.
As an example, say you didn't measure the distance to the feed then someone would say the bees preferred the feed closest to them and the sugar additive had no effect. Or maybe bees like to fly South so the hive Northwards of the feed had a preferred flight path and the additive had no effect. How about wind direction or the direction the hive entrance is facing. In the end, every criticism that she can think of should be part of her paper. Many such criticisms can be removed through experimental design, but there are always a few stragglers. Get her to include all the objections in the end under conclusions and she will have become a little 9 year old scientist. God they're cute when they're little.
 
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