This is an email exchange received from Sue Ellen Fleeman (internet connection issues, she couldn't post this in forums herself).
Hi everyone. I am a first-year beekeeper. I purchased a nuc from a very reputable long-time local beekeeper and I received the bees about the middle of May. For whatever reason, the hive was not particularly thriving but not really weak either. We had a really strong nectar flow that came in two waves and even first-year beekeepers had as many as two honey supers on early. I was attempting to follow the advice from our bee club as to when to add a second hive body (using deep boxes) and a super and I think my hive was not ready for what I did when I did it. I don't think I managed things inside the hive as well as I might have. Anyway, from observation I think my hive has strengthened through August pretty well. I was still seeing orientation flights every few days until just a few days ago.
I received my initial shungite order in late August and this was before I knew about your bee project. After reading about the project I placed the three largest shungite pieces I received with my order on the right side of the hive entrance. My observation has been that the bees certainly don't avoid the shungite and that they seem to prefer coming and going across the shungite rather than using an area to the left of the shungite that lined up with some burr comb they had made that kept them from having to walk across the screen of the bottom board. I don't know if how I have used the shungite lines up with your requirements for Phase 1 of your project.
I'd appreciate some feedback as to how I might be able to assist with the project. I understand that Irma created some obstacles for you all so don't feel pressured to respond earlier than is convenient. FYI we do have small hive beetles that have been pretty mild this year according to other beekeepers. We also had a varroa mite count that warranted treatment. I placed Apiguard two weeks ago and will place another tray tomorrow. Thanks! Sue Ellen