In each summer from 1976 to 1979, 5 colonies in each of the following 7 groups were observed: 2 groups of overwintered colonies supplied with dark combs, 5 groups of package colonies of which 2 were provided with dark combs, 1 with white combs, 1 with foundation and 1 with starter strips. The 4-year average weight gain (43 kg) of the colonies with starter strips was significantly less than the gains of all the groups with combs except one of the overwintered groups (other overwintered, 86'3 kg; dark-comb package, 83'6, 79'8 kg; white-comb package, 78'9 kg) with dark combs. In colonies with foundation the average weight gain was 63'9 kg. In 1977 one of tqe groups of overwintered colonies initially had European foul brood disease and gained 95'6 kg, which was significantly less than the 159'8 kg gained by the other (healthy) group. In 1976 the package groups given starter strips had significantiliess capped worker brood (2578 cm2) than those given dark combs (4040, 4198 cm2) or foundation (4350 cm ). Areas of capped drone brood in one of the ovenvintered groups and one of the dark-comb package groups were significantly larger than those in the white-comb package (92 cm2) and foundation-package (170 cm2) groups. The foundation-package and starter-package colonies built on average 41 597 cm2 and 17 088 cm2 worker combs and 356 cm2 and 1486 cm2 drone combs, respectively (P<0·05).