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Author Topic: Winter Bee House  (Read 6824 times)

Offline jayj200

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2015, 05:32:35 PM »
That sounds like a bad idea for a couple of reasons.  First off if light gets into the shed bees will go out the hole and never get back to their hive.  These things need to be devoid of light.  Second all of what i have read says that ventilation is important and a simple hole doesnt seem like enough to transfer the air inside the shed.
   




go up into your attic look around the attic isnt devoid of light at all.
every 8 ft there is ventlation. It is called a soffit vent

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2015, 12:27:39 AM »
I am not sure what an attic has to do with a bee shed. Have you ever had a bee get into your house? They go to the first window they see.  If you let light get into the shed the bees will go straight for it. It needs to be vented, but you can't have light. I still get bees on the floor,but so far I haven't found any outside the shed. My fan keeps the air fresh. Remember that you have breathing insects in the shed.  Then the heater keeps it at the perfect temp. It's easy for somebody in Florida to say that winter is no big deal, but come up here and experience a week straight of subzero temps in March. It's a killer.  In March my hives are generally light and lower on population from a long winter.  Then it freezes and you get a small cluster on little honey. Boom 100% loss. Now my hives willie shielded from that and I'm feeling pretty confident right now about my odds.
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Offline buzzbee

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2015, 01:48:17 PM »
A local guy in the bee club built a building and put a lot of bees inside. I think he maintains 40 degrees fahrenheit and keeps them in total darkness. In late winter/early spring he moved them outside. His winter losses were reduced significantly. The hives still moved the dead out but the numbers were fairly small. That was winter 2013/2014. Will have to see if he had similar results this year.  Getting them out of the harsh winds and moderating the temps has to be a plus.

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2015, 10:44:24 AM »
Ya so many people say that cold doesn't kill bees wet does, but I call bull.  We get so many subzero days with -30 to -40 wind chill. That isn't good for bees.  It isn't good for anything to be in that cold. It's not only a physical stress but bees consume more honey. I also believe it leads to greater erosion of bee population/cluster size.  I also think of it this way.  If bees only survive a matter of weeks during the summer because they work so hard, how can the extra work of heating the cluster be good for them?  Heating a cluster is more work at -40 wind chill than it is at 40 degrees. That must make a difference in longevity.

Another thing I notice is when I go in the shed I see a few bees at the upper entrance due to the commotion. This means that the temp in the shed will allow them to move through the hive to redistribute honey. Again I have had my fair share of hives die due to starvation with honey very close.
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Offline DMLinton

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2015, 12:41:37 PM »
I am with you, Bush_84.  I am still a first year beek but I am convinced that honey bees need better Winter protection than we typically give them.  I read a piece recently where the writer pointed out that 40 lbs of honey was considered necessary for over-wintering back when bees where wintered in cellars but 100 lbs is now the typical recommendation.  Bees also freeze in seconds at 32 F, which means that when the point at which the outer shell bees chill too quickly to take their place and then rotate back into the cluster to warm themselves, bees start dieing much more quickly. 

I think we need to contemplate just why it is a that the current recommendation for northern regions (northern USA and Canada) is that one must have two deeps boiling with bees and 100 lbs of honey going into Winter to expect survival.  As a first year beekeeper, I got that advice ad nauseum.

I was also advised that indoor Wintering was a bad idea (I am located halfway along a line drawn from Toronto to Ottawa).  Partly for health reasons and partly because of the cautions against indoor wintering, I put only about half of my hives in an unheated, south facing, second floor back room.  Light is not blocked.  If the bees take a notion to fly on a day that it is above freezing outdoors, I take the window out.  More importantly, even though outdoor temperatures have dropped below -18 F, the bee room never drops below 14 F.  At this moment it is 5 F outdoors and 22 F in the bee room.  Starting next Fall, all of my bees will go into an insulated and climate controlled shelter.  There will be heater set to a mininum of about 25 - 28 F because my bees will fly out AND return at just above 32 F (contrary to a lot of advice I received) and a humidistat controlled exhaust fan.

i will be able to at least take a quick peek into my hives even if it is thirty below with 30 mph winds outdoors simply by turning the thermostat up to about 31-32F.  I will be able to add fondant where necessary at any time.  I will have the option of starting Spring build up regardless of what the climate does (2014 local nucs and queens became available six weeks late if at all).  I have hefty hives taking fondant down to ambient temperatures of about 27-28 F.  A few guards will come out to see who is scratching the hive at temperatures above 30F.

IIRC, it has been reported that a good Winter cluster of bees produces energy approximately eqivalent to a 7 W night light.  Try putting such a light and a thermometer in a winterized hive with normal stores but no bees and see what the thermometer has to say.  Use one of those digital jobs with remote display.

I do not believe that we can winter our bees in a snowbank and then report with clear conscience that our bees starved and that ample stores remained.
Regards, Dennis
First bees installed July 1, 2014.
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Offline zimzam65

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2015, 01:30:39 PM »
I can verify that bees are smart enough to be able to get out and back into the hive even in a shed or greenhouse. I had to move and placed the hive inside a trailer at night. I put a small 1/4 in. hole in a vent screen and closed the door. During the day the bees would fly around the trailer but would return inside the hive at night. I had very few losses on my trip even though I was driving. I think the problem with the single bee in a window or greenhouse  :rolleyes:is just that the bee gets frustrated because it cannot find an opening to go back to the hive.

Offline OldMech

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2015, 08:46:39 AM »
I do not believe that we can winter our bees in a snowbank and then report with clear conscience that our bees starved and that ample stores remained.

   Dont buy southern bees and you will have a lot less problem with this. Or better, BUY the southern bees, then put a northern queen in with them, but I agree with you about wintering inside.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline DMLinton

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #27 on: February 12, 2015, 10:05:17 AM »
   Dont buy southern bees and you will have a lot less problem with this. Or better, BUY the southern bees, then put a northern queen in with them, but I agree with you about wintering inside.

I make it a point to source all of my bees locally.  Henceforth, I hope to supply all of bees myself. 

For my objectives, it would be ludicrous to source bees from regions of significantly different (warmer) climate.  Overnight low last night was about -5 C (23F) - tonight it is to be -27C (-17F).  "Normal" overnight lows here currently would be about -12C (11 F).  These wildass temperature swings through January/February that are becoming common place are a large part of the reason that I believe the only logical way to winter bees here is in a manner that allows for circumventing and/or mitigating mother nature's ideas on climate.

The chart below shows the outdoor temperature and the temperature in my unheated and uninsulated second floor back room where some bees are spending the winter.  The room below is insulated and heated to keep it above freezing.  There is obviously some leakage from from the first floor to the second floor.  Nevertheless, it demonstrates how much difference just an enclosure makes.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2015, 11:30:30 AM by DMLinton »
Regards, Dennis
First bees installed July 1, 2014.
The truth is what the truth is.  We can bend, twist or stretch it all we want but, at the end of the day, the truth is still what the truth is.

Offline OldMech

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2015, 09:31:18 PM »
Well said DM, I agree 100 %
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2015, 07:45:28 PM »
I would love to not have to buy in bees, but I have not been successful in wintering bees to get there. I want to start intensively creating nucs but need over wintered gives first. I feel fairly confident that this will give me the hives to do this. Make I'll get to a point where I only winter nucs in my shed.
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Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #30 on: February 24, 2015, 05:29:24 PM »
Ok all have to give an update. Popped in to check on my bees today. Experience tells me that this is about the time that my bees have historically started to run out of honey and really eat away at their mountain camp sugar. So I decided to just pop the top and see how much sugar they had left. I a, happy to report that they still had a significant amount of sugar left. I should have hefted the hives but forgot.  I have never checked weights but I know for certain that they have a lot of sugar left. I also note that there are more bees in these hives than I have ever had in February. This is my fourth winter keeping bees and my bees have never looked better this time of year. I am very pumped!  I am very pleased with my results and can't wait for this summer.

So now I am back to contemplating what to do in spring. Accuweather says that march is supposed to getting into the 40s. If I start getting consistent 40s I may take them out so they can relieve themselves and start flying.
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Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline DMLinton

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2015, 05:35:05 PM »
Congratulations and thanks for passing along good news.  Having excess food in the hives is an important way of ensuring Winter survival, IMHO. 

I have a few hives that I know have a fair bit of honey in the bottom boxs but the bees seemed to have missed it and went straight up so that they have been against the inner cover for weeks now.  Good thing I put candy on or I would already have several deadouts.
Regards, Dennis
First bees installed July 1, 2014.
The truth is what the truth is.  We can bend, twist or stretch it all we want but, at the end of the day, the truth is still what the truth is.

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2015, 06:56:37 PM »
Candy boards/mountain camp are no brainers.  Very easy insurance policy. Even in my temperature controlled environment its a good fail safe, assuming they don't blow through that as well.
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Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #33 on: October 25, 2016, 10:31:16 PM »
Sorry for the grave dig, but I think a long term update is in order. So the winter of 2014/15 went extremely well. Three hives in and three hives out.  The summer went along just fine, but then yellow jackets took them all out in late August.  So the winter of 2015/16 had an empty bee house.  I bought new bees this spring and have another three hives that I am about to put in the bee house.  After how well the 2014/15 winter went I'm feeling confident that this winter will go well.  Unless I am discouraged from doing so I may keep popping back in on occasion updating this thread.  Some may find it useful. 
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Offline GSF

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #34 on: October 26, 2016, 08:08:02 AM »
keep us posted
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #35 on: October 26, 2016, 11:26:18 AM »
Bush,
I saw your name as the originator and immediately knew it was an old thread. I was surprised that it was you adding to the pots. Glad to hear it worked out for you but sorry about the hornets. Keep us posted
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #36 on: February 13, 2017, 07:04:40 PM »
It's February and my hives are doing well. I have opened the doors twice to give them a cleansing flight. They should be good until I move them out. Two ate through ~1/2 of their mountain camp sugar and were clustered across all 8 frames. The third hadn't broken through the sugar so I can't say how much is left or how big the cluster is, but I'll take that as a good sign. There were bees in the hive so that's all that counts. At this stage of the game I think they should make it through as long as their stores hold, but they seem to be doing well in that regard.
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2017, 07:52:38 PM »
Today hives came out of their winter dwellings. Mostly good news with a smidge of bad news. All of my hives made it through!  One is huge and the other two seem to be doing just fine. The big one already has a few drones. I made a separate topic on that. The strongest hive still has about a quarter of their mountain camp sugar left. One has about half. The third They never broke through. Anyways the bad news is that mice got into two of my hives. I hate mice. I need to find a different mouse guard. So I lost some comb.

 But all in all I am pretty pumped. I have now used this setup for two winters. Each winter I have put three hives in and have taken three hives out. Now that I am able to reliably winter bees with a high success rate it is time to ramp things up. This year I plan on queen rearing and splits.
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline Blacksheep

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #38 on: March 26, 2017, 09:09:18 PM »
That is Slovenian style bee keeping!Which is what I am int the process of doing!I am using the AZ style hive I have modified to the same size as the langs frames.I have 3 hives complete with frames in them but have to use the building I plan on for the bees as a shop since I don't have one and working out in the drive way is a pain!

Offline Bush_84

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Re: Winter Bee House
« Reply #39 on: March 27, 2017, 04:05:21 AM »
I've never heard of that before. However is it really necessary in your climate?  Would seem to me that down south you wouldn't need to keep them warm. The goal is for me to keep them 35-45 f in the winter, although they honestly probably stay on the low end of that range. Now that it's warming up a bit they are back on their stand until November/December.
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.