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  1. #1
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    I winter all my hives outside here in western Canada. I am toying with the idea of wintering some of my hives indoors next year and manybe stablize my wintering losses.
    Is there anyone with experience wintering indoors? Or can someone lead me to any links on wintering bees indoors.
    Thanks

    Ian

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I have not tried it other than my observation hive. There is some info on this site on wintering nucs indoors. I've also heard of people storing them in an underground cellar for the winter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Drums, PA, USA
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    On the farm I live on, they used to have a root celler. I did think of putting them in there, but it is very damp in there.


    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

  4. #4

    Post

    The man who got me interested in bees used to winter his hives in the basement and root celler. He said as long as it was dark they would not fly. He said he never lost a hive doing it this way. But that was over 60 years ago.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    Neodesha, Ks
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    621

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    Dr. Miller in his book 50 Years Amoung Bees talks about wintering Bees in cellars. It needs good ventlation and then in the spring you have to get them used to the warmer weather before taking them out. Also he warns about taking them out to soon. Lots of good reading in the old books even if we don't do it that way any more. The Bees survive in spite of all our bother. Dale

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Everyone,

    Mr. Millers reference is interesting but a little dated. Dadant's "The Hive and Honeybee" has an excellent section describing indoor wintering.

    I have wintered 250 colonies indoors in the Alaskan interior. Temps starting dropping below freezing beginning the first week in August and dropped steadily until -50 to -70 degree F temperatures set in.

    The ideas expressed in the book pretty well cover ventilation, etc. Technically it's not hard to do. I have overwintering smaller numbers of hives indoors in Wyoming but find the extra work is not worth the effort in this climate.

    A small number of hives can be overwintered in the corner of an unheated garage with a small bathroom fan and a thermostat for control.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Also, I have an ABC XYZ of beekeeping from the seventies. It's got a whole section in indoor wintering. Some people have built large buildings heated to 45 to 50 degrees and put a lot of hives in them for the winter. I'ts probably in the newer editions of ABC XYZ as well, but I don't have one of those to look for it.


  8. #8
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    Jan 2003
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    Dennis

    Did you usually winter the bees in a double or a single brood chamber?

    You mentioned you were a beekeeper in the Alaskan interior. Cool. How long is the beekeeping season up there and what is the major honey flow. How much honey did you see on average per season? With such a short and intense honeyflow, how much of a problem is swarm control?

    Ian

  9. #9
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    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Ian and Everyone,

    We wintered in a single deep.

    The season in the interior of Alaska was very intense. Originally we were in the Delta Junction area were rapeseed was deing developed. The rapeseed project failed and so our crops were dependant of wildflowers primarily fireweed.

    The spring and summer would be very much like that of the Beaverlodge area but the winters are much more severe.

    Production without the rapeseed crops are somewhat fickle and less than half the crop at Beaverlogde. A 60 to 100lb crop would be obtained in about two weeks.

    Swarming was compounded by the influence of 24 hours of summer daylight. We were running Hasting Carniolans at the time and they could be swarmy even with normal conditions. No know swarms ever survived the winter at Delta.

    I was in Alaska during the late 70's and am now located in central Wyoming.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis

  10. #10
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    Jan 2003
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    What are the advantages and disadvantages of overwintering in a single deep vs a double brood chamber? My thoughts are that a double would come out of winter stronger. But it seems that singles are more popular wintering indoors, so then why?

    Ian

  11. #11
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    http://www3.sk.sympatico.ca/gilmar/r...lications.html

    Has some info on wintering in single brood chambers in Canada. Also a litle info on indoor wintering in Canada.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Ian and Everyone,

    Very little honey is consumed by the bees while overwintering indoors. I have had conservative bees that would loose between 2 and 3 lbs/month with a small portion of that being dead bees.

    With such limited food consumption, all that additional weight and space provided by a double are not needed by the bees while they're inside. Room for an excessive amount of older bees is not needed to provide the additional custer heat and would be lost throughout the winter anyway. Singles are wintered simply because more fit in a given volume and less is lifted per hive.

    The bees don't actually form a tight cluster when wintering indoors. You can look in the hives and see the bees just sitting in one place motionless. I liked an inside air temp of about 30 to 35 degree F. But humidity, CO2 levels and rate of temperature change all have an effect. The bees will tell you when something changes and very few changes are critical if the bees are in total darkness and have plenty of fresh air.

    I worried about auxiliary heat. The outside air temps were well below -50 degrees F for most of the 5 1/2 months they were indoors. I built a fancy room to mix fresh outside air with heated air before pushing it into the top of the room with the bees. With 2" of styrofoam insulation in the walls and a 12" of fiberglass insulation in the ceiling, the unit never turned on. Two small bathroom fans would cycle on for 5 minutes out of 15 and provided all the air 250 hives needed. Stale air was exhausted out of the room at floor level.

    In Wyoming I build a 4'x4'x8' box in the corner of my uninsulated garage. The box provided the darkness and had a small bathroom ceiling fan mounted in the top for ventilation. The fan would only turn on when it got too warm as a natural draft occured from the bottom to the top of the unit. I could control the draft with a slide but never need to. Sometimes cool was at a premium and the interior would get up to 50 degrees. Lots of buzzing but no problems with lots of fresh air, even if it's warm.

    I no longer winter indoors. It's too much work in Wyoming's climate. I run prolific bees and winter in three deeps outside. I raise queens and I need lots of young bees very early. Most bees that are wintered over long periods indoors are not the broody types.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis

  13. #13
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    Thanks Dennis,

    Did you continualy circulate air within the wintering room? How do you know how much outside/inside air exchange is necessary and how did you control the air exchange flow? (timing system, monitoring guages?)
    Had you ever supplied the bees with sugar surip or water while in the wintering room?
    Thanks

    Ian

  14. #14
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    Aug 2002
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    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hi Ian and Everyone,

    I did not circulate air continously within the building. The 250 hives I overwintered was not a very large amount. If I recall correctly the room was about 20' x 20'. Interior circulation for a larger number of hives would probably be needed as detailed in Dadant's book.

    I used both thermostats and timers initially. With a little experience the type of controls are not too important other than their reliability. The key to climate control is the ability to pump lots of cool, fresh air into the facility and keep it totally dark.

    Not too much airflow is needed for normal operation with typical winter temps. When the outside air temps increase above freezing more fresh air is needed. The bees will let you know when they need more air. It won't happen suddenly if the room is about 30 degrees F. They will become more active, buzz, then crawl over the front of the hive.

    I have had temps climb near 50 degrees F for 12 hours without any damage to the bees but with lots of fresh, but warm air.

    Water was a critical element in both Alaska and Wyoming. Indoor wintering doesn't provide the bees with any condensation to drink inside the hive. It's not a problem during the first part half inside but the appearance of very dry and crispy dead bees on the floor indicate a lack of humidity. I have used evaporative humidifiers and have also modified small plastic honey jars to feed water at the entrance of the hives.

    Both Alaska and Wyoming are very dry. It might be different in a more moist climate like yours.

    Indoor wintering isn't as technical as it sounds. It's more common cents and lots of airflow capacity. Try it on a small scale first. Use a warming room or uninsulated storage room. It's lots of work but will allow bees to be overwintered in climates where they couldn't survive otherwise.

    Best Wishes
    Dennis

  15. #15
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    Dennis
    Thanks, your thoughts have been most helpful.

    Ian

  16. #16
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    How important is it to keep the temp in the wintering building consistant. Are temp fluctuations of a few degrees through out the day and night harmfull? Seems to me that i read the more steady the temp, the better wintering the bees. That doesn't seem to make any sence to me.
    I have my room set at 4 degrees now. I have my exchange fan on a timer and have not installed a ventalation fan quite yet. On the warmer nights I have left the exchanger fan on to keep the temp down about 8 degrees. Surprising how much heat the hives give off.

    Ian



    [This message has been edited by Ian (edited November 02, 2003).]

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
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    I like to make something from nothing. I can imagine it now. A string of gutted out refrigerators, each with a small fan and a small heater. They could hold 4 nucs each and would be cleverly disguised as a junk yard to prevent theft. Once you got the temp and air set you could forget them.

    Dickm

    Who has a little too much time on his hands.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
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    Ian

    I dont know that much about indoor wintering but it seems that a constant temp in the mid 30's Farenheit works best as the bees become "motionless" and conserve themselves. The problem is that it costs more in heating/cooling to stay at one temp versus allowing some fluctuation which is why most folks I know dont get too worried about a few degrees swing. However, getting too hot seems to be their concern as the bees want to come out even though its dark. Some of that can be avoided by waiting until this time of year to put them in for the winter but there will always be warm ups around here anyway even in December and January. My buddy always says it doesnt cost much of anything to keep them warm but it costs alot to air condition them. Maybe you are far enough north that you wont have that problem.


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