I haven't wintered one sucessfully yet, but I had one last year. It was a three deep hive, but the bees only got one frame filled with bees and honey (late start). The mites were bad and come spring there was only a handful of bees left, but that handful survived. Unfortunately the queen wasn't one of them.
This year I have converted it to four medium frames and it was about 2 1/3 full frames of bees (a little more than half). I've been fogging with FGMO and there are very few mites. I expect that they will winter ok. The hive is in the house where it's warm and I feed them regularly.
Some sources I've read recommend a minimum space of 3 deep and 3 medium frames. About the same space as a 5 frame nuc. I've constructed one with 8 medium frames (again about the equivalent of the 3deep and 3medium). This is my first winter with it, so I can't say how well they do.
See some pictures at http://www.watchtv.net/~honeyrun/observation_hive/
Wow! What a nice hive! When it's full can you handle it to take it outside to manipulate it?
I haven't weighed it, but is isn't hard carrying it outside by myself to work on it. Not something I like to do often, but it's not bad. At home it hangs on the wall by two hindges, but I also have a stand so it can be free standing for when I take it to the fair, etc.
As to how far the bees will travel to get out: I made mine go through 2 ells and 4' of 1 1/2 pvc to get out. The 4' piece was vertical. They found it in no time and carried most of their debris up to get rid of it. I'll add a clean out next time.
I have use both plex and glass for my observation hives. I usually build a new one every couple of years.
Be careful when using plex as it can expand when it gets hot and buckle. The resulting warp can allow bees to escape, especially if they are confined and not free flying. Hence all those tales of duct taping up ob hives at fairs, etc.
Glass is my favorite medium as it's easy to clean and doesn't warp. If you use glass, make sure that the glass shop rounds the corners and smooths off the edges. Little nicks and chips tend to develop there and any extra stress during removal will cause the glass to crack from those points.
I have tried just about every type of arrangement for observation hives. Those that are more than one frame wide are easier to maintain than one that's just a single frame wide. I set mine on the patio and then transfer it into a nuc box at the end of the season.
>I set mine on the patio and then transfer it into a nuc box at the end of the season.
You don't overwinter your OB hive indoors?
What are the most difficult aspects of try to maintain a hive indoors all through the winter?
Hi Bill and Everyone,
The bees do best with as little disturbance as possible while overwintering in Wyoming.
My ob hive was too active when overwintered indoors. The bees consumed too much food and the hive populations dwindle from the stress.
It's also very hard for the bees to rear small, batchs of brood in such a thin hive as the temps and humidity are harder for them to control.
So I put them in a nuc box and leave them outside. If the weather really gets nasty with below zero temps, etc, I move the nuc inside my garage which is unheated. They stay in the nuc until the climate moderates which is about the first of June, here.