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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Cool

    Hey, All
    I noticed that Michael Bush mentioned that he is running an observation hive (OH) this winter and is using it for some experiments. I am interested in this since he is further north than me. What do any of you have to contribute on constructing and maintaining year-round OH's. Do you feed them? What size are they? Do you heat or insulate them? Are they inside of the house or outside? etc....
    thanks
    Waya Coyote (I noticed another coyote lurking around

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    Posts
    5,159

    Post

    >What do any of you have to contribute on constructing


    I made mine according to the plans here on BS. I then later modified it to use four mediums. You must have a hive readily available to help maintain the OH. At times you will have to reduce or add to the hive according to the general health of the hive, and having another regular hive just outside that has the same brood frame size is a must.

    >and maintaining year-round OH's.

    Pretty easy in the winter, so far I have only maintained the syrup level, they don't take much in the winter, and just reciently gave them bee-pro pollen pattie.


    > Do you feed them?

    Yes, 1-2 syrup in the fall and 1-1 syrup in the spring. I also have given them pollen pattie to help feed brood, my numbers are very low, about one medium frame of bees.


    >What size are they?

    One medium frame of bees in a four frame OH. Or do you mean 5.1mm? As I am using Permacomb in my OH.


    >Do you heat or insulate them?

    I was until I realized that I was sealing the cold air in. The tube lets outside air into the hive that the bees have to fight to keep warm. I have been keeping the panels and the blanket off and they seem to be quite happy, and I can watch them all the time. They set right here next to my computer and lazyboy recliner in my livingroom.


    > Are they inside of the house or outside?

    Not much point of having a OH outside unless you live in the tropics. The idea is to have them where you are to watch and study. If it is nice enough to be outside, go pop the top of a regular hive. Or go suck a mint julip in the lawn chair next to the hive landing zone. Nothing quite like a lazy afternoon sitting in the shade with your favorite drink and good cigar, kicked back watching the flights of the girls coming and going... jeezsh winter sucks.

    It sure is nice to be able to see your pets on those long dark winter months. Makes it much easier to remember why you spend so much time making equipment.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    726

    Post

    In general, the bigger the better. They are easier to maintain (less swarming and healthy winter populations).

    I used BS plans as inspiration but modified them significantly to suit my needs (8 medium frames). I keep the hive inside all year long (no insulation or heating). And while indoor temperatures in the winter are 68F, it doesn't fool them, they still just react to the outside temperature.

    Care and feeding has been pretty much the same as a normal hive though they typically are more prone to swarming due to their smaller size (using an old queen may help here)

    I've got a few pictures posted: http://www.watchtv.net/~honeyrun/observation_hive/

  4. #4
    I agree with tarheit, for year round use, the bigger the better. Mine is three frames wide and five supers tall - all Langstroth sized brood frames. It's located in my shop building and not heated or A/C. It has a screened bottom board and screened top also. I don't have photos of it in my Yahoo profile {yet}, but I'll post some there this spring. I do tend to keep the glass covered with cardboard - on the outside - just to keep the hive dark inside (probably not really necessary but in keeping with bee kind to observation honeybees week, it's what I do). While the queen is offered three frames wide, on which to lay, she does [often] lay on the outside frames, so I get to see plenty of brood emerge.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Germantown, Ohio
    Posts
    43

    Post

    How long can the tube to the outside be?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    >How long can the tube to the outside be?

    The shorter the better, but they will find their way out even if it's 15 feet long.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    726

    Post

    In my experience light doesn't bother them at all. But, direct sunlight is a different matter and will overheat the hive (think greenhouse effect).

    1 Frame deep is obviously nicer for viewing (the queen can't hide), but if the hive isn't installed where the temperature isn't controled (ie. outside or in an unheated garage/shed), then I think 3 frames deep is a must so they can form a proper cluster.

    I have seen some with a 5-10foot long tube, but in general shorter is better and I'd think with a longer tube I'd use a bit larger diameter to prevent traffic congestion. (Mine is 1" ID about 1' long and seems to work well).

    Do make sure there are plenty of ventilation holes (screened with 8 wire cloth), I'd error on putting in too many and letting the bees close up what they don't think they need. In my case I used 2 per each medium frame (one each side), plus three more in the top, all about 7/8" diameter.

    -Tim

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    I have a piece of black broadcloth that I doubled up and then doubled over the hive as a privacy curtain. I think they like it better in the dark. But I often leave it open for long periods when I'm watching them.

    Sometimes when they are open to the light for a long time, they get to running on the glass trying to get out, but usually they stay calm. When they start running, I just close it up again.

    I think it's important if you have an observation hive in the house overwinter, to consider how you will feed them pollen and how you will feed them syrup, because they will need help through the winter. If you don't address these ahead, it's too late to make modifications during the winter.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    770

    Question

    Do you take the OB hive outside to work it (like clean the glass, etc)? If not, how do you keep the bees from flying around the room? Thanks

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    That's why I said you need to plan ahead on how to feed pollen and syrup. Yes, you have to take it outside to open it up. It's a mess too. The bees start climbing out and onto the sides. Scraping the comb off of the glass (mine has too wide a space) gets honey all over everything. Basically I try to keep working them to a minimum. Of course you don't have to open up to check on them. You can see everything. I opened it twice last year. Both times I took out two frames of brood.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Post

    I love the idea of these large multi-frame hives. At the Wildlife Refuge where I work, we have a small, portable, OH. It sits on a book shelf in the office. We also take it out to schools for programs Occasionally. We are having a 3-frame one built because ours is too small. I like the ease with which we can take it outside to work when we need to. But I like the "stability" of the larger ones.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    Just keep in mind you need to be able to carry it outside to work it. If it's too big or too awkward you may wish it was smaller.

    I think mine is just right. It's plenty big enough to get through the winter (the population is actually increasing right now) and small enough to haul in and out without too much trouble. Mine is four medium frames with a nice swivel base. It's a Draper, I think.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Wyoming MN
    Posts
    406

    Post

    I need some ideas on how to run the tube out of the house. If I run it through the fresh air inlet in my laundry room, will they get confused and end up loose in the house? How about with the dryer vent. Otherwise, some type of spacer in the window?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,341

    Post

    I did this in a "standard" window with a sash that slides up and down. This won't work on the crank out type windows.

    I cut two pices of one by four the width of the window I want to go out. I put one under the window and one under the storm window (depending on the design of your window, this may be slightly different size). I then use a hole saw to put a hole in both boards, that is either exactly or slightly smaller than the tube. Just so you can get the tube through the hole. I used a tube from a "sump pump" kit. It was black and corrogated. I put the tube through both boards and put duct tape on the tube just outside the outside hole so it can't be pulled into the house by the grandsons. I try to get it just right. Not so short I can't manuver a bit and not so long that it's got a lot of extra slack. I left it sticking out about a foot outside, so I could get some more tube if I wanted, but also so it would sag a bit so the wind wouldn't blow in so much and so condensation would run back out the tube. I also put some foam weatherstripping on the top and botom of the one by fours so that it would seal up well.

    You also need to seal up the space between the two sashes, just like when you put in a air conditioner, otherwise there will be a draft there. In other words, when the sashes are closed they probably seal fairly well against each other, but with the bottom sash part way up there is usually a gap between the two sashes.


    [This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited February 05, 2004).]

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