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Thread: Hive Heat

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Auburn, Washington, USA
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    Default Hive Heat

    Recently I read a post on this forum talking about nucs that have only a few hundred bees and what to do to keep them alive till spring. Some of the replies mentioned that the number of bees is not big enough to keep the larvae warm, cause bees cluster and heat the hive. Therefore, since the hive gets cold the larvae would not survive.

    So, this is year 2010 and we do have portable heating pads. How difficult would it be to just add a heating element under the hive to keep it warm when the hive is desperate. I'd think that if all that nurses needed to do was feed the larvae from the feeder and not worry too much about keeping it them warm, some of these nucs could be saved. No?

    I realize that for every cure there is a curse, so maybe some deseases will begin flourishing in higher temperatures, but still, is anyone aware of studies that were conducted on the effects of the cluster size and temperature on successfull rearing of new bees?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Knox County, Ohio
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    I've heard of people using light bulbs or aquarium heaters to warm a hive. The problem is, as you increase hive temperature, you also increase consumption of honey.

  3. #3
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    Auburn, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    So, if it gets cold outside, the bees trying to get warm will consume more honey. If it get warmer outside, they consume less honey, BUT, they will consume more if they are using it to feed larvae, which is not a problem if your ultimate goal is to save a dying nuc and increase its numbers. Correct?

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    The cost isn't worth the results.You will spend more on electricity than the bees are worth.

    Shake the bees into another hive or onto the ground and save yourself the terouble of trying to get every last BEE thru the winter. Concentrate on the COLONIES that are doing well, not the BEES that aren't.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    So, if it gets cold outside, the bees trying to get warm will consume more honey.

    Correct...I think. How cold is cold outside?

    If it get warmer outside, they consume less honey,

    Yes and no both, depending on the temperature. The ideal temperature for minimal consumption of stores is freezing. Any colder than that and the bees start eating more honey to keep warm. Any warmer than freezing and the bees start eating more honey because they are more active.

    they will consume more if they are using it to feed larvae, which is not a problem if your ultimate goal is to save a dying nuc and increase its numbers.

    You need more than heat to stimulate a queen to lay more. As sqkcrk said, now is not the time to be trying to build up a hive. That time is over. Now, just cross your fingers and pray. If I really wanted to try saving a really weak hive, I might screen the entrances and bring them into a garage for overwintering and hope for the best.

    Another thing to consider when using a heater in your hive. If you get a warm day, the extra heat from the heater may cook the bees.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Wahington County, Fl
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    111

    Default Re: Hive Heat

    If more than anything wrap or insulate the nucs leaving a opening or two for ventilation as well as cleansing flights if the weather warms up for a few days would seem like the way I would go.

    Might not be the right approach but it seems better than artificially warming a hive to a temp that allows them to be more active and consume more stores.
    It's Washington County, Fl not Wahington....my bad

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Auburn, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    I just want to clarify, I am not in this situation. I am soliciting the feedback on a potential situation and how to deal with it in the most-probable-to-succeed way. But great discussion, thanks for all the feedback

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Horton,Alabama,USA
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    I have entertained the thought of taking 2 thermostats and a 5w light bulb to regulate the inside temps and the outside temps as an experiment. What I mean by outside temp is when temps get below say 25 to 30 outside and inside temp below 45 or whatever is determined to be ideal then the light is energized. With these type parameters I think that consumption could be regulated as well as keeping brood from being chilled. I also have an endless supply of single stage thermostats so this would not break me money wise. I was thinking of making some early nucs in the spring when the first queens are available with only 2 frames instead of 4 or 5 by using this method on an experimental basis anyway. If it works I was thinking I could double my numbers with the same resources. I could also make my splits 2 weeks earlier than normal. I will also say this is just a theory I have never tried it. I'm sure there would be some other factors to overcome as well, such as lost moisture from the heat source. I think this might work for weak nucs overwintering as well.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Hive Heat

    Little 55
    I do nuc's as soon as late jan to feb depending on warm weather. I use 1-2 frames of brood to do this but unless you had experience in doing that I would reconsider it.you can only do it if you have drones to mate queens. I regularly split late sept from my 8 frame hives to make 2 5 frame nuc's to over winter and have cells to put in them.
    Don

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Hive Heat

    Quote Originally Posted by AramF View Post
    I just want to clarify, I am not in this situation. I am soliciting the feedback on a potential situation and how to deal with it in the most-probable-to-succeed way. But great discussion, thanks for all the feedback
    I guess normally the right time to ask a question is when you think of it, but you are way ahead of what you should be curious about, in my opinion. Get some bees, get them ready for winter, leave them alone.

    Honeybees have been around for millions of years and get along quite well w/out us. So don't try to warm your hive thru the winter. It isn't necassary.

    "Bees make better beekeepers than beekeepers make bees." Michael Palmer (i think that's how he put it.)
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



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