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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    370

    Default How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    My observation hive bees are going insane, I think. They constantly run around all thru the inside of the hive. I've never had an indoor hive before so I'm not sure what they usually sound like.... but they sound angry/unsettled. Every hour or so they have a fit and the buzzing triples for a few minutes, like if someone slapped the hive, although nothing has touched them.

    The queen laid a softball sized area of eggs when I first brought them in about 3 weeks ago and the eggs hatched... but I saw fewer and fewer larva every day. Even once the remaining larva were capped, the bees have started uncapping them a few each day and eating/dragging them out.

    Granted, this hive never did do all that well so its not a typical hive (and I'm not sure what the problem was to begin with), but I think this goes beyond genetics.

    I think part of the issue is that its too warm for them to settle down inside, and too cold to go outside.

    How do your indoor hives act? Do you manage the temperature? How?

    Thanks for any advice...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Columbiana, AL
    Posts
    69

    Question Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    I put my observation bees in a regular hive outdoors about september. I couldnt figure out how to manage them either ,if they were inside a house or garage.i am interested in the answers you might get, from more experienced beeks.thanks for posting the question.
    jlk

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    addison,maine,USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    Hi Tara
    I'll try to give you some advice but first I need a little info.
    What kind of ObH Hive, double-wide or single-wide, how many frames, when did you install them in this ObH, what's the weather been like, how much capped honey, is there ventilation, which side of the house is the entrance, are you feeding them, whatever you can tell me??
    Some times during their winter Clustering mode one of my ObHs will seemingly rile up like that, it's usually from an abrupt change of weather in winter. Last week we had 0degrees and snow but today was very sunny and just above 40 and indeed they were in to much of a hurry to go out.
    Check out my ObHs at www.bonterrabees.com
    Mark
    You can't think like a bee you can only watch them think.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    Try giving them some pollen (only a little every day) and a privacy curtain.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesobserva...es.htm#privacy
    http://www.bushfarms.com/images/Obse...iveCurtain.JPG
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    Mr. Bush. Thanks for being a mentor to all of us. I like how you always give us direct links to your website for more information. I know it may feel like you repeat yourself often but we all appreciate your knowledge. I'm looking to start a 5 frame observation hive this spring in my living room. 1 frame deep, 5 tall, and will be using your information for much of this project. Do you still prefer 1 3/4 inch between the glass?

    Thanks
    Dan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    370

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    My obs hive is 4 medium frames, double wide. There was probably about 2 frames of capped honey to begin with, but I put them in the OBS hive around 3 Dec and they've been so active they've gone thru most of their capped stuff. I always give them a privacy curtain when I'm not looking at them. The exit tube is about 9 ft long, but I threaded a string thru it to help them find their way out--I'm not sure they've figured it out yet. The exit (past 3 90 degree angles) faces east.

    I've tried feeding them a liquid Megabee solution for sugar and protein, but was afraid the solids in the solution would block them up quicker than plain sugar solution (also, it blocks up the feeder holes so I have to shake it in a few times per day). Should I go back to that? I'm giving them something a little less than 2:1 right now (2:1 was crystalizing in the holes of the feeder lid) but they dont' seem super interested in it.

    The weather here has been mostly clear but below freezing most days. Its about 67 in my house. The bees activity seems mostly related to time of day rather than weather, but they never calm down completely even at night. They react strongly if I even turn on the lights in the room--I use a dark towel as a curtain, but light comes in thru the ventilation holes at the top of the hive.

    Thanks for the links... I'll check them out again and see if I missed something.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Pinellass County, Florida
    Posts
    1,115

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    I wonder if you should Black them out for a while
    I know you want to Peek thats the reason of the hive
    But maybe they need a couple of weeks of Black-out
    Do you think they feel they are Blocked in
    "as in they don't know of the exit" and this is making
    Them so "add-hdd"
    How big around is the exit tube ?

    Tommyt

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    Yes, I think 1 3/4" is about as good as it gets. 1 1/2" is nice if the bees are building the comb in the hive because it gives them less room to get less layers of bees which gives you a better view, but with 1 1/2" you can't pull comb from a hive and have it fit and you can't use PermaComb or HSC as they are too fat. More then 1 7/8" and you get a lot of burr on the glass.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lee\'s Summit, MO
    Posts
    1,304

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    This is my first over-winter with my OB hive. It's a 5 deep frame that's one frame wide. They killed off the queen a few months back and after working to try to requeen I was finally successful about a month ago. I've got an exit of at least 10 feet in length with 2 90 degree turns.

    I use thin wooden panels held on with screen clips as a privacy curtain. They had/have ventilation in there. They filled the bulk of the vent hole screens with propolis but a few still vent as intended and I can feel the cold leaking through the hive into my office if I put my hand up to the appropriate vent hole.

    They stay quiet for the most part but get more active when it gets up to 50 degrees outside. Have you seen your queen lately?
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Alexandria, VA
    Posts
    370

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    Saw the queen about a week or so ago. Been working a lot lately so I can't say I havent seen her more recently because she isn't there... more because I can only look for a short time once per day.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    addison,maine,USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    There’s no better way to get to know, respect and love Bees than with an Observation Hive. A successful ObH will give you many years of pleasure. Over my many years of having bees in Observation Hives I’m fond of saying “I’ve learned a great deal from my bees but I don’t think they’ve ever learned anything from me” and that’s the point. You can’t make bees do what you want you can only provide them with ample opportunity for them to do their own thing. To often we “anthro-bee-morph” from our perspective, and decide for them what they need or we misinterpret why they are doing what they are doing.
    I’ve had indoor Observation Colonies that existed year after year with out any management by me. They built up in spring; foraged and kept their numbers up and replaced their queen when needed and swarmed, and stored adequate honey and pollen for winter; shut down and clustered for winter; and began again the next spring. I’ve also had disappointing failures when I tried to make them do what and when I wanted.

    That said here are a few thoughts on how to have a successful ObH.
    1. Provide adequate space for them to create there own patterns and volumes of brood and storage. At Bonterra Bees we believe 6 deep frames is the minimum and a double wide setup is best, anything less is a display hive not a permanent Colony, and stay out of there decisions on numbers and resulting swarming.
    2. Load your ObH in spring at the beginning of their cycle and if from a nuc, a package, or from a split provide some foundation and let them draw their own comb. Feed them in the beginning with 1:1 syrup. Loading in late summer or fall just confuses them. They should begin their winter “shut down” with 1/3 to ½ of the combs filled with capped honey. You can feed them 2:1 syrup in fall but feeding them in winter (when circumstances are dire) often just confuses them and causes the rile-up as mentioned.
    3. Provide plenty of venting. Keep your covers on when you’re not viewing. In cold areas where there are more then 60 consecutive “no-fly” days (when temps are below 45 and or rainy and windy) it’s best to have your outside entrance on the sunny side of the house.
    4. You’re entrance tube should bee as short as possible, no longer than 6ft. and no vertical routing. The tube can build up a lot of moisture so 1 or 2 small screen covered holes is good before it gets into the hive. Short exits like in our SwingView Hive; www.bonterrabees.com are best. Restrict the entrance from frigid air when temps will bee below 10degrees.
    5. Remember; bees know best for bees, they’ve been creating their own plans for millions of years. Occasionally they fail or their environment fails them, bee prepared for that.

    Don’t over manage.

    I sincerely invite the knowledge and opinions of all beekeepers to my comments.
    Mark
    BON TERRA BEES
    Beesource site is the greatest, thanks Beesource.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Washtenaw County, MI, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: How do you manage your observation hive in the winter?

    I've had an observation hive up only 3 winters (counting this one). 5 deeps tall and double wide.

    It is in a 400sq foot back porch. Temp in winter is usually 50-60.

    The first years it was up I had pulled 3 to 6 capped honey frames off it during the year, and just fed those back over the winter. This was with Italians. I lost it due to a poor requeen (bees choice), and late fall robbing.

    Switched to Carni's in the obs hive and the yard hive (one robbing was enough). I like them, they turned off the egglaying here in mid Sept or so in this hive, although they may have had more going on the inner sides for a bit longer. I have cluster over 2.5 vertical sections (paired).

    This year we had at my area anyway not much going on for late summer/ fall flow. I did pull 6 deep brood frames plus bees to use elsewhere over the course of the summer. I gave them 2 deeps of candy board in the fall as I didn't have any spare honey frames.

    The candy board seems to be lasting well. I don't like to have a syrup feeder on as a rule. If I do its a top feeder and I think they take to the placement well, but the downside is if it drips moisture is an issue. If it doesn't leak I do OK for moisture on the glass.

    I don't read much about people using candy boards in these but it seems much tidier than syrup all winter so far. If I need to do this again I'll mix pollen in the board also for spring.

    I quite enjoy keeping them year-round, and it is valuable to see just what is going on re pollen/ nectar flow.

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