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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
    Posts
    259

    Default Hive in a greenhouse?

    A buddy of mine is building a large greenhouse to grow vegs hydroponically. He knows I am learning about bees and made the comment that he needs to put a hive in the greenhouse.

    Does that make sense? Will a hive be "maintenance free" in that situation. It would surprise me to learn that there is such a thing as a no maintenance hive even if you are not trying to harvest from it. Should I send him information about mason bees?

    Thanks,

    Al

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
    Posts
    1,830

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    Do not do it!!!! The bees will fly to the clear/opaque walls and try to "fly through it". Think about bees in the house or in the truck cab. You need bumble bees or some other alternative pollinator for that. Even if you let them out, they would still just fly at the light.
    mike
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cocke County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    There is a way to do it. Several years ago we had a speaker at the Tennessee State Beekeepers Association annual meeting from Kansas that solved the flying away problem. They used a fabric over the greenhouse that was the same color as the ground. It seems that the bees couldn't distinguish where the ground stopped. A greenhouse could not sustain a colony by itself so they placed the hive through the wall with one end inside and the other end to the outside. Every two or three days or so they would open the hive to the inside for pollination. After a couple days, they would close the inside entrance and open the other end to the outside for two or three days so the bees could collect nectar. They repeated the process for as long as they needed bees in the greenhouse. He said that they no longer had to hand pollinate the plants they were doing research on. That lecture was a long time ago so I don't remember exactly what color they used. I do remember that they had to dye white fabric as that color was not available off the shelf.

    My bee breeder logic suggests that if the bees see the greenhouse as their entire world, then maybe it would be possible to mate queens that way. I am pretty sure that someone has already tried that but I don't have any information about it. I have a plan to try it and see if it works. It might take some experimentation to get the color right and as soon as I do, I will share it with the readers on beesource.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    532

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    being a new beekeeper I would say dont do it, It's not good for bee health and will create problems.
    I'm not a new beekeeper and I wouldn't do it!

    frazz

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    2,082

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    It can be done for short-term stays within the greenhouse. Mark Winston was involved in research in Canada involving honeybees for pollination of greenhouse tomatoes and they concluded that they can successfully be managed if colonies are replaced every 21 days.

    One would need a number of hives to rotate in and out of the greenhouse and I am not sure exactly how one would accomplish that in a northern winter.

    I do not have access to the online journal that published the study. Here is a link to the abstract.

    Wayne

  6. #6

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    I also had a question concerning green houses. This is going to be my first year with bees and I have a 24'x48' green house I grow dwarf citrus in and start vegetables and flowers in every year for myself, family, and clients. In April we'll put the black shade screen on, open the vents, roll up the sides about 3', and leave the doors open until fall. Will the bees have difficulty getting out of the green house if they find their way in? The hives will be about 80' away and if I'm going to lose bees to it I'd like to screen it in or something before hand.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,191

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    Bumble bees are often used for greenhouse pollination. I hadn't heard of the brown fabric before, thats an interesting one.

    Breeding queens in a greenhouse was tried many years ago when people where trying to figure out how queens mated. It never worked. Maybe if you had a greenhouse 200' high, & 6 miles long it might work.

    I have a small glass greenhouse in my yard, & don't find many dead bees in it, so I guess they find their way out OK
    Dan

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    Got a bit more info from him concerning the greenhouse. It's a plastic, tunnel type with venting in the ceiling and the ability to rollup the sides of the greenhouse. The hive will be placed in the field near the greenhouse.

    I am still curious as to what happens in Dec, Jan, Feb when he rolls the sides down for winter. Could he move the hive into the greenhouse to overwinter?

    The bees should stay active because it will be warm but will the increased warmth and increased activity require heavy feeding or honey reserves. Can't imagine a 100 ft greenhouse will provide enough food to keep the hive properly fed, with the increased activity, especially if the plants are not flowering full time.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Clifford Township, PA
    Posts
    2,082

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    Will he growing plants that actually flower during the low light level (winter) months or will he be providing artificial light?

    Wayne

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    We are on the Gulf Coast so while our days aren't quite as long the greenhouse still gets pretty warm most days during the winter. I have to believe that he will have supplemental heat and maybe some extra lighting, just don't know how much he wants to invest until he get some income generated. Winter would be when he could get best prices for fresh vegs so I hope he does it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    894

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    If he wants insect pollinators bumble bees are what he wants. They are used for various commercial greenhouse crops that need pollination. We used them for tomatoes and raspberries.

    Honeybees will fly out the vents and not find there way back in.

    Tom

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Cheyenne, WY
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Hive in a greenhouse?

    Quote Originally Posted by beemaster01 View Post
    There is a way to do it. Several years ago we had a speaker at the Tennessee State Beekeepers Association annual meeting from Kansas that solved the flying away problem. They used a fabric over the greenhouse that was the same color as the ground. It seems that the bees couldn't distinguish where the ground stopped. A greenhouse could not sustain a colony by itself so they placed the hive through the wall with one end inside and the other end to the outside. Every two or three days or so they would open the hive to the inside for pollination. After a couple days, they would close the inside entrance and open the other end to the outside for two or three days so the bees could collect nectar. They repeated the process for as long as they needed bees in the greenhouse. He said that they no longer had to hand pollinate the plants they were doing research on. That lecture was a long time ago so I don't remember exactly what color they used. I do remember that they had to dye white fabric as that color was not available off the shelf.

    My bee breeder logic suggests that if the bees see the greenhouse as their entire world, then maybe it would be possible to mate queens that way. I am pretty sure that someone has already tried that but I don't have any information about it. I have a plan to try it and see if it works. It might take some experimentation to get the color right and as soon as I do, I will share it with the readers on beesource.
    this peaks my curiosity but could you explain the cloth thing or at least provide a name of the research it was used in? i'm concerned that if the bees can't tell the difference than there may not be enough light fro the plants in there
    also, IF one were to put a hive inside of a greenhouse that had plants year round, how big would the greenhouse have to be to feed the bees? the reason for honeybees rather than bumbles is for thier honey of course...
    and alternatively, how big would it have to be to keep some bumble bees alive?
    Last edited by 8ty_Plus; 04-23-2011 at 10:09 PM.

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