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  1. #1
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    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Hey y'all,
    The good folks at my local sustainability farmette are interested in an observation hive, but none of the current structures really have a good place for it. I have other colonies at the site. I teach new-beek classes there, and a LOT of the folks who come through there would really be interested an observation hive. It's close to my house so I could easily manage the colony. I see the design for Bonterra's outdoor double-wide has been finalized and gone to production but I haven't seen one or heard any reports.

    Anyone had trials/successes with outdoor OBs in moderate cold-weather climates? My area's dead-o-winter lows average about 15F, with VERY occasional spikes down to single digits. Cold, I know. Hot dry summers. Overwintering it in an unheated shed isn't out of the question for me, but I'd appreciate anyone's experience they would share especially from similarly cold climates.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    6,928

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    I do not have the cold challenges. The bees left because of sun exposure in my outdoor observation hive. Cavity dwellers are so sensitive!
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    539

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    hi ben i live in a cold climate t 6000' this is my second winter with outside observation hive.last year i used a three frames wide well the didn't make it i redesigned it now currently i have 2 in testing rite now.temps get to -10 for 2 weeks here....i will have the results in march since that is when the maples bloom so far there ok......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    3,034

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Did they starve? Freeze? Varroiasis?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,696

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    How about a TBH with a window in the side? Not really an OH, but a peek at the bees scurrying around inside satisfies most folks.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    collbran, co
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    539

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    they froze in the observation hive received a cold snap.i guess not enough frames for proper temp regulation....this year there looking good....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    I run a couple TBHs, but I'd like to be able to show comb face-on. Especially for the bee classe, where seeing some cell contents, a vertically-oriented cavity etc. would be informative.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
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    1,108

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    How much shade?
    What do you cover the glass with when not being viewed?
    High or low or middle entrance?
    How many frames?
    How do you take out frames to reduce size?
    How do you keep it from being blown over in the wind?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    How much shade?
    Dappled midday summer shade is the norm here, sun in winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    What do you cover the glass with when not being viewed?
    something insulative but not too thick; rigid foam/polystyrene sheet I think is what many use

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    High or low or middle entrance?
    You can make it anywhere you want or all three...

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    How many frames?
    probably in the 8-deep double-wide range

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    How do you take out frames to reduce size?
    Why would you want to?

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    How do you keep it from being blown over in the wind?
    Anchoring it.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  10. #10
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    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    I was thinking of taking out frames of sealed brood/stores to reduce size to prevent swarming or take out the queen to watch them make queen cells and watch the virgin leave and return.

    What about single wide so you could always find the queen and see everything that's going on.

    How long is advisable to leave the cover off. Several minutes/hours/days at a time?


    And just to warn you: I'll probably think of more questions by tomorrow.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Are we still talking ourdoors?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, MS, USA
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    632

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    I am also interested in an outside observation hive. Thought about making it 5 medium frames high and just one frame thick so you can see. Put wood doors on so it would be closed up except when watching. It would be great when visitors want to see what goes on inside hive. Mount it to post in ground and extend entrance a cpl of feet with PVC pipe so they aren't coming and going right next to viewers. Would probably move to 5 frame nuc in fall and back in spring.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  13. #13
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    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Broke-T,

    That's the kind of OH I was thinking of, too. Why not even larger: 10 deep frames, 5 high and 2 horizontally instead of side by side so visitor's could see everything. The challenge may be to be able to take the frames out in the fall.

  14. #14
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    Apr 2010
    Location
    Virginia Beach, Virginia
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    86

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Brewcat View Post
    Hey y'all,
    I see the design for Bonterra's outdoor double-wide has been finalized and gone to production but I haven't seen one or heard any reports
    I building Bonterra's "Garden" Hive now. They do make room for 1 inch foam panels over the glass and inside the doors. The plans are not that great, missing steps, and a fair amount of "go to page whatever" and see what we did there. A basic materials list would have been nice, would have saved me a trip or two the the lumber yard. Of course, so would have better planning on my part. It seems soild and well thought out, with a good ventaltion plan. But for $32 bucks and some quality time in the garage during the winter, not a bad deal. I figure I will be about $150-175 all in when done.
    I'm like the weatherman- right about half of the time.

  15. #15
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    I haven't done this but if you wanted to go the expense of using triple pane e glass the bees should be fine. There are even window designs that have internal shutters or blinds. The R factor can't be much different than wood so it should keep the heat out in the summer and the heat in in the winter. Just a thought.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #16
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    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Hmmm that's an interesting thought, except you'd still get most of the solar gain in sunlight.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Here I go again- Suppose one builds two boxes that will hinge together along the back vertical edge. Each box wide enough to hold say three frames and say two frames high. The outer surface to be solid, perhaps transparent, and with some provision for loading in the frames. The inner surface to be screen. Some sort of bellows will have to be provided so the bees can proceed (if they will) around the hinge from one side to the other. When open one would observe the bees through the screen. For clarification if one drilled through the (closed) hive one would hit outer surface, frame, frame, frame, screen, screen, frame, frame, frame, outer surface.

    Now questions-
    Will the fact that the two sides share air cause the bees to treat both sides as a single hive?
    Will they lead the queen to put brood on both sides?

    Potential advantages-
    If the answer to both questions above is yes one would hope that upon opening the boxes one would be viewing the center of the brood nest.
    Because there is more side to side mass one would hope for a more successful winter cluster to form (probably removing the screens for the winter).

    Problems-
    I am so far unable to visualise a connection between the sides that isn't a gross beespace violation but that is just an engineering problem.

    The purpose of this is to evoke comments so have at it. Perhaps I who currently have no bees will have to get some and research this myself.

    Bill

  18. #18
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Ben I don't think so. That is the advantage of e glass. It has metal particles in the glass that reflects the rays of the sun and keeps the interior space cool. It does have a little greenish tint to it but I don't think that will bother the bees. Triple pane is to get the better R factor for the winter. Depending on how bad your winter is you might be able to get away with double pane. Of course you would have to go to a replacement window company to make the special size for the hive. It might be costly.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  19. #19
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    wiskers, you want to separate the brood with screens in the middle? I don't like that for an exterior hive unless the climate is always warm.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
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    200

    Default Re: Outdoor observation hive: design, concepts, experience

    Yes but with the hive closed the screens would not be exposed to the outside, only to the other side of the hive. As you get ready to tuck them in for the winter I would expect to remove the screens and close the hive so the two sides were in direct contact.
    Bill

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