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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
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    1,698

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    I live about 5 hours north of Ian...or there abouts. We winter outdoors. I would love to try indoor wintering. Maybe a bit easier on the pocket book in feed costs, wrap costs, and live versus death.

    That said, until I try indoor, I think i would perfer outdoor. (Maybe that is cause all i know). Our bees get some cleansing flights during most winters. Outdoor bees are still wrapped when the indoor wintered are taken out of storage. This is the one main advantage over indoor wintering. The spring still has some harsh days ahead. Outdoor bees are climate adjusted, indoor bees get a bit of a shock. When the indoor bees are pulled out sometime in early April, ours are still wrapped until end of April maybe early May depending on the type of spring.
    In the end though, when we compare notes, most years our losses are close to the same. Indoor the bees come out of winter better, but after the spring dwindle from the adjusting to the cold we end up just about the same...

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Pinal, AZ, USA
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    In Doolittle's book orignally printed in 1922 "Managment of Out-Apiaries" He keep his hives in a cellar for the winter. So the practice is nothing new just finding favor again. Interesting stuff in those old books many have forgotten.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    2,252

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    From what I hear they fly out and poop inside also. I hear it covers everything.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,044

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Yeah, I would suggest the washing of trucks and the purchase of an extra washing machine for your bee clothes should be factored into the cost of wintering indoors I am really intrigued to hear how well many Canadians fare with indoor wintering. I tried it a couple winters up in central Minnesota and it never seemed like the indoor bees were ever as good as the outdoor bees and that was during some pretty brutal winters. Factor in having to move the hives in, in the fall and finding just the right conditions to move them out in the spring and it all added up to something I don't care to do again. Of course that was long before we had forklifts.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    397

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Bees won't fly indoors if its dark.

    In fact, there are basically 2 reasons bees will poop inside. If the wintering room gets too warm they will start crawling or if the bees have dysentery. Normally with dysentery it will be the front of the hives that are covered. Either way, major loses will occur. The inside of the wintering room should have very little if any bee poop if done properly.

    Jim, I agree spring is the trickiest part of indoor wintering. Not getting the wintering room too warm but waiting long enough for the spring yards to be accessible can be tricky. The spring yard can be very spotted but we try to keep our truck away the first day or two.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,044

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    I am sure you guys are way more sophisticated in the way you go about it than I was. We just set up a big exhaust fan that kicked in when the temps got up to around freezing (don't recall the exact temp). Didn't have any means of cooling them so we just had to watch the forecast and get them out of there before any late winter early spring warm up occurred. It seemed like they got on such a huge cleansing flight when they finally got out that drifting was a problem.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    no

    Quote Originally Posted by EastSideBuzz View Post
    From what I hear they fly out and poop inside also. I hear it covers everything.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    I dont know what Allen thinks but I dont think drifting is a problem at all. I put the bees out in yards of 200, and I never see any problems with drifting. There is quite the buzz the first couple of days though, one of my favorite days of the year!
    And Jim, I absolutely agree with you. Its alot of work, and finding the right day to set them out sure seems like we are working on a touch and go basis. Like Tammy suggested the difference between indoor and outdoor most years is pretty much the same. Everyone has their own reason to winter inside.
    My reason to winter inside was because of how much I hated wrapping hives. And when I say hated, I really mean I HATE wrapping hives. I could never seem to keep the mice out of my wraps, and for a good week in the fall and another week in the spring I was nose deep in mouse stuff....
    Skunks, raccoon, mice, ....
    I find moving hives inside so much more relaxed and pleasant. I have a skidder and an Ezyloader to manage the lifting work. Couple of days to move them in, couple of nights to move them out.


    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    I am sure you guys are way more sophisticated in the way you go about it than I was. We just set up a big exhaust fan that kicked in when the temps got up to around freezing (don't recall the exact temp). Didn't have any means of cooling them so we just had to watch the forecast and get them out of there before any late winter early spring warm up occurred. It seemed like they got on such a huge cleansing flight when they finally got out that drifting was a problem.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Pierce/Thurson County, Wa
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    I know that Eric Olson out of Selah wintered his bees last year at a temp controlled 40 degrees. The only ones that he lost, he forgot to fill the feeders on in the fall. He hopes to do better this year.
    If you think anything organic is good for you, go drink some organic solvents.
    geek, learning how to be a beek

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    397

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Bill

    A lot of the published articles make indoor wintering and the venting associated with it sound complicated. Its not rocket science. If bees survive in a snowdrift outdoors, a controlled environment indoors with a bit of venting is adequate. The most difficult aspect of indoor wintering is keeping the bees cool enough when outdoor temperatures get warm. Ideally a cooling unit should be used for this but most people simply shovel in snow or if the building is well insulated, cool the room down at night and then don't draw warm air in during the day. Good over head fans that provide lots of air movement also help in keeping the bees in the hives. With the setup you are planning you are probably more sophisticated than most out there.

    My setup is very basic. An exhaust fan, three intakes with light traps, a circulating fan and a car block heater timer for a 16 x 40 x 60 building. I basically adjust the timer according to the weather and forecast. In my last building I had more complicated controls but prefer this system. A well insulated building makes temperature control much easier.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    397

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    I agree that survival rates between indoor or outdoor wintering often aren't much different. Smaller hives fair better indoors but often die anyways when moved out. I do think indoor hives require somewhat less feed and make running singles easier if that is a goal.

    I have had some drifting problems a couple of times. I don't think the size of the yard is an issue here -- though the mess is much greater with a big yard. If the first morning after the bees are move out is quite warm and a strong wind is present then there is a very good chance drifting will occur. The hives on the side of the yard where the wind is coming from will become very large and the others somewhat sad. If they get their cleansing flight done, I haven't seen them drift after that.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    how do your hives look this fall Allen?
    Im thinking mine look okay but my 5 framers seem to be looking a bit small
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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    1,277

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Sounds like you are on the right track Wisnewbee. I don't have indoor wintering experience. It's not cold enough here, think Seattle like weather. However I grew upin Manitoba and I understand cold. I'm not sure that a depth of 1 m for your air intake pipes is enough.
    Seems to me the ground can freeze deeper. Just depends if you get the harsh cold first (greater depth of frost) followed by an insulating layer of snow. Or do you get snow first , followed by the harsh cold resulting in ground frost not being as deep. Others could comment on this. It would be a shame to have a good building instead of a top notch building for an extra couple hours of machine time. The Devil is in the details.

    Jean-Marc

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wausau, WI, USA
    Posts
    221

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Fine minds think alike jean-marc. I was just thinking about that, the past couple of days. I'm not sure what depth I'll need to put the air intake pipes at. We want it at a depth that it "warms" the air during the really cold months, but also "cools" the air as the outside temps increase in spring. I'm checking with my Ag extension service to see if they have any current data about soil temperature at various depths. I could always do it the old passioned way and dig a couple holes at various depths and bury a temperature probe. I hope the extension service has the data.

    Allen, it sounds like you're using 1 exhaust fan, and mutiple inlets. I was planning to do just the opposite. 1 inlet (very large ) and multiple exhaust fans. Each fan with a different trigger point; about 2 degrees apart. The inlet would be ducted (think big plastic tube) with 2-3 inch holes along it, that runs the length of the building. Even distribution of the incoming cool air is my goal. I think either approach should work. Do you think 1 system has advantages over the other?

    Bill
    Wisnewbee

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    I like multiple fans just to have a back up
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,044

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    My reason to winter inside was because of how much I hated wrapping hives. And when I say hated, I really mean I HATE wrapping hives. I could never seem to keep the mice out of my wraps, and for a good week in the fall and another week in the spring I was nose deep in mouse stuff....
    Skunks, raccoon, mice, ....
    I find moving hives inside so much more relaxed and pleasant. I have a skidder and an Ezyloader to manage the lifting work. Couple of days to move them in, couple of nights to move them out.
    Now this I can understand
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    397

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Ian's point about multiple fans is a good one. I have a backup fan kicking around but having several fans is probably a better way to go.

    My old system had a timer and a trigger temperature - I think I had it set for about 7 or 8 C. I've changed my mind on the usefulness of this in my new building, partially because has better insulation. I am also running the temperatures indoors warmer than I used to -- about 6 - 8 C. During very cold weather I run the fan very little, partially to keep the wintering room to get too cold, but also to keep the humidity from getting too low as cold prairie air is very dry. As the temperature nears the freezing mark, I run the fan continuously. On very warm days, I no longer run the exhaust fan during the day. During the night, the fan run continuously and I may open the doors to cool things down as much as possible. Then during the day, I turn the exhaust fan off when outdoors temperatures are warmer than indoor temperatures. For me this has been a more effective strategy for keeping temperatures down.

    If drawing air through tubing in the ground cools the air substantially, then keeping the bees cool should not be an issue. I have considered this option as well, but it is not practical for me. The soil around my wintering shed is sand and gravel with very little moisture retained in it. Not much conductive heat exchange in dry soil. I do have floor piping in my building and buried discharge tube and have toyed with running well water through the piping. My well water is 9 C so this might be a good option for keeping the bees cool in spring.

    As I have said before, in my opinion, the one of the more difficult aspects of indoor wintering is managing warm weather.

    Ian, I'd say my hives are about average. Looked at the bees in the wintering room yesterday and most hives had nice clusters across the bottom of frames. More small hives than I would like to see though. Flowers being done so early and dry conditions were tough on the bees I think.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Im seeing lots of nice clusters also

    Another 250 hives and Ill have mine packed away once again!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering in northern climates on a commercial scale

    Do any of you indoor wintering guys manage the Relative Humidity inside the wintering shed through the winter? I never have, but notice Jan through Feb sure gets dry inside. Perhaps adding some water to the air would benefit the bees,.?

    I also talked to a producer who suggested to me misting the hives with water during the warm spells will keep the bees in the box. This adds humidity to the air and the bees will stay inside their hives. Does anyone have any experience with this?
    Caution though, not to over mist the hives to where water starts to run or drip down onto other hives, Nosema breakout!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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