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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,929

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    OK thanks Sharpdog, yes I did wonder about that "learn" statement. You've been very helpful & I have confidence to proceed I'll update in due course.

    Djastram, nice looking unit. I'll check into it plus some others I'm looking at.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,561

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    My incubator was very simple and I find it extremely valuable. It is an old chest freezer that is fairly large can hold three deeps. It has a small shelf where I place a cluster of 3 60 watt incandescent light bulbs. I also use a small box fan to circulate air within the freezer to evenly distribute the heat. The fans run only while in the heating mode. I use the Ranco ETC-111000-000 temp controller and set it for 1 degree F differential. A saucer of water is also used to keep the humidity up. I place the cells using a custom built frame inside an empty deep box and place the temp probe right next to the cells. I have carefully watched the temperature during many cycles and have never seen spikes as mentioned previously. Perhaps since my enclosure is fairly large it is not susceptible to such spikes.

    Side benefits of this setup are that is can also warm several pails of honey and since the freezer part still works I can use it to freeze frames when needed.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,017

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    That's cool - you could also use it to lager beer, cure bacon or make cheese. I've had my eye on that controller for a while because it is so flexible - and plug-n-play.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Caledonia, Ontario, CA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    My incubator was very simple and I find it extremely valuable. It is an old chest freezer that is fairly large can hold three deeps. It has a small shelf where I place a cluster of 3 60 watt incandescent light bulbs. I also use a small box fan to circulate air within the freezer to evenly distribute the heat. The fans run only while in the heating mode. I use the Ranco ETC-111000-000 temp controller and set it for 1 degree F differential. A saucer of water is also used to keep the humidity up. I place the cells using a custom built frame inside an empty deep box and place the temp probe right next to the cells. I have carefully watched the temperature during many cycles and have never seen spikes as mentioned previously. Perhaps since my enclosure is fairly large it is not susceptible to such spikes.

    Side benefits of this setup are that is can also warm several pails of honey and since the freezer part still works I can use it to freeze frames when needed.
    Sounds like a great multi-purpose setup AstroBee!

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,387

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I just use a simple styra-foam electric poultry incubator. I have built little racks to hold queens cells in protectors attached to mini-queen cages. I also have a small water source for humidity. Works very well for me if you set it about 90-92F.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,605

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    A few thoughts...

    1. A simple way to allow it to get up to temp fast but hold a steady target would be to use multiple heating elements that you could switch out of the circuit easily (like, with a switch). Turn them all on to fire the thing up, and leave as many on as necessary to keep it at temp (a guess would be that if the on/off cycles are relatively equal you are in good shape).

    2. Pulsing the heating element can be done similarly with simple analog components...a 555 timer ic would do the job (with a few other components), and you could set it to be "always on" to heat up quickly, and adjust the pulsing to reduce the heat of the element as it gets up to temp (either automatically or manually).

    3. A PIC microcontroller would allow a lot of flexibility...a Basic Stamp would probably be the easiest approach, others would be cheaper/unit.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,605

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    ....I'd consider figuring out the PIC end of things to design an ultimate queen cell incubator kit. I'd include a humidity sensor input that could turn an aquarium pump/airstone on/off, an alarm, etc.

    Any thoughts/ideas?

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,079

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I experimented with an incubator this year. I used my Hova-Bator Genesis incubator. The temperature can be digitally adjusted, but the humidity relies on little water channels in the floor which you can adjust by filling some and/or not filling others. Not terribly accurate but it stays in a reasonable range.

    It worked.

    Dean, if you were programming/electronics savvy, you could pretty easily rig up something using an Arduino, accepting thermometer/hygrometer inputs and controlling relays for various appurtenances. The hardware can be purchased on Amazon.com, but it requires the ability to program which you or a friend could pull off with a little study. I'm using it for a wood gasifier project, reading thermocouples, pressure sensors, controlling servos, motors, and other fun stuff. You might even find an example online of someone who's already done what you're thinking of. All Arduino stuff is open source.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Jasper, Texas, USA
    Posts
    136

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I'm sure there is an electronic answer that has already been mentioned.

    However, I think David hit it on the head also. That is a foam box which will has almost no mass to absorb heat. I think You need to line the bottom with concrete blocks or bricks or water bottles. Get something in there besides just air to hold the heat.

    It's low tech, but totally effective.

    Best of luck. Let us know what worked.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,929

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Thanks all for the great info and Ryan I will likely end up going that kind of way. Deknow and Astrobee, useful info. Sol, "Not terribly accurate but it stays in a reasonable range" is a kind of oxymoron?

    Anyhow latest update, a local guy here who understands this stuff is setting me up all the electronics. He thinks I am over the top in the degree of control I want but has agreed, to do it.

    So at first I'll just run his set up in the box as is, to see just how good his set up works without and heat sinks etc. Once that's been done I'll likely add some bricks, or whatever, as an extra source of stability.

    I'll get back here and report in due course.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    OK have given my newly refurbished incubator a test run with some queen cells.

    To do the extremest test, the cells were put in day after capping, the larvae were still pre-pupal and I opened a few cells to check on that. Opened a few cells each of the next days for a look, and the larvae developed at the same rate as the ones I left in the hive, first pupating, then going pink eye, and eventually hatching.

    As per usual they started hatching on day 15 from when the egg was laid, not day 19 like all the textbooks say. Some of them were a bit lacking in energy didn't even fight each other, till I discovered the temperature was on the low side and turned it up.

    There is some great electronics in the incubator including a PID controller, supplied by a good buddy who also has a few hives. I can tell you, that for bee electronics, this guy is DaMan!! I am trying to talk him into supplying some commercially.

    As the incubator is still in the testing phase, it currently has 3 temp probes in it plus one for humidity. Each temperature probe has a slightly different reading, which I suspect could be due to insufficient air circulation. So I'm getting a second fan, not just for better circulation but also for safety should one die. After that is in there will be fine tuning of temperature and humidity, I want it perfect. By the way the incubator temperature is more stable than the hive we have been measuring, so is that good, or should we replicate the temperature swings in a hive? I don't know.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,416

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    interesting ot, thanks for reporting.

    i'm jealous that your spring is just starting!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,990

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    > As per usual they started hatching on day 15 from when the egg was laid, not day 19 like all the textbooks say.

    I was amused to see Michael Bush's Beemath page say "
    16 days +-1". That would be 15-17 days.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,929

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Oh I hadn't seen that, I think he is onto it!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I got started late building my incubator this year. But I hope to make good use of it next spring. After reading everything I could find on this site and the Internet, this is what I came up with. I'm using the ranco thermostat with the circulation fan tied in.



    Last edited by SDiver40; 09-01-2013 at 11:48 AM. Reason: add picture

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,017

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I believe that the temp will be more even throughout the volume and across cycles if the fan runs constantly. It might not matter - according to Old timer his incubator is already more consistent than hive conditions. But I bet more consistent conditions will result in more predictable emergence times.

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,931

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    I recently had an interesting experience with my temp controller. after nearly 4 solid weeks of it operating night and day it failed to open at the set temp. this kept the heat element from turning off and the kiln rose from the target 120 degrees to 197. Gratefully this was not set up on an incubator but was operating my tobacco kiln. It is not end up causing any damage since teh tobacco was ready to enter the drying stage where it would have been heated to 160 degrees. it just dried it faster and may have been near getting roasted. had it been queen cells it woudl have been a disaster. I am not sure yet just what caused the failure but for a temperature controller it is not acceptable that it failed secure. or in the on position. For now my anser is to wire back in the mechanical water heater stat that will be set just above the target temp. it will never open unless once again this temp controller sticks closed.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,017

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Daniel Y - what kind is it?

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,931

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    It is one of these from E-bay. Good plug for better quality.
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/110V-LCD-Dig...item58a1713187
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Talk About Your Incubator

    Here is a link that shows how to build a controller and the required parts. The temp. sensor can be taped to the light bulb and will control it nicely. These controllers are on ebay. I'll look up one and paste it here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I-iwFLykxs

    Here is the ebay link.

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trks...at=0&_from=R40

    Read up on the controller you want and verify that it will handle your load (Light bulb) amps. If you need more power the SCR on the same ebay page or one like it will work. Some are pulse output some are variable output. Most have info with them on hookup. Do you use 110 or 220 volts? Watch that.
    Last edited by julysun; 09-14-2013 at 05:08 PM.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

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