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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Stearns, MN, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Observation Hive possible during a MN winter???

    Hi everyone. My son (10) recently became interested in becoming a beekeeper, and after listening to him for a few weeks I think I am now too. We plan to get started with 2 hives in the spring. We still haven't decided what type but are currently considering the Langstroth, Warre, and Rose hives in no particular order. But my son was wondering if we could get started with a small observation hive through this winter while we wait for spring. Is an observation hive a possibility in MN during the winter? My understanding of an OH is that it must allow the bees to exit and fly outside for cleansing. We will likely have several months in a row where the temperature will never get above 20 deg F, and likely several weeks below 0 deg F, and almost certainly a week or two around -25 deg F. Now all the reading I've done about wintering bees tells me that they will start flying when the temp gets above 50 deg F. That NEVER happens around here for at least 3 or 4 months straight. So I guess I'm wondering if some experienced beekeepers could comment on how I would go about setting up an OH that would work in a MN winter. I wouldn't mind comments on wintering bees through harsh winters in the three outdoor hive styles we are considering as well. Thanks much for any wisdom!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA UNITED STATES
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: Observation Hive possible during a MN winter???

    I have kept hives over winter in Virginia several times in my observation hive. I have a custom built hive that has 3 deep, and 3 shallow frames. Observation hives are wonderful ways to expand your understanding of the hive. The main issue with them is not the cold, it's the warmth.

    What happens is that the queen never really shuts down. She keeps laying eggs because the temperature is up. There is some slowing because of nectar slowing down, but having the observation hive in a conditioned space really messes with the hive dynamics.

    If you want to keep an observation hive going, you'll need to feed them sugar as well as some pollen, or pollen substitute throughout the winter. If you keep them in an uninsulated garage, you won't see much as the bees may cluster out of sight, and if you have glass on one side, there may not be enough insulation to keep them using up their stores.

    Additionally, on really cold days, I've seen the bees fly out on the cleansing flight and fall dead in the snow. It's a sad thing to see hundreds of half frozen bees in little black dots all over the snow.

    So, the answer is yes, maybe, and they probably won't make it through the winter, but they might. The other thing you can do is just watch all the youtube videos on beekeeping through the winter. I stll probably would give it a shot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Stearns, MN, USA
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Observation Hive possible during a MN winter???

    RobWok: Thanks for your thoughts. MN certainly has muxh harsher winters than VA, so that makes me think maybe they would all die on their cleansing flights.

    Has anyone successfully kept a wintertime observation hive in northern climates?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: Observation Hive possible during a MN winter???

    Quote Originally Posted by rsteichen View Post
    But my son was wondering if we could get started with a small observation hive through this winter while we wait for spring.....

    Is an observation hive a possibility in MN during the winter?
    You wouldn't be able to populate your hive in the winter, but you certainly can get started building it.

    All of my Langs are outdoor Langstroth observation hives.

    I call the design the "Bowness Observation hive", and have instructions at:

    http://members.shaw.ca/metropropolis...ion%20Hive.pdf


    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Cheboygan Mi
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: Observation Hive possible during a MN winter???

    I just started a thread My OB hive, my winters is about the same as yours if you need help PM ME.
    Chuck.


    Quote Originally Posted by rsteichen View Post
    RobWok: Thanks for your thoughts. MN certainly has muxh harsher winters than VA, so that makes me think maybe they would all die on their cleansing flights.

    Has anyone successfully kept a wintertime observation hive in northern climates?

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