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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    5,747

    Default Indoor wintering

    Im posting a question for beekeepers who winter their bees indoors.

    We have experienced a cold snap over the last couple of weeks with temps dipping below -30degreesC and wind chills of over -40.
    The hives in my shed have maintained the temp at the 5 degreeC mark throughout this weather. Air exchange through this weather is critical as volumes of air exchange decrease to conserve heat but air exchange must be maintained in order to keep CO2 levels in check.
    That exchange of cold dry air into a warm moist building tends to suck the moisture out of the wintering room. Right now my RH is at 35-40%.

    What is the optimum RH in the wintering shed and how do guys maintain that humidity level, if at all?

    Thanks
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Fruitland ,Idaho
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Good question. Wish I had an answer also.
    What would the ideal RH be inside a bee hive?
    I would think 40% RH would be better than 80% RH?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    641

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...for-the-Winter

    For what it is worth, in post 9, there is a CAPA link to a Beaverlodge research paper. Realize your hives will not be raising much brood, but would seem ideal hive relative humidty is 40%.

    "This water is important to the bees and they use it to dilute honey, feed brood and flush metabolic wastes from their bodies. Nonetheless, some of this water escapes as a vapour, which in itself is important as brood develops best at 40% relative humidity."
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    The room is sitting at a RH of 32% right now. A pail of water on the floor would increase that. Wonder if it is actually necessary ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ian, I have had several conversations with guys (no real experince yet myself) all say humidity is huge. and less than 50% is what I have been told by a cpl sources. Look up Allen Martens here, hes not on a lot but hes very helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Carp, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    That is a good timing, have a look at this http://beagleboard.org/project/BeeDome/

    Quick answers for you questions:
    Humidity: up to RH 60% is good, Can go much higher. So I think you are fine.
    CO2: the CO2 level inside the winter cluster is 60,000PPM, out side the cluster is 40,000PPM, also there are researches which show that higher CO2 level increase mite fatalities! Co2 and Humidity will be some how related, so if you keep the Humidity at the level you have now, you should be fine. Be sure that the air is will circulated, since CO2 and will drop to the ground so hives at the bottom may die, some people put empty super on the ground and start stack the hives up.
    temperature: 5-8 seem to be the very good range, hot temperature may be a bigger problem. If temperature start go to the 14+ range the bees may die in hours not if in minutes. The bees will start wondering outside the hive and will not be able to get back.

    Also ensure to keep them in the dark all the time, red "photographic" room safe light work for short time, some other red light may work, some kind of work and the bees can start see it “like florescent red light” it is much safer to be sure there is no light just in case it got forgotten on.

    The link below may interest you:
    https://www.facebook.com/mahmoud.elz...1975379&type=3
    http://capabees.org/content/uploads/...highlights.pdf
    http://capabees.org/content/uploads/...quirements.pdf
    http://www.backyardbees.ca/files/win...eaverlodge.pdf

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,172

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ian, is there not enough moisture in the honey for their needs? I would expect that in the confines of your shed that the bees would regulate the air-flow through the cluster in the same manner as they would were they outside, but without the stress of the frigid Canadian winds. I know I am not wintering bees inside, but I am interested in this and trying to understand the problem. Do bees die from desiccation in Canada?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Carp, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ian,

    You can control the humidity with products like these:

    http://www.homedepot.ca/product/dew-...-switch/992278
    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Electronic-Hu...-/111045750855

    Sorry I was confused at my reply before, I thought the concerns are the high (not the low) humidity, I am not familiar with problem due to low humidity since this is not a concern in our area.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,747

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Some guys water their hives indoors, others will irrigate the floor.
    I'm not sure what the optimum target is.
    More of an issue when wintering on hard honey as they need to liquefy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,608

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ian - I once found a good article, possibly from England, that talked about the effect of RH on "honey" consumption, I put it some where "SAFE", which Christian says translate to "never be found again". I will look tonight.

    Crazy Roland

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ian - I not sure anyone really knows what the ideal humidity for indoor wintering is. Lots of opinions and expert advice but I don't know of any study that has addressed this specially. High is bad - common knowledge and personal experience.

    Personally, I think hives with lots of syrup can handle low humidity much better than hives with crystallized honey. That one reason I load them with syrup in fall.

    How much air are you exchanging per day right know? I am doing about 360000 cfms per day (8 * 15 min* 3000 cfm). How does that compare to your air exchange.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Carp, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    This is kind of tricky question Any document I found about the humidity was talking about a range of 40-60 RH, But again I was always concern about the high limits more than the low.
    Another thing which is just a thought, if the store inside the hive is has a very low humidity say 15% (exceeding Canada number #1 grade) which most likely is not, but that is 15% of the store, then the bees consume the sugar (in the hone) and produce energy + CO2 + water.

    So the question may be is how crystallized or hard the honey is?
    If 60 RH is the high according to many sources, maybe you just keep the shed humidity around that level?

    You may want to try to get something like this http://www.ebay.ca/itm/VS2-10Pcs-Bee...item3a88ae596b (I actually order some for trying) and just pick a sample of the hives in different location at a different heights, put only water for them, if the water is getting decrease rapidly you may want to increase the humidity then?

    BTW: I see you have ceiling fans and high ceiling as well, I think you shouldn’t be concerned about the CO2

    Good luck and all the best

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    New Albany, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    339

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ian,

    I do not know the optimal humidity level for your situation. When we worked with colonies in flight rooms, we had to keep the humidity up, especially in the winter.

    It is surprising how much water it takes to increase the RH in a large space. I can see why guys would use the floor, as it offers a lot of surface area, but may create other problems with wetting dead bees on the floor. A few cheap humidifiers may do the trick. The old time walk in poultry incubators used to trickle water across a grid of burlap or fine screen and blow a fan through it. You want air movement and surface area to increase RH. A bucket on the floor won't do much.

    Joe
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Thanks forestbee, your input is very welcome.

    Allen, I'm not exactly sure on my air exchange as I don't know how to measure it but what I have going is a 12 inch fan set on a thermostat which is set at 5 degreesC , and a low idle setting. It runs continuous , pulling as much air at idle as a table fan on low to medium. Through this cold weather and with that volume of air exchange my shed temp has not budged off of 5 degrees.
    I'm getting in a CO2 sensor so that I know my air exchange is adequate and not just guessing. The problem is when pulling too much air through during these fridgid nights my RH drops below 30% as low as 22% some nights. Suck the moisture right out of the hives themselves!
    I hate to dump water on the floor as it only makes a mold mess under the pallets. A humidifier is what is needed but for a 45 by 50 room a large one would be required. If at all.
    I don't have much canola honey in my hives this winter as they went into fall very strong and they were looking for syrup when I got back to them.

    How fussy must a beekeeper be?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Ya Joe, your exactly right about wetting the floor. Makes for a mouldy mess anywhere the dead bees don't dry out under the pallets . Rotten dusty mess to clean up while moving the hives out !

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    The indoor wintering section in The Hive and the Honey Bee has this,
    "The ideal relative humidity for a wintering chamber has not been determined. From 50-75% R.H. is considered satisfactory, but levels from 30-44% in Saskatchewan produced no apparent ill effects."

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
    Posts
    481

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I hate to dump water on the floor as it only makes a mold mess under the pallets. A humidifier is what is needed but for a 45 by 50 room a large one would be required.
    For a short term, cheap, solution, you can plug in an electric kettle, and let it boil in the shed for a while. It will accomplish two things.

    a) It'll add humidity to the air (steam)
    b) it'll raise the temps a bit, so your exchange system will run a bit more (exhasting co2)

    I know, a simple kettle isn't going to do much, unless you are filling it constantly, but, you would be surprised how much your humidity goes up, if you boil dry a gallon of water in half an hour.

    Another, probably more useful way. Get one of the little heaters meant to keep ice off of a pond or animal watering station. Throw it in a bucket in the bee house. If you want to get real fancy, throw it into some form of animal watering gadget that shuts off when the feeder side is full, then hook up the hose, and forget it. Leave the pond heater in the open side to get evaporation happening.
    Last edited by grozzie2; 12-11-2013 at 09:13 PM.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    419

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Water on the floor takes a long time to dry at 5 C as well. I park my atv with a snowblower in the wintering room. After snow blowing it brings in a fair amount of snow. Normally it takes 4 - 6 days for the floor to dry around the atv. Any passive method needs the wet surface area to be large to make much of a difference in humidity.

    A CO2 monitor would allow for cutting back on air exchange and increase humidity. Though on a year like this with big hives the fans would probably kick in to reduce the temperature.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,747

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Yes it's amazing how much heat is given off by those hives.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,608

    Default Re: Indoor wintering

    Found a paper by D.L.Nelson of Beaverlodge. Looks old, photo(pdf) of type written page. They say:

    40 +/- 2 deg F temp.

    "The best RH seems to be between 50-60 deg F"

    I read that as a typo for 50-60 RH, seing as how the term RH is used first.

    I will keep looking.

    Carzy Roland

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