Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Romney, IN, USA
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    Default Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    So, my sister helped me with a cut-out last year and decided that she wanted a hive of bees. I caught a nice swarm in early June and sent it to her. I went down to see her, check the bees, and insulate the hive yesterday. I'm not sure what happened, but there's about a double-handful of bees left. They DO have a queen, however!

    I broke the news that these bees wouldn't make it to my sister, so she sent them home with me. My husband is building a greenhouse for our aquaponics system right now. I have the idea that I can put a top feeder and pollen patties in the hive, do my work in the greenhouse, and then let the bees out. They can pollinate my strawberries and anything else that blooms. After sundown, I can close the hive back up.

    I've never seen a hive so small. They don't even have two frames pulled out, little pollen and very little honey. I would like to pull them through, however. I had thought about using a weak hive for pollination in the greenhouse, so I guess we'll see if it works!


    Any suggestions?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Yes they have. Tends not to work as well as you might suppose. Don't do it.
    Mark Berninghausen

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    5,183

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    The bees beat their selves to death on the plastic trying to get out. It does SEEM like a good idea though.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Romney, IN, USA
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    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    OK, I was concerned about them beating themselves against the plastic. How about I give them a couple of supers off another hive, and have an entrance to the outside, on the leeward side of the greenhouse?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Using Bumble bees (Bombus spp) for pollination of greenhouse crops is well established and commercial. These work better. You can obtain Bombus colonies commercially, or trap them yourself (many references on line). They are lovely to work with, just no honey.

    I have a sideline biz supplying hives (and Bombus) to plant selection, hybrid seed production and research trials.
    Greenhouse with an open ridge vent (so bees can rise to the peak and exit) work fine. Isolation canopy tents with netting are a real struggle. I mount the hive at the very peak if possible (stepladder), so the bees rising for escape find themselves at home.


    Bees will not get enough forage in a greenhouse but will remain metabolically active --- you burn up more stores, with them doing nothing productive.

    The larger issue is: in a cold climate you want the bees to cluster and physiologically become winter bees. In the warmth of greenhouse, the bees remain scattered on the frame, and try to forage. I've heard this issue with "super-insulated" hives -- the bees don't generate shivering heat clustered together, so the hive as whole never "hibernates" properly.

    Canadian bees winter in darkened, cooled, semi-underground potato barns, and traditionally bees were moved under hay insulation in barns. I think that is a better strategy, cool but protected and let them hibernate.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    873

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Judy,

    I would recommend that you not put your colony in a greenhouse for the winter and i agree with many of the comments made thus far. The bees navigate by the sun and the unseasonably warm temperature within the greenhouse will encourage the bees to fly and not cluster during the winter. The girls will beat themselves to death on the inside of the greenhouse even if you have temperature controlled opening vents.

    I would suggest that you wrap your colony, w/ or w/o insulation and leave it outside, and feed sugar syrup and pollen patties throughout the winter. Be sure to allow ventilation.

    Steve
    P1020508.jpg

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Fayette, Missouri, usa
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    253

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Image0025.jpg Here is the way that I kept two nucs on my porch all winter. They could go outdoors whenever they wanted by using the 1 1/4 inch pipe, about 10 inches long.
    Bees would be going on clensing flights any afternoon that the sun was warm enough. They will not go out when the temps are too cold.
    I had a pint jar setting upside down on the top of the nucs with a hole in the wood to fit the jar lid. I needed to refill the jar about every three weeks.
    Next time, I will put in a plastic or glass window in the top of the nuc so that I can watch the bees during the winter. We all enjoyed this process.
    Charlie
    12 hives zone 5

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Romney, IN, USA
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    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Charlie,

    How warm (or cold) is your porch? I am concerned that that few bees (less than 2 whole deep frames) will be unable to generate enough heat to survive. I've got the hive on the front porch right now, with pink board insulation around it and a solid bottom under the SBB. In between the two bottoms I have a small 7 watt bulb on at night. I have a quart jar of sugar water there. So far, I haven't seen any robbing and they've consumed about a pint.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    5,486

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    I would think u need to provide them with a frame or two of brood at this point if you want them to make it.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Romney, IN, USA
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    97

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    JRG13,

    That's a good idea, but I don't want to weaken my established hives. I've had a great year and don't have any drawn comb to replace the brood frames that I would be removing.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cumberland Va.
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    4,869

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    your strongest hive may be able to spare a frame................................

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Fayette, Missouri, usa
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    253

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Image0005.jpgJudy v,
    I wintered my two nucs close to this observation hive. Our porch can be heated if needed, but usually isn't. The average temp is about 60 degrees and the lowest is 45 degrees.
    Last winter, the Observation hive only had one frame of bees and another with some honey. They made it fine. Also the nucs were doing great when spring warmed up.
    Charlie

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Romney, IN, USA
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    97

    Default Re: Has Anyone Tried to Over-Winter a hive in a greenhouse?

    Well, we may do something else. I got a call about bees in a fellow's chimney. So, I transferred the queen and frames into a catch hive and we're going to cage her today. Tomorrow, I'll take the hive over and use it as a trap-out hive. Hopefully, that will build up the numbers. There are a lot of young bees in there, so that's encouraging.

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