My Indoor Wintering Setup
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Alexandria, MN
    Posts
    723

    Default My Indoor Wintering Setup

    I should get a few pics to upload but my site is a ~8x10 garden shed. I moved to the property this summer and I have had two nearly 100% loss winters. So I decided to keep my bees in the shed this winter. It required some repairs and I insulatedthe shed. I then got electric setup with outlets and lights. I used dryer vents for ventilation on opposite sides of the shed. One has a fan that sucks air in and the other passively lets it out. That is set on a timer to run for half an hour twice a day. I also have a small electric heater in the shed. Right now it's set to a timer and I have approximated the 40 degree setting on it. I do have a thermocube in the mail. It's a neat little device that you plug right in to an outlet. It has a thermostat in it that will only power whatever you plug into it between 35-45 degrees. So when that comes I will simply use that instead of a timer. I have a wireless thermostat in there and the monitor indicates that the temp is between 30-50 right now, but that should be more tightly regulated once the thermocube arrives. My doors are essentially sealed but when it got warm today there were a few bees outside so I wonder if there is a small opening at the base of the door. I just opened the door and let them do their thing.

    So anything I should be doing differently?

    Should I continue to open the doors on nice days?

    Should my fan run more often?

    Should I stress out about finding that small crack? It's dang dark in there when I look from inside.

    It seems a lot of my loss comes in March when we get a week of subzero temps. Hoping this avoids that problem and I can be more successful in the future. Replacing bees is expensive.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Sandpoint, ID, USA
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    1,143

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Why do you get losses? More specifically, are they starved out when that time in March comes?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Arras, British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    I should get a few pics to upload but my site is a ~8x10 garden shed. I moved to the property this summer and I have had two nearly 100% loss winters. So I decided to keep my bees in the shed this winter. It required some repairs and I insulatedthe shed. I then got electric setup with outlets and lights. I used dryer vents for ventilation on opposite sides of the shed. One has a fan that sucks air in and the other passively lets it out. That is set on a timer to run for half an hour twice a day. I also have a small electric heater in the shed. Right now it's set to a timer and I have approximated the 40 degree setting on it. I do have a thermocube in the mail. It's a neat little device that you plug right in to an outlet. It has a thermostat in it that will only power whatever you plug into it between 35-45 degrees. So when that comes I will simply use that instead of a timer. I have a wireless thermostat in there and the monitor indicates that the temp is between 30-50 right now, but that should be more tightly regulated once the thermocube arrives. My doors are essentially sealed but when it got warm today there were a few bees outside so I wonder if there is a small opening at the base of the door. I just opened the door and let them do their thing.

    So anything I should be doing differently?

    Should I continue to open the doors on nice days?

    Should my fan run more often?

    Should I stress out about finding that small crack? It's dang dark in there when I look from inside.

    It seems a lot of my loss comes in March when we get a week of subzero temps. Hoping this avoids that problem and I can be more successful in the future. Replacing bees is expensive.
    I think you are on the right track. I would find the light source (crack) and cover it up. It isn't as much of a problem now as it will be n spring when the temperature jumps and they really really want a cleansing flight. Make sure you have a way to bring in cold air if you get a jump in temperature. Good job by the way.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    They should not be flying outside when it is cold. Go ahead to find those holes and foam seal them up.
    Besides, the temp. humidity, CO2 and CO monitoring is important inside the shed. Grab some indoor 'keeps to
    PM them.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Auburn, Washington, USA
    Posts
    325

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Just so you know, 5 degrees Celsius is the optimal wintering temperature for bees. They use the least amount of resources. You will find the bees will want to crawl out even in the total darkness and many will be dead in front of the entrance. Some undertakers wont make it back either and die from chilling. I tried indoor wintering, I prefer outdoor wintering now, but it rarely gets much below freezing here. The quilt box is what really made the most difference in my overwintering success.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,569

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Mike, how many colonies do you have in there? Do you have "light boxes" built around your vents to keep the shed dark?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Alexandria, MN
    Posts
    723

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by hex0rz View Post
    Why do you get losses? More specifically, are they starved out when that time in March comes?
    Starved out with honey on the comb I'm afraid. Everybody says that cold doesn't kill bees but I still call bull. All of my march deaths have been due to bees clustering down tight during a long cold snap and starving.

    Jodie I have that one vent to a timer. Is there a way to program it to the timer and a switch?

    Beepro is there a simple way to monitor those things and what parameters am I to use as normals? Also it wasn't cold when they got out. If they had been outside they would have been flying.

    Adrian, I know you didn't ask me this but here is what I did. Again I used dryer vents. I used 90 degree turns to essentially eliminate light. With 90 degree turns and longer vents it was pretty dang dark.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    9,340

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    My doors are essentially sealed but when it got warm today there were a few bees outside so I wonder if there is a small opening at the base of the door. I just opened the door and let them do their thing.
    Stand inside the shed with all the doors closed. Then you will be able to see any light coming through. Seal them all up and keep it dark inside. If you open the doors for them to fly, the bees will not be able to find their way back into the shed and then finding which stacked hive is theirs.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    153

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    I have nearly the same setup going with 25 colonies this year. Last year was successful at 14 colonies with 1 loss. This year i installed a thermostatically controlled 110 cfm fan to control overheating. It got up to 0C out yesterday and the fan was running. Supplemental heat needed at lower than -10 with R12 insulation.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,080

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    I'm not qualified to comment on how good the setup is for overwintering ... I have questions but not answers. This approach interests me as well.

    I do have some test setup and consumer product safety experience. A power cube is easy, but not my first choice for unattended heating. They are pretty good, but they run hot enough that they can start a fire if something flammable gets too close. A draft moving a scrap of paper might do it. If I were doing such a setup, I'd use a lower-temperature heater. There are some electric baseboard heaters that might be pretty good, oil-filled portable radiators, etc. I once rigged a radio room up with a baseboard heater and a wall thermostat. We set the thermostat way down ... we only wanted to heat the room enough to stop condensation from forming when people arrived for a meeting.

    Some people might consider a sealed up barrel of water as a thermal mass to help even out temperature. Old country trick for storing fruit in basements, that works in some climates (yours may be too cold). As water freezes it gives up an amazing amount of heat ... it takes quite a while to get it below 32 F.

    Regarding the monitoring, I was going to suggest monitoring humidity, but someone beat me to it. But watch the ratings. Affordable humidistats and humidity gages can be wildly inaccurate, and indoor types will probably lie like a sailor if exposed to cold temperatures. I'd pick something intended for weather monitoring. There might be a humidistat intended for greenhouses that would work reliably for your fan. I've looked for household carbon monoxide monitors that can stand cold, but have never seen one rated for use below freezing. I'd love to hear if any of the experts can recommend a good CO2 monitor.

    I've been thinking about putting a nuc, maybe my nuc-based obs hive, indoors in my garage workshop, with a tube going outside so the bees could fly on warmer days. But what I'd love to know is how you guys doing indoor beekeeping deal with inspections and feeding? Much as I love bees, they seem to get really agitated when they're trapped indoors but out of their hives.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Phoebee View Post
    But what I'd love to know is how you guys doing indoor beekeeping deal with inspections and feeding?
    5 months of no hive work
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Manassas, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    5 months of no hive work
    Now THATS a useful warning for us noobs. If we go into the winter with insufficient stores, our bees are screwed!

    We are warned!

    Not that this is not always true, but outdoors we can slip in some fondant in an emergency.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Usually the hives are stacked to the ceiling. There is no way of working a hive.
    some guys will provide water at the entrances, others will feed syrup later in winter.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Alexandria, MN
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    723

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    One thing to keep in mind is that our winters here are very cold and dry. I know that some get wet winters but we are very dry here. With proper ventilation I'd be surprised if humidity is a problem.

    Another thing to note is that I only have three hives ATM. So my hives aren't really stacked in there. I actually have more empty equment in there than filled with room to walk around still. So if I have my hives spread out I'd assume the bees may be able to make cleansing flights if I open the doors.

    I have been in there with the doors closed. I had it pitch black but if there is an area letting in light it's probably the doors. They were essentially plywood on hinges. I used 2x4s and made it so the 2x4s sealed around the frame when shut. I then used what I believe is garage door weather stripping on the outside of the doors to seal out any light, but didn't apply any to the bottom. Maybe I need to do so.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Alexandria, MN
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    723

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshW View Post
    I have nearly the same setup going with 25 colonies this year. Last year was successful at 14 colonies with 1 loss. This year i installed a thermostatically controlled 110 cfm fan to control overheating. It got up to 0C out yesterday and the fan was running. Supplemental heat needed at lower than -10 with R12 insulation.

    What did you use to thermostatically control your fan?
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Manassas, Virginia, USA
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    3,080

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    I have been in there with the doors closed. I had it pitch black but if there is an area letting in light it's probably the doors. They were essentially plywood on hinges. I used 2x4s and made it so the 2x4s sealed around the frame when shut. I then used what I believe is garage door weather stripping on the outside of the doors to seal out any light, but didn't apply any to the bottom. Maybe I need to do so.
    I've got a shed built from a standard kit, but I modified it considerably, particularly the doors. Normally those are as you describe, just T-111 plywood panels on hinges. But I wanted the shed to keep out mice, so I put close-fitting frames on the doors and made them so the plywood lapped over the frames. This made a tight right angle gap the mice couldn't get thru. Had to radius one of the frame 2x4's to make it open but it works. I can't swear it is a perfect seal against light, but it does stop the mice when I remember to close the doors. With a little weatherstripping it would be light tight. But since I put a skylight in the shed, that's hopeless for me.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    international falls, Mn
    Posts
    699

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Howdy Bush 84
    I have a very similar set up to yours in a 4 by 14 foot lean on the back of my garage...I have 15 nucs 2 and3 story high inside and I have just enough room to wheel in nucs with a 12 by 18 inch moving cart with a couple inches to spare..lol...
    I had a full discription of my set up but it timed me out and I lost it all---RATS--- I'll try to post some pics later.
    Good luck

    ==McBee7==

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    international falls, Mn
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    699

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    I also have some "crawlers" headed for the door, but I don't think its because of light, but because of natural convection at the floor,,,I don't have my ventilation fan finished yet but I'm counting on that slight crack under the door to vent out the nasty gas's that are at floor level...
    Currently for ventilation I open the door a few minutes before work and a few minutes after work,,,In the dark of course..

    ==McBee7==

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    7,861

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    On longer than 5 mins writing I use notepad or word-pad to type and then
    copy and paste into the BS reply area.
    A small red LED miner's light will help so you don't have to work in the dark the next
    time. I have 2 of them just in case.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    international falls, Mn
    Posts
    699

    Default Re: My Indoor Wintering Setup

    Thanks BeePro for the tip on note pad, I'll use it next time, I just get so agrivated when that happens...
    I also use the red light. I have a light mounted on my hard hat from work, that has the red light choice like this one.
    http://www.menards.com/main/electric...30-c-14149.htm

    ==McBee7==

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