Raise bees indoors over winter?
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  1. #1
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    Default Raise bees indoors over winter?

    I have top bar hives. One threw off two small supersedure swarms over the past two weeks. I was able to catch the second tiny swarm. I have them in a hive with a heater and the queen is laying. It is a very small swarm that could not survive the winter. I was thinking of them in a small hive and raising them in a back bedroom I never use. They could fly around in the room. I would feed them syrup, pollen and candy and put them outdoors in April. Has anyone raised one indoors and any advice you can give me?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Why not trying to overwinter them outdoors if you use a heater and food?
    Restrict them as much as possible.

    My friend did that with a surplus queen living with a handful of bees in a mini mating nuc, he placed it on his balcony out of the wind placing a heater mat from an aquarium underneath.
    They would have survived but there was an accident with the apifonda sugar feed, it got liquid and dropped on the bees making them all sticky.
    Itīs good if they do not fly too much.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by dulley View Post
    Has anyone raised one indoors and any advice you can give me?
    I have some experience of successfully raising extremely small colonies outdoors over winter in hives fitted with heaters set at around 20-25 deg C (thus making clustering unnecessary), and with plenty of pollen and stores provided.

    If you're planning on doing this indoors, then I suggest you run a short tube from the hive entrance out through a boarded-up window - that way clearance flights can be taken whenever these become possible. I've heard of several people over-wintering their nucs using such a method.

    Over-wintering tiny colonies using artificial heat is not something I'd ever want to do on a regular basis - but it can be a viable proposition in an emergency.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Put them in an observation hive with an outdoor exit through the wall. If you have spare frames with some honey and pollen, that will help; many OBS have a provision for feeding syrup, too.

    Having them loose in a room will be very confusing to them and I think a lot of them will die because of that. Without the sun to orient on they won't do well. And they will fly to the light coming in a window, and kill themselves desperately trying to get out.

    With OBS, with it's entrance tube through the wall, when they need to fly out, they can and they will orient on the entrance point and come back in safely.

    Nancy

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    On top of all that, bee do defecate. Do you really want a room in the house with bee poop everywhere? It is not like picking up after a dog. They will pretty much destroy the room in one winter.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    you really don't want to have bees flying around an inside room pooping everywhere. You will never get the mustard yellow stains out. Plus, as was already pointed out, the bees will be very confused and beat their heads on the glass trying to get out.

    An inside OB hive is certainly possible, but remember that rearing large amounts of brood is what ages the workers. so any heater, should only be enough to keep them from chilling. I've used special warmbees.com heaters in small nucs outside that did very well. I've also used a plant grow mat on the tops of my topbars to keep a cluster warm. That was a little hot since it didn't have a thermostat. An aquarium heater might be better, but I already had the plant grow mat.

    You can easily build your own OB hive with a tube entrance to the outside. I knocked mine together for very little money since I used standard picture frame glass from the thrift store. Two 16"x20" and with the 3" trim around the glass, It was the perfect size for my 19" topbars. I've built a double wide and a single wide. I use a pet water bottle as their syrup feeder.

    You can see more details on my FB post. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1&l=2b7196b0e5

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    It would not even have to be a true observation hive, but the idea is the same. Block off the bottom board entrance and drill a 2" hole in the lower back of a hive body. Use a piece of 1-1/2" PVC pipe as an entrance tube and place the hive near the window you will use. A piece of plywood with a hole serves to block off the rest of the open window. Insert a piece of hardware cloth the length of the pipe so the bees have something to crawl on. PVC pipe is really slick inside. Instant indoor hive. Obviously you will need to screen off the inner cover too so bees don't get out when you refill the jar feeder. Or better yet, replace the plywood filler of the inner cover with a piece of plexi so you can check on them without opening things up.

    I had actually thought about doing this but the wife said it was a really bad idea if I wanted to stay married.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?


    If there are other hives that could spare some workforce, I would raid them to build up the nuc into viable size.
    As long as you build it up to 3-4 bars, densely packed, then it will be worthwhile nursing it through the winter.

    This is a very timely topic for me - as of just this weekend I have a tiny nuc with a handful of bees of my own.
    I would let them go under and call it that (they also have a mite problem - hence the population drop).

    Well, this is a freshly mated, well laying Russian-mutt queen with some resistant traits (I hope) that I want to try to keep alive.
    The tiny cluster is sandwiched between only two frames as I found out yesterday.

    So now we have cold October weather and bees are no longer flying.
    This is good because you can do many combination moves impossible during the warm weather.
    In fact, you can do many really crazy moves when it is cold and bees are very immobile (like temporarily keep two queen-right clusters together for warmth, only separated by a fabric sheet - stuff like that).

    Today I went to the strongest hive in this yard and took three large honey frames loosely covered with bees (this is promising feral stock and should be fairly mite-free as I don't want to keep bringing the mites from outside - fingers crossed on this one).
    I combined those queen-less bees with my micro-cluster (used the newspaper).
    When you do this, be sure to take the most outside frames (or a bars), farthest from the entrance is best.
    This way you reduce your chances of taking a queen by accident (should double-check, anyway).

    So, in a day or two I will check the micro-nuc and should observe a stronger cluster around the queen, in theory.
    Then I will compress them back again by taking away bee-free frames.
    Depending what I see, I may go out and bring another frame with bees and combine them back to the micro-nuc.
    So, the plan is to build them up to a three-frame nuc and have them compressed between the dummy frames with insulation.
    Once this is done, will plug some sort of weak heating system into the box to not let them freeze when we have temperature deeps.
    They are also already inside the wintering box (so, this is a double-box system).
    Will see.
    Last edited by GregV; 10-14-2018 at 08:03 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    I also thought about putting the entire hive in my wooden tool shed in my backyard. It is not heated, but gets quite warm on sunny winter days. I can stack many concrete blocks and water jugs in there to give it some thermal mass and moderate thermal swings. Is a 1/2-inch dia. hole drilled in the side of the shed enough for the bees to go in and out? I don't have any frames with pollen, but I do have a jar of bee pollen powder. I have not had much luck with bees using the pollen, but they seem to eat it when I combine it in hard candy. Has anyone poured the pollen powder into the cells of a frame and putting it in the hive that way?

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by dulley View Post
    I also thought about putting the entire hive in my wooden tool shed in my backyard. It is not heated, but gets quite warm on sunny winter days. I can stack many concrete blocks and water jugs in there to give it some thermal mass and moderate thermal swings. Is a 1/2-inch dia. hole drilled in the side of the shed enough for the bees to go in and out? I don't have any frames with pollen, but I do have a jar of bee pollen powder. I have not had much luck with bees using the pollen, but they seem to eat it when I combine it in hard candy. Has anyone poured the pollen powder into the cells of a frame and putting it in the hive that way?
    0.5 inch is plenty and is appropriate.
    This is my standard size.

    Shed is really good.
    I wish I had a shed but I don't (hence I built a wintering box).
    20161127_132610_Mod.jpg

    I would not bother with all that thermal mass.
    Remember - when your thermal mass cools off - then it will be keeping your shed cooler than you may want at times.

    But I would bother with some sort of low level heating (will do so for myself - need to research, never done myself yet).
    The heating should be low to keep the hive temp at say 40-50F steady, to only prevent them freezing during the cold deeps.
    Bees still should be in a cluster (small cluster, but still a cluster) - not just running around.

    If you have other hives (sounds if you do), you should easily fetch a bar with mixed honey/pollen/clustered bees - all at once.
    Last edited by GregV; 10-14-2018 at 08:22 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    My other hives don't have a lot of pollen stored either. If I move a frame of honey from another hive that is covered with bees, will they fight when I put them into the new hive?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    You have to shake the bees off before you move the frame. I am feeding pollen in a mason jar turned on it's side inside a hive body with a top. Working very well. Pollen inside the hive should be in patty form.
    You may want to rethink the hole size if the bees will be loose in the shed and need to find the hole to get in and out. Good size for the hive body though. Also, make sure any windows are darkened for same reasons Nancy mentioned in post #4.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    You have to shake the bees off before you move the frame. I am feeding pollen in a mason jar turned on it's side inside a hive body with a top. Working very well. Pollen inside the hive should be in patty form.
    You may want to rethink the hole size if the bees will be loose in the shed and need to find the hole to get in and out. Good size for the hive body though. Also, make sure any windows are darkened for same reasons Nancy mentioned in post #4.
    GregV suggested moving frames with bees on them to build up the population in the new small hive. He said to hang a sheet of newspaper between the frame I move and the cluster in the small new hive. Then I should remove it in several days after the bees move over to the cluster on their own. When I used to have 10 Lang hives, I often would move frames with bees between hives to balance them out and did not notice any problems.
    What is your recipe for the pollen patties? Have you ever used the simulated pollen (I think it is soy based)? Thanks.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    This idea is interesting and doable.Bees have lived in the walls of houses for a long time and done good.This also reminds me that I need to set up a swarm trap at my daughters this spring.There are bees in the wall of their old club house building there.They always call me every time a swarm is 25' up in the trees there.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    If the idea is to move both bees and stores, I would do as Greg suggests. Conventional wisdom is that to add bees to a hive, transfer a frame of capped brood without bees. I have combined two small failing nucs together just by shaking them in, but I had little to lose at that point. They did make it by the way.
    I use Mann-Lake UltraBee pollen substitute. Supposed to be the best on the market according to RO. They have a pollen patty recipe on the bag but so far I have only used the pre-made ones. I plan on trying the recipe later this year since I have a 50# bag of the stuff.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    In the past, I would just move frames with brood, bees and honey from one hive to another and never noticed any fighting. My hives have screened bottoms so I would have noticed many dead or injured bees from fighting. Was that an incorrect way to do it?

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    You have to shake the bees off before you move the frame..
    No, you don't.
    This is exactly my point.
    Remember - this is a cold-season move I am talking about and bees are clustering to some degree.
    In fact, you can combine/boost units in sub-freezing temp (must be pre-planned and quick) - you just pick up frames with bees, even in bundles and just move em as needed.
    In freezing cold, you can easily take the most outer frame with bees (chance of queen on it is low) and attach this frame to any unit you want a boost.

    Combination by a frame works even in warm-season just fine for checker-boarded combines or side-by-side combines (especially with weak units).
    Even the newspaper is not required if you do not care of saving a particular queen, I just want to err on the safe side (since I do care of the particular queen).
    Cold season - matters even less.
    Just move em and call it done (ok; do the newspaper to really be on the safe side).
    Last edited by GregV; 10-15-2018 at 09:04 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by dulley View Post
    In the past, I would just move frames with brood, bees and honey from one hive to another and never noticed any fighting. My hives have screened bottoms so I would have noticed many dead or injured bees from fighting. Was that an incorrect way to do it?
    You did just fine.

    I understand one way to really trigger a fight is when you combine strong, queen-right units by a super without any temp separation (e.g. paper).
    Then you are talking of interfacing large intact units against each other and having a clearly defined battle lines - there is a likely fight then (especially in dearth).

    Intermixing the frames of bees seems to creates blurred interfacing and confusion and no fighting (especially if you add to a mix some extra smell by spraying or smoking, not required though).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    What do you guys/gals think of adapting this heating unit to warm a nuc?
    I wish it had lower min temp setting (says 70F min), but maybe something can be done?

    https://www.amazon.com/INNOMAX-Therm...59756039&psc=1
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Raise bees indoors over winter?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    What do you guys/gals think of adapting this heating unit to warm a nuc?
    Strewth - look at that price ! (You must be rich )

    Being somewhat more 'frugal' this is what I use:



    An AluClad resistor bonded onto a sheet of thin aluminium which in turn is tacked onto a plain frame. This heater-frame is powered by an old battery-charger transformer, and - in my case - delivers around 15W of heat when using a 22R resistor, with the temperature being regulated by a W1209 controller, (ex.China, around $2).

    Here's a shot of a mid-winter lash-up (same heater frame, different controller) when I had just 2 hrs during one sunny afternoon in January to figure-out some means of saving a venerable old queen who's colony had largely deserted her.



    A ludicrous situation: half a cup of bees inside a box housing sixteen 12" deep combs ! But - managed to run that rig successfully from mid-January to April, and through 2 of the worst winter 'white-out' storms (direct from Siberia) in living memory. Elf'n Safety would have had a fit if they'd seen that 220 Volt lash-up ... but then, sometimes "needs must".
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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