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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all – a general question about overwintering hives indoors. At my farm I happen to have a large shed that is mostly used for storage outside of a small section that is used as a chicken coop. My only concern is the chicken light that is left on during the day in the winter and the occasional door opening to chore. From what I understand for indoor overwintering its best to have darkness so would the chicken light be an issue? If it is an issue, I can section off an area the hives could be in total darkness but looking for general recommendations. This would only be for around 8 hives. The shed is not climate controlled - but it does stay substantially warmer than outside in the Iowa winters.
 

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would the chicken light be an issue?
Yes. An issue.
On any warmer days the bees will come out attracted by the light and will perish, unable to return back to their hives.
Indoors wintering totally depends on the total darkness.

Do investigate red light though - bees unable to see red light, in theory.
However even there one needs to be careful and be really sure you have that done right.
I have a story when bees could totally see my "red-ish" light and came after me as if they could see me.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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need dark and temp control, too hot they start to brood up , likely need air exchange

have a look at

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks all. That overwintering shed is awesome but is much more high tech than what I would have. I think I may have not been specific enough explaining my shed that I was thinking about overwintering (Dec-Feb) in. My shed is an old farm shed - not climate controlled/gravel floor/steel non insulated exterior. Again its just a simple shed, but its dry and does stay warm enough to keep chickens alive in over the winter (lol). So do you think I am better overwintering outside opposed to in the shed?
 

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is the shed 3 walled or 4 walled?
i have some of mine in a 3 walled shed helps with rain and wind.
if there is a way to put them 1 foot back from the "sliding door" , then close the door when the 2 months come and open on warm days that would help a lot IMO.
if there is a way to put them in with the chickens , having a slot out the wall for the bees and be in the "warmer" part with the chickens that would also help IMO.
I also have a "shed" with openable windows to over winter some of my bees in.

20170801_183612.jpg 20170910_130909.jpg 20171224_103050.jpg

windows are 4 foot wide and I lower awnings and place a 2 foot by 4 foot plywood into the opening for winter.
Gains me maybe 5-10 degrees, no wind chill, no water/sleet, and a roof. I loose the snow insulative value but I do wrap them in 1.5 inch Styrofoam.

any help to keep warmer, dryer, and a more stable temp will help.

GG
 

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So do you think I am better overwintering outside opposed to in the shed?
They would benefit no doubt - as long as they have unobstructed access to the outside at any time and can safely return back again.
This is the low-tech approach that will then require no total darkness, no temp controls, nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The shed is walled on all 4 sides, but has a sliding door on both sides for tractors and such. Another option I have thought about would be to store them in the shed facing the wall and build/drill a few 1" PVC pipe entrances/exits that the bees could use to go in and out. This would still protect them better from the elements/keep them inside, but they would have access outside if they needed it through the small PVC pipe going outside.
 

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Something like this to give them access in and out.
One thing to consider - you want to move them in and out outside of the normal flying season.
This way they don't get oriented to the wall too hard.

So wait until very late in season to move them in.
Then set them out very early.
In my area, I'd move them inside in late November/early December.
Move out - very late February/March; fore sure before April (forecast dependent).

When you move them out - plug the holes in the wall so the bees don't look for the hives inside (if any memory lingers).
 

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Your target temperature should be 40 degrees F. I'd insulate the room pretty thoroughly, despite having full-time outdoor access holes. Indoor is great if you are in snow country - hardly any wind, bear, or water issues, but do all you can to stay very near 40 degrees F.
 

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Your target temperature should be 40 degrees F ......... do all you can to stay very near 40 degrees F.
You can not really do that with a primitive, unconditioned/unheated shed.

This is the reason to move into a primitive shed as late as possible and move out as early as possible - then the 40F does not matter much.
 

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True - but it's June and he has time to insulate it. I fully agree, and you've been an excellent addition to our Beesource community, Greg. Many thanks!
 

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I winter a few small ones indoors in an old house sometimes. Darkness isn't needed if the temps stay below 45. When it warms up for one day, I just keep them screened in the hive. The house stays cold for most of the day but might get to 50 for a few hours, but they will be ok. I an open it up to cool it down at night too. If it warms up for more than a day and will have some good cleansing flight weather, I haul them out and place them in their locations. I don't house them in till it's expected to get pretty cold. The only ones I have lost are the ones I didn't monitor feed on them well enough. Sugar bricks will keep them all winter. Winters with up and down temps don't work the best though. The old basement of the house stays below 45 all winter, but I am not too keen about hauling hives down there.
 

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I winter a few small ones indoors in an old house sometimes.........
Basically, this is a best approach for smaller colonies/nucs - this entire shed business.
Something compatible to a single Lang deep box (or smaller) can benefit from the shed while one can move it around safely.

I would not be hauling in and out truly large and heavy, multi-body or full long hives.
Not necessary and risky for yourself.
 

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Yes. An issue.
On any warmer days the bees will come out attracted by the light and will perish, unable to return back to their hives.
Indoors wintering totally depends on the total darkness.

Do investigate red light though - bees unable to see red light, in theory.
However even there one needs to be careful and be really sure you have that done right.
I have a story when bees could totally see my "red-ish" light and came after me as if they could see me.
Sounds like you experimented with this?

Could you tell us more about what you tried?

Thank you.
 

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Sounds like you experimented with this?

Could you tell us more about what you tried?

Thank you.
Which "this" - shed or red light?

OK, shed - we routinely moved in/out our heavy as cars 12-frame Dadants into the house basement without direct outside access.
Annual routine and major, unnecessary hassle IMO
Outside of nuc hives this was totally uncalled for.

Red light - sure, get yourself a red light and inspect the bees at night and see how that goes. :)
 

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Yes GregV, I will do nucs or single mediums, been an occasional 2 mediums, and not too many of them. I split a some late in the flow or after and sometimes one might have an issue and just doesn't build up enough.
 
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