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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,
I am planning a vertical farm and would like to move beyond the "greens only" system that everyone so far has done. The problem is that for most everything else we need bees. I am wondering if it is possible for bees to live indoors if they are given plenty of plants to pollinate, or do they need open sky to fly in?

Also what other needs might they have that a newbie might not know about? We will hire a beekeeper if we do the farm and they will be the ones doing the day to day work, but at this point I am just trying to find out if it is possible or smart, and writing the proposal that needs to include everything.

I would also like to include bumble bees if possible because we plan to grow tomatoes and I hear they need to be buzzed for pollination, is it possible to do both in the same skyscraper building. They could all have access to the entire 15-20 story building, or we could give different bees access to different parts of the building.

I would also like to have a place where children can see the inside of the hive. We did that in school and it was very educational. I don't know if it is practical in this setting but I would like it.

Thanks for any input, here is a picture of the type of farm I am talking about:
 

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Honeybees and indoors don't mix, bumbles are used in glasshouses though very successfully. Honey bees just want to fly out into the light most of the time trying to get out.
 

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You are in uncharted territory with this. The only way I could see this working is with not just planting food crops, but also trees fro pollen and nectar. Vegetables can't provide all the pollen you need. You would also need at least 3-5 hives for diversity when the queens mate. Not sure if there would be enough room either. However, I would like to see this experiment done. If you do go through with this, good luck and good for you for trying something new.
 

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JRG13, Do you know about Mason bees? I might try to do Masons, and Bumbles.
@syudrocket, thanks for the input, I think we would have trees but I hadn't given the number of hives much thought. Both very helpful posts.
 

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Bumble bees are much harder to take care of (at least what I have heard), I would continue to get more advice from beekeepers and don't give up on the idea. :thumbsup:
 

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This is all hypothetical, right? You don't actually have a 20 story building to use as a farm, do you? You wouldn't need a fulltime beekeeper to attend to the few hives that you would need. I wouldn't think. Interesting idea.
 

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Is this enclosure going to be entirely cut off from out side air? Couldn't you have a couple of vents where bees could go outside to gather and forage then come back in the evenings like they would a hive located outside. They would still pollinate the plants inside the building too.
 

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> I am wondering if it is possible for bees to live indoors if they are given plenty of plants to pollinate, or do they need open sky to fly in?

They need open sky. The reason is how they navigate. They use the polarization of the light to navigate by and the glass messes with that. They will simply bang their heads against the wall (glass in this case) until they die.

Bumble bees are what greenhouses use. You might experiment with leaf cutters, squash bees and mason bees. I'm not sure how much work has been done on those, but since pollination in a green house is not a new issue, there is probably some work that has been done on it beyond just the bumble bees.

>I would also like to include bumble bees if possible because we plan to grow tomatoes and I hear they need to be buzzed for pollination, is it possible to do both in the same skyscraper building.

Bumble bees and honey bees get along well enough. That won't be the problem.

>They could all have access to the entire 15-20 story building, or we could give different bees access to different parts of the building.

Why a building?

>I would also like to have a place where children can see the inside of the hive. We did that in school and it was very educational. I don't know if it is practical in this setting but I would like it.

Actually that is quite practical as long as you have a tube that lets the bees get outside...

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesobservationhives.htm
 

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What if you had a top and bottom entrance. The top entrance allowed access outside while the bottom entrance faces inside the greenhouse. This would solve the inside/outside problem correct?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This is all hypothetical, right? You don't actually have a 20 story building to use as a farm, do you? You wouldn't need a fulltime beekeeper to attend to the few hives that you would need. I wouldn't think. Interesting idea.
No I don't at this time. The whole project is still very much in the planning stages.

Is this enclosure going to be entirely cut off from out side air? Couldn't you have a couple of vents where bees could go outside to gather and forage then come back in the evenings like they would a hive located outside. They would still pollinate the plants inside the building too.
Thanks! This might be the solution I was looking for. I was concerned about them getting into some pesticides or something GMO but from what I am seeing on the GMO thread that is probably less of a concern than I thought.

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>They need open sky. The reason is how they navigate. They use the polarization of the light to navigate by and the glass messes with that. They will simply bang their heads against the wall (glass in this case) until they die.

Thanks! This is important info. I don't want them to just bang their heads so they will need to be inside outside bees or maybe a different kind. I kind of like the inside outside idea.

>Bumble bees are what greenhouses use. You might experiment with leaf cutters, squash bees and mason bees. I'm not sure how much work has been done on those, but since pollination in a green house is not a new issue, there is probably some work that has been done on it beyond just the bumble bees.

Might try mason bees. I worked in a community garden and we had a hive and they were not as aggressive it seems.

>Bumble bees and honey bees get along well enough. That won't be the problem.


>Why a building?

So glad you asked. It is a part of the Vertical Farm movement. There are lots of great reasons to move farming indoors. Here is a website about it:

>Actually that is quite practical as long as you have a tube that lets the bees get outside...

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesobservationhives.htm
Thanks for the link. Wow your website is full of great info. I will be doing some research today that is for sure.

Thanks for all the help!
 

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Mason bees might be ok. In general applications such as cages and glass houses, most solitary bees do quite well as pollinators.
 

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Is this enclosure going to be entirely cut off from out side air? Couldn't you have a couple of vents where bees could go outside to gather and forage then come back in the evenings like they would a hive located outside. They would still pollinate the plants inside the building too.
Is this meant for space travel other planets undersea? Then the vents would be a bad thing.
 

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>What if you had a top and bottom entrance. The top entrance allowed access outside while the bottom entrance faces inside the greenhouse. This would solve the inside/outside problem correct?

No. The bees that fly inside will still be confused.
 

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Spudrockets idea has a lot of merit.

Other than that I don't think you'll know till it's tried. For your written plan, go with bumblebees and solitary bees both of which will work, and say that a beehive will be tried and assessed once the building is done.

Bumblebees are readily available commercially, but are often sold in a form that does not last too long. You should have discussions with a breeder, for your situation I think you should look for nests that have a queen and are early in their lifecycle. It would be quite possible for you to end up with your own population of bumblebees that complete their lifecycle, produce queens that mate & hibernate, and start their own " wild" nests the next year.

I the wild, honeybees forage over a large area. Depending on species they will sometimes go 3 miles. That's a circle 6 miles across, or around 28 square miles. This allows them to get the balanced diet they need, or at least it did till a few years ago.
 

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You know, if you're going to try to do indoor farming, you're probably MOST concerned with yields. Solitary bees and bumble bees wouldn't be BAD, but they don't pollinate as efficiently or completely as honey bees, and therefor would be suboptimal for your project. What others have said about bee navigation isn't wrong, but I wonder if, with proper research, you could create something that would mimic the properties of the sun which honey bees use for navigation - e.g. a special polarized light they could use as a landmark.
 
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