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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After using a chicken egg incubator for the last 2 years I wanted something with more capacity. So last summer at HAS I bought a double deep polystyrene hivebody from Modern Beekeeping. It gave me the insulated cabinet to turn into an incubator.

I mounted a Ranco electronic temperature controller on the outside of the bottom box and used it to run two 40 watt light bulbs as a heat source. I mounted a small fan inside to provide air circulation. I had a piece of 1/4" aluminum plate bent to form a stand over the lights to serve as a heat sink. It also gave me a place to set a dish of water for humidity.

The top box can hold 12 cell bar frames with 45 cells each to give me a total of 540 cells at a time if needed.











 

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I like it, lets us know how it works out this summer!
shouldn't the sensor be in the top box? I would think there could be a large amount of variance in the temp between the top and bottom?
 

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It looks to me as though the thermocouple is on a bendable wire that rises up into the second box.
 

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When you need the next bigger solution, Use an old refridgerator, and heat it and humidify it the same way you do with this one. That is what we use. We use that exact same thermostat controller, actually we use them a lot.

Luckily we already had an old fridge with a non working condenser on it, no need for it to cool anymore.
 

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It looks to me as though the thermocouple is on a bendable wire that rises up into the second box.
Yes, but the probe is sitting on the metal plate above the bulbs. The temp on that plate may not be a good measure at the cells. Even with the fan its a good idea to colocate the sensor to what you're trying to control.
 

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Nice tidy unit.

With the water positioned above the heat source the humidity may get too high. I found a RH of around 64 works well but with that set up you may well approach 90 +. You'll know if the newly hatched virgins have distended abdomens then shrink after a few poops.

Also myself and another guy did a lot of testing in real brood nests RH is not the often claimed 90, we found it surprisingly variable, mostly between 62 & 70.
 

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... I bought a double deep polystyrene hivebody .... It gave me the insulated cabinet to turn into an incubator.
...I mounted a small fan inside to provide air circulation. ...



It's a kind of resonance tube.
You can surely hear the vibrations caused by the fan.
These loud sounds and slight shaking engage my imagination and emotions. Do they matter to the queens?
 

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Looks good, but I bet unless it is a really cold room one bulb will do the job with less temperature spiking. You also might try putting some bottles of water in there to act as thermal mass for the same reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Smokepole - It has a fan mounted on sidewall.

David - I put two bulbs in so if one blows I am not without heat. They are 40 watt appliance bulbs so not too hot.

sjj- the fans does have a very slight vibration but so do bees.

Astrobee - I plan to attach probe to wire between the boxes which will put it closer to cells.

Oldtimer- will do some checking of humidity.

Johnny
 

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Johnny, I think you will find the temp to be more consistent with the probe close to the heat source, not at the top of the box as some have suggested. The further the thermostat probe is from the heat source, the greater the swing of temps will be in the box. A fan should help prevent this to some degree, but will not solve the problem entirely.
 

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My incubator is a similar size and has 2 fans, when I was testing it I had some very accurate probes in it & surprising how there can be dead spots. Have tried to make the 2 fans to blast somewhat against each other to make turbulence but not undue wind on any of the cells.
 

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Johnny, I think you will find the temp to be more consistent with the probe close to the heat source, not at the top of the box as some have suggested.
This was debated at length some time ago, and in fact there was an youtube video for an chicken incubator that showed by having the sensor at the location where you want to control the temps yields smaller temperature variations. That being said, each enclosure is different. The design and location of the thermal mass matters, so you'd be wise to test it before use. In Johnny's design, the Aluminum plate at the bottom being so close to the heat source may produce a temp overshoot. Ideally you want thermal mass for stability, but not directly at the heat source. Just need to test it out using multiple sensor locations and additional temp probes. Stability at the sensor is somewhat meaningless unless the sensor is near the cell location.
 

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Johnny,

I used to build and collect old redwood poultry incubators. You have a nice layout for your incubator. I assume the bulbs are wired independently, so as you said, if one burns out then the other will still heat. Also, your 40 watt bulbs are just about right, it is what I use in my little table top incubators. To get a relatively stable temperature, it is best to use a lower wattage so that they are on a good portion of the time. This is also influenced by your room temperature and insulation value of your material.
 

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i'm thinking about getting an incubator this year. for those of you using them, what day are the cells removed from the starter and put in the incubator?
 

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I usually take them out of the finisher hive on day 6 after the cell cut (equivalent to graft) and they go into the incubator. IE, if the cells were cut Wednesday, they come out of the finisher & into the incubator the following Wednesday.

That's just because new cells get added to the finishers weekly and the bees do a better job if the older cells are removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I graft every Friday and reuse the same cell builders. I pull the previous weeks cells in the morning and put new graft in that afternoon. That makes the cells 11 days total, 4 days at grafting plus 7 days in cell builder. They stay there till I put them in mating nucs the following Monday afternoon or early Tuesday morning.

Johnny
 
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