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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After losing all my hives to the coldest winter Michigan has had in 30 years I'm 4 hives strong again but I'm worried about this coming winter. Word on the street is this year's will be as bad or worse than the last. We've had a very mild summer so far so I'm thinking this assumption may be correct. At this point I'm considering building a hoop house for them or possibly setting them up in my heated garage that I could set at any temp. Perhaps 45 degrees with some PVC pipe access through the side of the garage connected to each hive so they could leave for cleansing flights but not get loose into the garage itself. I know it's not ideal but I'm really concerned all my work this year will be destroyed yet again. Thoughts or suggestions?
 

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Sorry to hear about your loss.

Do a search on this subject. Tons of existing threads to bring you up to speed quickly.

In a nut shell - Don't winter indoors. Instead, makes sure the hives are healthy and have plenty of honey. Then wrap, make sure the hive has good ventilation to minimize condensation, and leave them be until the first Spring day in the mid-50's to take a quick peek.
 

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I have never wintered bees indoors, but from reading about commercials wintering indoors on a large scale (Ian, for instance), I suggest a temperature of 40 degrees F, not 45.
 

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One thing to count on for sure is that nobody can accurately predict the weather more than 3 days from now with any certainty, much less what this winter will be like.
 

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some PVC pipe access through the side of the garage connected to each hive so they could leave for cleansing flights
got to be careful with this, as if the bees are not clustered during non flight weather, there will be loss. I have no experience with this, but I have read about an Northern beekeeper using a Beehouse during the spring, needed to regulate the temperature appropriately otherwise he suffered losses
 

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I wintered a little bitty colony inside my large, unheated pole building last winter, with pine shaving bundles butted up against the hive box to keep them more insulated. It worked great, but I had to move the hive outdoors in nicer weather for cleansing flights, then back in at night to maintain warmth. This winter I will be building a shelter--think 3 sided bus stop kind of shelter. They need to be able to fly, and they can't do that inside the barn.
 

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Shinbone speaks the truth. Cant predict the weather- count on the worst and prepare-maybe you will be surprised. What did other folks in your area, that had better over winter survival do? Good luck! B
 

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I leave in Ottawa, Canada and it was very cold last year. Both hives that I had outside died with a lot of storage left. They were both alive beginning of March and died by the end of the month. I had a 5 frames Nuc in my garage that I kept at 5 degree celsius. I had a one inch hose going outside but they only used it to bring the dead bees out. THey never used it for a cleansing flight because it so cold last year. This year that nuc has probably 80 pounds of honey ready to harvest. I prapering myself to keep 4 of my nucs in my garage this year . Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Bugmeister: Most people here suffered at least some loss. I was in line to pick up packages this spring and a fellow beekeeper told me that she lost 9 of 10 this past winter. I know some people did fine but I wasn't as lucky. I think part of my problem was lack of a wind break but all 3 of mine had stores but died anyways.

Ian: Are you suggesting that it would be a bad idea to have the PVC in place and that they might fair better without outside access at all during cold weather?
 

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Ian: Are you suggesting that it would be a bad idea to have the PVC in place and that they might fair better without outside access at all during cold weather?

I have no experience with this, but I have read that you have to watch how warm the interior of the shed gets as compared to the outdoor temp
 

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If my colony was recently attacked by a bear and I am in the process of setting up an electric perimeter, how long would it be ok to keep a colony indoors in 40ish degree F before it became too detrimental?

There was a nice sized cluster (maybe baseball cap sized) and enough honey to feed them for a while, but I do not want them to come out of the hive and move into the walls or ceiling of the shed. Advice is definitely needed!
What can I do to help them out while they are indoors? How long can I keep them there before it hurts them too much?
 

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If you can control the temperature and humidity to appropriate levels, you can keep hives indoors and in the dark for months on end. Member Ian (posting earlier in this thread) does exactly that in Manitoba winters. But Ian has a system that monitors indoor conditions and brings in cold air to keep the temperature no higher than 40 degrees F.

40 degrees is low enough to keep the bees clustered and not flying, but if the temperature rises much above that things could get messy.:eek:

Without some kind of 'active' system to keep the shed temperature no more than 40 degrees, I think you will need to provide the bees access to the outdoors (kind of like an indoor observation hive).
 

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I wintered a little bitty colony inside my large, unheated pole building last winter, with pine shaving bundles butted up against the hive box to keep them more insulated. It worked great, but I had to move the hive outdoors in nicer weather for cleansing flights, then back in at night to maintain warmth. This winter I will be building a shelter--think 3 sided bus stop kind of shelter. They need to be able to fly, and they can't do that inside the barn.
I resulted in building a permanent 3-sided shelter.

hives 0612171851b.jpg
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Very nice! Opening is on the leeward side of the building?
 
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