Hive Heater

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Crofter, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Anyone ever consider putting a heat pad under a hive when night time temperatures would otherwise shut down comb building or limit the amount of brood that could be covered? A person can supply pollen sub and supplemental feed but that wont do much whenever ambient temperature is driving the bees back into cluster.

    Now that wont appeal to you folks down south but here we are still at least 2 1/2 months till first dandilions! Could it work to get a jump on the season in a small scale?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Finski, in Finland, uses aquarium heaters. He says they work good.
     

  3. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    How about stacking colonies with double screen between. The top hive would obviously get the most benefit. I forgot to unplug my aquarium heater when I took it out of the tank one time and it overheated and cracked. I guess it depends on the heater.
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    One would have to be sure that it has a reliable thermostat so as not to overheat when the outside temps go up----Imagine a hive melting down, or the bees going out because it's too hot inside and then freezing to death on the doorstep. :eek:
    Than again, how many of us have our hives close enough to an electrical outlet?
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I think these were tried long ago and the positive and the negative* was well established. There seem to not be much gained by these' but there might be some marginal value in very very cold places like Norway or Finland or anyplace north of the line in Europe where bees did not naturally exist.

    I would think that construction of this would be no large deal and even a small wattage electric bulb would pretty much do the trick. I think??? this set up was what was described to me once by Dr Larry Conners in regards to work done years ago in regards to queen rearing (not certain of the location but I think the fellow who coined the term 'live and let die' as a strategy against the varroa was the person who did the research). I also seem to recall that adding just that small quantity of heat only added a few days advantage in regards to the hive ramping up brood rearing ahead of the season.

    *by and large I would think this idea is a bit like the cellar storage of bees where by you are trying to control the temperature within fairly tight boundaries and failure to do this at either end of the temperature range may well lead to negative results.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray Member

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    I think it's Terrarium heaters, and other than reading about it, I have zero experience.
    Micheal Bush has an informative website with some information on heating.
    www.bushfarms.com
    Langthroth wintered his hives in a cellar.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If I were to attempt it, I think I would put the hives in a small building with entrances to the outside, like they do in Europe. Then I would install a "reverse" refrigerator type thermostat in the building and set it about 35 F, or 2 C. That would keep them in cluster, but not let them get into extreme cold.
     
  8. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I have a few water bed heaters and thermostats. I have used them and other thermostats for egg incubators. Was thinking more of getting one hive going a bit early that I would like to use for queen rearing. For sure heat for overwintering seems to be a double edged sword. Quite narrow conditions. I suppose too, that if you get drones and virgin queens ready to fly and the weather is not conducive, it would be lost effort. Ah well, patience grasshopper!
     
  9. Ray

    Ray Member

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    Ah well, patience grasshopper!
    :frustrated: May, May, May
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    ""I think it's Terrarium heaters,""

    And I think you may well be right.
     
  11. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    There was a wright up in the A.B.J. before the mid 80's that a beekeeper in Saskatchewan over wintered bees in a shed with the hives inside with entrances to the outside. He used heat to encourage brood production. In his findings If the hives were to warm in the daytime the bees would fly and were lost due to it being to cold out side. The bees need the lite from outside with the days getting longer each day to stimulate brood rearing also.
    His findings and the system he used was to use heaters to warm the shed / hives at night so the bees could raise brood with out taking flights out of the hive because it was dark and using fans and air conditioners to cool the shed so the bees would loose cluster and remain in the hive during the day time hours if the outside temp was to cold for the bees to be flying.
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    If that be the case, how do they survive in the walls and ceilings of heated homes?
     
  13. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a heating pad for seed starting in the greenhouse but haven't taken it out of the box to examine. I would prefer not to heat my hives, and since I live in Texas, well, I probably don't need to.
     
  14. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    The problem is the feeding and heat used to increase early brood production is lost by bees not making it back to the hive because of cold. Not all the bees will fly out and be affected by the cold and the new bees will replace the loses. But when the object is to strengthen and increase the bees in a hive when the out side temperature is detrimental to heavy brood rearing the aim should be keep the death of bees to a minimum. Wrapping hives in tar paper to absorb heat and encourage early brood can cause larger bee loss when bees try to take cleansing flights on colder days.
    Where I am located and we have fairly mild temperatures during the winter but with out any forage from the middle of September to the middle of March. the survival rate of feral colonies in walls and ceiling are low because the bees loose contact with there stores or deplete them before the spring flows.
    There was a beekeeper Ernie Fuhr that over wintered in controlled atmosphere in the Peace River area and was faced with choices. In the spring of the year do you bring the hives out so the bees start raising brood early but could be harmed by the cold weather? Or leave the bees in longer but face high bee die off because of the age the bees had become during inside storage?
    His sulution was to load 300 hive and bring them to the Okanagan Valley in the end of February and let the hives build up to 2 full boxes of bees and brood and return to the Peace River with them at the middle of May. He used the bees and brood to add to the colonies left in storage to boost the population and give them the new brood needed to combat the rapid bee die off in the hives because of the length of time the hives were bloodless.
    The beekeeper in Saskatchewan was not using this for all his colonies but to have bees and brood to boost this other overwintered colonies.
     
  15. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    I (foolishly) put a light bulb in an empty hive body under the cluster in Alaska. The bees clustered on it and were fried. The smell in that garage was still there when I moved away. :think:
     
  16. larry tate

    larry tate New Member

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    Put the light bulb in an empty metal paint can with a knotch in the side for the cord so the lid will fit. Put it in an empty brood box under the n
     
  17. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    A few winters ago I put several nucs on a pad of 2" styro with a heat tape under the nucs. I made a windbreak of 2" styro and same on top. I had 100% survival. The heat tape was the normal one you put in a gutter to keep it from freezing. Got the idea here:
    http://mbbeekeeping.com/?page_id=355
    Based on my wintering problems this winter with my nucs, I may use it again next winter.
     
  18. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    I use Flex-Watt heat tape on my reptile terrariums all the time (and have some 12 x12 panels built and ready for use now!). They are easy to set up using a common dimmer switch for temperature control.

    Anyone try this in a hive before?
     
  19. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I was thinking of it more as a means to get the forager numbers up for a bit ahead of the flow starting. You can easily augment the supply of food but if the ambient temperature is the controlling factor in how much brood can be kept warm they are going nowhere fast. Not something for you folks in a warmer climate but we still have way more than a foot of snow on the ground.

    I think too much heat over the whole winter would be a bad thing. You need to keep them down in the low metabolic rate so they dont burn up supplies. Perhaps an occasional bump up in temperature to enable them to move onto new honey if there is a persistent extreme cold spell. I just betcha that there is an optimum temperature though where the bees get the most days per gallon of honey. I know there are ambient temperatures that within a close range are the most productive for dairy cattle, beef, and horses. Under this they burn extra calories maintaining body heat and obove that waste feed conversion.
     
  20. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    If I lived far enough north to need to heat the hive, I'd follow someone's instructions for building them an underground bunker and move them into it. Hard enough keeping baby chicks and tomato seedlings warm, and they don't have wax that will melt.