Indoor Hives

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Hobie, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    In light of my bear visit this year and my recent "opportunity" to start over fresh, I have been tossing around the idea of setting up hives inside my barn. I'm looking for comments, ideas, and "I tried that and it was a disaster" input.

    I have a big old bank barn. On the main floor there are two small enclosed rooms that were for grain storage. They are on the non-bank side, so are one story off the ground. One is in the NW corner and has one medium-sized west-facing window, so it gets afternoon sun in part of the room, and is facing the prevailing weather. The other in the NE corner, with two small north-facing windows. The east side is shaded by trees. The barn is unheated, uninsulated, and has no electric.

    The initial thought was to set the hives up sort of like observation hives, with a tube or something to the outside. I could screen the upper ventilation openings to keep them from getting out inside the barn. Unfortunately, this precludes me from ever opening the boxes to inspect, since I have never been able to get all the ladies to go back in the box before I close the lid.

    As you can see, this is not thought through yet. My biggest questions right now are:

    How do you do this and allow hive inspection, but not end up with bees in the room that die trying to figure out how to get through glass windows? Even if there is an opening, insects tend to go to the light.

    Will the lack of direct sunshine on the hives be a problem?

    Which would be the better location?

    Thanks in advance for any and all input!
     
  2. RayMarler

    RayMarler New Member

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    Why not just remove the window?
     

  3. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    All of my hives are housed in sheds. what I do is cut a 3/8" by 18" slot into the outside wall and attach a landing board on the outside of the building. I also have a bottom board that sticks out 3/8" from the front of the hive. This means that the hive sits away from the wall a little bit, bu there is a solid walkway for the bees to exit. That way any bees that get loose in the room crawl up the wall and find their way into the hive. I would cut the exit slot into a south facing wall if possible. Completely black out the window with plywood shutters that you can remove during inspections, or drill a bee escape into the glass. The hive does not get solar gain heat, but it also does not get chilling from wind and overheating from too much sun. The only thing I don't know about is how hive beetles like this setup, since I don't have any up here.
     
  4. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Hobie, glad to see you're back and active. :yahoo: You've been away for too long. :sad:
    In my first year of beekeeping I kept an observation hive in my tool shed. They had no trouble acting normally, but, as an observation hive it never reached the stage where I had to open it up inside. Pistol's suggestions sound reasonable to me. I would think that a large, open window or an open door during manipulations should help reduce the problem of the bees getting stuck indoors and not returning to the hive after manipulations. Indoor lights tend to attract and "trap" the bees, so before closing up, all lights should be turned off to let the bees go outside. Those that don't make it back to the hive exit the shed via the door or window and return through their regular entrance mode.
     
  5. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Been there. Done that. Here are some random thoughts.

    A tube entrance may not be big enough for a strong hive with a good flow on.
    The variable weight of the hive (and keep) on a non-rigid floor may affect the line-up of the hive entrance and a slot in the barn wall.
    Inspections are easier with an outside hive. An LED headlamp for an indoor hive has been suggested. Some purpose-built bee houses have combined window/escape in the roof.
    You may need to plan ahead for additional stands if a hive starts to move towards swarming.
    A SBB needs to have slide that comes out at the rear also regular cleaning to avoid wax moth. Will this also apply to a SHB oil trap ?
    Inside a building may favour indoor pests ------ mice, rats and wax moth.
    In poor light how will you carry out a heavy super ...... steps, stairs ?
    The extra weather protection may affect the colony behaviour. A looser winter cluster may mean more stores consumption. You could get a quicker spring build-up before the outside forage gets going.
    European bee houses with multiple hives often have different coloured and shaped plaques above the entrances to help the bees return to their own colony.
     
  6. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    When I was looking at on-line videos to learn how to install bee packages, I viewed several beekeepers that kept their bees in a "bee house." From recent reading on this forum and other sites, it appears that keeping bees in a structure is conductive to having larger small hive beetle populations. It seems the consensus of opinion is that bee hives in the hot summer sun retards the growth of small hive beetles. Just my reading.....
     
  7. bamabww

    bamabww Active Member

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    A friend of mine kept bees for years in the attic of his home. He lived in a rural setting but he kept the bees in the attic. He had the attic floored and there was enough room to stand up in the center and easily walk around the hive. He only had one hive. He cut out part of the vent in the gable to allow the bees easier access. He had to keep mice guards on year round. I never heard him say if he had shb or wax moth problems so I can't answer that. His wife said they had bees in the attic for 7 or 8 years before he got sick and quit taking care of them. I don't know what happened to the bees. The hive bodies have been removed though.
     
  8. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "In light of my bear visit this year and my recent "opportunity" to start over fresh, I have been tossing around the idea of setting up hives inside my barn."

    hobie, before you go to the trouble of figuring out how to set up a hive or hives in your bank barn, why not consider setting up an electric fence, with a solar fencer unit? fencers really are the best defense against bears and bear damage, they can still get in a barn or shed if they want to. you could place your hives any where you would like and have the peace of mind that your hive/s won't be bothered, unless the fencer fails. my experience with fencer failures......don't buy cheap, buy a good fencer. this is the expensive part of installing fencing, but in the long run or long term, will pay for itself.

    consider contacting your local dnr or game commission? not sure what it is called in pa, but they may be able to help you with or provide you with info on fencing to keep bears out, if not there are a ton of resources on the internet. also, any farmer/rancher nearby? they all use fencers for one reason or another, and can also be a valuable resource to help you, and may even help you with the installation. i use a fencer and have for about 10 years now. for me the dnr was helpful with info on installing fencing for bears, and one of our local farmers helped me install it. i haven't lost any hives to bears since then. there are several of us here on the forum that do use fencing, so any questions, fire away.

    best wishes on your decision :grin:
     
  9. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    All the bee keepers around here use electric fences. One point to keep in mind though: if a bear has raided your apiary already, it's too late for a fence. Once a bear knows there is a bonanza of honey to be had, no amount of electricity will keep them out.
     
  10. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "All the bee keepers around here use electric fences. One point to keep in mind though: if a bear has raided your apiary already, it's too late for a fence. Once a bear knows there is a bonanza of honey to be had, no amount of electricity will keep them out."

    pete.....wanna bet? 10 - 12,000 volts says so.......:lol:
    and yes bears have raided my apiary, but never again and it's never too late.....:grin:

    ps. you don't need that much for black bears, anything beyond 6,000 volts will suffice.
     
  11. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    You are both correct Pete and Riverbees. a bear will approch a hive the first time with causion and intripidation as they are following the bees or smelling the honey. Once they discouver the bounty a hive has to offer and the relative ease the nest can be ripped apart the bears will come again for their next meal. A fence placed in there way a little to late (the bears all ready know what awaits then in the hive) the bear is already into the fence and the fence has been compromised the voltage shocking wires have been grounded rendering the fence useless.
    In order to make the fence work you have to get the bear to recognize there is a chance in the perimeter boundary and so they approch it with interpretation. A very good way to achieve this is to hang sardien cans and lids of the voltage wires. The change in scent will cause the bear to be causes again. They will reconize the new boundry and they will cautiously put their nose to the can or lid get the shock and back away, rather than tearing the fence down while getting shocked 1/2 way thru.
     
  12. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    apis, once you 'train' a bear or two or three or four, and the cubs, and they are set on their a$$ or send them going the opposite direction, they will not return. well they might return, but that voltage keeps them out with properly placed fencing wire and a bit of 'respect' for the fence or 'training'. been there done that. i keep my hives in the same places year after year and as long as i maintain my fence and my unit, i experience no problems. it is never ever too late to place fencing in place and if i am reading this thread and comments about bear fencing i would be discouraged. just my humble opinion. electric fencing is a good alternative, irregardless of when it is done, and keeps bears from destroying hives.

    i am not one to continually place bacon, sardines, peanut butter etc on my fencing now, (don't want to attract them or other critters) unless i think i have a new bear or a bear that is not 'respecting' my fence, but is a good way to start to train them to respect that fencing when first put up or a new bear that doesn't get it, and they get it in short order. if i feel the need to 'remind' them from time to time of the voltage on the fencing, i do so, maybe in the spring, or with a strong honey flow but with 10,000 volts i do not have bears getting through the fencing and/or ripping my hives apart. i do not have bears tearing my fencing apart halfway through.

    i have lost too many hives to bears in the past doing all sorts of things and that is history now. got smarter than them....electric fencing.....it works.
    just don't forget to turn it off to inspect your hives.....:lol:

    ps hobie,
    if i can do it (electric fencing) you can do it.....no problem.....again best wishes to you on deciding what to do.
     
  13. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    I 100% agree with you A working fence in place before the bears are aware of what is in the hives will keep the bears detoured. Bears being cautious creatures will circle and cautiously approach a bee yard slowly moving in closer checking out all aspects of the yard and it will cautiously check out the fence and the fence in itself is enough deterrent to keep the bear from proceeding closer to the hives.
    But once a bear has already discovered the bounties of the hive it is no longer cautiously approching the hive but will proceed directly to the hives. The bear can already be into the fence by the time it receives the first shock. In it's effort to get away the bear will damage the fence and the fence will become grounded and ineffective. The bear will then cautiously approach the fence on it's quest to get to the hives but the fence being grounded is no longer a deterrent. The hanging of bacon or sardien cans are used to get the bears attention to the fact that a new boundary has been set so it approaches again with interpretation and cautiously approaches the fence.
     
  14. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and advice. I knew I came to the right place!

    Mice will definitely be an issue, as I have a healthy population and useless cats. Year-round mouse guards are a good idea. Wax moth also. Not sure about SHB – haven’t seen them here yet, but the lack of sun is definitely a concern.

    RayMarler: Why not just remove the window? Actually, several of the window panes are broken out already. What I don’t know is if bees are smart enough to find the open pane. We have several barn swallow families living in the main part of the barn – come to think of it, if I leave an open window, will the swallows just feast?

    Pistolpete: I like this idea. My current bottom board sticks out more than 3/8â€, but I’d need that if I stuck with traditional telescoping covers. Unfortunately, a south-facing wall is not an option in this barn.

    Barabarian: Many good thoughts – thank you.
    An excellent comment on the weight. (One can only hope the hives would get really, really heavy!). It’s an old barn, with 2†thick floorboards, so if they are sound, I should be okay. Worth a check, though!

    I agree about the tube entrance. May also be insufficient ventilation (I'm thinking bearding and fanning).

    As far as access and carrying heavy supers, etc., being a bank barn, the room under consideration is easily accessible through the bank side, which essentially lets you access directly into the second floor.

    bamabww: Hive in the attic… interesting thought! I’ve already got bats up there. I think I have enough critters in the house, though.

    riverbee: Unfortunately, a fence is not really practical at this time: Small yard, few hives, not much free cash. The bear has not returned after the first visit. I suspect it was passing through. It also did not get much, since the hive stayed intact, held together with tar paper and propolis, except for the top super.
     
  15. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    You don't need a telescoping cover on an indoor hive, it already has a roof. Just the inner cover is what I use.
     
  16. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "Unfortunately, a fence is not really practical at this time: Small yard, few hives, not much free cash. The bear has not returned after the first visit. I suspect it was passing through. It also did not get much, since the hive stayed intact, held together with tar paper and propolis, except for the top super."

    hobie, i hear ya, the fencing, grounding and posts are really not the expense most think they are, depending on what is used; it is the unit to run your set up, an extra battery and the time and labor to install. it all adds up to a chunk of change. i use a solar powered unit, and it was just a little less than $200. if i had only one hive in my area, it would be fenced, otherwise i wouldn't be able to keep any bees. i also considered the costs of replacing wooden ware and bees every time a bear decided to visit my apiary, and not just the financial aspect, but your labor and time investment in your bees, and maybe a honey crop. i too have a barn, a pole shed, and some other out buildings, but decided for various reasons to keep my hives outdoors, and the fencing doesn't just keep bears away, it keeps other critters out too.

    just one thing hobie for you to keep in mind, (from experience) don't fool yourself into thinking that a bear will not return, or that it was just passing through. if you have a bear population of any kind in your area, you will find, they will find the hives and return. it is not just the honey they are after, they are after the brood combs, and will destroy a hive with no supers on for the brood combs, for the protein/larvae. in time, unprotected, when you have really strong colonies with 2 or 3 supers on, ooopps.....the whole thing will be destroyed, with frames destroyed/scattered all over creation and wooden ware that is nothing but firewood, and very angry bees......:lol:

    also, if i kept my hives in a shed as pete does, or a tool shed as ef has mentioned, the shed would most likely suffer from a great deal of damage by a bear trying to/ or getting to the hive/s.

    best wishes to you on your dilema and figuring out what to do :grin: