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aseeryl 

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OK it's only August - but you wouldn't know it. I was wondering about winter hive heating, especially after last years dose of global warming. There is some opinion amongst serious forecasters that we may get similar this year.

Anyway, I have a couple of low power (7 and 11 watt) terrarium heater pads and some soil heating cable from the greenhouse propagators which are quite inexpensive to run. I was thinking that they may be of help for smaller colonies or nuclei. I believe they are used in some parts.

I know bees will autoregulate and read somewhere that excess winter activity may shorten the lives of winter bees or that the queen may carry on laying when inappropriate - so many theories.

Has anyone tried this kind of thing in the UK?
 
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It is done but it is not I think very commmon in this country. However, when it is done heaters are used in the Spring to encourage early brood rearing. The heaters are not left on all winter as you want the bees to hibernate not be active consuming stores. In Finland for example hives can spend all winter under snow and come to no harm but the hives are generally well insulated by being made of poly. So that pehaps is your answer if the cold worries you - insulate the hive. There is plenty of advice available from those with wooden hives who do it. Personally, I would cut out the wood and use a poly hive from the start but it is your choice.
 

MuswellMetro 

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My Grandfather used to use a empty baked been can with holes punch in the side. then placed upturned over a night light This was placed in the hive stand

he only used it on very cold nights in early spring and again not on every colony only those colonies he was going to split for nucs
 

hedgerow pete 

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the easiest and cheapest heating form is a proper poly hive, the bees always winter better with then .

i use heating in the bee shed. for most of the winter they get left alone untill about february when i start to warm them up.

normaly i use a large 80 hour candle( 50mm round 200mm long church candle)
his put below the hive with a steel biscuit tin lid above the candle to defuse the heat a little. i when try to get the shed up to around zero degrees C day and night for two weeks and then i realy turn the heat up to a red hot 5 degrees C above freezing till the end of february. from then on it becomes a sweat box as the whole shed is heated up to 10 degrees in the day and above 5 degrees at night.

it dont sound a lot but it is very hard to get these temps in a shed with no electric.

i can normaly get my bees into an exspanding situation by mid march and i normal plan to raise queens in april easily.

the biggest killer is water and condensation inside the hive so becarful

the first time i tried it we used a heater inside a fish tank to produce a tank of hot water which would give heat off all night so we only heated it twice a day, economical on fuel, but we had to much condensation inside the shed and almost killed the girls off.

so daft as it sound we now use this meathod.

feb 1st one candle per hive base ( look at hedgys video of it)
feb 14th two candles per hive
feb 26th two candle per hive and a small green house heater
this lot stays on untill the mid april time or until the outside temps keep above 10 degrees.

to prevent condensation we ventalate the shed several times a day to remove it we also have several moisture attracting trays and caravan condensation bags, which we change when needed.
 

MuswellMetro 

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t

so daft as it sound we now use this meathod.

feb 1st one candle per hive base ( look at hedgys video of it)
feb 14th two candles per hive
feb 26th two candle per hive and a small green house heater
this lot stays on untill the mid april time or until the outside temps keep above 10 degrees.

to p.
how long do your church candles last, bit bigger than my GF night lights
 

Finman 

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You do not need winter heating in uk. I need either here in finland. I use heaters in sping.


In all cases use first insulated hives and proper ventilation. A big colony in autumn is good too.

To play with small colonies over winter makes no sence.


Ihave heated hives over winter. It works but it is expencive. Sugar gives to bees the winter energy.
 

Der Alte Fritz 

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Sorry Hedgerow I think you are crazy to have naked flames burning in your bee shed.:reddevil: If one should fall over, you will lose the lot. Paraffin heaters are just as bad. Also your candles are producing water vapour as they burn, so you are making the condensation problem worse.

Why not just buy yourself an electric tube greenhouse heater from "Two Wests and Elliot" and fit a thermostat. You can set it to come on at 3'C and it will maintain the shed at that temperature despite the worst UK weather.

I use one in my tortoise shed for maintaining the torts through winter and it works every time.
 

tonybloke 

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Sorry Hedgerow I think you are crazy to have naked flames burning in your bee shed.:reddevil: If one should fall over, you will lose the lot. Paraffin heaters are just as bad. Also your candles are producing water vapour as they burn, so you are making the condensation problem worse.

Why not just buy yourself an electric tube greenhouse heater

erm, pete's shed ain't @ home near to electric supply!
 

aseeryl 

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The consensus seems to be use in early spring if necessary. Thanks.

The reason I mentioned this is that I had a weak colony last winter that survived on OMF all winter but, come the contrary early spring, when they were carrying in pollen and the queen started laying, there were a series of warm /freeze spells in March /April that led to their demise - not enough numbers I guess.
 

Der Alte Fritz 

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You can run them off car batteries. The beauty of the thermostat is that the heater is only on when you need it. The risk from candles is so high that the extra effort would be worth it.
Sorry Pete just trying to save you from a disaster.
 

DorsetB 

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Aseeryl, I've been doing exactly what you suggest for the last two years: 12 x 12" vivarium heater pad in each hive, they are 12W each and produce about the same heat as the palm of your hand.

In the past I have switched on and off as required. This year I am wiring up a central heating thermostat which will do the job for me, and come on around 0-2 deg.C

The advantages I have begun to notice are:

- bees move more readily to stores, as there are no hot/cold spots in hive, yet consume fewer stores

- if fondant is fed, it keeps nice and soft rather than going rock hard when it is cold outside.

- queen starts laying earlier

- bees start flying earlier in spring

- positive air flow through hive

- no damp in hive, never any condensation

- seems to be less varroa (allowing for other treatments I include anyway).

Bear in mind I only do this once I have carried out all my other autumn preps. inc. insulating hives.

Also, I am in a valley, and the hives are near a stream, so damp and fog, which bees hate more than cold, do prevail on autumn and winter.

Try it in half your hives, and judge for yourself!
 

hedgerow pete 

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der alte fritz, if you had watched the hedgerow pete video on bee shed heating you would have worked out three things ,

one the bee shed has not electric, 1 mile from nearest socket

two,car batteries and heaters is a complete waste of time , effort, money, and any thing else you can think off and only an idiot would think they are.

thridly in the video it clearly shows the candle standing inside a metal non combustable tray so if it did fall over it would not be able to set fire to any thing.

we do know that burning any thing especialy gas produces water vapour that why several years ago i when i first tried it the humastat went through the roof, did you not know we do have the sence to measure it at winter time, inside the hive and in the shed, when it get to much we have to ventalate the shed to remove it. this is also the reason why i dont heat the shed until february, so allowing the bees a natural winter conditions and only using the heat to get a early start on the queen producing and if i want to produce nucs
 

Der Alte Fritz 

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I am sorry to hear you feel that way Pete - there was no need to be so rude!:mad:

I have watched most of your videos, including the winter one and think they are excellent.

I am also someone who has a shed fire - not from using naked flame but from a proper heat lamp contained inside the correct reflector as used in commercial chicken sheds. Despite using the correct equipment for the job, a set of circumstances occurred that put the hot metal in contact with ply wall and we had a fire within half an hour.

You could well end up with the same type of circumstances. Candle falls over, heats the bottom of your metal protective box and you have a fire. The flame never needs to go near the wood.

My point is that naked flames are always dangerous and should never be used and that any heat source has the potential for accident.
 

aseeryl 

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Thanks for the heads up.
One question - did you try and estimate how much the electricity cost?

It might be relevant to some. However, when you factor in the cost and hassle etc. of losing bees come spring then a safety net is worth it. As I said, I lost what was then my only colony (there are 3 now) and had to wait till May for an (expensive) replacement nucleus - remember they were selling at a premium this last spring (much to the delight, with some gloating, of sellers).

Together with all the other advantages you mention, I think I'll give it a go - it'll be easy enough to slide a pad in and trail the wire through a mouseguard slot.

How will you wire in a thermostat? They are a bit bulky.

Do you put the pad on the floor or tape it to the wall?
 

oliver90owner 

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DorsetB wrote: they are 12W each and produce about the same heat as the palm of your hand.

I think not. Unless your hands are the size of African elephant ears!

Extract from t'internet: approximately 9-13 W/m2 degree C for fingers and palm and back of hand, respectively.

Your heater pads are ~130W per metre square.

Different units, I know, but if you were to subject your hands to a continuous delta T of around 40K, the effect on your hands might be a tad uncomfortable!

aseeryl,

For about a fiver, you can get a power meter from the likes of Lidl.

Continuous running (obviously not required) for about 4 months might be the order of a fiver per hive.

Not a lot, even including the capital cost, compared with losing a colony. Single colony beeks, or those with only a few hives (with which to expand, to recoup losses the following year, without serious loss of honey harvest) might find this solution a far cheaper option to buying in nuc(s) to get going again. Not a 'sure cure' for colony winter losses - but cheap insurance if installed correctly.

Regards, RAB
 

hedgerow pete 

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wow thats cheap running costs, but would you not have to have the aquariam heaters in water or are the air heaters, the idea of a water tank was the one we wanted at the allotment as it could work as a thermal store so reducing the power consumption evean more, we could get the tank top to seal properly and so increased the condensation to very high levels.

der alte fritz, i dont feel any way just at times i get a little fed up of either being miss understood or miss quoated,

personal i have spent several years and quite a few £100's in trying differant ways to pre start bees in spring, the idea is to cash in on the pre spring scrable for winter loss replacements, one hard winter and a good spring for me is work several thousands.( £150 per nuc and twenty nucs made £3,000 tax free):)

as for shed fires there is more chance of the local scrottes burning it down for a laugh than me doing so.

as you know anyone that trys to heat a wooden shed without proper thought is just asking for problems.

the best way is still my far a poly hive inside or out. i would then use some form of electric heating, power supply avalible??

the worst thing you can try to do with green or eco or renewable power sources is to use it as heat as it is so wastefull of power.

one of the wierdest i have ever seen is an old boy how used to wrap his hives up at night in the winter with old blankets and the odd hot water bottle
 

aseeryl 

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For about a fiver, you can get a power meter from the likes of Lidl.

Continuous running (obviously not required) for about 4 months might be the order of a fiver per hive.

Not a lot, even including the capital cost, compared with losing a colony. Single colony beeks, or those with only a few hives (with which to expand, to recoup losses the following year, without serious loss of honey harvest) might find this solution a far cheaper option to buying in nuc(s) to get going again. Not a 'sure cure' for colony winter losses - but cheap insurance if installed correctly.

Regards, RAB[/QUOTE]

Thanks for doing the maths. Good to get an idea.

Heating, although not the be all and end all, sounds cheap at the price - especially if only necessary early spring. Perhaps it's fewer tomatoes next year.
 

DorsetB 

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I think not. Unless your hands are the size of African elephant ears!

Extract from t'internet: approximately 9-13 W/m2 degree C for fingers and palm and back of hand, respectively.

Your heater pads are ~130W per metre square.

Different units, I know, but if you were to subject your hands to a continuous delta T of around 40K, the effect on your hands might be a tad uncomfortable!


... not sure where you got your figures from, but I can assure you that when soak-testing the units prior to fitting, I left them on for a good 48 hours, and they were barely warm to the touch.

I told the vendor I got them from what I was buying them for, and she mentioned her crickets spend all day sat on them, so that was good enough for me, as I knew the surface would not be so hot the bees would burn their feet! Most of the heat they generate is infrared. The first year I had these, I mounted them vertically between frames in a test hive, and if I moved the heater pad from one end to the other of the BB, the cluster would gradually change shape as it gravitated toward the heating pad.

Aseeryl, capital costs: £10-12 per 11 x 11 inch pad (they are about 1-2mm thick) from ebay. I snip off the 13A plug, and run all heaters into an IP rated junction box, which is then filled with waterproof resin, than back to the nearest socket in HO7 pond type cable or armoured back to the house, as needs dictate. Obviously this adds to the cost.

Running costs: each mat is 12 Watts, so 0.05 Amps, assuming 230V. If running 24/7 in winter, ie about 720 hours per month, the running cost per mat per month is just over £1.00, based on your electricity @ 12p/unit - YMMV.

I chose the 11 x 11" size as

1) it is just the right size for a National/WBC floor, and
2) moisture removal in an indoor environment requires 15-30 Watts per sq ft.

I realise I am actually working with an outdoor environment, but I settled on this size as

a) I do not want to overstimulate the bees, just provide enough background heat, and
b) the next sizes up are 23 x 11" and so on, so not WBC floor friendly! These simply slide in the entrance, and then you close up the entrance again. As a bonus, there is zero risk of fire, and I slide them out every so often to check for debris and varroa.

Hope this helps.
 

oliver90owner 

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not sure where you got your figures from........I left them on for a good 48 hours, and they were barely warm to the touch.

I would think they were in equilibrium long before 48 hours. Temperature is not the same as power, or even energy. Units are Kelvin, Watts and Joules respectively.

The 130 watts per square metre is based on there being best part of 11 square feet in a square metreand your initial post where you said each heater was 12x 12 inches.

The human is generally regarded as equivalent to a 100W light bulb, or just a little more, (at rest) and I doubt that around 25% is lost from the palms of one's hands. The head is responsible for a substantial part of the heat lost by humans.

if I moved the heater pad from one end to the other of the BB, the cluster would gradually change shape

This is a normal reaction whatever the heat source. The brood in springtime will be closer to the warmer side of the hive, and that will likely be radiated energy rom the Sun absorbed and conducted through the fabric of the hive. Alternatively they brood on the side which loses least energy (by conduction and then radiation) - an example being one of my Dartington hives this last springtime, which, while it was well insulated on one side, the insulation had become detached on the other, so the brood was all down the insulated side - a right pain early on!

I would very much doubt that the monthly running costs in spring (March, April, May) would amount to much more than 50p, even if it were to come on at 2 degees. I think I would have a stat inside each hive for control.

Finally, there is never 'zero' fire risk where mains circuits are involved without fail-safe thermal cut-outs, over-current protection, etc. I would accept a 'very low' risk.

Regards, RAB
 

DorsetB 

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I would think they were in equilibrium long before 48 hours.

I know, but I wanted to soak test them before putting them in the hives.

Temperature is not the same as power, or even energy. Units are Kelvin, Watts and Joules respectively.


I know, I was trying to keep things simple.


Finally, there is never 'zero' fire risk where mains circuits are involved without fail-safe thermal cut-outs, over-current protection, etc. I would accept a 'very low' risk.


I know, I have been working with electrical systems and equipment around the world since 1984. The reason I stated "zero" here is that the risk of fire is so statistically low and so near the flat part of the bell curve, that it is to all intents and purposes insignificant, therefore akin to zero.

I was just trying to keep things simple for those who may be interested in the practicalities of trying these heater pads without getting involved in all the theory.
 

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