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Over wintering Nucs

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Firegazer 

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Looks fascinating.

I may try out some of these ideas in the next few years: I live up a hill and on its North side, so the hive location faces temperature averages much lower than Gloucestershire normally gets.

Maybe just a bit of heating or putting the hive in a shed or something would help things? There again, maybe it's better to select hardier strains by not giving them extra help?
 

peteinwilts 

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I have seen heaters for sale that seem to be massively over-expensive.

I think it would be quite straightforward to throw something simple together. I thought about doing something for my small colony...
 

oliver90owner 

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Haven't used it in years, but there is a soil heating cable buried in my greenhouse. I might be looking at the horticultural forums for inspiration here!

Low voltage installations could easily be made with the elements removed from an electric blanket (I did this years ago for a pair of socks I used when out pigeon shooting in the snowy season - early to mid 80s) which are really cheap starting materials. Since then have bought thermal boots when in Canada and haven't really needed them in the UK!

Thermostats are easy enough to make with a thermistor and a high-gain op-amp circuit (747 IC if I remember the correct numbers) followed by a power transistor feeding the elements.

Regards, RAB
 

Hivemaker. 

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When i have wanted to keep any small nuc's warm over winter the heat has come from a strong colony beneath them,the nuc's being above a screen board.Low tech,but it works well.
 
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Firegazer 

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RAB,
I looked at making the same circuit and tried to work out how many watts it would need to put out to make any difference.

According to my calculations (done 2 different ways and pretty much agreeing), the cluster will be burning about 20 watts at -10. This ambient temp for the cluster is affected by many things, like convection of cold air up and through the BB, insulation factor of the walls and roof. The size of the cluster obviously affects how much it 'burns' too and, as it seems the cluster changes size accordingly to ambient temp (!) the whole thing gets pretty hard to predict with any accuracy.

Bottom line though, is that 10 - 20 watts is about right for a normal colony in a -10 C ambient temp.

So . . . we only have to strap a small metal box to the mesh floor which is generating say 5 - 10 watts of heat and the convection should bathe the cluster in a gently raised stream of warm air and save them some work. This saved work should equal less honey/syrup consumed, I guess.

A secondary effect might be that normally the warm air will only cover the inside of the box (ignoring any top ventilation for a moment) down to the lowest point that is producing heat. With a cluster, this will mean that the warm air occupies a space down to the level of the bottom of the cluster. Below the cluster would be a layer of cold, unheated air. This leaves the poor bees at the bottom with their backsides in -10 C air (ouch!). If we heat from a box at floor level, this should mean that the air is warmer from that point upwards (i.e. the whole BB) by convection, so the cluster wouldn't face the same extreme. Maybe this would allow them to roam the BB for stores with a lower heat-loss penalty (?) which could give them an even better chance of survival.

There's a little temp sensor that can drive an Op amp and power transistor, plus say 10 parallel R's to burn 20 watts or so easily. My calcs suggested it could run from a deep-cycle battery (48Ahr) for 24 hrs at 12 watts - getting to 50% charge in the battery. A solar charger could extend the time between charges if it was sunny during the day and only cold at night.

I could power this from a shed at the moment, but it might be worth trying the stand-alone version for those with out-apiaries.

Do you want to collaborate on the design and give it a go? The colony I have needs all the care and attention I can give it and is in a fairly cold spot.
 

peteinwilts 

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maybe we should both run parallel designs and share tips and results... :cheers2:

have you thought of a mat rather a box to initially spread the heat at source??

... hhmmm.. maybe this should be in the diy forum!

tests begin at the weekend! :)
 

Finman 

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.
2 frame nuc has only the value of queen. It is not capable to build up in spring.

To me minimum hive size is 10 frames. In my climate even 5 frame is too small and slow.

With the help of bigg hives' brood a small colony developes to productive hive.
 

mikethebee 

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Artificially heating any hive is not recommended
In the dead of winter the bees are active inside the hive,
When they fly out into the cold air you WILL find piles of dead bees scattered in-front of the hive.
Theirs no cluster, eat more food, not natural. It’s a thing bees have done and god’s survival gift to bees called evolution.

I have seen bees in the middle of winter under the roof of an-ornamental water well.
Looking up under the roof you could see the nest attached to the roof battens and stone slates this nest lasted for years until some bright person decided otherwise.
Bees in chimneys’
Their not daft!! They don’t make nest with the fire under them, most are in old houses with central heating where there’s a draft of cold dry air not warm. Ask the owner he only discovers them in the spring.
 

roche 

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I've been thinking a bit recently about using a pcb as a heating element - quite straightforward, and gives an even distribution of heat over an area. Then the control elements can be on the same board, with perhaps the sensor on a flying cable. Perhaps base the board size on a 5 frame nuc?
 

peteinwilts 

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My thoughts are more for survival of small NUC's.

Getting heat into the NUC is only half the problem, keeping it is the other half.

I have a great deal of insulation planned. (for at least the smallest colony!)

In Winter (particually Finman as he has more Winter than most of us!), I presume you do not use top ventilation??
Are the bees able to control the humidity with no upper ventilation?

Naturally, any upper ventilation would act as a chimney drawing cold air up through the bottom of the hive (I presume!)

Also, do you raise the hive above the ground frost... not sure technically if this would be an advantage in very cold climates, but in the UK the official ground frost ceiling is 4ft.
 

roche 

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Condensation seems to be a bigger problem than heat. I suppose you could keep the internal surfaces at a temperature higher than the dewpoint (but not too high), or ensure the air is changed and preheated to remove moisture content, or perhaps a combination of both.
 

Finman 

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My thoughts are more for survival of small NUC's.

In Winter (particually Finman as he has more Winter than most of us!), I presume you do not use top ventilation?? .
Sure I am. When we look my beekeeping years and lenght of winter....

.
Are the bees able to control the humidity with no upper ventilation? .
When hive has brood, it is warm and keep the hive dry.

.
Naturally, any upper ventilation would act as a chimney drawing cold air up through the bottom of the hive (I presume!).
If we have here a mesh floor, we do not use upper hole.

If the bottom is fast, the upper hole is essential. But it depends how bog holes you keep open.

If I have 2 bee frames, the upper hole is pencil size.

.
Also, do you raise the hive above the ground frost... not sure technically if this would be an advantage in very cold climates, but in the UK the official ground frost ceiling is 4ft.
Ground frost has nothing to do with bees. Ground will be frosen when we have enough cold. In Britain it hardly exists.
 

Finman 

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Condensation seems to be a bigger problem than heat. I suppose you could keep the internal surfaces at a temperature higher than the dewpoint (but not too high), or ensure the air is changed and preheated to remove moisture content, or perhaps a combination of both.
It is not if you handle it.

Bees generate heat and it keeps the hive dry enough.

No one preheat the hive air.

It is like people in the room. It needs ventilation to remove respiration odour and moisture out. But you keep the the ventilation proper.

Or if you in cold car, the respiration moisture condensates in windows.
 

peteinwilts 

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If we have here a mesh floor, we do not use upper hole.

If the bottom is fast, the upper hole is essential. But it depends how bog holes you keep open.
I am planning on using an open mesh floor, and was not planning a top vent (although my plans are not fixed)

do you use open or closed floors?

Our climate is not as cold as yours, but have no doubt it is probably wetter... especially in our bit of the country.
Most of our air in winter tends to be chilly and wet rather than dry and cold, therefore there is probably more moisture in the air and therefore humidity is probably more of a factor.

... I guess I just have 'first winter nerves!' :)
 

roche 

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Finman - you use poly langstroth - is that correct? probably better insulated than wooden. Do you notice difference in stores usage between the two?
 

Finman 

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Finman - you use poly langstroth - is that correct? probably better insulated than wooden. Do you notice difference in stores usage between the two?
Yes I have wintered bees in 30 mm thick wooden boxes. Those consume 50% more sugar than polyboxes. Mesh floor consume even more it place is windy.
 

admin 

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50%..WOW
Now theres an advert if ever there was one for using Polyhives..

PH and Rooftops,have you found the same thing in the uk?
 

jezd 

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Quick shot of my Nuc project, all open floor boxes, 6 frames each but not the strongest of nucs if I am being honest, lots of feed going in at present. Note the dead drones (I hope) on the floor around the pallets. This is stage one, getting them all fed fully and treated shortly, each box by the end of October will have insulation all the way around and over the roofs - no heating I am afraid.

Jez
 
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roche 

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Finman, do you notice any difference in condensation between the two?
 

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