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Author Topic: Heater Tape for bees?  (Read 3014 times)
BlueBee
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« on: January 21, 2011, 02:34:34 PM »

I know experimenting isnít everybodyís cup and tea, and I respect that, so Iíve posted this here in the EXPERIMENTATION forum as opposed to the general forum section.  Yesterday I mentioned in a post there, the idea of maybe using some plumberís heat tape in an emergency situation.

My thinking is, If your bees are going to croak anyways (low numbers, canít get to stores, etc), why not try some heat?  Whatís the worst you can do?  Kill them twice? 

To follow up, I looked up the info on plumbing pipe heater tape last night.  You can buy the stuff at home depot and other hardware stores (about $25).  It comes in various lengths (6í to 24í) and outputs 7 watts of heat per foot of cable.  These things also come with a built in thermostat.  I could not find the exact trip point for the thermostat, but from some past experience with frozen pipes, I think the trip point is around 40F.  I could be wrong.

Anyways, with their fairly low thermometer trip point, it would seem to me (I could be wrong) you could not overheat a bee hive using one of these IF the thermometer part is pushed in the hive too. It sounds to me like the heater would keep your bee hive at about 40F to 50F.  According to the old timers (see old google bee books) and some new timers (Bullship in MN) 40F to 50F is the ideal temp for wintering bees.  As always, opinions vary here! 

Since the heater tape outputs 7 watts per foot, I suspect you could ďtuneĒ how much heat you want to deliver to your bees by how much of the heater tape you stuff in the hive.   I would keep the tape away from the wax and read directions for the tape carefully.  All tapes have to be wrapped around, or in, some medium to conduct the heat away from the wire (or the heater wire may melt).

I personally donít use AC heater tape.  Iím more of a proponent of insulation.  I seem to recall even Finski is using foam hives?  Always keep in mind that 120VAC is DEADLY and dangerous.  You have to treat it with the ultimate respect when working outdoors!  (Outside, the ground IS ground.  You donít want your heart in that circuit to ground!!!)  It only takes 50mA to stop a heart.  Read all instructions and donít do anything that does not follow code and good electrical safety habits. 
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2011, 04:07:17 PM »

I've seen several posts on the bee forums about using heat for the hives.
I believe they used 1 or 2, 5 watt Christmas tree bulbs on the bottom board, might want to search the different bee forums.

Bee-Bop
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AllenF
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2011, 09:46:37 PM »

Night light bulb is 7 watts.   But do the search.  http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,11721.0.html
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Dexterjc
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2011, 10:10:06 PM »

I use heat tape that has been laminated w/o a thermostat for my snake's. It works very well for them and is cheaper than the gimmicky sticky under the tank heaters you would find at a pet store. With mine the temperature can easily get into the low 100's which would severally burn a snake so I built my own rheostat with a wall light dimmer and an extension cable. This works well inside my house because my house will really only fluctuate 20 degrees or so, and i adjust the temp of the heater with the dimmer knob as needed. If this heat tape you have found has thermostat built in I would assume it would be safe enough to try in a hive as long as the plug connection is outside the hive and covered to protect it from the weather. The other thing I would highly suggest is a electronic indoor/outdoor thermometer so you can place the probe on the thermometer directly on the tape and get a contact temperature reading for the tape.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2011, 12:24:18 AM »

As long as you have something with a very low level of heat it should not be a problem.  With a strong cluster it also shouldn't be necessary, but with a small cluster it can make a difference.  A terrarium heater works well.  The problem with a light is it attracts bees so you have to have it somewhere they can't see it.  The tape, I would expect to work like the terrarium heater.
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Michael Bush
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2011, 11:04:39 AM »

Just wondering why not use a red Christmas tree bulb, bees ain't supposed to see the color red ??

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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2011, 12:54:21 PM »

Good question Bee Bop, I was under the same impression that bees donít see red.

I have been pondering maybe using some red LEDs and a web cam to watch my bees  grin
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AllenF
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 03:23:54 PM »

Just wondering why not use a red Christmas tree bulb, bees ain't supposed to see the color red ??

Bee-Bop

Red flowers?    Red syrup in the humming bird feeders?
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2011, 04:15:39 PM »

Just wondering why not use a red Christmas tree bulb, bees ain't supposed to see the color red ??

Bee-Bop

Red flowers?    Red syrup in the humming bird feeders?

Yes I agree about those being red, but I would bet that scent of the flowers, and sugar water are major factors.

Course what do I know ?
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T-Bone 369
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2011, 04:58:52 PM »

It is my understanding bees vision of red is somewhat akin to color blindness.  They do not see the color but will be able to see the object - it's not invisible.  The red lights will still give off other colors of the spectrum but in much lower amounts than in the red but in a darkened hive they will still be pretty bright.   
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2011, 06:59:05 PM »

A couple I have seen have a piece of aluminium over & under the bulb to protect the bulb and reduce the light going up into the hive.

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Robo
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 08:01:36 AM »

I've been using 7w night lights for quite a few years and never have had an issue with the light.
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Robo
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 08:02:50 AM »

A couple I have seen have a piece of aluminium over & under the bulb to protect the bulb and reduce the light going up into the hive.

Bee-Bop

Actually, the aluminum cover is there to prevent dead bees and hive debris from landing on the hot bulb and burning.
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