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Author Topic: Wintering Hives: Supplemental Heat - Thermocouple Location  (Read 1894 times)
PowerBee
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« on: October 17, 2012, 07:11:42 PM »

I live in Denver, Colorado and after following an old post on this forum regarding heating hives, researching it a bit, and thinking about BlueBee and Finski's experiences, I decided to turn a hive I have in my back yard into an e-hive. 

My system will use two heat sources, that can work either separately or together:
(1) a 16 watt terrarium heater on the back rear of the bottom brood box to warm them a bit during "winter/cluster-sleep" without heating the bottom of the cluster (and if it is an unseasonably warm day, it's not so much heat that they can't take care of it themselves).  I will probably leave this one on constantly through the coldest winter months, and

(2) a thermostat controlled pipe heating coil (EasyHeat) located in an insulated chamber built onto the bottom side of the screened bottom board for when I want them to break cluster and get an earlier start brood raising in the spring (recognizing, they may need supplemental syrup and pollen, and there may be other challengers).

For (2) above, the thermostat system will use a remote temperature sensor (thermocouple) located in my choice of somewhere in the two-deep brood boxes.  My question is this: "What is the best location for this remote sensor inside the hive, given that this latter heat source lies under the cluster and I will be WANTING them to break cluster when this system is activated?"

I am leaning to putting the sensor just under the bottom of the center brood frames of the lower brood chamber, since this is where it will/could contact the bees first and the heat should work its way upward from there.  As an aside, I will have other remote temperature reads from elsewhere in the hive that I will be able to monitor from inside my house, but there is only one remote temperature sensor that will be running the "on/off switch" for the heat.  As this is early fall, once this is all put together, I don't want to go back into the hive this winter to change anything, although if I had to I could move it without taking apart the hive.

Note: I will be insulation-wrapping the hive and it will have a insulated inner cover with upper entrance.  The bottom entrance will be restricted significantly, but still kept open.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Power Bee
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 09:40:33 PM »

I love it, power bee!  E-hive is a great name too; why didnít I think of that. applause

How many watts you need to heat the hive is of course a function of your insulation.  16 to 40 watts is plenty to really heat up a well insulated hive, but a wood hive would need more watts if you wanted to heat it up significantly at night.  Sounds like you will be insulating your hive so you should have plenty of watts.

When I electrically heated my hives, the thermostat (thermistor in my case) was located under the bees (under the screened bottom board) just to make the wiring simpler.  One concern I had about sticking the thermistor in with the bees was the bees messing with the sensor.  They might propolzie it, honey might drip on it, or a heater bee might just sit on top of it and throw things off.  While those are potential problems, my main reason for putting the sensor under the bottom screen was more laziness and maintenance.  It would really be difficult to swap out sensors in the middle of the cluster in winter if something goes amiss.  Putting the sensor under the bees is obviously not the best location either; but life is full of compromises and this is one I made.

My system wasnít refined enough to allow me to command (remotely) the bees to break cluster on demand.  I just had my thermostat set to around 85F if I recall.  Actually I donít think my bees were EVER in cluster that entire winter.  That worked OK in Michigan but you might run into a problem in Colorado.  The Great Lakes keep us covered in clouds most of the winter and the bees do not have a lot of sunshine to tempt them to fly.  Iíve never been to CO in the winter, but Iíve heard you have more sunny winter days out there.  If so, then you need to be concerned about too many bees flying off in the bitter cold and not returning.  

If you see that happening, you may only want to heat your hives at night.  That would allow the cluster to move around and get to more stores without being tempted to fly outside.  Bees only crawl at night.  
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Finski
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 12:39:44 AM »


My system will use two heat sources, that can work either separately or together:
(1) a 16 watt terrarium heater on the back rear of the bottom brood box to warm them a bit during "winter/cluster-sleep" without heating the bottom of the cluster (and if it is an unseasonably warm day, it's not so much heat that they can't take care of it themselves).  I will probably leave this one on constantly through the coldest winter months, and

It is very different to to help wintering and help spring build up

If you help wintering, the first act is to get polystyre wintering boxes.
Normal hive one or two box full of bees need not any heating.

You may aid 3-5 frame nuc with 3W heater. It cannot be on bottom because it keeps the cluster restless.

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Finski
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 12:48:51 AM »

 16 to 40 watts is plenty to really heat up a well insulated hive, but a wood hive would need more watts if you wanted to heat it up significantly at night.  Sounds like you will be insulating your hive so you should have plenty of watts.



I have heated 8 years my hives. It is easy to se the influence.

16 W is maximum in spring  heating.

40 W is absolutely out of question.

7W is as good as 15W. I use 15W because the hearters are the very cheap


Like this. 15 dollars is a correct price  http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Heater-Cable-12-Feet-15-Watt/dp/B0035H9KDS/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1350535657&sr=8-7&keywords=terrarium+heater
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PowerBee
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 01:04:52 AM »

Finski,

Rather than rely on having the just the correct wattage cable, I am looking to maintain a set temperature using a thermostat.

Winter/Cluster-Sleep = 37-41F (indoor beehive wintering buildings in Canada use this as their optimum wintering temperature)

Spring Wake Up = 60-64F (a few degrees above the cluster forming temperature of 57F)

1. What do you think of these temperatures for their stated purpose?
2. Where do you think the best place in the hive to put the temperature control probe that will maintain these temperatures?
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Finski
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 10:10:02 AM »

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I have not tried thermostats. At least it is an expencive solution. - what is the advantage?
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PowerBee
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 03:11:18 PM »

Finski,

You are right, a thermostat is more expense.  Maybe OK for one hive, not OK for many hives. 
I have few bees and only want to use heat and thermostat on one hive near home.  I already have the thermostat.

I BELIEVE:
Inside hive temperature goes up and down with the weather for hives with no heat.
Inside hive temperature goes up and down with the weather for hives with heaters and no thermostat.

If weather goes colder, with no sun, and much wind, then a hive with heater and no thermostat, inside temperature will go down.  Bees may like the heat from fixed terrarium heater, but inside temperature will go down.

If weather goes warm, sunny, and no wind, then a hive with heater and no thermostat, inside temperature will go up.
Bees may like the heat they get from fixed terrarium heater OR it may be too much heat and they will work to cool hive.

IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION:
"... what is the advantage?"

The advantage of heating a hive with a thermostat and a good heat source is that it can keep the inside temperature of the hive at a constant temperature.  I think the more constant the temperature, the better for the bees.
Lower Thermostat setting (04C/39F) = better for winter-sleep (fewer die). 
Higher Thermostat setting (18C/65F*) = Better for spring start up (easier brood rearing, less or no brood chilling during fast brood increases versus bee cover).

REFERENCE:
Inside hive temperatures and bee behavior:

34C-35C/93F-96F Interior Brood Nest Temperature
18C/65F* Outside Brood Nest - Low Reasonable Working Temperature
16C/59F  Inside Hive - Bees Huddle In Groups
14C/57F  Inside Hive - Bees Enter Cluster
05C/41F  Inside Hive - Minimum Body Temperature Of Bees On Outside Of Cluster That Can Still Move
04C/39F  Inside Hive - Body Temperature Of Bees On Outside Of Cluster That Can No Longer Move
03C-05C/37F-41F Inside temperature of Canadian indoor honeybee wintering buildings for lowest death rate during winter-sleep (not inside hive temperature)
*(my experience, I have not found this number printed)

MY QUESTION:
A thermostat with a good heat source does NOT heat the whole hive to the same temperature.  The temperature in different places in the hive is different... bottom board, inner cover, outside walls, inside cluster... all different.

So where to put the thermostat sensor in the hive that is best for the bees?
This is like asking "where is the best place for a thermostat in a house." In the bedroom?  In the kitchen? In the garage? In the family area? I'd say in the family area.

In a heated hive with a thermostat and heat coming from under the screened bottom board, I am guessing the thermostat sensor should be under the frames in the center of the bottom brood box.

Finski, I respect your many years of working with bees and 8 years working with hive heat.  You say you have not used thermostats.  That is OK.  What is your best guess of where to put the thermostat sensor inside the hive that is best for the bees?

I will try to send a photograph of the thermostat and remote sensor in the next post. 
Sorry for long post.  I am trying to explain myself clearly.
If easier to get into detail, then respond in Finnish and I will have it translated.
Thanks for your help.
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PowerBee
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 03:40:36 PM »

I am assuming Admin gets my email and gets the photo posted to this post.

Please place photo here.

Here is a picture of the thermostat with remote sensor.  The remote sensor is the 5 foot (1.6 meter) coiled wire with a pointed tube on the end.
]
The power cord head provides power to the thermostat electronics (including the coiled remote sensor) which then controls whether electricity to the heater is turned on or off.  The heater cord plugs into the side of the power cord head opposite the prongs.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 05:17:36 PM by buzzbee » Logged
buzzbee
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 05:28:57 PM »

Sorry if the photo doesn't show instantly after emailing. All the staff has other jobs during the day,so hopefully an hour or two is not too long to have it posted for you. Show patience please!! Wink
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BlueBee
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 10:30:36 PM »

I was hoping to use electric heat to overwinter some of my half frame mating nucs this winter, but too many other priorities preempted that goal.  So now we'll see if 800 bees can survive a Michigan winter with just insulation  Wink

I agree with Finski that polystyrene hives is a more practical solution for larger nucs and hives.  However experimenting with electricity is fun regardless.  You usually learn something new when you experiment.  You'll be teaching us new things come spring  Smiley

When I get around to using electric heat again (on the mating nucs), my plan is to set the thermostat to about 60F.  As Iíve said before, Iím leery of going too high on the artificial temps for fear of raising wax moths in the winter.  As for the location of the thermostat, I'm not as concerned about it; as long as it is not at the very top of very bottom, I think the temp gradient in the poly hive is pretty low.

As for the report that 37F to 41F is ideal for winter sleep in Canada.  I really donít know how you could keep a poly hive that cool huh  Wood yes, poly no.  My full sized colonies in poly hives are WAY above those temps and they do great.  The nucs are smaller, generate less heat, and do stay in a formal cluster more so than the full sized hives in my climate.  The warmer full sized colonies do build up fast in the spring, the nucs are 2 to 3 weeks behind them.

If youíve got some experience with electronics, implementing a thermostat is cheap; you can do it with a 10cent thermistor, a 8 bit micro, and a Triac or relay for AC heat sources.  You can even implement a crude thermostat control with just a thermistor and an op amp.  I posted the circuit on here some time ago.  However there is more hysteresis with the crude op amp setup.  I used it one spring playing with bumble bees.

Powerbee, keep in mind that the bees themselves are heaters and have their own thermostat.
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Finski
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2012, 01:34:27 AM »

I was hoping to use electric heat to overwinter some of my half frame mating nucs this winter, but too many other priorities preempted that goal.  So now we'll see if 800 bees can survive a Michigan winter with just insulation  Wink

I agree with Finski that polystyrene hives is a more practical solution for larger nucs and hives.  However experimenting with electricity is fun regardless.  You usually learn something new when you experiment.  You'll be teaching us new things come spring  Smiley


Yes, I learned about spring build up and heat such things with heating that it is published nowhere.

But after these years I am tired to look more "ideas". I try to make normal hives for winter. Small colonies are only nuisance in Spring because they do not start to build up without big hives' brood.

I have seen treamendous systems in this Beemaster forum, how guys insulate 3 box hives, heat them and ventilate them and take infrared pictures.  Where are their pills!!

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I just told what I know and every one may do as they do.

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derekm
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2012, 07:35:34 AM »

...I BELIEVE:
Inside hive temperature goes up and down with the weather for hives with no heat.
Inside hive temperature goes up and down with the weather for hives with heaters and no thermostat.

...

With the right level of   insulation  bees will keep nearly all the hive above 15C...  I have observed this  down to -15C outside...
But this level of insulation only lets out 1/2 the heat of a poly hive and  less than 1/4 the heat of a European bottom entrance hive and probably 1/10th the heat of a U.S. hive.
Bees given the right habitat are good  for -20C without heating and without clustering...

The usual research cited does not go far enough in reducing heat losses to mimic the bees natural environment
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 08:29:40 AM by derekm » Logged

If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
Finski
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2012, 11:25:23 PM »



With the right level of   insulation  bees will keep nearly all the hive above 15C..


WHAT!!!

In my hives moisture will freeze inside when out temp is -8C.

On my area I selcpom have -30C, but it is common in inlands, where bees are kept. - 40C is not rare there.


Quote

Bees given the right habitat are good  for -20C without heating and without clustering...



without clustering? why without? Bees cluster tighly in 0C.  

Guys here winter polyhives without wrapping or extra shelter.
On many areas we do not have so much snow that it covers the hives.

Here is a professional near City of Tampere. He has obout 1000 hives and he has Honeypaw company.

In video temp is -25C. He uses "warm bottom".
He allways press his colonies to one box for winter

bees wintering in finland




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« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 11:39:52 PM by Finski » Logged

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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2012, 11:29:29 PM »

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In Alaska, (is is part of USA?) they kill often the hives in autumn because thay cannot get them alive over winter.

"We in USA".....

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derekm
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 02:47:31 PM »



With the right level of   insulation  bees will keep nearly all the hive above 15C..

WHAT!!!

In my hives moisture will freeze inside when out temp is -8C.

On my area I selcpom have -30C, but it is common in inlands, where bees are kept. - 40C is not rare there.


Quote

Bees given the right habitat are good  for -20C without heating and without clustering...

without clustering? why without? Bees cluster tighly in 0C.  

insulate so the value for the entire hive is  ~ 0.4w/ degree C
which is probably 1/2 of your hives... but i would need to test them to be sure.
simple ...
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
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