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Author Topic: Winter Heater  (Read 5957 times)
Bush_84
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« on: September 29, 2013, 10:29:26 PM »

So I have two nucs that I want to heat over the winter.  I made this floor and wanted a little input.  I'll try to get a picture up to give you a better idea.  It's made out of 2x4s.  It's insulated with about 2 inches of hard board insulation on the bottom.  Over that is some plywood to keep the bulbs off of the insulation.  Over that is mesh so the bees can't get down into it.  It has small screws holding it down.

 My nucs currently have plywood floors that are screwed on.  So my first question is, should I find a way to remove the floor?  I assume that I'd want to remove the floor but it'd be much easier if I could leave it alone.  I could move the bees into the super that I made, which obviously doesn't have a floor.  But that also means I have to transfer the bees, which will be a pain lol.  If I can simply use the boxes with the floor I can also remove the screen that's on my floor, which will make it easier to change the bulbs.  Thought?
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 11:19:22 PM »

We may need to wait on Finland for the definitive winter expert laugh….. but I’ll take a stab at it in the mean time.  Smiley  

First off, what are these “bulbs” you’re talking about?  Incandescent light bulbs?  We do know incandescents will generate a lot of heat since they’re so inefficient (but this is another story).  They will work, but I can see some issues with them.  

Maybe a mini DFMEA is in order?

If anything drips on a hot incandescent bulb, poof and the bees freeze.
Light does stimulate the bees.  There is a risk you will get them too active.
How are you going to regulate the hive temp?  Power cycling bulbs is hard on them.  You could put them on a dimmer (TRIAC), but you would still need some way of controlling the TRIAC as a function of temp.
How are you going to avoid electrocution?  An exposed broken 120VAC bulb in a wet location is a quick way to go.  

I’m not trying to be negative; just pointing out some issues to consider.  What I have done over two separate winters is heat some nucs and hives with 12VDC and 24VAC power sources.  Those are low voltage circuits and are considered safer than 120VAC because your skin is an insulator at low voltages; provided you’re not dripping wet.  If you do use 120VAC, at least have it on a GFCI circuit breaker!

Personally I think there are probably better heat sources than a light bulb.  Finski has used aquarium heaters and I have used heaters I built from power resistors (2W resistors in series).  I think another relatively safe option would be the use of plumbing heat tape which are probably hitting the shelves in MN about now.  Lots of people use those outside in the winter, they are low cost, they have a temperature regulator around 40F, and they are pretty well insulated/safe.  I bought some to keep some CU pipes warm last winter for about $25.

You’ll have to provide more detail about your hive design before I can visualize what it looks like.  I think a simple pancake shaped heater (potted in cement) would work fine to just slip into the hives bottom entrance.  No special bottom system needed.  Slip it in, plug it in, and you’re good to go.  

My experience would suggest not to overheat the bees in the winter, but the right amount of heat really does wonders!
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MsCarol
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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2013, 11:00:40 AM »

Another couple thoughts safety wise

Pig mats or maybe seed starting mats. Both are made for damp conditions and are gentle sources of warmth.
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derekm
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2013, 01:00:01 PM »

you already have a heater in there you just need to insulate enough so that it can overcome the losses
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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?
Robo
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2013, 01:37:42 PM »

7 watt night lights are a cheap and effective way to add heat.

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,11721.0.html
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Bush_84
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2013, 05:15:13 PM »

7 watt night lights are a cheap and effective way to add heat.

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,11721.0.html



Uploaded with ImageShack.us

That's why I figured a single 15 watt bulb per hive would work.  I'm no good at electrical stuff at all.  So if I can't plug it in...it won't work out.  Maybe instead of two 15 watt bulbs for two nucs I should use one between the two.  Let's see if I can add a picture.


 As you can see I will have tin foil over the lights to block out the light.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 05:12:10 PM by buzzbee » Logged

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Robo
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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2013, 06:31:00 PM »

The problem with using one bulb is if (when) it blows there is nothing.  That is why I went with two 7 watt bulbs.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2013, 10:45:21 PM »

Resistors don’t blow. Smiley

Derekm is right about the insulation, but sometimes it’s just simpler and more effective to add electric heat when the colony is small.

I think 10 to 15 watts of heat is the correct ball park for winter.  You don’t want it too warm in the winter (IMO) or the pests can keep multiplying and too many bees will fly out to explore the frozen wasteland.  I do go with more watts in the spring though.  That’s when the bees are really expending a lot of heat (watts) to keep all those frames of brood from freezing.  Maintaining a delta T of 50F+ takes a descent amount of bee watts, or electrical watts in the spring. 
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alfred
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« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2013, 09:42:12 AM »

Last winter I experimented with heat cord made for reducing ice dam prevention. It comes in several lengths and is made to be used in wet conditions. I just ran the tape under my hives between the screen board and the base board. On my hive set up all of my hives sit on a screen board on top of a solid base board. I strung the tape along and then shoved a loop of it under each hive. Any time the temp got really low I just went out and plugged it in. Worked great.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2013, 10:02:59 AM »

Well maybe it'd just be easier to just go buy a heat tape then.  Less chance of failure as a bulb burning out.  I can easily slip that in there. 

So back to one of my other questions....remove the floor?
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bigsting
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« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2013, 11:22:05 AM »

bee hive heaters are for sale on ebay I have not used them and a thermostat to soot them and are 12 volt  could be powered by a battery charger or car battery  only draw 22w see if these will do http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-12V-Heater-for-bee-hives-Beekeeping-savings-alot-of-honey-per-season-/380727425835?pt=AU_Business_Industrial_Farming_Agriculture_Farming_Agriculture_Equipment&hash=item58a51f7b2b
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buzzbee
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« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2013, 05:13:20 PM »

I think Finski had successfully used terrarium heaters that sat flat on the bottom board.
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Robo
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« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2013, 09:45:24 PM »

Yes, Finski used reptile heaters (15W).  For one hive this is definitely the easiest way, right on the bottom board.   They are not as economical as 7watt night lights if you have many hives you are trying to heat.  There are many useful methods, it all comes down to the $$$ you want to spend.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2013, 12:15:04 PM »

My problem is that these are nucs with bottom boards that are nailed on.  So I can't just slip those suckers in.  I think I may just use that base with bottomless hive bodies and a heat source in that floor I made, unless somebody has a better idea. 
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Finski
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« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2013, 10:48:27 PM »

Yes, Finski used reptile heaters (15W). 

I use them in spring build up. Never in wintering.
And not heating on bottom in wintering.


A cluster must have winter rest. Added heat by electric is like a bigger cluster in the hive. Heat comes from side or it is up.
But other sides are cold and bees do not wander around during winter.

I have wintered 2 frame nucs with electric, but problem is that that nuc is not able to start brooding during winter. It is only curiosity and not real wintering. I know the case now and do not mind work with those trouble makers any more. It is easier when you give couple on brood frames to the nuc and the colony is big enough for winter.

If you have for example 3 frames bees, you must first reduce the wintering room to 3 frames.
Then use 3 W heater and put it on the top of frames.
If heating is under the cluster, it breaks the cluster.

During winter I can see that on +C weather bees are spread 
quite largely inside the hive, but during -20C they are around the heater like a heater is part of cluster.



In Robo's picture a mesh floor and bottom heating is a strange combination.
When I have solid ply bottom, 15 W heater keeps the whole bottom warm and the ply is very warm on opposite side too. 
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Finski
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« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2013, 10:56:37 PM »

.
Bulbs on bottom

bulbs have certain burning time. Our winter rest period is 7 months long. All bulbs will be dead in that time.

Terrarium heaters are expencive but they all works after 10 years usage.

But actually I do not use them during winter. They are used in spring after cleasing flight.
Furthermore winter rest of cluster should continue a month after cleansing flight and heating the cluster too early is not good idea.

7 months is 5000 hours.

Piece of heating cable


You may do DIY heating caples from piece heating caples. It depends how much cable makes  / 4 inches or something.

And guys here have all kinds of MacGyvering.


.
.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 11:08:51 PM by Finski » Logged

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BlueBee
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« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2013, 11:01:29 PM »

Oh no, he's BACK  grin

Any snow over there yet Finski?
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Finski
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« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2013, 11:12:00 PM »

.
I am not back. I am banned.

I came to correct some misunderstandings.


The best way to waste my only life is to discuss about wintering with such guy like you Bluebee. Awful.
You learn nothing with your honey balls.

 You America, you no mites

force may be with you

Good blesses only wise guys

.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2013, 11:26:47 PM by Finski » Logged

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Finski
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« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2013, 11:23:49 PM »

.
Terrarium heaters

http://www.thefind.com/pets/info-heat-mats-reptiles

In lowest line there is a
Mini Heat Mat 4watt 4x7'    
$16 Sale
This is proper for winter.
 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2013, 11:29:05 PM »

When I heated hives/nucs in the winter, my bottom assembly was very similar to the one in Bush_84s photos.  However one end was removable so I could repair anything that happened to fail.  My heaters were made from 2 watt power resistors (in series) and potted in cement.  Failure rate on power resistors is typically over 1,000,000 hours so they are very unlikely to fail.  However I kind of hacked together a micro controller to regulate the temps and its MFTB is probably a little lower Smiley; hence a way to access the guts in 0F weather is a good idea.

By potting the resistors in cement, the surface of the whole assembly was relatively cool compared to light bulbs, reptile heaters, Terrarium heaters, etc.  This meant the air temp below the bees was never HOT.  Just a soothing warmth for the bees to enjoy while consuming honey balls on the holidays.

Putting a heat source ABOVE the bees is a bit crazy, since heat rises…right out of the hive.  But if you have a heater with a high surface temp, that might be the most useful way to use them; albeit inefficient.
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