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Author Topic: Building an Incubator  (Read 3713 times)
capt44
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« on: December 21, 2013, 10:00:58 PM »

I'm in the process of building a Incubator to Rear Queens in.
When the cells get capped off and it's suppose to turn cool, those Frames with capped Queen Cells are going in the Incubator.
Early this year (March) I had a Frame with 2 cell bars and queen cells that were being built out.
It come a cool snap and the bees clustered away from the brood causing them to chill and die.
This next year a capped queen cell is going to a mating Nuc, a split hive or in the incubator.
The box will be 1/2 or 3/4 plywood with foil backed Styrofoam insulation.
There will be a pan of water in the bottom for humidity.
The heating system will be mounted in the top with a low speed fan and a digital thermostat.
I will make the door in the front with a 2 layer plexiglass insert to view the cells.
I am going to build frame rest so all I have to do is place the frame on the rack.
I will be using the Nicot parts such as the cell cup holders and the roller cages to capture the queen when she emerges.
I'm hoping to not have queens chill out anymore.
When they emerge I will place a few worker bees in the cage and alittle honey in the cap of the cage.
Or just install the caged queen with nurse bees in a mating Nuc.
The incubator will be built as a cabinet style with a door in the front.
It will be 22 inches square and 24 inches tall.
I've bee studying a lot on incubators but there isn't a lot to do with honey bees
I do know to keep the temperature at 93 degrees F and the Humidity up around 50 - 60%
Any information on incubator setups will be greatfully appreciated.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2013, 04:00:02 AM »

An incubator along the lines of what you’re building was on my todo list last summer but I had too many other pressing problems to deal with.  I like your description and it is similar to my plan.  Being a foam guy, I was going to use more foam than wood.  Either will work, it’s just a matter of more electrical energy needed to maintain temp in a wood box. 

My plan was to heat the incubator with a string of power resistors; something around 15 watts should suffice for a box with descent insulation.  You can buy power resistors for pennies at an electronics surplus site, or a distributor like Digikey.  You’ll need some sort of power supply.  But since the wattage needed is pretty small (my case 15watts), there are lots of options; computer power supplies, landscape light xformers, sprinkler system xformers, etc.  You would need a FET or Triac to energize the power resistors depending upon rather your power supply is AC or DC.  That’s the basic heater setup.

Next you need some means of regulating the temperature inside the box.  In other words, a controller to turn on and off the power resistors as needed.  My plan was to use a simple 8bit micro; probably an Atmel AVR micro with an ADC (under $5), but there are lots of other options too.  If you go the ADC route, you could use a 10 cent thermistor in series with a fixed resistance (ie voltage divider) and calibrate the hex value of 93F (or 95F) as the set point to turn on/off the heaters.  I would build in a little hysteresis (maybe a hex count or two) to prevent rapid oscillations and possible rf noise.  You can also buy digital temperature chips (ie MicroChip) for about $1 that could be used in place of a thermistor and ADC. 
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capt44
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 11:06:46 PM »

I bought a 100 watt heater from Incubator warehouse.com.
It is digital and has a sensor that you put on the inside of the incubator.
It has a fan built to the bottom of the heater to keep the air circulating.
I am putting a pan of water in the bottom with a sponge in it to keep the humidity up to around 80% or more.
I also bought a digital thermometer and hygrometer to keep check on the humidity.
I'm building the case from 3/4 birch plywood.
I'm putting 1/2 inch foil backed Styrofoam inside the box.
I'm building it 23 inches long x 16 inches tall and 15 inches wide.
I'll take some pictures in the next couple of days.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2014, 08:00:43 AM »

You seen this one capt?
http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Incubator2.pdf
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capt44
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 04:02:44 PM »

Yep I seen that design, studied it and a few others and come up with a plan.
Jon Sawislak is an Instructor for the University of Arkansas Research and Extension Service.
He gave me a link to an E- book he wrote on  Raising Quality Queens
Here is a link to it.
http://www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/pdf/MP518.pdf
I'm in the process of cutting out the door to fit 2 panes of glass that will have an air gap between panes 1/2 inch.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2014, 07:44:36 AM »

After building a couple and using them, I now coat the inside with marine spar varnish
to keep the moisture out of the wood. Lining with insulation was not enough.
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capt44
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2014, 08:12:31 PM »

I appreciate that information.
I've thought about the high humidity and what effects if might have on the birch plywood.
I've got the box made and the door in the front.
The door I made with plate glass inset flush.
The gap between the panes of glass is right at 5/8 of an inch.
Each inset for the glass panes I cut 3/32 inch deep by 1/2 inch wide.
I put caulking in the inset and set the glass panes in.
I built a picture frame type frame to keep the glass in.
On the inside of the door I caulked it and put some 5/8 inch long thumb tacks in to hold the glass in place.
I've got the top and bottom on.
I think I'll go ahead a treat the inside with some polyurethane I have here.
I'll bring it in the house tomorrow because a cold front is moving thru and the temps tomorrow is only 32 degrees F.
Today it was 66 degrees F.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2014, 10:40:57 PM »

How about some Pictures when your done  grin
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 07:59:54 PM »

>You seen this one capt? http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Incubator2.pdf

I have that one.  But I bought it already put together from honeyrunapiaries.com
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capt44
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 10:38:45 PM »

Yes Sir I seen those plans, I've been doing a lot of research.
I've got the box built, the door installed and painted the inside and out with polyurethane today.
I figured the inside needed treated because the humidity will be high.
Tomorrow I'm going to put the 1/2 inch foam insulation that foiled backed inside the incubator.
When that dries I'll install the heater/fan and thermostat.
I'm going to mount the heat/fan in the top, hopefully to give a good air flow in the entire box.
I'll put a pan of water in the bottom.
I'm going to build the racks to put the frames on also.
The door is 3/4 inch thick birch plywood with 2 panes of glass, one on each side giving it a 5/8 inch air gap between the two panes, I hope it'll act as an insulator to hold heat.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 08:36:11 PM »

I installed the heater today.
Tomorrow I plan to connect the temperature controller and install the thermocouple or heat sensor.
I will then glue the Styrofoam panels inside.
It should hold around 6 or 7 frames.
I'll take pictures tomorrow.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2014, 06:57:41 PM »

Here are some pictures of the Incubator I built for queen cells.
It is 23 inches x 16 inches tall x 15 inches wide.
The door has double pane glass with a 5/8 space between panes for insulation.
I haven't installed the aluminum backed 1/2 inch foam insulation yet.
I plugged the heater in and it warmed up to 92.3 degrees F and the thermostat held that temperature.
The box is 3/4 Birch Plywood sealed with Polypropylene.


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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2014, 07:28:21 PM »

 applause cool
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capt44
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 08:26:27 PM »

Alright here is the finished Incubator.
Let me make a correction on the dimensions - 23 inches long x 19 inches tall x 15 inches wide.
I installed the foil backed 1/2 inch Styrofoam and added a water pan and a hygrometer to monitor the humidity and temperature.
With the foam added the incubator heats up twice as fast and holds heat longer before the heater kicks in again.
Here are a couple of pictures.

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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 10:11:00 PM »

 applause nice work applause
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tefer2
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2014, 09:11:55 AM »

Looks good Capt, it won't be long until you can get some use out of it.
I love mine!  th_thumbsupup
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2014, 08:56:31 PM »

I bought a cheap 12V heater at walmart, with a cigarette plug on it. I use a water heater thermostat to regulate the temp in a d. coates nuc. The water heater thermostat is not a very good choice. Back to the drawing board.

See video for details.
http://youtu.be/bMuv1sSZNAI


Dave.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 09:06:10 PM by Robo » Logged

capt44
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2014, 09:21:17 PM »

check out    http://www.Incubatorwarehouse.com  they've got a lot of different heaters and thermostats.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
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