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Winter Building Pampers & Protects Bees
“Beekeepers are starting to listen to what beehives are telling us. Bees want it quiet, dark, no vibrations, a small entrance like in a tree, always organized,” says John Miller, owner of Miller Honey Farms in Gackle, N. Dak.
  To comply, beekeepers are creating new indoor wintering spaces for their hives. Miller spent years visiting Canadian and U.S. facilities, and implementing the best ideas to carefully plan a new 20,000 sq. ft. building completed in time to house his bees this past winter.
  “The difference is my priority with hygiene and a different approach to air-handling,” says Miller about his facility compared to others. “If the space can be weaponized against the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Varroa destructor, it is a win for everyone.”
  Research indicates that keeping the CO2 level at 8 percent for at least 63 days kills the deadly mite. Miller incorporated sensors to monitor the CO2 level in the tightly controlled environment of his new building.
  Other design features include:
•  A quiet air-handling system with ventilation tucked within overhead rafters where they won’t be hit by equipment, hives or humans and that effectively flows air throughout the building. It also allows for flexible hive layout.
•  Refrigeration unit with a set point for chilling capability. The goal is 40 degrees for the bees, but heat from the hives must be factored in and it takes experience to set the temperature correctly.
•  “We use red LED lights (when working in the building). Bees don’t see red; it’s like a darkroom,” Miller says.
•  A grain vacuum to vacuum up the dead bees that hives shed every day.
  In January, workers start shipping bee hives out at the rate of two loads a day to set up near California almond orchards to be ready for release when trees bloom from mid-February to mid-March.
  Though he believes it will take at least 5 years to create a standard to have a predictable survival rate, he was pleased with his first-year survival rate of 85 percent rentable hives for almond orchards.
  By paying attention to details and making adjustments, Miller says he hopes that in the future the survival rates are 90 percent.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Miller, Miller Honey Farms, 5427 Highway 56, Gackle, N. Dak. 58442 (ph 916 718-4243; www.millerhoneyfarms.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2