My bees were poisoned last Fall, (and again 4 years ago). The equipment was contaminated. I didn't have money to buy new equipment. No one responded to my GoFundMe.com/Helpsavethebees, so to keep them from swarming I made lots of little nucs who are not big enough now to make it through winter.
I was thinking I would build a cheap pvc greenhouse and keep it around 40 - 50 degrees and feed them all winter. Solar vent hinges won't work in the northeast and the electric ones are way expensive. Then the temps will drop at night, so I was thinking rocket mass heater. Then there is the moisture problem.
I know the typical beekeeper 'takes their losses' in the winter by combining hives and killing queens. I cannot do that to my friends.
So will pvc become too brittle?
How do I regulate heat and moisture? A wet bee is a dead bee. And if it is too warm, they move around too much and eat too much and lay too much.
Will a rocket mass heater work to keep the temp steady at night?
What design should I use for the greenhouse?
I should post this under critters and growies too. Hey Moderators - can I post in three places just this once? I need input from multiple areas of expertise.
I dont know if this is a good idea because the bees need to go into dormancy mode put them in a warm place and they might not go to "sleep" and eat up their stores faster plus they will want to go looking for food- not good
May I suggest you put your efforts into a) making sure they have enough food in store b) insulation
You asked who will regulate their hives trust the bees they have been doing it a while
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
It would not be wise to build a green house around your bees. Bees do not hibernate, they ball up and vibrate to keep the queen and brood warm and if you make a green house they will feel that its warm in the hive and want to leave to forage. this is the reason that hives are united and winter feeding is done. I am sorry if that is not the answer you want to hear but a responsible person would kill all extra queens and or sell your queens to a poor soul that has lost one and unite multiple hives before losing all of his hives if that was the best thing to do. if you do not know how to unite multiple hives then you must take the time to look up "uniting hives" "newspaper" and "third box" method. It usually takes about 3 to 7 years to get through most of the problems and experience what to do and not to do with bees. uniting multiple hives can save your bees and allow you to split them back apart later when the hive is larger and stronger and she makes more queen cells.
I do not know your hive or how big they are so you will have to make the call based on information you gather.
Things that will help a small hive:
* Building a wind block around the hive but NOT touching the hive. wrapping hives directly builds up moisture inside hive and will kill bees.
* Uniting multiple weaker hives to make a strong hive
* winter feeding may save a smaller hive to get them through winter.