By Chelsea Cook & Kimberly Drennan // Hive Tech Solutions
To meet the specific needs of beekeepers while optimizing the health, security, and comfort of their honey bees during difficult times of the year, there are modular cold storage options available. Modular cold storage solutions put beekeepers in control; they are an option for beekeepers who want to avoid the stress of transportation or risk of large cold storage facilities. HiveTech Solutions is one company that has developed a modular cold storage unit that they will be optimizing with the USDA during the 2019/2020 winter season. Here are some details of their product.
Units consist of bee storage subunit and a mechanical subunit that controls the environment that the bees are in.
Because it is modular, it can be scaled to fit any beekeeping operation and grow as a beekeeping operation grows.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL SYSTEMS
Honey bees are very different from refrigerated produce. Like any living creature, they need a comfortable environment that can provide reliable heating, cooling, fresh air, and proper humidity in order to thrive. This unit has controllable set points for temperature, humidity, and CO2 to keep bees comfortably chilled in any climate zone. Environmental conditions are constantly monitored and controlled remotely.
This unit plugs into a standard 240V outlet. A back-up generator with an automatic remote start option can power the unit in the event of power loss. Every component has a redundant system and backups in case of failure. Solar power with battery backup is available for remote locations. The unit can be quickly disassembled if bees need to be removed fast.
Beekeepers are in control of when their bees go into cold storage and can place them in different yards at different times – after they have collected enough food for the winter or before mites become a problem
Beekeepers decide where their bees over - winter: It can be placed in all weather conditions and it runs off of a standard 240V outlet, backed up with a generator.
This unit can be constructed easily with two people and basic tools within a day. It can be constructed on the ground or on a trailer.
COLD STORAGE TRANSPORTATION
This modular cold storage unit was created to give honey bees a stable winter environment and testing for cold storage transportation will take place in the spring of 2020. Cold-Storage transportation benefits include:
1. Reduced temperature stress on colonies and queens.
2. More flexible loading and unloading logistics for bee - keepers. The unit can be staged in holding yards, it allows beekeepers to unload in small batches when the weather is cooperating.
3. Pallets are kept clean during overwintering, reducing the time of inspection at state inspection locations.
ADDITIONAL USES FOR A MODULAR COLD STORAGE UNIT
This unit is well-suited to put bees into short-term cold storage to induce a brood break to increase efficacy of miticides.
This unit brings a controlled environment to the field, therefore can be used to rapidly cool and store produce post-harvest, especially for small farmers
Can be used for storage of tools, boxes, and potentially bee or other livestock feed