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Native Bee FAQs

Temperature Monitoring – Winter

*I’ll redo this article this year 2023 with some better information

Lets make another “Can of worms” chart!

There’s so many variables, you can not fairly say one hive is better or worse than another one but you can note and explain individual characteristics of each hive/box . The chart doesn’t make the comparison, it simply shows the sensor results.

Variables to consider which make comparisons almost impossible

  • Box design: Material thickness, density, overall size and volume
  • Roof designs: Materials, thickness, size
  • Position: Sun exposure, Height
  • Probe position: In relation to the brood or box walls
  • Colony strength: Species, structures and bee numbers (Tetragonula carbonaria shown here)
  • Ambient temps can be different depending on location

Some info about the boxes displayed in the chart above

The probe should be inside the brood area or very close to it. It’s possible the colony has shifted the brood since the probe was inserted in September 2021.

  • Ambient 1 – blue line: Located under shelter in rear patio area
  • On top of Hive 1 – light blue line: Located on Hive 1, under a tin hive roof, exposed to some sun and wind
  • Hive 1 – purple line: 25mm Hoop Pine. Positioned 1m off the ground. Sun exposure 7.30am – 1.30pm. Tin roof
  • Hive 2 – yellow line: 33mm Cedar and Hoop Pine. Positioned 50mm off the ground. Sun exposure 9am – 1.30pm. Wood roof.
  • Hive 3 – green line: 50mm Cypress/25mm Hoop combo. Positioned 50mm off the ground. Sun exposure 9am – 1.30pm. Wood roof.
  • Species: all colonies here are Tetragonula carbonaria

Observations for above chart:

  • I would say they’re all fairly equal. You would be arguing about small percentages.
  • It’s interesting to see that even when down to 5 degrees c in winter, a healthy colony can still be at 20 degrees inside.
  • Full sun exposure can be good for the colony in winter. *Depending on box design.
  • Hive 1 – purple line – gets sun earlier than the others which can explain the jump start on the others in the morning.
  • Hive 1 – purple line – doesn’t get as cold as the others over night which could be it’s height from the ground.

Chart Below

In the example shown below, it was 7 degrees outside and the brood area maintained 20 degrees c. Weak colonies can really suffer in winter as they don’t have the bee numbers or colony mass to maintain a good temperature. The chart shows two strong colonies. I placed them in the sun for two days and then the shade for two days.

Chart Below:

Boxes: No roof, full sun

  • Lightweight insulated box from Spicers Hollow Native Bees
  • 33mm Hoop Pine box – pale yellow paint
  • 50mm Cypress Box – clear coat
  • The “live colony” orange lines are in separate boxes so you can ignore those


  • The Lightweight Insulated box didn’t get as hot in the sun.
  • The 50mm Cypress releases heat slower over night.
  • The 50mm Cypress box is protected from the sun fairly well by the thick tropical lid.
  • If I add a roof to the 33mm and 50mm boxes the peak temp in the middle of the day will be lower
  • I’ll repeat this same test in Summer and do a comparison article

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