Modeling of Thermophysical Processes in Electrically Heated Hives

Abstract—Electric heating of hives can be employed to help bee colonies survive cold snaps and minimize honey consumption by bee clusters. However, since our understanding of behavioral patterns of winter bee clusters is limited, this sometimes leads to the death of a colony or induces elevated honey consumption. In this work, the physical processes within the hive environment were modeled using Comsol software version 5.3. The simulation was carried out for a fixed outdoor temperature with variable heater power, as well as for a fixed heater power and variable ambient temperature. Analysis of thermograms indicated that with an operating heating device, the warmest zone shifted to the lower part of the winter cluster, which is biologically plausible. It was also shown that the use of the heaters increased the volume of warm air within a hive, providing the bees with a better opportunity to access new food reserves, which is especially important in the spring. The simulation demonstrated that in a heated hive energy output by the bees at low temperatures decreased from 3600 to 1900 W/m3, that is, by nearly two times. This decrease in the energy output is certain to diminish honey consumption. Simulation was also employed to optimize the power input to the heaters using the criteria of minimum temperature fluctuations within the hive and prevention of heater surface overheating.

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Correspondence to S. V. Oskin.

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Conflict of interests. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement on the welfare of animals. This article does not contain any studies involving animals or human participants performed by any of the authors.

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Translated by D. Timchenko

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Oskin, S.V., Ovsyannikov, D.A. Modeling of Thermophysical Processes in Electrically Heated Hives. BIOPHYSICS 65, 331–337 (2020).

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  • Keywords: bee
  • hive
  • temperature
  • simulation
  • electric heating