View Full Version : Keeping Combs and Bees Dry Through the Winter - By Jay Smith....

Steve C
12-20-2006, 02:07 PM
Here is something about wintering over hive's from Jay Smith....
Man I love old bee books and mags....


Michael Bush
12-20-2006, 05:09 PM
I've started just insulating the tops with foam. Jay was a pretty smart feller.

12-20-2006, 08:13 PM
If you put insulation between the inner cover and the top cover, how does that impact ventilation? The idea about keeping the top warm so condensation will occur on the cool sides makes a lot of sense.

12-21-2006, 12:54 AM
I'm having a hard time picturing this.

The cork board is sewn to the "cushion", and the two are then glued to the inside lid of the telescoping cover?

I thought it would keep the ceiling warmer if you insulated the inner cover. The warmth of the bees rises. The inner cover stays warm and no condesation takes place. If you didn't wrap the hive, the sides would be cooler and water would condense on the inside walls. The condensation will then collect on the bottom and run out of the hive.

Why would insulating the bottom of the lid keep condensation off the inner cover?

Or am I picturing wrong?

Michael Bush
12-21-2006, 04:46 AM
I put mine on top of the cover.

>Why would insulating the bottom of the lid keep condensation off the inner cover?

Any insulation, anywhere on the top, will reduce condensation on the top somewhat if it doesn't interfere with ventilation. Why? Because condensation happens because of cold and if the top is not as cold there will be less condensation.

NW IN Beekeeper
12-22-2006, 07:54 AM
[Because condensation happens because of cold]

More specifically its because of a contrast in temperature, and insulation buffers that contrast.

The idea is not to insulate the sides (or at least lesser insulate the sides)so that the temperature contrast is higher along the walls than the top.

Jay's idea of cork was good because it absorbed and it could breathe. That sounds along the lines of those that use crumpled up newspaper in an empty super.

Curious what other members could think up as an equivalent insulator/absorber?

12-22-2006, 09:25 AM
I use the ultimate absorber. I ventilate the moisture out of the hive.

For years, I sealed my colonies up tight as could be. The bees added propolis until the box was airtight except at the bottom entrance. In winter, moisture would condense on the top and sides and run down onto the bees. The bees died. I would usually lose 2 out of 5 colonies every winter.

Then I tried something different. A beekeeper showed me a notched upper cover. I put notches in all my covers so the bees had both an upper entrance and so moisture could escape in winter. There were still problems, moisture condensed, the hives were moldy, but the bees survived. Winter losses went down to 1 in 20 or thereabouts.

Now I'm a little older and wiser. Each winter, I crack the seal around the cover and I leave a wider notch for an upper entrance. The bees go through winter with air flow through the crack on all 4 sides of the top cover. The bees winter with minimal effort on my part and the inside of the hives are always dry.

Granted that this may not work in colder climates, but here in the southeast, it is highly effective.

As an fyi aside, the notches in the tops of migratory covers were first put in by a beekeeper named Millard Fowler from Dogtown Alabama. He showed the covers to Walter Kelley who then started manufacturing covers with the notch. When you want the upper entrance closed, just slide the cover to the back of the hive. Slide it all the way forward to open the entrance. The cover has to be about 3/8" longer than the hive body for this to work.

Darrel Jones

Dan Williamson
12-22-2006, 10:46 AM
I actually cut notches like this in my migratory tops. Then when I want to close them I just slide the cleat that hangs down back against the box and it closes the top entrance. Easy to make and easy to manipulate.

12-22-2006, 05:54 PM
What shape are the notches? Any pictures?