View Full Version : Newspaper as Insulation?

12-05-2010, 09:29 AM
Does or has anyone used newspaper as hive top insulation? In doing a search i noticed that waynesgarden mentions the use of newspaper. I was about to buy several sheets of styrofoam blue board sheeting when I started to think about moisture not being able to penetrate this material forming a barrier which will encourage condensation. I have access to a constant supply of still bundled newspaper and my thoughts are to use an empty shallow super (switched to meds a long time ago and can't bring myself to get rid of these) on top of the inner cover and layer newspapers 2-3 inches deep. Any advice is appreciated.

12-05-2010, 10:02 AM
As long as the mice cannot get there, it will insulate and absorb moisture.

Adam Foster Collins
12-05-2010, 10:37 AM
I just wonder how much moisture it will hold before it becomes saturated and starts to work against you... Never used it, just wondering.


Alex Cantacuzene
12-05-2010, 11:04 AM
Hello BeeTeach, I have to always remind myself that insulation does not insulate! What insulates is air. A bit confusing but when you think about it, air is the conduit for temperature and that is the trick. I suppose that newspapers would and will work as insulation if it is crumpled up or in lots of small chips or similar. There is such a thing as paper based insulation but the trick is that it should trap air so that the temperature transfer is slowed down, that is the actual task of the insulation. Newspaper is food for thought and one could try it as long as the air trapping is considered. My problem would be the moisture absorbtion of the paper and moisture is what kills bees. Just my thoughts, take care and have fun

12-05-2010, 11:22 AM
I do even a cheaper way.
Dry oak leaves packed down, with a piece of old rug on top.
Haven't had any moisture problem in years.

That's the way my Grandfather taught me, and I'm 71

:lookout: PCM

12-05-2010, 03:52 PM
There are commercial beekeepers up here that use newspaper on top of the inner cover as insulation. They make a point to make midwinter checks to replace soaked papers.


Slabaugh Apiaries
12-05-2010, 04:10 PM
I know a beek that tilts his Hives so the moisture drips away from the center of the cluster and adds a medium with shreaded paper above the inner cover for insulation on top.
That makes good sence to me if you live where the lows are in the teens 2 weeks without a warm up.

12-05-2010, 04:30 PM
WG - are those commercial keeps laying down sheets of paper or shredding it? Dan - Mel spoke highly of you during his talk at the Western PA meeting this past year. Some good wintering techniques. Is the general consensus here that the paper has to be shredded to be effective as insulation? Some of the old homes in this area used stacks of newspaper as insulation.

12-05-2010, 05:09 PM
If you have top vents/entrances you don't need to worry as much...

I use Homasote over my inner covers.

A commercial beek with "soaked" newspaper has air flow issues...

Wet newspaper is not insulation as others have suggested.

Jack B. Nimble
12-05-2010, 05:55 PM

Wet newspaper is not insulation as others have suggested.

Wet newspaper makes good paper mache! I can't think of an insulation medium that is more senstive to moisture than newspaper.

12-05-2010, 06:01 PM
I use newspaper, cut to the same size as the inner cover including a hole for ventilation. I place the newspaper on top of the inner cover including a 1/4" sq. x 3.0" shim on top and at the edge of the inner cover for ventilation. On top of that I place my polystyrene top cover. To help prevent wicking of moisture from outside the hive be sure no newspaper protrudes out from underneath the top cover.

12-05-2010, 06:15 PM
WG - are those commercial keeps laying down sheets of paper or shredding it?

BT: They use the whole paper. Apparently, one prefers to use the Wall Street Journal exclusively.

I'll leave it to others to tell them they need to change their management practices.


Merlyn Votaw
12-05-2010, 06:35 PM
I have started useing newspaper this year And so far I like it but the winter is not over yet. Best of all is the price.I just crumble it up. I do think I will need to replace it before the winter is over but it won't take my bank account down I have 15 hives and the tempture goes up and down like a yoyo which causes moisture but the paper takes care of it

12-05-2010, 07:57 PM
well, i posted the "wintering in ohio" and this is similar to my questions....so not to get off topic, but what are the thought on fiberglass insulation?

it could have potentionially the same moisture problems as newspaper. what are the opinions on that?

i do like the oak leave idea.....free, abundant, easy, readily availible and "green". may work better than newspaper or fiberglass or polysytrene board.

12-05-2010, 08:47 PM
Our local bee inspector tells people to place an empty box on top of their inner cover, and fill it with crumpled newspaper to absorb condensation. He says to check it once a month and replace with dry paper.

If I was going to put anything in an empty box to control moisture, it would be dry granulated sugar, aka Mountaincamp method.

Yes, sheet newspaper has some insulating value but many things insulate better. In really poor areas of Appalachia, you can find newspaper on walls of shacks for insulation.

Yes, newspaper is still shredded and blown into walls and ceilings as insulation in homes.

I was about to buy several sheets of styrofoam blue board sheeting when I started to think about moisture not being able to penetrate this material forming a barrier which will encourage condensation.

How will this encourage condensation?

Condensation forms on surfaces that are COLDER than the air temperature and the water vapor in the air. Porosity or forming a barrier has NOTHING to do with encouraging or discouraging condensation. The sheet of insulation keeps the air and water vapor from cooling, which discourages condensation.

If you want to discourage condensation, you have to either reduce humidity or reduce thermal differences.

12-05-2010, 08:55 PM
I use the 2" styrofoam blue boards above my inner covers. It works great - I don't have condensation issues anymore (I also have an upper entrance) and the bees do much better overwinter. I store the boards over summer - so it was a one time expense for me.

Ueli Hoffmann
01-31-2011, 09:43 PM
I use a somewhat similar technique using ordinary wood shavings with good results. Wood shavings are hygroscopic and tend to transport moisture from the hive via capillary action.

02-01-2011, 06:49 AM
I use thick layers of newspaper above the hive to help absorb moisture and styrofoam above the newspaper. My upper enterance is only a 3/8 inch hole to help keep mice and wind out of hive, and 3/8 inch reduced lower enterance. The newspaper is damp directly above the bees. I'm also using a dry fondant below the newspaper for supplemental feed and to help absorb moisture. This works well for me.

02-01-2011, 02:21 PM
Anyone ever used a diaper or some sort of desiccant packs? I wonder how that would work, that is what they are made to do, wick moisture. With all the moisture issues always being discussed, I am very surprised there isnt a bee hive specific desiccant system.

I am a do it yourselfer so I enjoy hearing the different ways to control moisture, but it just seems like some of the bee suppliers would be pushing some sort of off the shelf product.


02-01-2011, 02:39 PM
Beekeeping is local, what works for one part of the country will not work in another. Some people in certain parts of the country are dead set against top entrances or vents in the rim of the inner cover in winter. In other parts of the country if this is not used bees will die from moisture problems. So there is not an answer that fit all circumstances. You just have to try different things to see what works for you. In spring you will know if you were right. This is what I do with 1" of foam on top, with the inner cover hole taped.


Bear Creek Steve
02-01-2011, 10:39 PM
I do like Ueli with the wood shavings. Not only are they hygroscopic but they also provide a relatively dead air space for insulation. I currently have a feed can over the inner cover hole, surrounded with an empty deep hive body, with the void in between the two filled with wood shavings. (Wood shavings are available at farm and ranch supply houses as bedding material for small animals.) Also a partially restricted SSB and upper and lower entrances, and a sheet metal jacketed outer cover. It is minus 14 degrees now at 2130 H.


02-02-2011, 06:09 PM
Here in Norway, the norm is to use what we call "asphalt plates" with styrofoam on top.

The "asphalt plates" are some kind of fiber-plates that are pretty lightweight, about 1 cm thick and treated with oil to withstand water. They will take up moisture and release it trough the sides.

-For this reason, it's important that the roof covers the plate and exends at least a couple of cm below to avoid rain.
If rain were to hit it, it would instead bring moisture into the hive.