I put the insulation (foam) on top of the outer cover so the bees don't get at it. The insulation makes the ceiling surface warmer than the walls of the hive so the walls will reach the dew point temperature before the ceiling does. Then the condensate only runs down the walls. If you think about it, it would be the same as a feral hive having solid wood above the bees and thinner wall in a tree. The idea of a blanket / insulation on top of the hive is a good one. The idea of venting the moisture through the wood chips is not.
If you used a solid inner cover with a notch facing down to vent you could then fill a box with any insulating material including chopped up newsprint and you would be good.
Using a quilt box (box with a layer chopped leaves, sawdust, etc completely covering a screen on bottom that holds the material) allows water vapor to migrate through the material, which is warm on the bottom (side toward bees) and cold on the top.
The moisture condenses on the top of the layer, which will get a little damp as the leaves on top absorb it.
If the space above the leaves is vented to the outside, cold dry air will get in above the insulating layer of material, and the moisture on top of the layer will be absorbed by it and carried it outside as that air vents out.
This way it stays much dryer in the hive space. Some moisture might condense on the walls, but a lot less...and a little is good as it gives the bees something to drink (they'll lick the dew off the walls when it is warm enough to break cluster but too cold to fly).
When I open the hive on first inspection in early spring, and put my hand into the layer, I can feel a great difference in temperature btw the top of it and the bottom. The very top might seem soggy, but the bottom is dry.
Hope I've explained this well enough to make the "why it works" clear.
Let me know if you have questions. If it is hard to visualize, I'll post some pics.
The point of my reply to this thread in the first place was simple:
To let Rio know that with a simple alteration (not making vent holes in his insulating layer) he can resolve the issue of having a wet underside on his top cover in winter.
All beekeeping advice ought to be considered with regard to locality. I am very familiar with the climate on east side of the Cascade mountains. I've lived in Spokane, and done much travel in the vicinity of Baker, OR in all seasons when I drove truck. It's a LOT dryer that it is here in upstate NY. Otherwise, winters are similar, with Baker a bit colder.
Theory is valuable. Experience is valuable. With regard to use of a quilt box, I'll repeat:
Regardless of whether theory says it should or not, it works.
The context of that statement is as a protection against very cold conditions.
It's a nice day.
Let's go see if there is enough population to make a split. Increase has value.
Proving I'm right doesn't.
Hello Johnc, We had the same problem here in South Ga. We went to SBB to help with
Ventalation. We are also originally from Attleboro, Mass and was born at sturdy Hospital
and Lived on South Main St, in Hebronville until I was Married in 1958.
I think that is not always true , depending on where you live , in my area , the wettest time of the year is middle of winter , snow at night turning to rain in the days.
I have a terrible moisture problem in my two hives , even though they are well ventilated , I just cleaned about 2000 dead wet bees off of the bottom board of one yesterday , water actually drips out the entrance and on to my deck some days , I am afraid to open the top anymore than it is already becaus it will get really cold at night and they may freeze.
I was considering using one of these in a shallow super above screened in: http://drizair.com/products.html
It uses calcium chloride as a dessicant , I know it wouldn't be feasible for a large ammount of hives , but for a small time beek like me , it could work.
I would check/empty it once a week.
As long as it is screened in so the bees cant get into it , it should be safe , it gives off no VOC's.
Any thoughts or cautions?
Like I said , it is EXTREMELY wet here , and I have tried everything else.
If you want to use this, no reason to order a relatively heavy item for delivery. Just look for bulk ice-melting salt at a local store.Quote:
Dri-Z-Air is calcium chloride, which is a salt product. When the liquid comes in contact with metal for a prolonged period, the metal will corrode. If it comes in contact with leather, it will dry out and become damaged.
But, in my opinion, putting salt in your hive is not the best choice. Why not use sugar to absorb moisture? If you really have loads of moisture that ventilation and insulation won't deal with, suck it up with sugar. You can swap out the sugar once saturated, if necessary, and later feed it back to them as syrup.
My neighbor winters his hives in BC and after having problems with the rain soaking all the hive equipment he now tarps his pallets to keep the moisture off the hives. He seemed happy with the results.
This won't help now but may be something to think about for next winter.
Two things to consider here:
First, you need a good solid waterproof wooden telescoping top cover. This will keep rain and dew out of the hive. Make one that overlaps more than the standard ones to keep the inner cover dry. If you have plastic telescoping covers, replace them just as soon as you possibly can with metal covered wood, those plastic covers drip horribly. Killed on of my brother's hives, soaking wet all the time, winter or summer.
Second, you really need a condenser -- a shallow with screen on the bottom filled to the top with coarse sawdust or planer shavings (not sawdust from a table saw!). This will absorb water plus retain a large amount of heat in the hive, both of which will cut down the condensation problem. Sawmill sawdust is good too, since it's quite coarse. It may get damp on top, but should stay quite warm and dry on the bottom. Use #8 hardware cloth (the stuff used on screened bottom boards). Put your inner cover on top of this, telescoping cover over that.
Make sure the sawdust is loosely piled -- lots of air space so that air can slowly move through. Prop up the telescoping cover a bit, and use an upper entrance 3/8" by an inch or two, making sure it's completely covered by the telescoping outer cover, which should be pushed forward to leave the upper entrance open. The bees can't use it, but you need airflow under the cover.
I would also use a solid bottom board to keep damp air out if you are not.
Hope this helps, water running out the the entrance is bad.
A condenser???? A condenser is a cool coil or surface that is colder then the ambient temperature so it condenses water out of air because the temperature is below the dew point. All you need to do is make the wall of the hive colder than the cover. Insulate the cover. Foam insulation on top of the cover works great. Bees can handle rain. It rains here all the time and here they are use to flying in it. They cannot handle water dripping on the cluster in winter.