Hello, I am just wondering on what some people do to ventilate their hives for overwintering. This year I have 5 hives with an inner cover and a teleascoping outer cover. I have heard that there should be an insulating inner cover to absorb moisture. Can someone explain in detail what they use for an insulating inner cover; newspaper, styrofoam, etc.? I do have a 3/4" hole in my 2nd story near the handhole. I just am not sure if that truly provides enough ventilation. Thanks, John
I winter like you with a 3/4 inch hole near the handle in the top super but I also have a 1/4 inch piece of foam that just fits inside my outer covers to help stop moisture from condensing inside the top and dripping inside on the cluster
I use a Langstroth DE ventilation system (from www.Beeworks.com). It has an inner cover with three holes with hardware cloth over them so the bees cant go through the inner cover. There is a top entrance in the inner cover that can be opened, and I leave it open for winter. (it's quite small) The top two peices are designed so you flip the next one up from the inner cover over for winter and the top peice then blocks the holes on that one, leaving three holes about 3/4" of an inch in diameter (also covered in screen). I orient these to be away from the wind. I also sometimes build my own lids with vents in them that look like a shallow super with holes all around covered in screen and a plywood lid. For winter I block all the holes except the ones on the downwind side. Here that's pretty much the east. The wind often comes out of the south. In the winter it more often comes out of the north and west, but hardly ever from the east. I think you need a small amount of ventilation. Not too much. And of course I make the bottom entrance quite small both for warmth and to keep out the mice.
I use thwe 3/4 hole under the hand holds too and been useing it for yrs.
as for the inner cover I threw all them yrs ago because of the ant build up in it and roachs use it as a place to hide.
once your honey is capped there is not that moisture to come out of it.
I learned this yrs ago from aold beekeeper in the mountians he had the strongest hives I ever seen and they were boxes that had so many holes in then from rot.
he told me holes don't hurt them gives them air=but this was the extream of ventilation.
best thing is to try for your self to learn whats best for you.
good luck= Don
>as for the inner cover I threw all them yrs ago because of the ant build up in it and roachs use it as a place to hide.
I have seen some ants in hives on occasion, but not any more above the inner cover than in the hive. I think it may be partly dependant on the climate how this works. I've never had roaches in a hive unless it was pretty much dead. We have very cold winters here and I don't think the insects get as good of a hold as farther south. I have had a vent box get a hole in the screen wire and had a wasp nest inside the vent box once. I've also seen them on the botton of the bottom board.
If I were you, I'd experiment a little and see what works for you and for the bees. Bees survive under pretty extreme conditions with little control over some of them, inside of large hollow spaces in trees and even in the open sometimes. If you use common sense and pay attention you'll find what works for you.
As far as the ant problem, I have sprayed diesel fuel around the stand and on the legs of the stand. It works great.
If your hives are on the ground, you will have to find another way to combat the ants. You could try spraying the ground around the hive. Not sure if it would do anything to the bees or not. May need to ask someone else on this thread.
I use 3/4 inch notch cut in the inner cover. I also use plywood covers with a vee- notch cut in them in the front. You can make about 11 inner covers out of a sheet of plywood (about $1.30 each depending on the area you live). I use no insulation or wrapping and am 2hrs from Canada in northern NY. Don't like holes in my supers as I use bee escapes and brood chambers may become honey supers in time. As for going without the inner cover, my bees propolize quite well. Making it hard to get the cover off without the inner. Mostly ladybugs between covers and the occational spider. I leave the bottom entrance open placing screen over to keep mice out.
What you are desribing is commonly used in nortern New England.It's a piece of Homosote or ceiling tile,cut to hive demensions,inbetween the inner and outer covers.It has a 3/4x3/8 dado on the bottem that lines up with the notch in the inner cover(which is notch up).The outer cover is held away from the top box by a 3/8 lath (which holds down your tar paper)to provide a 3/4x3/4 vent and upper entrance.The material has a low R-value but absorbs moisture.The water will not freeze and will be available to the bees.If you use a tile with a painted or sealed surface ,make sure it's on top and the dado is on the bottom.
Thanks to everyone so far who have replied to my question regarding hive ventilation. I conclude that we all agree that hive ventilation is crucial to overwintered bee hives but how we beekeepers achieve it may differ depending on what each of us have learned over the years. John
(Beekeeping is truly an art)
I also think what works varies by climate. Both temprature and humidity and insect pests that abound in that climate. Good luck.