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Thread: Wrapping

  1. #1
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    I know there are a lot of opinions on this and I'm still trying to form my own but, since I still haven't ever tried it really, I'd like to point out my observations and maybe some of the proponents can help me out with my concerns.

    The nearest I've come to this is wrapping up a four high, two wide, stack of eight frame nucs in 2" styrofoam. The condensation was a mess and I wasn't impressed. I realize that a lot of you specify that you're not looking for insulation, just solar gain, but even if I'm looking for solar gain, won't wrapping in roofing felt seal in all that same moisture? And without the insulation won't there be even more condensation?

    I'm on the verge of trying it for the first time with some 15# felt but I'm still afraid of the condensation.

    I used to be afraid of them getting warm and flying out in the cold (having seen many bees do it in unwrapped hives) but now that I've had an observation hive where it's 70 F inside, I see they don't do it any more than other hives do.

    Any comments from those who are wrapping with felt? And any comments from those who, instead of felt, are insulating?

    I guess I'm hoping you'll help me make up my mind.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  2. #2
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    We use the cardboard type wraps just to help block out some of the wind. make sure they have upper ventilation(auger hole or vent in the candy board) hives with them on look better in the spring & go through less feed.

    I remember when Allen Dick was around & in his diary he did quite a bit of testing with the differrent amount to use for the R value insulation.
    AKA BEEMAN800

  3. #3
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    you know MB, there is a member here from Eugene who is a dear friend of mine and he was at the Oregon conferance and a lot of people have been wrapping there hives with bubble wrap.

    They say that it is cheaper and works better than tar paper. They also say that heat is obsorbed into the buble wrap and hits the hive.

    it makes since. If you want further info, I can let you know the beekeeepr who mentioned it to me.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  4. #4
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    I'm sure the bubble wrap would have more R value than the roofing felt and maybe as much solar gain (at least by the time you offset it by having less loss). I'm not sure I could find a cheap enough source for bubble wrap. (I might find enough for one hive somewhere around here, but not the number I have) But then there's still the issue of ventilation that worries me.

    Since I went to all migratory style covers, I did crowd them all together this year. That should help some as far as insulation. They would have shaded each other anyway in that direction so I don't think they lost any solar gain.

    I also put styrofoam on top again (for the second year) because I wanted to minimize the condensation on the top.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    Mr. Bush, if your general guideline is to let the bees take care of themselves and to trust nature (and I am beginnign to really agree with this) then any more insulation than about an inch of tree would be more than nature intended. If they needed more insulation, they would dig holes in the ground. The heat from their activities would collect in the surrounding few inches and it would be a warm place indeed. or they would build in compost piles or clumps of grass or hay piles that actually generate heat. If the answer to the question of whether a man made hivebody provides equivalent tree insulation is no, then it would seem that adding insulation up to the levelof a tree would be necessary. I guess I justdon't understand why we needto add insulation, when adding a windscreen may make more sense. your thoughts?

  6. #6
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    The biggest draw back that opponents to wrapping have is the bees will use more stores throughout the winter and possibly causing starvation. As far as condensation goes if you have proper ventilation I wouldn’t think it should be an issue.
    Then you will have to weigh the labor and expense of the extra insulation.
    And another factor if the insulation holds the warm in it will also keep the warm out, so you might lose the solar gain of a sunny day verses just using tar paper.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  7. #7
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    If we really want to keep bees as nature intended, then we need to send them all back from where they came. They are not native to this part of the world.

    We insulated, wrap, feed, and do whatever to our hives because we are keeping bees in climates and environments that they are not normally found in.

    In nature a large percentage of hives fail to survive the winter, robbing, or disease each year. That is why the bee’s natural drive is to swarm and swarm often. It is nature’s way of replacing all of the hives that naturally fail each year.

    Michael, you know may position on wrapping hives.
    I think that the solar gain from the black felt paper makes a significant difference in being able to feed colonies late into fall, and the start again in late winter.
    I think that it make a significant difference in enabling a cluster to obtain stores and food when they have starting rearing brood again.
    Everything I have seen, read, including a number of studies show that the cluster does not heat the hive cavity. Whether it is a tree cavity or a manmade hive body. They create heat within the cluster and the outer bees form a layer of insulation. They lose heat to their surroundings, but not in an effort to heat the cavity they occupy.
    The temperature inside the hive cavity a short distance from the cluster is almost the ambient temperature outside the hive. Insulation will keep the inside temperature of the hive more consistent. When the temperature drops outside the hive, inside it drops a little slower. When the temperature rises outside the hive, inside it rises slower.
    However, the inside / outside temperature will with time be very close.
    I am only speaking of the local temperatures where I keep bees, which has an average low for the winter of around -25F / -32.9C. I generally haven’t lost bees at the coldest part of the winter. My colony loses over the years were by far, when the temperatures were on the way up and the colonies were raising brood and lost touch with stores.
    I believe that wrapping is also only part of total winter preparation.

    [size="1"][ December 27, 2005, 09:48 AM: Message edited by: MountainCamp ][/size]

  8. #8
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    I have built sealed stryofoam boxes, with 4 sides, a top and no bottom, big enough so that I could set them down over the whole hive, migratory cover, upper entrance and all. They nearly reach down to the bottom entrance.
    The idea is that heat trapped inside will move the dew-point outside of the hive. I don't know if the theory is correct, but it seems that way. The hives were dry in the spring.
    This year I used an oversided styrofoam top, and tarpaper sides, and set that down over the hives. I'll let you know how that works in the spring.

  9. #9
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    >if your general guideline is to let the bees take care of themselves and to trust nature (and I am beginnign to really agree with this) then any more insulation than about an inch of tree would be more than nature intended.

    And basically I've always left them to winter without wrapping because I was suspicious that it would work against them anyway.

    >If the answer to the question of whether a man made hivebody provides equivalent tree insulation is no

    and it is.

    > then it would seem that adding insulation up to the levelof a tree would be necessary.

    But it doesn't seem to be necessary. The real question is wether it will help them get through better and have a good start in the spring.

    >I guess I justdon't understand why we needto add insulation, when adding a windscreen may make more sense. your thoughts?

    My thoughts for 31 years have been to not wrap. But people like Mt Camp and David of Beeworks keep telling me how much better they do with the felt.

    My concern is still with the condensation.

    Since I've started trying to overwinter nucs, I've been more focused on the little things because I'm trying to get bees through the winter that I know wouldn't make it if I didn't help.

    So far my help, hasn't helped.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    In the UK, mesh or tubed floors are recommended as part of our Integrated Varroa Management.
    Thus, condensing water vapour rolls down the side walls and drops through the floor with the CO2.
    An heavily insulated roof, say 30mm + of the aluminiumised foam intended for studded walls, sandwiched in thick exterior ply, works a treat.
    Thus, no top vent for Winter, it just lets the heat out.
    A deeply telescoping roof is also good.
    Save the top vents for Spring.

    Rgds.
    Malcolm

  11. #11
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    >>If we really want to keep bees as nature intended, then we need to send them all back from where they came. They are not native to this part of the world.

    Good point MB. Finnally a "natural" minded man who understands bees too have limits. And we are mearly working within those limits.


    >>When the temperature drops outside the hive, inside it drops a little slower. When the temperature rises outside the hive, inside it rises slower.

    I agree until you get to your second point. As the temp rises, the inside of the hive rises just as fast. We are talking about heat retention within an insulated hive. That cluster is always giving off a termendious amount of heat, and as the temp rises outside, less is expelled through the insulating wrap. Hence the arguement, wraps can cause hives to prematurly brood in mid winter, which in turn causes hive stavation as late winter cold snaps fall on them.

    >>My concern is still with the condensation.


    In my experience, condensation is not a factor as long as I use an upper enterence. It creates an unrestriced enterence at all times, and works well at creating anatural air current to expell CO2 and humidity.

    Last year I had one of my yard completely covered in 8-10 feet of snow Didnt know what to make of it till walking over I fell into a melted cavern made the heat expelled from the upper enterences. A good 4 foot by four foot cavern infrount of each pack. It was my best wintered yard last year.

    I wrap in 4's with fiberglas insulation with tar paper covering. Inital investment is about 4$/hive,and cost a mear $1/hive yearly maintence. Works for me.

    Rodents are a big problem in distroying wrap, so I am wearly about investing 50$/wrap tohave them eat it apart. The method I use is cheap. Some guys here use a mouse repellant, which work, I think. I am going to try it next year along side my poison.

    But I doubt in your climate you will need sutch winter hive prep.

    Started wintering inside in bigger volume this winter. It is working out very well for me. So who knows how I willend up wintering my bees in the distant future. Al least I have some options.

    [size="1"][ December 02, 2005, 08:00 PM: Message edited by: Ian ][/size]
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #12
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    "Analysis of readings taken during a 24-hour period shows that the temperature of the packed hives lagged behind that of the outside air for 6 to 8 hours. The total change in the hive temperature outside the cluster was only about one-third as great as that of the outside temperature."

    Ian this is from a study done:
    THE THERMOLOGY OF WINTERING HONEY BEE COLONIES

    By CHARLES D. OWENS, Agricultural Engineering Research Division,
    Agricultural Research Service

    It is on this site under USDA #13

  13. #13
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    To wrap or not to wrap? Often I am tempted but never have "yet". Just so happens There is a roll of felt paper sittin out in the shed that is not doing anything so I may as well experiment of a couple hives to see for myself.
    My mother told me (many years ago)about one of her great uncles keeping his hives in the living room over winter with the privacy doors drawn between the living quarters, the window was left open several inches and when the bees needed to go to the "outhouse" or whatever there was no problem. Back then there was not central heating just stoves or fireplaces, the bees did fine.
    "Younz" have a great day, I will.

  14. #14
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    It takes 1 btu to raise 1lb of water 1 degree F.
    It takes 1/4 btu to raise 1 lb of air 1 degree F
    So you have 10's of pounds of honey to warm, plus all of the hive parts.
    Air at 14.7 psia & 30F has a specific volume of 11.67 ft3 / lb.
    You physically can not move enough heat from the air into the honey and hive parts to make a difference.
    Plus this warm air is rising and escaping through the upper ventilation.
    With the felt paper wrap solar radiation is what heats the hive and honey- radiant and conductive heating are the methods of warming.
    This warmed hive and honey act as radiators after the sun goes down keeping the hive warmer than it would otherwise be.

    [size="1"][ December 03, 2005, 11:03 AM: Message edited by: MountainCamp ][/size]

  15. #15
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    Michael sounds like MountianCamp knows what he's talking about. Looks good on paper. I agree with him about wrapping. We don't insulate our hives, although I do use foam board on top of the intercover. We staple roofing paper around the hives and provide an upper vent. Had good luck with wrapping. The bees IMO come through the winter in beter condition. I inspect my hives on a warm day in Feb. to check on stores. You could try a few hives and see how it works for you in your part of the country. What works good in one local may not work for someone in a different location.

  16. #16
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    Here in Maine the practice I've been taught is to wrap with roofing felt - have upper vents (yes plural) 1) near the top of the upper brood chamber and 2) a notched inner cover. I place a piece of homasote over the inner cover to absorb excess moisture and set some sticks (uncut frame endbars) on on end of the homasote so that the outer cover doesn't sit right on top of the full length of the homasote. The theory is that the air space gives any excess moisture collected by the homasote a chance to evaporate. Works well in this area.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  17. #17
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    >“You physically can not move enough heat from the air into the honey and hive parts to make a difference.”

    I need to add something to my above statement.
    The bees generate a considerable amount of heat energy by consuming honey and moving their flying muscles.
    They will increase the temperatures of their surroundings in the hive. By conductive and radiant heating themselves.
    In an insulated hive this heat energy is held in the hive to a greater degree than in an un-insulated hive.
    Therefore they will increase the internal temperature of the hive, even thou that is not their intention.

  18. #18
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    MountainCamp, has the most logical viewpoint, it applies the laws of thermal dynamics. The point he makes that the bees do not keep the inside of the hive warm only the cluster, is an important one. The lag time of solar effect of an insulated hive , verses one only wrapped with tar paper could be crucial with daylight in the winter only about 10 hours, with a 6 to 8 hour lag to much solar btu’s are lost.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  19. #19
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    Plastic coat hangers placed on top of a flat inner cover provide a perfect beespace worth of ventilation, without letting wind or light into the hive.

  20. #20
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    Sorry, I meant to address that to Andrew. I use two of them with the coat-hanger bottoms toward the front and rear respctively. Its a great help, especially if you don't have notched inner covers.

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