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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Jackson Co. , Indiana, USA
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    44

    Default Overwinter w/ Ventilated inner cover

    Tried a search on this but couldn't come up with much. Last year I had a strong hive going into winter. Plenty of stores. Seems like everyone uses some version of the solid inner cover with a hole in the middle. I use SBB and I ran a vent cover all summer. I decided to leave the vent. cover over the winter. I left the SBB open and used the vent. inner cover. The bees are building up, still have plenty of stores and the vent inner cover did not create any problems that I can identify. Does anyone else do this? Any pros/cons??? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lee\'s Summit, MO
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    1,284

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    I've run something similar to what you're describing for the past two years. I've always run SBB's. My first year I found mildew on the frame top bars in the upper deep, inner cover, and underside of the outer cover. Both hives made it thorugh winter but I figured that couldn't be good for them. The next two years with a vented top there has been very little to no mildew on the underside of the outer cover. No mildew on the frames or inner cover.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Algonquin, IL, USA
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    639

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    can you post a picture so us newbs can figure out what you're doing?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
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    1,918

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    I am sure that location and weather have a lot to do with it, but here is what I do. My hives are on SBB. There are several kinds but all have places where air can get in easily even when the thing is closed off.

    I leave mine closed all year except when it gets hot in the summer. I think that there is still plenty of ventilation from the bottom. I can also tell what is going on in the hive during winter by sliding the SBB closure out and seeing how many frames of bees are there, what kind of wax (brood or capping) they are dropping.

    I think the problem is at the top. I use inner covers and telescoping lids. I put a 1/4-1/2" stick on the back rim of the inner cover to lift the cover slightly to allow air movement. I leave it there all year except when I am feeding. I just take the stick out to drop the lid down flush if I need to feed.

    Several years ago I bought a bunch of boxes and frames that had never been assembled from an old retired beekeeper. As I was leaving he said that he had a bunch of lids around and I could just have them if I wanted. He said that the only thing was that they were custom lids. He made his lids the standard width but added 2" to the length front to back. You can see where this allows better air movement than a lid that fits tightly on all sides.

    I have started making my own lids and do the same thing. I never have wet heavy lids in the winter any more. You can notch the inner cover and run the notch down in the winter and prop the lid up but I kind of like the longer lid method so that's what I do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Jackson Co. , Indiana, USA
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    44
    i should clarify.....when i say ventilated inner cover i mean a wood bound piece of wire hardware cloth. dadant sells them and they could easily be made. on 2 sides of the wood frame a grove is present the length of the hive. this allows air flow between the tele cover and the wood bound frame. i dont have a pic but i will get one this weekend.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
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    1,918

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    Okay I see it in the catalog. It would work for hot summers if you have them. Ours don't get too bad here and the bees can fan the hive pretty easily. It would work to move hives also.

    For winter I feed with buckets and so it wouldn't work for me. Also in winter the moisture would collect on the telescoping cover and drip back through the screen on the bees.

    So I see some uses but not enough for me to buy one. I might make one if the use can up though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Menominee, MI, USA
    Posts
    276

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    Quote Originally Posted by beedeetee View Post
    He made his lids the standard width but added 2" to the length front to back. You can see where this allows better air movement than a lid that fits tightly on all sides.
    These are the inner covers? If so, does the telescoping cover fit with the extra 4" or is the telescoping cover also custom?

    Thanks,
    Fred

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    196

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    Those of you who still have moisture under the inner cover, despite the upper entrance, make sure that you have a slab of Styrofoam on the inner cover. A slab of homasote or cork-board is a good idea to be had over the inner cover - year round!
    (It keeps critters out and bees can't chew on Styrofoam and helps to absorb moisture that comes through centre hole and dissipate it out through the sides.)
    When warm air comes in contact with cold inner-cover, it condenses and if enough of it, or cold enough, it will drip on the cluster.
    Even if it don't drip, moisture over and around the cluster is bad and very uncomfortable for the bees in the best of times. They have hard time to keep warm...
    Something like if you were to live in a wet room, or have on wet clothes - 24/7.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Swalwell, AB
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    579

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    A lot depends on climate. Bees need some moisture, and in very dry, cold regions, a bit of condensation is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is not overhead and dripping on the bees. Therefore, in freezing regions, a well insulated lid is important.

    Although some humidity is necessary for brood rearing and consuming granulated honey, an excess is harmful. That being said, though, I have had excellent wintering in hives that showed some mold around the edges of the top bars, as long as the centre has been dry.

    A buildup of damp, wet bees on the floor is a bad thing, and something to be avoided by allowing sufficient space under frames, tipping the hive forward and other measures.

    We always use some sort of upper entrance for no other reason than the fact that a lower entrance could get blocked in an ice storm or from dead bees. It also allows flight at times when the bottom board is cold. If bees need to get out, they should get out. Also, upper entrances can allow some bees outside on warm days and a few bees at the entrance help attract flying bees back to the hive.

    The added ventillation from a top entrance helps the bees control humidity in the hive, but it seems some bees do not appreciate that and will propolise the hole if they can.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Jackson Co. , Indiana, USA
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    44

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    Quote: by beedeetee

    "For winter I feed with buckets and so it wouldn't work for me. Also in winter the moisture would collect on the telescoping cover and drip back through the screen on the bees."

    This is my point for this post.......everyone seems to use the solid inner cover but I overwintered with a screened inner cover and moisture did not collect on the inner cover......My hive is tilted slightly forward but the inside was bone dry upon inspection. I worried that the moisture would collect and kill the bees by dripping back on them. It did not and the ventilation was very good over the winter. They did not popilize it and we had nights in the -10 to -15 degrees F. I realize this would not work if you feed with buckets or cans. It really works well when you can pull the tele cover and the bees still can get out. No smoke and yet I can look down into the hive. It also provides great summer vent. I made it through a winter this way but just wondered if I would run into problems down the road???? So far, it has worked great but I just thought with an open SBB and a screened inner cover the airflow would be too much........It doesnt appear that way and I dont have moisture, mold, peeling paint, etc.....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
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    440

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    Quote Originally Posted by France View Post
    A slab of homasote or cork-board is a good idea to be had over the inner cover - year round!
    France where do you buy homasote in Canada? Does Canadian Tire have it? Thanks

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
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    196

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    Screened inner covers are OK, but not ideal, for happy and healthy bees. Again, those things were designed for moving bees - but not as a permanent fixture of a hive!
    If one check's on it, the research has it, that when the hive pheromones, hive heat, brood pheromones and all that and much of what we don't even know jet - is lost, from the hives, the health and happiness of bees suffers. Warre type of beekeeping is all about natural comb, nest smells and heat which must be contained within the hive for good of the bees. When hive is opened, only once a year, even that the goodness within the hive is lost and has a negative affect on them... One would benefit greatly to read - Warre Beekeeping for all.
    (Our bees need all the help we can give them. That means in a sense of comfortable and proper housing. Not crutches in form of drugs,poisons, oils, acids and what not!?)
    Perhaps some day we will fully understand the microclime within the hive and its goodness to all the microorganisms that live in it..?
    From my long years with the bees, I would not even think to have a screened inner cover. I had tried an extra hole or two, in the regular inner cover, but bees, in few days, propolized everything but the front opening. Even those openings they some winters propolize to a small hole, which lets through only one bee at a time.
    Bees know best. But when faced with monumental challenges, thrown at them - they are overwhelmed and they can not help themselves other than to abscond, which happens more often than one might think.

    I have been preaching against having SBB open year round. I don't keep them open, even in Summer. Only when they start bearding I crack the bottom drawer open about half an inch!
    They, SBB, are designed for mite control and are NOT a ventilation device! Research in Canada and UK has shown that the open screen actually promotes vigorous growth of Varroa. Varroa love and thrive in cool conditions!!!

    Nov about those top buckets/feeders. One can stuff some newspaper around them, or burlap bags, to keep things warm. Some have Styrofoam cut axactly so, that they sit in the feeder-pail, etc.
    On top of a super, surrounding the feeder, one can easily lay a slab of Styrofoam.
    If one insists on top screened inner covers - lay over it a slab of 1/2" Homasote! On top of this, lay a piece of 12/2" or 2" slab of Styrofoam. Water is created when warm hive air gets in contact with colder surfaces on inner covers, or the telescopic, or whatever type of cover one has. If one runs migratory covers? Lay Styrofoam right on top of this and secure it with a hefty brick!
    Those arguing that bees need watter? Yes, they do need water. They get plenty of water on sides of boxes and outermost frames. You all know and see that in spring outermost combs are green from mold, as are ends of frames?! That is because they are vet most of the winter.
    I am ofcourse talking here about locales where winters get cold. Here, two days ago, we broke cold records for this time of the year, for the last 100 years! Temperatures were, in most places across Canada, up to minus 50 F range - with the wind.
    Do you think that is fun for bees to survive such brutal cold - for moths on end? It is no fun by no means, not even for us, tough Northerners! But, properly handled bees with a prayer or two, with some luck thrown in and we do come through our arctic winters....
    Nothing is impossible?! Sometimes the real problem is a bit of laziness and/or lack of care for the little buggers...

    I with disbelief read daily how people complain and moan cause all or most bees are gone and that is happening in locales where they fly almost year round and/or winters are not really winters - at least not the way we know them up here in Canada. I am sure that they are a bit nippy even in northern states of you country?

    Seat back people and think? Think like a bee!

    Regards,
    France

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    196

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcelar View Post
    France where do you buy homasote in Canada? Does Canadian Tire have it? Thanks

    No Pcelar, Canadian Tire does not cary it. They used to carry it in every lumber yard and hardware store, but in recent years they use Styrofoam to clad outer walls of houses with it. (they were used primarily for sheeting the houses and one side was painted with tar. Others are raw and used for acoustics in construction. They can still be had, but Home depot usually has them or they can order it.
    I get ceiling tiles instead. make sure that they are made from wood or recycled paper/cardboard. Not glass or asbestos or gypsum. HAS TO BE WOOD-fiber!

    (Sta si ti po rodu bratko?)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
    Posts
    440

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    Quote Originally Posted by France View Post
    No Pcelar, Canadian Tire does not cary it. They used to carry it in every lumber yard and hardware store, but in recent years they use Styrofoam to clad outer walls of houses with it. (they were used primarily for sheeting the houses and one side was painted with tar. Others are raw and used for acoustics in construction. They can still be had, but Home depot usually has them or they can order it.
    I get ceiling tiles instead. make sure that they are made from wood or recycled paper/cardboard. Not glass or asbestos or gypsum. HAS TO BE WOOD-fiber!

    (Sta si ti po rodu bratko?)
    Thanks for your answer France. Het France where are you located in Ontario?
    (Ja sam Bosanac, Sarajlija).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    196

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    Not at all, Pcelar.
    I am just north-east from Sudbury.
    (Slovenac, Kranjski Janez, heee...)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    196

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    Pcelar,

    if you have trouble finding Homasote, or proper wood-fibre ceiling tiles, get yourself those office bulletin boards? (cork board) They have cork on the front side, but they should be made from Homasote.
    They can be a bit expansive but..? For a few hives it's no big deal...

    Regards,
    France

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    hamburg, new york, usa
    Posts
    440

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    Quote Originally Posted by France View Post
    Pcelar,

    if you have trouble finding Homasote, or proper wood-fibre ceiling tiles, get yourself those office bulletin boards? (cork board) They have cork on the front side, but they should be made from Homasote.
    They can be a bit expansive but..? For a few hives it's no big deal...

    Regards,
    France
    Thanks France. Good luck with your bees this season.

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