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Thread: Disaster

  1. #41
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    Apr 2009
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    Seattle, WA
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    Sorry to hear about what happened, Sam. I had a similar horror - but thankfully not as bad.

    I started with two nucs last spring and the colonies grew well, considering the awful wet weather here in NY State. I didn't take a drop of honey figuring they'd need it for the winter. I had one of Sam Comfort's 36 inch hives and another like Phil Chandlers 48 inch with a screened bottom and wood floor. I sealed up this hive too tight and when I opened it, at least half the colony lay dead on the floor. Lots of black and green mold all over the place - even on the outer combs. It was terrible but at least I have some bees. It's back to the size of a nuc colony so it's beginning all over. Sam Comfort's very rustic design with a solid floor did much better. Not as many dead bees and I think this colony will bounce back faster.

    I think I'm going to drill a couple of 1 inch holes on the top of each side to allow for convection flow, to cut down on the condensation that surely killed them.

    Any comments regarding this?
    I have a hive that is Phil Chandler's design too, and my bees died. You have to remember that warm air rises, so if you drill those holes on both side, the warmth could completely ESCAPE from your hive in the winter. I asked Michael Bush who posts here a similar question, and he told me to drill them on the top on ONE side only. You don't what to create a wind tunnel in there.

  2. #42
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    Mar 2010
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    Richmond, Virginia, USA
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    227

    Default Re: Disaster

    I think its just like a tropical bird cage. Completely dry with plenty of air but no drafts.

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Zonker View Post
    I've decided (without any real experience or data) that dry is more important than warm for the bees in winter (conduction v convection), so I'm creating a vented attic space over the bees. I'm going to set it up so that air gets drawn up through the hive and out the roof all summer, then I'll add absorbent insulation in the fall (newspaper) below the attic vents so that the newspaper will dry to the attic side and keep the bees dry.
    I live in the PNW, it rains rains rains a lot here in Seattle. So the damp can really do the bees in. Your local climate conditions are nearly everything.

    Here is what David Neel a local beekeeper who runs Island Apiaries said to me in email:

    "While in an average humidity environment that [a quilt box] works great, here the big bee killer is the higher than average humidity we have. The average winter temp we have here is 42 degrees F. While it does drop lower than that, it is for relatively short periods. I feel that efforts to keep heat in here are largely pointless exercises, from the bees point of view, we don't have a real winter. the bees that do well here- Carniolians, Russians, Buckfasts,etc all originate from areas that have a MUCH colder winter. any effort to keep heat in for them is pointless here and even in the best of circumstances will trap humidity. I am a BIG proponent of screened bottom boards and for the majority of the year, I leave them open ( I will frequently throw away the slide in board that comes with commercial units). A strong winter cluster will maintain a 93-98 degree temp in the center even in the worst of winters here and the bees can stand exposure to 20-30's with no ill effects for several hours. with the way they cycle through to the center of the cluster to warm up, they really never are exposed to low temps for that long.

    I use a laser thermometer to check the temp from the outside of the hive regularly and if a hive is failing, I will use a probe thermometer to check the actual cluster itself. if they seem to be too small to keep temps up, I will slide a perforated plastic board under the hive to help them out. I mark these hives and check humidity every other day to make sure it is not climbing too fast and remove and replace the insert to counter increases.

    Since I started doing this, my winter losses have dropped to a small fraction of what they were before.

    feel that much of the winter losses in our area are due to humidity and not nosema, mites or CCD. The fact that we have a fairly unusual micro climate here in the PNW is not covered in any books, so the average beekeeper does what they read in books that are aimed at the rest of the country and then wonders why their hives are having troubles.

    I feel that beekeeping needs to be approached regionally and most of your advise needs to come from other beekeepers who have kept bees successfully in your area."



    I think he is spot on.

  4. #44
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    Delaware County, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Abha,
    Yes, convection is indeed an interesting phenomenon. As a science teacher, it's difficult for me to dispel the myth to my students that hot air rises. It does NOT. Cold (read "lower temperature") air is denser and heavier, fills up an area (on the bottom of a room, for example) and actually PUSHES up (and out if there is a window) the lighter, less dense warm air, as it takes up space. The illusion is that warm air rises. Anyone who wants to get rid of the odors of cooking opens up the bottoms and tops of the windows for this reason - although they are unaware of the science of it.

    In addition, it is the warm air that is more able to hold moisture - cold air has less of a capacity to do so. For condensation to occur, air must cool to the dew point. Witness, condensation on the outside of an iced glass on a summer day: The dew point is being reached on the surface of the glass where warm, moist air hits cold surface.

    All this may help us understand how to best care for the girls during the winter. I don't want to set up a "wind tunnel", but there must be a way to allow this warm moist air to escape in the most efficient way. Perhaps Michael Bush's idea of holes at the top of ONE side may be a good idea.

    Anyone have ideas?
    Last edited by Stone; 03-22-2010 at 06:08 PM.

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Zonker,
    I'm interested in the details of the vented attic space you mentioned. Can you elaborate on details?

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Typo Previously corrected in original post as an edit.
    Last edited by Stone; 03-22-2010 at 06:11 PM. Reason: typo

  7. #47
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    Dec 2004
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    Totnes, Devon, England
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Abha View Post
    I have a hive that is Phil Chandler's design too, and my bees died.
    Sorry to hear that. How was it set up - mesh or solid floor? When did they die, and what cause did you identify?



    I feel that beekeeping needs to be approached regionally and most of your advise needs to come from other beekeepers who have kept bees successfully in your area.
    I absolutely agree. The one-size-fits-all approach to beekeeping is disastrous, as many development projects have found when they tried to run Langs in Africa.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  8. #48
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    May 2009
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    Monroeville Pa
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    188

    Default Re: Disaster

    If warm air at the top of the hive meets the cold air from outside the top of the hive, it will cause condensation over the cluster, right? I put a bale of hay on top of my hive to prevent this in my one and only first year tbh. They made it, whew. I put bales on each side, not the front or back, for wind breaks, they were not tight against it. Its windy here too, so the bale of hay on top gave me assurance it wouldn't be blown over. Wouldn't a bale of hay on top mimic the top if a tree, (cellulose) for insulation and prevent condensation, and same for a quilt box in a warre. Perhaps tbhs in northern climates should incorporate an insulated roof, or top. I do not have a screened bb.
    Good luck,
    Carrie

  9. #49
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    Jul 2009
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    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    Abha,
    Yes, convection is indeed an interesting phenomenon. As a science teacher, it's difficult for me to dispel the myth to my students that hot air rises. It does NOT. Cold (read "lower temperature") air is denser and heavier, fills up an area (on the bottom of a room, for example) and actually PUSHES up (and out if there is a window) the lighter, less dense warm air, as it takes up space. The illusion is that warm air rises. Anyone who wants to get rid of the odors of cooking opens up the bottoms and tops of the windows for this reason - although they are unaware of the science of it.

    In addition, it is the warm air that is more able to hold moisture - cold air has less of a capacity to do so. For condensation to occur, air must cool to the dew point. Witness, condensation on the outside of an iced glass on a summer day: The dew point is being reached on the surface of the glass where warm, moist air hits cold surface.

    All this may help us understand how to best care for the girls during the winter. I don't want to set up a "wind tunnel", but there must be a way to allow this warm moist air to escape in the most efficient way. Perhaps Michael Bush's idea of holes at the top of ONE side may be a good idea.

    Anyone have ideas?
    Excellent, I was trying to imagine what airflow would look like inside the hives, Thanks!
    What I did was drill a 7/8" hole every 6" along the bottom of my 48" tbh then screened them on the inside, I also moved the entrance to the top of one side on the wall, 4x 7/8" holes spaced 8cm apart, this should give me a small amount of upper venting. The reason for 7/8" is that standard wine corks fit perfectly, so for a smaller colony I would plug some holes.
    I was thinking about drafts inside the hives and wondering how the bees managed them, since I have seen them nest in attics barns ect, the comb is a very good air baffle 1/2" from all the walls running across the space inside the tbh, this plus the bees themselves pack the spaces between about 1/2" seems like a very effective air management system. It also explains (at least to me) why one 7/8" hole wasn't enough ventilation I think they can manage some exposure but humidity drastically reduces the ability to stay warm, not to mention running out of oxygen, the circulation profile of a tbh is different then a lang, the lang would be a bit like a chimney so a small entrance at the top and bottom might be enough... Mind you this is all speculation.

    Thanks all for the encouragement and ideas.
    Sam.

  10. #50
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    Dec 2004
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    Totnes, Devon, England
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    Abha,
    Yes, convection is indeed an interesting phenomenon. As a science teacher, it's difficult for me to dispel the myth to my students that hot air rises. It does NOT.
    So when I light a candle and the smoke rises directly above the flame, that is some kind of illusion?

    And the fact that I can feel heat above a radiator and much less below it?

    Did I miss something in science class?
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  11. #51
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    Jun 2009
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    Delaware County, New York, USA
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    Wink Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    So when I light a candle and the smoke rises directly above the flame, that is some kind of illusion?

    And the fact that I can feel heat above a radiator and much less below it?

    Did I miss something in science class?
    I don't think you missed anything in science class at all. As I said, it's difficult to dispel the myth that hot air rises. It is pushed up by lower temperature air. Remember that the lower temperature air is all around the candle, and radiator, so the warmed air - which is lighter and denser - has nowhere to go but UP. We can argue all we want with the principles of thermodynamics and physics, but we'll lose. It's just the way things are.

    One of the reasons I love the principles of science is that you can always depend on them.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Disaster

    It only rises in the presence of cooler air, if all air was hot it wouldn't rise.. It's the difference in mass that causes one to displace the other.. I love science.


    Sam.

  13. #53
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam-Smith View Post
    It only rises in the presence of cooler air, if all air was hot it wouldn't rise.. It's the difference in mass that causes one to displace the other.. I love science.


    Sam.
    So do I, Sam. And you are right; that's what I tried to explain previously. But I'll speculate that there is always lower temperature air present in an area - unless one is in a vacuum. You can test this idea in any area with several thermometers.

    But back to the bees: I think what may be happening in the hive is that when the lower temperature air meets the heated air near the cluster, the dew point is reached. Unless this warmer, saturated air has an escape route, moisture condenses on the bees on the outside of the cluster, lowering their temperatures. They remain constantly wet, cool air continually hits them and they slowly succumb, drop off and die, and the cluster size gradually diminishes. I know the bees on the outside of the cluster are constantly rotating to the inside but I figure this has got to take a toll on them over the months - especially during cold snaps. Then the dampness creates a mold situation in the hive that makes matters worse.

    I'm very new to beekeeping and I'm sure others probably have ideas of what may be going on. I'd love to hear them.
    Last edited by Stone; 03-23-2010 at 09:08 PM.

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Sounds like someone is describing the bouyant force. Eureka.

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Disaster

    I think the mold is only a problem when the weather starts to warm up (at least in the north) I remember seeing ice inside the hive during the winter I just don't know how much there was, our winters get very dry the bees and maby some uncapped honey are the main moisture producers imho, same net result though. Thats why I moved my entrances to the top, I also spaced them further apart, they were 6cm apart before now they are 8cm, that plus the vents in the floor should provide good ventilation without to much draft. "crosses fingers" I'm not sure what else I can actually do with my hives without totally redesigning them.

    Sam.

  16. #56
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    Default Re: Disaster

    If you place a sheet of glass or plastic over a colony in winter, the part immediately above the bees gets warm. I don't care if it because warm air rises (and I still think it does) or because it was pushed: the fact remains that bees emit heat that finds itself somehow above the cluster.

    Now if that air contains a deal of moisture - which it should - and then it hits a cold surface, like an un-insulated roof, it will release that moisture in the form of condensation, which - because the cold surface is now warmer because of the (rising) heat, will mostly form around the edges and the adjacent vertical sides, and then drip back down into the hive, in time enabling mo(u)ld to form in areas unheated by bees.

    If, instead of a thin roof, you have a thick layer of vapour-permeable insulation, such as straw or wood shavings, the water-laden air will filter out through the insulation and cause no harm. This mimics pretty well what happens naturally in a hollow tree, which also has the benefit of absorbent walls.

    If you also have adequate, floor-level ventilation, the hive will stay dry and the bees will be able to maintain their cluster temperature.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Ok for clarification this is what my hives look like,

    http://s803.photobucket.com/albums/y...20bar%20hives/

    No way water is forming under the tin and dripping on the top bars.


    Mould wont form in sub zero temps, thats why in my location the bees only have a mould problem once they come through the winter..
    I'm hoping (because many people have tried it) that more bottom venting will work.

    Interesting fact about the outer bees rotating with the core ones for warmth, didn't know that Stone.

    Sam.

  18. #58
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Nice job, Sam!

    Might be worth putting something between the bars and the metalwork, as that stuff will get hot in the sun. You don't want a melt-down and more than a chill.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  19. #59
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    Delaware County, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Beautiful hives, Sam!

    Regarding the mold: When I opened my hives last weekend for the first time after our winter here, there was A LOT of mold as I had described previously. It was very disturbing. Could be the temperatures never got down low enough in the hive to inhibit mold growth. Or it could be that mold does okay in cold temps. I don't know how low temps have to get to stop mold from growing but I do know that forgotten bread and cheese in the back of my refrigerator has no problem growing it!

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Disaster

    Lol, did your bees survive? Idk never thought about mould growing in cold temps, we get pretty low here -30c in extreme cases.
    The tin isn't next to the wood so air can move between, the top bars never heat up.

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