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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    seattle, wa
    Posts
    21

    Default Moisture confusion....

    So I seem to hear/read a bit about moisture in the top bar hives, but it seems to pertain to winter worries. I am wondering about moisture in the hives now. THough we have had a wet and cool spring, and there is a possibility that some water may be getting into the hive (if it is raining pretty much horizontally), it doesn't seem likely. It also doesn't seem to be the case today, for example, when it didn't rain. I went into the hives to check on the sugar water today, which I have been feeding them for the last week or so with the pretty daily rain. They have been feeding about 3 cups per hive every couple days. I could see quite a bit of condensation on our plexi-window before going in, but when I opened it, there was water dripping from the top of the top bar I picked up to open up. It seems likely that it is condensation if it is dripping from the top and not rain coming in from the sides... So, what should I do? Ventilate it? Pull out the bottom board during the day to air it out? Nothing? Should I stop the sugar water? I hear that increases moisture...Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, as always!!! Thank you!
    Liz

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Kingsley, MI. USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Hi Liz,

    As I have said before, I wouldn't use a KTBH on a bet, and this is why. In your environment, moisture is going to be a huge concern. You absolutely must ventilate your hive to prevent excess moisture during all seasons, especially winter. Anytime moisure builds up in a hive to the point of condensation within the hive, the bees are in danger from mold, cold and disease. If the bees are good and settled in, the bottom board should probably be removed and left out, or at least replaced with one that has some air vents cut into it. Allowances must be made at the top of the hive for the air that enters from the bottom to escape and to take the moisture out with it. If this hive has a metal roof, you may want to replace it with a wooden one. You may also want to consider building a quilt (shallow box filled with sawdust or wood shavings) to fit over the top bars. Doing nothing will surely lead to the hive's demise.

    Unfortunately, the likelyhood that a colony in a KTBH will fail due to moisture issues where you live is quite high. I have sold many Warre hives to folks in Seattle. They love them and have no moisture issues with them. Their bees thrive in them like no other. I know because they call me to tell me. There is a huge push for Warres in Washington state...largely due to this.

    You may want to consider a Warre in the future, if you become discouraged with trying to raise bees in a KTBH.

    Good luck to you.

    Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

    www.thewarrestore.com
    Last edited by beez2010; 06-09-2010 at 07:14 AM. Reason: sp

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    seattle, wa
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Thank you for your response. A bit discouraging, but helpful.
    Anyone out there have good news about moisture management in the Pacific Northwest specific to TBH??? Moisture management and the pacific northwest, I know....sort of an oxymoron!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Nice to hear you saying this in a tbh forum beez2010 , lizzz first if you can remove the bottom board you can also replace it? I would replace it with one that has some holes drilled in it, you can also add a top entrance or open up your entrances. It's a good thing you found out before the winter! I would add holes in the bottom board for sure. Don't give up!
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    nelsonville, ohio
    Posts
    383

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    i run a quilt box and so far havent had a ounce of trouble. everyone i talk to that uses them swears by them. i even built a few for my lang hives

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    A quilt is a great idea, but I'm not sure it would make a lot of difference for a tbh since the bars form the inner lid and the bees glue em together just about air tight in the winter. To add a top entrance without drilling more holes lizz you can open a space between the end tb and wall about 1/4" or a bit more.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Lizzzzz what you need to do is remove the bottom board and buy some #8 mesh hardware wire to cover up the bottom. #8 mesh is 1/8" holes that the bees can fit through, that will stop any robbing bees from getting inside as well! Then to ventilate like a chimney i would drill two 3/4" holes on an angle (Because of weather) at the top of you TBH and patch the hole with the #8 mesh hardware wire. That will take care of your problem. Oh and if the 3/4" inch holes might be too much you can always put a cork in acouple of the holes or all of the holes to regulate the air flow depending on the season. I build my own TBH and i find that this way works for me.....Good Luck!

    P.S- If your hardware store doesnt carry #8 mesh hardware wire here is a link to where you can purchase the 36" x 10' wire at a reasonable price, dont get the cheap screening that wont last long. Its the same stuff they use on the SBB. Its very hard to find, most places i seen them only have the 1/4" wire and you dont want 1/4' wire. The bees can fit right through that size wire.

    http://www.hardwareandtools.com/Jack...h-6100804.html
    Last edited by honeybeekeeper; 06-10-2010 at 10:45 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Findlay, Ohio
    Posts
    524

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    I bought a roll of insect vent screening. Comes in a roll and works well. I have it stapled to the bottom of the last 4 top bar hives I built. I tossed the packaging so I cannot give any details on the product other than I bought it at Lowes. It is used to cover roof vents. The roll I have is roughly 8"x100'.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,729

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    I think you worry too much. Put in a top entrance (just leave the first bar back to leave a gap) and close off the holes and sleep well. The moisture will go out the top...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    North Stonington, CT USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Quote Originally Posted by beez2010 View Post
    You may want to consider a Warre in the future, if you become discouraged with trying to raise bees in a KTBH.
    Said by the man who sells Warre hives.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    seattle, wa
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    I LOVE this forum!! Thank you all so much - I especially love all the different ideas and perspectives! Sounds like there are different remedies and I need not be so discourages!! Good news!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Kingsley, MI. USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    In response to those of you who have scoffed at my comments, please realize that I had given Liz sound advise on how to go about trying to correct her moisture issues before I made my comments about trying Warres and also long before anyone else had responded to her question. Obviously, I build and sell Warre hives. If I was trying to hide that fact I would'nt have posted a link to my website and identified myself as the owner of the company.

    You can shake your finger at me if you want to, but I use top bars hives-vertical top bar hives. This is not a KTBH forum and if there were a forum specific to Warres on this site I guess I would spend most of my time there.

    Fact is, I am saddened by the constant reading of posts concerning moisture, swarms, mold, dead bees, absconded bees, etc., that are directly related to the use of KTBHs. Saddened, because I know that the folks who are caring for the bees are saddened and also that many of these folks will give up on beekeeping. Lizzzz's bees have been confined to their hive for days on end with cool temps and humidities of 95-100%. These conditions are pretty much the norm in Seattle. If you want to say that her best chance as a newbie to successfully keep bees in this environment is to use a KTBH, well, then I guess your opinion differs from mine. I will not make comments scoffing at you.

    As far as wintering goes, I often read about the "hard winters" experienced in places like Tennessee, Georgia, Nebraska, etc., and would like to say that we're up here in the north trying to raise bees and you know what? It's hard! My bees spend 5 months straight confined in the hive nearly every single year and on particularily bad years they spend nearly 7 inside. Low temperatures at night in January sometimes dip to -30F and highs often remain at less than 20F. When I had langs I left my bees all the honey they made and they still had to be fed fondant from Feb-April. Of course, almost half of the honey was left unconsumed as the bees were always clustered at one end of the hive. I also had issues with mold growing on the frames and walls of the lower hive body, even with SBBs and shimmed inner covers. Beekeeping has become so much easier for me since I switched to Warres. That's why I use them. That's why I know how well they work for people who have to keep bees in hostile environments. I was simply letting Liz know that if the KTBH doesn't work out, there are alternatives.

    Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

    www.thewarrestore.com
    Last edited by beez2010; 06-11-2010 at 08:20 AM. Reason: signature

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    McLean County, Illinois
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam-Smith View Post
    A quilt is a great idea, but I'm not sure it would make a lot of difference for a tbh since the bars form the inner lid and the bees glue em together just about air tight in the winter.
    This hive looks like it might solve the ventilation vs. glued bar issue.

    http://www.warrebeek.com/fhhive.html

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Polk Co, NC, USA
    Posts
    201

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Another newbeek question... If I drill a few holes in some of the top bars and cover them with screen, will the bees just glue up the holes? in the video of the "frankenhive" the bees don't seem to be trying to fill the router openings...?

    Lauren:

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Dalkeith, Ont, Canada
    Posts
    206

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzzzzz View Post
    I LOVE this forum!! Thank you all so much - I especially love all the different ideas and perspectives! Sounds like there are different remedies and I need not be so discourages!! Good news!
    Yea lots of stuff to try lizz, I have seen a number of feral hives they all had solid wood roofs, with a brick air space along the bottom, the bees had been using this space for 20 years (different colonies of course), I know tbh's are used all over the world in very humid places like central Africa, Indonesia, the UK ect. your temps are probably a bit warmer then mine are since your a bit south and on the coast.
    My blog @ Bee Crazy

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Kingsley, MI. USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Lauren,

    If the bees do fill the holes, it means they did not want or need the air-flow though them. Bees can remove propolis just as they can add it. If you provide the areas which allow ventilation, the bees will open and close them as needed. The problems only arise when no ventialtion areas are provided, as bees are not able to chew holes through wood, or when vents are too large for the bees to propolize closed. Of course, the bees will do best at controlling their environment when their hive closely resembles and acts like something found in nature, like a tree cavity. This is what quilts are for.

    On our Warre hives, we use polyester mosquito netting under the quilt, which not only prevents the bees from propolizing the canvas to the top bars, but also allows the bees to control the air-flow rate through the quilt by placing or removing propolis from each little square in the netting.

    Over the years, many beekeepers have exploited this talent that god has given to the bees, by placing a propolis trap over the top hive body, allowing the bees to propolize most or all of it, and then removing it. This, of course, wreaks havoc on the bees, not only by removing beneficial anti-microbial propolis but also by chilling the brood.

    The idea that some have that bees propolize everything for no reason or because they don't know hat is good for them is absurd. I think that more beekeepers may have known this 200 years ago than do now. Warre was well aware of the uses of propolis and talks about them at length in his book, Beekeeping for all. You can get the book as a free PDF download here:

    http://www.thewarrestore.com/apps/links/

    Regards,

    Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

    www.thewarrestore.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Englewood, CO
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    I will add my two cents to all that has been said. I have both KTBH and Warre and they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I have to say that I liked the quilt enough on the Warre that I added one to my KTBH. I had to redesign the roof but it seems to have made a big difference. The bees seem to be able to regulate the temperature easier as well as moisture in the hive. I live in Colorado so no where near the humidity levels of Seattle but the quilt did make a difference in controlling moisture here.

    I like the idea of notching the top bars and I am going to do that on the hive I just built for my father-in-law to allow for easier passage of moisture and air into and out of the quilt.

    Liz, have you checked to make sure there is no water getting into the hive through the roof? With that much rain it would be good to make sure that all the water is draining properly as that will just cause more issues. The feeder will cause more condensation in the hive but it's also a catch 22 since the rain outside is preventing foraging. I would also add my thoughts about a Warre, not that you replace your existing hive but as you look to add a second hive think about adding a different type and see if another style does better in your climate. Also talk to you local bee club and see what others are doing to deal with the humidity. I would guess that there are plenty of KTBH in Seattle and people have figured out how to manage them well.

    As far as Beez2010 promoting the Warre over others. He obviously believes in the product he is selling and to be honest I find that refreshing. I have a friend who has one of his hives and he does nice work a produces a quality product. I don't agree with going as far to say that I would never recommend a KTBH to keep bees and I think that was a bit strong especially as advice to a new beekeeper. Everyone has a style of hive that works best for them and that's fine but there is also a place for all those different styles of hives and each has it's strengths and weaknesses. I have yet to find the "perfect" hive for every situation. The best advice I can give is to talk to a variety of people about what they are using, what they like about it, and what they dislike and after that make up your own mind as to what you are going to use based up your unique circumstances. Warre did a lot of research to come up with the design he did and it was also, independently, used by others in other parts of the world so there has to be something to it. The same can be said for KTBH.

    Liz, the bottom line is be open to all the ideas you hear and try different things until you find what works in you own backyard. Oh, and don't get discouraged, we all go through the difficulties but that makes the successes that much sweeter.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    nelsonville, ohio
    Posts
    383

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam-Smith View Post
    A quilt is a great idea, but I'm not sure it would make a lot of difference for a tbh since the bars form the inner lid and the bees glue em together just about air tight in the winter. To add a top entrance without drilling more holes lizz you can open a space between the end tb and wall about 1/4" or a bit more.
    my bars are vented so the quilt box will draw the moisture out. thay look like this.. except the routed edge between the bars is all the way routed out wich leave a small gap between the bars in the middle but not on the ends http://us.customwoodkitsinternationa...up_image&pID=3

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Greensburg, Ky.
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    I viewed the photo and i seen where there is a groove but it stops about 1/4 from the top so how does the moisture escape?? Now if the groove was all the way to the top then i could see where the moisture could escape but then again the bees would crawl right up through! Im finding out right now with this heat wave we are having in the central ky region that its too hot in my top bar hive, the bees been flying around the outside the last few days and go back in at night...I have a screened bottom board which helps but im gonna need to make a vent at the one end and screen it with #8 wire, then maybe cover it during the winter. Where do you get the material for a quilt box??? If you can send me some links i could compare and see what i can do to make one! Thanks

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Port Townsend, WA, USA
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Moisture confusion....

    I admit I don't own a Kenya TBH and have only seen a couple setup firsthand. Very cool, but I think in general frameless hives are a bit much for most beginner's to start with. A beginner Beek in my town (PT) just posted in this forum about a dead-out in his TBH, a mere two months after installing a package of bees. We have been having a long, cool wet-spell even by Pacific Northwest standards. They don't call us "MossBacks" for nothing. I have vented my Langstroth hive's telescopic lid and installed a screened bottom because of excessive moisture buildup. That helped allot and my package bees are expanding into the 2nd brood box at week 8. If you don't get it in check, leaking rain water or bad condensation can kill your bee's. I have seen this first hand. I would eliminate the possibility of leaking by putting a secondary cover over the top, like a piece of corrugated fiberglass roofing. Then figure a way to add vent openings above the topbars because moisture vapor naturally rises. I don't know that I'd have a totally open screened bottom. It's been so cold and damp that it may get to drafty and besides, I heard the bees tend to abscond KTBH's when to much light shines up from below. Probably better to have a partial screened bottom or drill some vent holes in the bottom board and screen those. Trentfysty mentioned the catch 22 about feeding. I have had feed on my bees the whole time. On the local news today they had a story about bee's dying in droves around here, mostly weather and starvation related. The weather has been so bad that the bees have had very limited days to forage so I would continue to feed and worry about handling the moisture. Also what type of bee's are you using? My Carniolans seem to forage better in cold wet weather then my friends Italians, so I have had to use less feed. I think that if you can get the moisture problem in check and find someone knowledgeable to mentor you about managing a KTBH, you'll be just fine.

    As beez2010 mentioned, I am one of those rainy Pacific NW Beeks that is in the process of setting up a Warre to try. After quite a bit of research I came to the conclusion that they had many advantages and would work well in our climate. I bought one of Teakwood organics modified hives with full frames which I plan to run foundationless. I'm old school so this is a nice TB hive to start out with in foundationless frames, with the goal of going with top bars only someday. Baby-steps. I want to see firsthand what all the fuss you guys make about your TBH's is about, looks like fun!

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