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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    708

    Default Why winter ventilation is important

    Being a father and having inherited the miserly heat "who touched the thermostat?" gene from my father, it kills me to put a big hole at the top of the hives every year. I can just imagine the warmth pouring out of there. My hives are in a breezy and sometimes windy spot. I've got a wind break behind, but to lessen the sucking power of the wind with respect to drawing the warmth out vs simply allowing the moisture to escape, I made up a small roof to go over the ventilation notches in my inner covers. The bees are nearing full spring build up mode so they have a lot of brood to warm, it was cold last night, and here's what I see when looking up there. This is why you want that air to have a way out. Imagine this all over the inner cover and dripping back down.

    DSC_2913 (Small).JPG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    915

    Default Re: Why winter ventilation is important

    Nothing like a cold shower in the middle of winter

  3. #3

    Default Re: Why winter ventilation is important

    That's a great photo.
    I just heard Tom Selley talk this past Saturday. He studies wild hives extensively and say that wild bees close up their top entrances and only have a bottom entrance. Someone in the crowd brought up the point that water probably drains down along the walls of a wild hive rather than dripping on the bees.
    I'm going to continue providing ventilation to my hives but there's still so much that we don't totally understand about them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    642

    Default Re: Why winter ventilation is important

    As long as the condensation is not excessive or dripping on the cluster, some condensation on the inside walls is a supply of water to aid the bees when consuming dry sugar when hive temp is warm enough for bees to move out of the cluster.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,280

    Default Re: Why winter ventilation is important

    I've found a piece of popsicle stick at each corner, between the inner and outer covers, works wonders to help with ventilation and moisture escape.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: Why winter ventilation is important

    Another reason to leave bare wood in the inside of the hive, and to use wooden covers. Wood will absorb quite a bit of moisture, and will hold in on the surface, compared to plastic or metal, where it forms drops and falls very quickly.

    Cold water dripping into a hive will almost certainly kill the bees -- wet and cold will cause them to be unable to generate enough heat and they freeze.

    Top ventilation is critical, but it needs to be restricted. My brother's mutts closed off all of the escape hole in the inner cover except for two holes about 3/8" diameter over the winter, and I think they still moved into the small hive beside them this spring. Too much water from leaking plastic covers and condensation dripping onto one corner. That inner cover almost always had water on it,

    A small upper entrance is good -- maybe an inch or so by 3/8. A stand-off wind screen to prevent the wind blowing directly into the hive won't hurt, either. Close the bottom entrance down as well and you won't have that much airflow through the hive, but still have plenty of air movement inside to prevent water dripping on the bees.

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,172

    Default Re: Why winter ventilation is important

    I agree with post #3 we don't understand it. Someone at my bee club showed a picture of a winter cover with a perspex lid. The condensation was not above the cover on the lid, but around the edges of it. His point was that the moisture wasn't going to fall on the cluster. Kirk Webster's pages said something like he provides a little air exit, but not a bee exit because he noticed that the deadouts with a sealed top were damp and messier to clean out in the spring. FWIW I have a small upper exit on all my colonies, simply because I don't want suffocation in the snow. I think the jury is out on this one.

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