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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Wicked lot of moisture.

    So, I went out to my hives a few minutes ago just to see if they were flying today. On one of my hives I have a medium with a screen on the bottom and it's filled with cedar shavings. I took the outer cover off and a bunch of water ran down the inside of the cover and there is a bit of mold forming under there as well. I stuck my hand in the cedar chips and it is VERY wet. As I dug deeper I could feel a lot of warmth from the bees.

    I had some twigs about .25" in each corner of the cedar filled medium to vent it out some - apparently not enough. So I took a couple of pieces of scrap wood an inch thick to prop up the cover even more.

    Is that much moisture normal? They are in and out. I didn't see them bringing any pollen, but the maples, etc are blooming. Is this most likely moisture from the nectar or from the bees? It has 2 deeps and lots of bees.
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
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    2,366

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Am I'm reading this right? You have a screened BB with a medium on top of it (filled with Cedar shavings) and two deeps on top of that?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    Am I'm reading this right?
    I don't think so.

    I believe that he put screen on the bottom of a medium box, filled it with shavings and put it on top of his hive.
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    Am I'm reading this right? You have a screened BB with a medium on top of it (filled with Cedar shavings) and two deeps on top of that?

    Lol.. No, I have a medium super on top of the hive with screen stapled on the bottom of the medium that is filled with cedar shavings. I did forget to mention, though, that under the screened medium filled with cedar shavings is a 1" pc of wood separating it from the deeps with about a 1" notch for an upper entrance.

    No SBB on this hive.
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    So, does anyone have any idea if this much moisture is normal?
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,721

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    I have been using Homasote over inner covers with the notches down... Most of my hives also had a top entrance drilled into the top boxes. With my setup, in my area, I have not had a problem with moisture.

    One thing that may be an issue is the use of screen above the bees. Any humidity will condense on the relatively cooler metal instead of migrating out a top vent/entrance, or condensing and freezing safely on the hive walls.

    I have heard of some beekeepers changing straw, shredded paper, or other material during the winter. I don't have that problem. I have removed most of the Homasote from my hives, and it is not damp.

    I would reconsider the ventilation and overhead insulation that's used.

    Joe
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Joe, thanks for the response.

    I understand what you mean with the screen. But with it being so warm in the cedar chips. I'm not sure it would be condensation? I was thinking more along the lines of moisture from the bees or from evaporation of moisture from the nectar?

    What do you think?
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,721

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    It's from the bees... It's bee breath
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,539

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    If the cedar shavings are wet, by definition it's condensation unless you have a fountain running in the hive.

    You have too thick a layer of shavings, or they are not coarse enough. You do not want to seal the top of the hive, you want to slow the airflow down considerably and buffer the moisture to keep the hive at decent humidity but not wet. I suspect you have all the water vapor from the entire winter in those shavings, which is not a good idea.

    An inch or two of shavings will do all that's needed while still being thin enough to allow the water to evaporate off the top.

    Also make sure you have plenty of ventilation above the shavings, else you are just putting a condenser on top to drip water down on the shavings!

    Peter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Ah, ok. I was assuming Joe meant moist heat hitting cold screen causing condensation.

    I guess I do have too much cedar chips that medium is pretty full. I'll have to take some out. The cedar actually has been relatively dry after I put twigs under the outer cover. Seems just recently it's gotten really wet. I did recently remove a medium with 10 frames and comb from between the medium with cedar chips and the deeps. Maybe that was giving it some room to evaporate ?
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
    Posts
    1,066

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    In Attleboro your bees have already had a few chances, during that recent warm spell, to bring in quite a bit of nectar which has tons moisture in it. I would be willing to bet that is the cause.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,721

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    I would think I would have excess moisture in Connecticut too... unless I have more ventilation.
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    John,

    I have the same setup that you have but I put slats spaced 3/8 inches apart and then fiberglass door screen on top of them, and then the chips. I drill 10 one inch holes in the sides of the medium box and put no 8 screen on the holes to keep anything out and chips in. I have done this for 2 years and have not had an dampness show up in my chips. I use saw dust out of my shop but I sift it through a screen to get the fine dust out. The way this works is the moisture collects in the chips but needs a way to get out of the box. Once you proped your lid you gave the moisture a way to exit. You need to set this up in a way to let this venting happen all winter long. I do it with the holes in the sides. I do not give them a top entrance with this setup.

    I like the slats because this lets them move over the top bars more freely in the winter so bees won't get trapped, or have to move to the bottom or sides of the frames to move with the cluster.

    By the way, I then take my box, dump the chips, turn it over and put it on top of the intercover for the summer. It works great for ventalation with the 10 screened holes in the sides. Bees will go up and mill around and I have even seen them in a circle around the center intercover hole faning to draw air.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    In Attleboro your bees have already had a few chances, during that recent warm spell, to bring in quite a bit of nectar which has tons moisture in it. I would be willing to bet that is the cause.
    That's what I was wondering. I have been in that hive several times this winter, the first time I noticed moisture was, I used a couple of twigs under the telescoping cover and that took care of it. Then like you said, we had that warm spell, and a lot of maples were blooming.

    I checked it again today and it's dry as a bone. Those one inch pieces of wood must of had done the trick.

    I'm going to have to try another method.

    Jeff, do you have an pics you could share of your set-up?
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Here is a link to photobucket that has some pictures. I make mine out of 2x6s. I screw them together in a box, then staple the screen on, and then nail the lath in place. I have been putting 3 to 4 inches of chips/sawdust but I may just fill some next year. I like the inch and a half material because it keeps more rain out of the holes.

    http://photobucket.com/wintersummertop

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Big Grin Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Yeah, I like those, Jeff. I just put a couple of pieces of wood across to help hold up the screen. All those slats like you did is a better idea. I've been toying with the idea of making a gable cover and putting copper flashing on it. Then I could put some vent holes on that. I really like the way that looks. Similar to a Warre style I guess.

    What was going on in the videos? The only time I ever saw anything like that was one day the temperature dropped about 10 degrees in 10 mins and huge dark clouds started rolling in. My bees were flocking home like mad.

    BTW, how do you keep your lawn so green?
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,005

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    The answer to your question is yes it is normal and that is the problem I have with this soak up the water method and hope it evaporates fast enough. If it doesn't it freezes on a cold night and can only cause more problems. To many variables for my liking.
    You have to have the ventilation anyway so why not just let it go out the hive instead of trapping it and then venting it? What does that buy you or the bees?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Attleboro, MA
    Posts
    278

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Acebird, I wasn't expecting it to get so wet. What I thought would happen is that it would wick away moisture to stop it from dripping down on them, and also give them a bit of protection from the cold. It seemed to work until recently when that really warm weather came and they were bringing in lots of water and/ or nectar.

    Instill new to this and have lots to learn
    Zone 7A - Southern, MA. Elevation 138 ft.
    4 hives: 1 Carniolan/Italian Hybrid, 2 Swarms from that hive and 1 Russian.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,005

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    Yeah, everything is dependant on weather. A sponge can only soak up so much water. keep in mind that when insulation or a sponge soaks up water it does not insulate. Insulation should remain dry, bone dry or it doesn't insulate anymore. Before this idea came along people just tipped the hive so the condensing water would run to a wall and run down the hive and out. Far more efficient than trapping it in wood chips and hoping it will evaporate in time as far as I am concerned. But if conditions are right you might swear by it. What you have is conditions are not right.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: Wicked lot of moisture.

    John, The videos were from last August when a local farmer planted 100 acres of buckwheat after his wheat crop in July. The videos were a combination of an orientation flight and heavy flight. It was simply amazing to look out over the field in the morning and see all the bees. You can see the buckwheat in bloom in the background. But like you said, one of the coolest things I have ever seen is when the bees are coming back just before a storm with that first cool breeze ahead of the storm.

    Grass always looks best at this time of year. Here in central Ohio I have mowed 4 times and normally don't mow for a week or 2.

    Acebird Your quote:"You have to have the ventilation anyway so why not just let it go out the hive instead of trapping it and then venting it? What does that buy you or the bees?"

    You sound just like all the old time bee keepers that told me I would have a block of ice with wood chip in it. You don't have to vent in the traditional sense; this is ventilation because air will move through the chips but at a slower rate. It would be like me asking you; WHY would you top vent a hive? To me it is like leaving your front door and window open in your house all winter. I over wintered 26 hives last winter and had 26 hives alive March 1. I have felt and dug down in this sawdust monthly and have never felt any moisture. I have put a temperature monitor in the middle of this box under the chips and at 17 below it was not below freezing in the bottom of the chip box. I am not so sure that the moisture collects on the chips. It may be that the ventilation that moves through the chips just takes it out with the air movement. I think that large chips are not as good as small chips but fine dust needs to be removes or it just keeps falling on the bees every time you do something.

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