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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    Bill, I would have thought your winter weather in Ohio was pretty cold! What kind of winters do you have there and what was the result of your observations?

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,083

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    The winter here where I live was a bit milder than normal last year, here is the thread of my study.

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...record-keeping
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,760

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    WWW, I think it would be very interesting to do a study on my own bees to see the different temperature readings you would get inside a hive with insulation, no insulation, temperature adjacent to the cluster, etc. during some various outside temperatures in the winter. I would need to locate some thermometers that have long stems to do what I wanted to do, any ideas on that? John

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,083

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    John,
    I used 1" dial thermometers that had 5" long probes, these are commonly found in hardware stores, supermarkets and I have even seen them in Autozone for air conditioning use, but my guess would be that Walmart will have them as well and probably at a good price. Please let us know how your study turns out, it would be fascinating to see how Michigan winters affect your hives .
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    469

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    I struggled with this problem last year and came to the conclusion that I'm not sure insulation is worth it as far as using it to try and control the temp in the hive.

    The first issue I ran into was the idea that whatever you put on for insulation to keep it warm, also keeps it cool. So will the benefit of added warmth over ride the loss of benefit from holding in the cold by preventing warmth from the outside to warm the hive?

    As someone else mentioned you'd probably have to do a heat calculation to actually come up with the actual number, however my guess is that it simply isn't worth it. First you'd have to have a pretty air tight hive to start with. Anyone with leaky windows or doors knows how a tiny crack can suck out a massive amount of heat out of a large room. A tiny entrance hole is probably enough to turn the air over in a hive several times an hour thereby over riding any benefit to insulating.

    Furthermore you don't want to air tight because of condensation issues.

    Again, it's possible that bees put out enough heat to warm up a space and keep it warm even with high air flow, I don't know, but I doubt it. I suspect that rather than acting like humans in a home they act more like penguins and simply create a warm cluster and rotate the guys on the inside to the outside all winter. When the hive warms up enough they scurry over and pick up more food for the cluster. That is where, IMO, the damage of insulation might occur. You might hold the hive at a colder temp for longer not allowing the cluster to break as quickly.

    All speculation on my part.

    ~Matt

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,760

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    MJuric, all good points you make, I think there is a reason that wrapping with good ole felt paper and supplying good ventilation is considered all you need to do in a cold climate by most experts who wrote books on the subject. The felt paper acts as a windbreak of sorts, and absorbs heat quickly. I can see where too much insulation could be detrimental, even with good ventilation. Here again, we try to make our bees too comfortable, maybe they would rather we didn't try so hard sometimes. I think if we went back to just providing a good windbreak, ventilation(but not too much), positioning the hives where they get the most winter sun, and wintering only good size clusters well provisioned with food, and letting the bees do what they do, we may come out of winter looking pretty good. John

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,030

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    I would think that a layer, like foil backed rigid foam insulation might have a beneficial effect, reflecting heat (in the form of infrared radiation), back towards the cluster. A very different effect from creating a hermetically sealed layer of insulation, which would trap heat in the air, bees, and solid matter inside the insulation - reducing heat loss/transfer via convection and/or conduction.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    469

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    Yes there are any number of potential things you could try. Various insulators etc etc, I'm just having a hard time believing that anything could overcome both long periods of time without heat and the air flow in the hive.

    Again, purely speculation on my part as I've not done any experimentation or even run any numbers. A person could do a rough calculation on all this by guestimating the amount of energy there is in honey stores, how much is converted to heat energy and then doing various heat loss calcs...not sure I want to put that much time into it though :-)

    ~Matt

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
    Posts
    469

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    There's actually an interesting study HERE on beesource on the subject.

    There is some data from that study that would suggest benefits from insulation. For instance.

    A cluster held for long periods under freezing conditions declines in strength. The rate of decline is dependent on pollen stores available, but it is slower in insulated than in unprotected colonies.


    And.

    Brood rearing will occur under subzero conditions in insulated colonies with plenty of pollen and honey stores in the cluster.


    The insulated colony is listed as the colony in the hive wrapped with insulation and building paper, referred to as the packed colony but is supposedly further detailed in a reference article I have no looked up.

    So yes there are some advantages, but I'm not sure they are really all that significant in the grand scheme of things. For instance.

    Insulated colonies start brood rearing a few days earlier than unprotected colonies, but the latter tend to catch up shortly after warmer weather arrives.

    Although it's been a while since I read that IIRC the "Taped" colony, the one that was held at 40 degrees via a heat tape didn't have any significant advantages over the other two. Again going from memory.

    ~Matt

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    615

    Default Re: insulating scenario

    I insulated three sides and top and bottom with 2 inches of insulation and then wrapped with black paper.

    A down side seemed to be that bees in a strong hive were fooled into flying on too cold a day. Flights were one way.

    On the plus side, brood rearing started early and I was then afraid to remove the insulation and losing brood and bees if we got a cold snap. One was an amazing hive, building to boiling bees early, producing 225 lbs of honey and a dozen frames of brood for three NUCs. I was very concerned about swarming but took honey and brood frames periodically and they stayed put.

    I also think the insulation modulates the rapid change in temp inside the hive that we can experience on the outside.

    With insulation and black paper only on one side, bees were able to readily get to food. They were often above the inner cover in which my center hole is 3.5 inches feeding on sugar blocks and fondants,

    Think the postives significantly out way the negatives, and I will insulate again this winter. Will likely try a 3/4 insulation on the south side to reduce heating of the sun.
    Last edited by mgolden; 10-09-2012 at 04:18 PM.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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