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  1. #1
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    Default Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    I replied to another post about insulating with Shavings, but thought since it is 'That time of year' I would start another thread about winterizing. This post addresses insulating tops.

    Last year I bought some food grade burlap sacks from a Starbucks supplier for $1.00 each. I put a small scoop of shavings in each one and folded it like a pillow. Here are my screened top covers:
    (This hive actually has two colonies..3 deep frames over 3 on the left- double stack of mini deep frames on the right)
    This is a recent photo taken October 15th-good fall scenario.



    The problem is, if you put shavings or leaves directly on the screen, you will foul the comb below with 'crumbs' and you can not easily remove the insulation material to see the cluster below. WIth the pillow, all you do is lift he cover and lift the pillow to make a quick visual check in winter without losing too much heat and no mess.


    Insert the pillow in an empty super and you can use any type lid. (My screened top covers have a 1/2" x 1" notch for top entrance and ventilation.) I never get moisture problems With this set up. I still may have to crack the top cover very slightly, as condensation will accumulate on the upper most surface. A vent hole too far away will serve no purpose other than perhaps a top entrance.
    Most of my inner covers have a few small holes drilled into them just for this reason.
    The pillow with the shavings will allow air and moisture to filter through it-without accumulation in the pillow itself. You have good balance of ventilation and insulation.

    I am in the Pacific Northwest, near the coast. Known for our wet weather. Even a large cluster like this will not create condensation in the hive with this set up. But you Must have some venting near the top.Note: the shavings are not for absorption, they are for insulation. Shaving will absorb moisture, but that should not be your intent. If a person really wanted to have a natural moisture absorbing material-why not use stove pellets? They will absorb a tremendous amount of moisture before getting saturated. Just keep you eye on them and replace them when needed. Be sure to put them in a sack or you'll have a mess for sure.

    So for those more difficult to insulate Migratory covers, this is another way I insulate them without a huge amount of specialized equipment to store. These are fast and easy to make and can be used in the hot summer months in warmer climates.
    Just make a simple frame (19 7/8" x 16 1/4") or the size of your hives. I use 1 1/2" X 3/4" hem/fir.
    Cut 1 1/2" thick Foam insulation with a square and razor knife to tightly fit the frame. You don't have to worry about squaring up the frame, when you stuff in the rigid insulation it will square it up for you. Just be sure to cut the insulation accurately. It should be quite tight to stay in place by itself...BAM! Done!

    Here's the application:
    Hive box and top cover. Here you see my screened top inner covers which allow me to feed or view without disturbing the colony. You will need an inner cover of some kind or the bees will chew the insulation.



    Now set the insulating frame on top. Now I have created about a 2" dead air space. (I still have room to add organic matter or moisture absorbing material in that space if I want.)



    Now you lid of choice.


    I use aluminum 2" tape (you see on the top of the cover) to mark all my hives..what strain, what queen, etc.
    You can find it in the HVAC section of you local hardware store. Use a fairly fat black permanent marker, it will not fade and will stay on until you peel it off. Not to awful difficult to take off, even after a year.




    Left is the insulated frame, right is the empty frame.


    You can see a stack of these takes up no real storage space. They are the lightest piece of bee equipment you'll own.



    I make my telescoping lids with 3" material so I have room for a full inch of insulation and still have good overhang and wind resistance.




    When I am all done for the fall with hive management, I strap the hives down with ratchet straps to keep the lids on and critters out.
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-21-2012 at 09:52 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Rupert, Idaho, USA
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    86

    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Always enjoy looking at pics of your equipment and set-ups Lauri. Inspires me to do something more than my usual "good enough" efforts. I can also assure you that a lot of new or "wannabe" beekeepers benefit from seeing your pics with descriptions. Keep up the good work.
    jim

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Thanks Jim! I try
    Crazy brain of mine just keeps coming up with new ideas. Folks Sharing info. on this forum is why I have been able to be sucessful. I hope I can contribute too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    I agree, Lauri does a wonderful job with her pictures and videos, we need others to post more pictures of their operations too, I know it takes time but the pictures are so interesting to see how other beeks do things. John

  5. #5
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    Sep 2009
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    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
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    875

    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Lauri how are you finishing your hive bodies, and what type of wood are they? Thanks Steve
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    I ether burn them with a propane torch or roll Watco walnut stain on them. Then seal with spar urethane. The box you see in this thread was the stain.

    Here is how I repair and insulate old migratory tops that had been used for feeding.
    First, staple screen on the underside of the hole to keep bees from chewing on the insulation.



    Cut a piece of rigid insulation so it fits TIGHT. Cover all edges with 2" aluminum tape



    At this point you can cover the insulation with almost anything. Scrap sheet metal roofing, plywood, plastic, etc. Here I used thin Aluminum flashing. It is easy to cut and bend







    Once I get my measurements, I do 10-20 at a time. (Cut all my insulation, cut and bend all my tops)
    Makes the assembly pretty fast and easy.

    I use an electric small crown stapler to attach to the sides if the wood. Not fancy, but usable now that is it raining! (And still functinal as a migratory top. You can stack on pallets or push hives tight together)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Are they Pine or Cypress?
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Mann Lake budget pine

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Here is another migratory top that has been repaired and insuated that same way as the previous one. I painted it, then toped it with a scrap piece of twin wall polycarbonate I saved from some of our projects around here.
    My husband gets after me for keeping scraps of this and that, but I always use them eventually.



    I made it just a bit bigger than the top for better rain protection. ( Because it is twin wall poly, you have to seal the edges so the bees will not get in between the layers. Keeps out all bugs, moisture and dirt too) Now sealed, the poly has an R value too. If there was not insulation beneath it, it would have a bit if a solar gain too.





    Here is one for a Dadant sized hive. Screw down with rubber backed washers.


    Here is the hive that last top will go on. It is made out of car decking for a better insulating thickness. The lid you see here was not as waterproof as I wanted. I made a telescoping cover with 1 1/2" insulation inside, Polycarbonate on top.

    (Note the honey super is standard 3/4" material with a 1x2 stapled on the top and bottom to match the exterior size) Only the two bottom deeps are out of 1 1/2" thick wood for overwintering.




    You would think this rubber mat on the top of the lid would be good enough, but water leaks in the edges The rubber mat expands and contracts in the temp changes, so calking with silicone did not work.
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-24-2012 at 08:21 AM.

  10. #10
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    Roanoke, VA
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    I like the bedazzled look of your boxes. Mine look like a hack saw nightmare.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    One last method of sealing hive tops..This one is new to me and the jury is still out on the finish and durability.
    Here is the product:




    My migratory covers are not very watertight. I needed something different to seal them..paint was just not cutting it. Here is a typical cover I get from Mann Lake.



    You can see why this product would appeal to me. It says it fills in cracks, etc etc. So heres the results.
    I had to apply at least three coats to fill in this crack. It looks good here wet, but when it dried it shrunk and a third coat was necessary. I is not less labor intensive than other methods as I had hoped-but still it is different and interesting:


    wet texture almost disappears when dry.


    Here it is when dried. (These were new plywood tops): Thank goodness it darkened! It looked almost purpleish when wet! This color was TEAK.



    I had hoped this product would also seal the exposed edge of the plywood top, but it also took time to work the product into the cracks. It has the consistancy of thin cement. You'd be better off filling the cracks with putty or silicone before painting as the product video shows.

    So a third coat will be applied and it should have the texture they promised two coats would provide.
    I do like it, if it is really as durable as they say. But Not too sure I would make any more of them. One gallon put two coats on 12 tops. It costs about the same per gallon as paint.

    For my next batch of telescoping tops, I will go back to my old method of staining or burning, sealing the exposed plywood edge with clear silicone and two coats of spar urethane.
    It holds up well in my wet climate and is actually less time consuming than the above product.



    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Miller...56954971040510
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-27-2012 at 05:57 PM.

  12. #12
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    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Aye! mateys..... pine tar and oakum! seriously, I wonder if a bit of oakum in those cracks between boards would cut down on the amount of sealer needed. It sure worked on the old boats!

    You have some of the finest looking hives on beesource!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Chesterfield, NH
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    499

    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Deck Restore™ products

    http://synta.com/
    http://youtu.be/rTpx6FMZBb0



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134
    Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA.
    http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Hmm, that deck restore reminds me of truck bed liner, the spray in kind, Maybe that would be an option.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    The sample in the store looked just like that-Line-X type bed liner. But it is sandy-not rubbery. But similar in the fact it is supposed to be a thick covering as compared to paint.
    I have tried having small items sprayed with the bed liner stuff at the factory. It doesn't stick well and eventually peels off.

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    I wish I was one of Lauri's bees
    https://www.facebook.com/stevesbees99
    Please visit my page, Thanks

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    Thanks Jim! I try
    Crazy brain of mine just keeps coming up with new ideas. Folks Sharing info. on this forum is why I have been able to be sucessful. I hope I can contribute too.
    Nice pix. Wanna see more horses.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Nice pix. Wanna see more horses.
    I have three mares due to foal this year-two are just after the new year..I'll post pic of the cutiepies when they get here.
    Here's their daddy-my young Dunskin Overo stallion



    http://s425.photobucket.com/albums/p...ter=slideshows

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Thanks, I'll take two.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  20. #20
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Winterizing/Insulating hive tops

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauri View Post
    The sample in the store looked just like that-Line-X type bed liner. But it is sandy-not rubbery. But similar in the fact it is supposed to be a thick covering as compared to paint.
    I have tried having small items sprayed with the bed liner stuff at the factory. It doesn't stick well and eventually peels off.
    Have you ever tried the peel and stick roofing material? It covers any gaps between boards very nicely. I have 3/4 inch plywood tops that it worked real well. I like the abrasive surface on the outside for cleaning my hive tool. Bees wax melts right into it when the sun shines on it.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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