Thought I'd pass this along.
Thought I'd pass this along.
I doubt they have kept bees for long. Hypothermia is fatal in many species including our own. Condensation is never a good idea unless you are doing desert survival training and it is not occuring in your living environment.
Bees are only going to be able to use condensation they can reach, which means only that which forms on the comb at the edge of the cluster in cold weather.
Anything that drips water into the cluster is going to be a problem, that's why my brother and I (and a friend) have ditched the plastic covers we got from Kelley's. Not only do they crack and leak in a few years (six or seven), but it appears that water condenses on them quite a bit, and since they are slightly convex, the water runs down and drips on the inner cover. My brother's hives were constantly damp or wet on top of the inner cover, and I had mold in mine last year in the bottom box. Not good. Wooden covers are flat, absorb quite a bit of moisture instead of instantly condensing it, and don't leak.
I don't know what the conditions in a feral hive are like, it would be fun to find out someday. However, hollow trees and cavities in cliff faces are vastly different than a thin wooden hive box.
A condenser hive makes a lot of sense under certain environmental conditions. Namely, cooler ones.
Evaporation = some energy (heat) is added to water and it changes phases from liquid to vapor. Since heat goes into the water it cools the surroundings. (how sweating cools our bodies)
Condensation = energy escapes from the water vapor as it changes back into liquid. This heats the surroundings.
When the environment is cool. Bees spend energy to heat the hive. The air in the hive can then hold more moisture allowing evaporation of the water in nectar. If the moisture in the air then condenses on the hive walls, that energy (heat) is retained in the hive and there is distilled water available in the hive to be used for other hive activities (or removal?). Sounds efficient!
In extreme cool temps like the winter too much condensation can be very bad as others pointed out.
Now the opposite, environments warmer than the internal hive temperature.
Bees are trying to cool their hive down. They bring in water and fan their wings to evaporate it. This cools the hive. If the moisture then condenses in the hive again, you have a net energy gain/loss of zero making it very difficult for bees to cool the hive. Since the outside is warmer than the inside the walls will not act as condensers anyways and you just have a hot stuffy humid hive.
Over ventilating is a problem as well. If outside is 105F and 90% humidity, and the bees are trying to keep the hive at say 95F and 70% humidity it's counter productive to let an excessive amount of that hot humid air into the hive.
Bottom line: To keep the your colony most efficient you need to alter the hive appropriately.
If you did want to make the best year round solution I think it would involve entrances shaped in a way that makes it easy for the bees to control direction and speed of the air flow. Maybe longer tunnel entrances?
Last edited by Joes_bees; 11-12-2012 at 03:04 PM. Reason: removed a sentence fragment
I think he documented his experiment very well. He also clarified which environments they felt it would work in. So in places like Seattle and Portland where it rains all winter, not such a good option. Where it gets so cold there is no moisture a better option. I thought it was good where he described how he checked his water container for leaks because this was so far away from his hypothesis. I think that means he did not twist his research to support his ideas.
“Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)
also if you're in the market for practices contrary to the norm:
I have 2 TBH's with observation windows.
On cold days, I've seen condensation on the windows.
I'm going to monitor them over the winter, but have a good feeling about this.
The window is the coldest, smoothest surface on the hive, and there's no chance of it dripping on the girls.