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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    14

    Default Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    First year beekeeper - one hive, 2 deeps, 1 filled honey super in zone 5b. Question - how much ventilation is too much? Hive sits on a 18" stand, solid bottom board, mouse guard.
    We put an empty super (over a queen excluder on top of honey super) filled w/straw inside of burlap wrap, covered by screened inner cover, then top outer cover (which is a peak shape), covered with aluminum. Hive faces south - nice full sun (when it's out) and installed windscreen around the fence where hive sits.
    It snowed today, very cold - am wondering if I should replace the screened inner cover with a solid inner cover when it warms up a bit (predicted to this week). Would appreciate your advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Pics may help immensely. I'm trying to picture the whole hive. Here, all that is needed is about an inch wide opening (entrance) and a half inch in the inner cover for ventilation. Pretty typical.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    If the straw and burlap fits tightly in the super (no spaces around the edges) and it's full, I'd leave it alone. Otherwise, you risk ice building up on the solid cover, it's going to be much colder than the straw.

    If the super is not full, fill it so that it's full but not packed tight and you should be OK.

    Down in the sunny south here, we just leave an inner cover and outer cover in place with the top slid back to cover the upper entrance until spring, works great.

    Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    i think your straw and burlap would likely absorb any moisture, (rising from the broodnest).

    plus, the insulative properties should keep it from getting cold.

    the queen excluder might get cold enough up there to condense h2o, and if it did, it would drip back down on the bees.

    i would use a regular inner cover over the honey super. then an empty super, with 2" (r10) styrofoam inside and resting on top of the inner cover.

    for ventilation, i would have one or two screened notches in the inner cover.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,018

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Cynthia, Cynthia, Cynthia, you got one hive. It is either going to make it or is not. If you keep screwing with it, it will not make it and you won't have a clue what to do next year. If you treat it like a puppy it might survive because bees are more resourceful than a puppy. It is too late for beekeeping micromanaging.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    no it's not cynthia, we are not even to winter solstice. i fed syrup today.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,018

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Ah, squarepeg, do you see where she is from?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Cynthia,
    I also live in zone 5b in New York, though I live in Chemung county.
    Last year I wintered bees in 2 deeps, with 1 1/2 boxes (15 frames) of winter stores, I also had an empty filled with organic material for insulation ( called a 'quilt box', btw), though mine was filled with chopped leaves.
    I homemade screen board (solid fram w/ no vent @ the sides) btw the super and quilt box to hold the leaves up, and a solid tele cover.

    I had a 3/8" x 1/2" lower entrance and a 3/8" x 3/8" vent at the top edge of the super for ventilation.

    In mid winter, I pushed my had thru the leaves all the way down to the screen. I was wonderfully warm at the bottom of the leaves, even though the top 1/4" or so of them was very damp.
    It remained so all winter -- the condensation was absorbed by the leaves, but evaporated into the dry winter air quickly enough that only the top fraction of an inch ever got damp.

    I would arrange your straw and burlap so that it is snug to the sides of the box and put a regular solid cover on your hive. simply slipping a match stick under one edge will give you about the same vent area as I had...and I had a lot of honey left after the winter.

    PS
    The other New Yorker commenting above shared with us last (winter? spring?) about the loss of most of his hives.
    I'm sure it wasn't his fault, but it might be wise to take his overwintering advice circumspectly.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,684

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Cynthia - Peter (psfred) offers good advice. And Beregondo as well.

    And please don't take offense from Acebird's comments, Beesource really is a friendly place, its just a few of our members don't know how to behave around a new member. You will do well to just ignore him.
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,018

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    PS
    The other New Yorker commenting above shared with us last (winter? spring?) about the loss of most of his hives.
    I'm sure it wasn't his fault, but it might be wise to take his overwintering advice circumspectly.
    Seriously, I had two hives. Yes I killed one of them by combining the queens in the fall (I assume) but now I have three. I had one hive that went through winter that was a boomer in the spring. Maybe next year I will have one or none. Does any of that really matter? Can you guaranteeing that if she follows your directions she will not have a dead hive in the spring? I want to see that guarantee in writing.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,684

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    There are no guarantees in beekeeping.

    Its good to see that Ace still knows how to make friends and influence people.
    .

    Oh, that's right, Ace has previously said he doesn't care what people think, he's just dedicated to telling them the facts. (Where's that confounded bridge? )
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Can you guaranteeing that if she follows your directions she will not have a dead hive in the spring? I want to see that guarantee in writing.
    You can want whatever you like.
    If your condescension and holding yourself out as though you are an authority put a new beekeeper at risk of loss,
    don't expect your foolishness to go unchallenged.

    Some of us are more concerned about seeing new members succeed than we are with your pride.

    If you think before you speak, you might well save yourself embarrassment.
    Last edited by Beregondo; 12-01-2012 at 08:03 PM. Reason: typo

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Ah, squarepeg, do you see where she is from?
    yes ace, looks like the tristate area. i am guessing that most beeks in the northeast consider some way to prevent condensation forming on the ceiling of the hive.

    cynthia, welcome to ask 10 beekeepers a question and get 12 answers.

    the better answer is to check around with folks nearby you who have been doing this awhile and find out what has worked for them.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Brownsburg, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    149

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    I purchased a vented super from Walter T Kelly, then, I placed a piece of duct tape over each of the 8 holes 2 one inch hole screened on each side, folded the ends of the tape to act as a flap, then placed another piece of duct tape to hold it down in cold weather.
    Then I placed this super at the top and placed the lid and cover.
    I did this to assume moisture will escape from the top of the hive.
    At this time, I open it in the daytime, when the temps are warm,
    December 10, thru the 15. a Arctic cold front is expected to invade the United States, bringing in cold air and snow, and is suppose to last several weeks! FYI.
    Anyway, so far this seems to work, the Temps in Indiana, this season lows in the Mid 20's to highs in the lower 60's
    Plenty of difference in Temperature to cause moisture issues within a hive.
    It's raining now, tomorrow, I'm placing a humid-a-stat in the hive while the temps are warm, going the check the humidity to see if I have any issues.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Columbia County, NY
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Holy cats (I mean bees) - didn't mean to cause any fuss.... Thanks mostly for the great tips. It's expected to warm up here for a day or two, so I'll be taking advantage of the warm temps to make some adjustments. The empty super could definitely use more straw to fill in the gaps, will rethink using the queen excluder and add the solid inner cover.
    Thanks again!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    good luck cynthia. if your inner covers are made like mine, the recess on the underside is also part of the 'bee space' above the frames on the top box. an excluder there might prevent the bees from being able to cross over the top of the frames. welcome to the forum!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    brooklyn, ny
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    I use a 2'' vent on top of my inner cover. My inner cover has a small 3/4'' entrance cut in. This helps for natural convection flows and helps eliminate moisture. On top of my inner cover I have a handful of rice wrapped in cheese cloth. Rice aborbs moisture. ( don't put it over the center hole, just to the side of it.} Then cut a sheet of poly styrene and fit it tightly over the rice in the 2'' vent.
    Your windscreen is a good idea.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts
    341

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    P1060016.jpgCynthia,

    The pictures here illustrate an eke similar to that described by Beregondo in Post # 8 above. It is about 2 inches high with the bottom screened with wire, them filled with wood shavings, and screened on top with a 1/2 inch plastic hardware cloth to contain the wood shavings. There are 1 1/4 inch holes drilled on each side to allow moisture to leave and a 1 inch by 3/8 inch upper entrance on the bottom front side. The upper entrance can easily be blocked with duct tape if you desire. It is also called a 'quilt box' and provides a medium to absorb moisture during the winter as well as minimal insulation. It is a very simple item to make and should absorb any moisture from the bees during the winter and prevent any drip-down on your bees. Place it in the sun during the summer to dry it out.

    Steve

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Posts
    341

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    P1060015.jpgCynthia,

    Oops! Here is the picture of the top of the eke.

    Steve

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,684

    Default Re: Ventilation question - first winter as beekeeper

    Bear Creek Steve, can you talk a little about the small holes in the "eke" that are drilled vertically in the bottom of the 3/4" width? They appear to be perhaps 5/16" in diameter. What are they for?
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

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