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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kaysville, Utah, USA
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    Default Icicles *inside* the hive!

    It's been incredibly cold here for a couple of weeks now (it was 4 degrees this morning). This afternoon I went out to look at the hive and, peering through the mouse guard, was shocked to see two icicles hanging off the bottom-front of two of the frames (right near the entrance)! They were small, one about as big around as a pencil, the other even thinner.

    I can still hear buzzing coming from inside the hive, and I see dead bees periodically, so they're still alive. Is this anything to worry about? Maybe increase ventilation?
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,864

    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Do you have a hole drilled in the front of the hive where maybe rain or melting snow is getting in and running down the inside wall? John

  3. #3
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    Jul 2012
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    Kaysville, Utah, USA
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Quote Originally Posted by jmgi View Post
    Do you have a hole drilled in the front of the hive where maybe rain or melting snow is getting in and running down the inside wall? John
    No, the hive is (or should be) completely leakproof right now. The only thing I can think of is condensation.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    You need to provide some kind of top ventilation to allow the moist air to escape. The simplest may be to put a shim under the top, but alternatives include drilling a hole in a hive body.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
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    Jul 2012
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    You need to provide some kind of top ventilation to allow the moist air to escape. The simplest may be to put a shim under the top, but alternatives include drilling a hole in a hive body.
    The inner cover is shimmed at all four corners with Popsicle sticks and has a screened bee escape hole in the center. The telescoping cover is shimmed at one end with four Popsicle sticks (to slope it forward). The front of the TC, where the air should be escaping, was frosted shut, so I cleared that. Should the gap between the inner cover and the top of the hive be exposed to the air? My TC has rather long sides.
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    662

    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Is the bottom board solid or screened??

    What size is the opening in the bottom entrance reducer??

    It would appear there is not enough ventilation and what is restricting it?

    Can you open a 1 3/4 slot in the lips of the inner cover? I open it and invert the cover to give a 3/8 by 1 3/4 on the under side that provides an upper entrance and exhaust port. I also have a 3/4 round hole in a feeder shim just above frames. Do get some frost build up on the upper entrance and round hole and I rim them out if much frost is building up.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  7. #7
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    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    I think that bigger shims under the top cover might help to get more ventilation.

    Another modification to consider would be to add some foam insulation to the underside of the top cover. This does not solve the ventilation problem, but could help minimize actual condensation. The most basic version of that concept would be to just put foamboard on the outside of the top cover and hold it down with a weight. If you put the foam on the outside, it will likely get damaged by UV radiation from the sun over time.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
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    1,297

    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    More ventilation and a foam board above the inner cover as suggested above would be your best bet for now, it's a good thing that your inner cover was sloped, this probably helped the bees to avoid the ice. Something you might want to try next year is to make a condensation box, it is 2 1/2" high with # 8 screening stapled to the bottom and is filled with wood chips (hamster bedding) for a moisture absorbent, the condensation box has a 1/2" hole drilled through the front side to slowly let the moist air pass through the wood chips and out this hole preventing excessive heat loss. The inner cover lays on top of the condensation box, then the foam board and finally the outer cover. I have not had any moisture problems with this method. I wish you and your bees the best.
    Last edited by WWW; 01-03-2013 at 10:38 PM.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Kaysville, Utah, USA
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    I think that bigger shims under the top cover might help to get more ventilation.

    Another modification to consider would be to add some foam insulation to the underside of the top cover. This does not solve the ventilation problem, but could help minimize actual condensation. The most basic version of that concept would be to just put foamboard on the outside of the top cover and hold it down with a weight. If you put the foam on the outside, it will likely get damaged by UV radiation from the sun over time.
    I added a sheet of insulation to the top this morning. When things warm up a bit I'll move it to the inside of the TC (as well as add those shims).
    Don't provoke a hive full of angry bees.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Hartford, CT
    Posts
    607

    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    The condensation is likely causing your icicles and it's "collecting" any new condensation. You should be good? I don't have a outer vent but I'm using my top feeders as attics. The condensation should go up hit the colder roof and fall into the tray.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Shirley, MA, USA
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    109

    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    At 4F outside, the inner walls of a standard hive are almost certainly below freezing. With 2" dense foam insulation top and sides, my hives seem to be never more than 20F above outside-- and much less at the bottom. I'd guess condensation from the cluster respiration hits the walls, freezes, and on the occasional warm spell drips down. You'll need quite a draft to stop that. I'd suggest doing nothing, particularly if you've already got a small top vent. If you're worried about condensation dripping down onto the bees from the inner cover as opposed to down the side of the hive, take an empty medium super, fill it with fiberglass insulation (suggest inside a trash bag, and don't compress it- read the instructions for insulation installation), and put it above your inner cover, just like your house attic insulation. You can probably put that on without disturbing them.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Using 2 inch styrofoam on top, bottom and sides of hive, interior top temp is 30F warmer than exterior air. Also wrapped with black roofing paper.

    Don't think it is adviseable to get condensation, freezing, and excess moisture retained inside the hive. Becomes an environment for nosema.

    Insulation helps minimize condensation and warmth of interior prevents freezing of condensation. Beyond that adequate ventilation is required. Quilt boxes work in warmer climates but where its freezing and well below freezing, I suggest wood inner covers and adequate inlet ports via bottom entrance reducer size and exhaust ports via upper entrance.

    Between warmth, wood inner cover and ventilation my inner cover has no moisture on it.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Shirley, MA, USA
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    Correction to my post #11 above: my claim of not over 20F with 2" foam was from memory, and wrong-- I went back and checked some data, and in the dead of clear night when outside temperature plummets, temps at the center top (presumably over the cluster) can be well over 30F warmer than outside. I'd say the *average* gain at that spot, the warmest in the hive outside the cluster, is 15-20F. Still plenty cold for condensation on the sides, and for freezing at the bottom near the entrance.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Icicles *inside* the hive!

    My observation is that bees try to keep the hive interior at 40-45F inside. I think it is to allow movement to get to stores and return it to cluster. The spread is some 30F at colder ambient temps and decreases as anbient warms.

    Just checked, and at 07:16, ambient is 16F and interior hive temp at top is 40F. This hive is three deeps and cluster is still down.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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