Re: Final Year Student Redesigning the Beehive
Would suggest you not prejudge any suggestions, but just a suggestion.
Ideal temp inside the hive is 5C as bees can move to fresh stores, but consume minimum stores. Search "The Biology and Management of Colonies in Winter" done at Beaverlodge Research Farm. This a constant temp to strive to keep the interior at.
Adequate but minimal ventilation is also critical. Amount of air flow a varies with the hunidity of the local climate so you need a variable sized inlet to have a universal hive. Using 2 1/2 wode by 3/8 high inlets and our cold temps are dry.
The bees themselves in maintaining the cluster are a heat source inside the hive. I have 2 inch insulation on five exteriors and 1/2 inch on south exposure. Black building paper over that. Inside temp will run 20 - 30 F warmer than exterior temp. About the coldest I have seen interior at the top is 30F in cold (-15F). Critical to have more insulation on top than sides or quilt boxes on top so any excess moisture does not drip on the cluster.
Bee cluster itself is a heat source and put four of them together and it's better.
A styrofoam wall is a start and there are commercial styrofoam hives on the market. Styrofoam insulates in the winter and insulates from excess heat in the summer. Needs to be durable as well to sunlight and use.
ANd some commercial bee keepers move hive into a controlled climate that avoids the labor of wrapping and unwrapping and provides close to 5C temp.
Cost is significant factor. Needs to be a profit and living for the bee keeper.
Need a cost effective, light, durable hive with adequate variable ventialtion that bees can maintain temp at 5C to 40C with minimal energy expenditure by the bees or other heat sources.
If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!