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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,288

    Default Winter hive wraps...questions

    It seems many wrap their hives for winter.

    Some use roofing (tar) paper, some use rigid insulation as well.

    Some threads have indicated this is done to:

    protect from cold
    protect from wind
    protect from wet (rain)

    The down side seems to be the potential for increased hive condensation.

    Is this increased condensation because:

    the hive is now warmer
    there is decreased ventilation (even with top and bottom entrances left at a bee space)
    both

    I also hear that cold is not the issue but condensation is...if that is the case why do folks use rigid insulation, group hives, use external heating devices to help keep hives warm

    Someone asked if tar (roofing ) paper "breathes". The answer was no.

    If it doesn't breath how is it any better than putting a heavy duty black contractors bag around the hives with openings for ventilation and egress/entrance.

    This is my first year with bees. I have been very impressed by how well they seal the hive spaces with propolis. That should make the cracks pretty draught proof.
    When I open a hive it doesn't take them long to repair what I have broken.

    So if one did not look into hives to see if they require more food would the wood hive, propolis seals and bee body heaters be adequate to keep the hive environment adequate for most North American winters?

    If the bees are clustered and one opens a hive do they break that cluster to reseal with propolis? ...or have we now created a serious draught issue?

    Given that warm air rises if one was to configure a hive so it had 2 deeps, a sugar bar on top of the frames, an inner cover with rim on top of that with a shallow ventilation/insulation/absorption box above the inner cover with scrunched up or shredded paper for insulation/absorption and a cover with rigid insulation on the hive side above that ....would one wrap to the underside of the cover or to just above the bottom edge of the ventilation box (allowing for egress of warm air from the ventilation box).

    Does that winter hive configuration seem reasonable for a climate that is wet (rainy), has many nights with a light freeze and about 2 weeks each year with a hard freeze and snow.

    Lots of questions...hopefully people who have overwintered hives will respond

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,824

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    I have quit wrapping the last 2 years. I buy cheap tarps, push the hives together and make a 3 sided tent with the open side facing south/east. I run upper and lower entrances. Hives stay very dry and ventilate well. tarp acts as a wind break as well. I have my hives on pallets and make sure the tarps go to the ground so there is no wind under the hives. Works well so far.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morris Plains, NJ USA
    Posts
    236

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    To me as a new beek the idea of using black tar paper is not the wisest. During the daytime it will warm the hive but at night it will radiate heat and cool the hive, giving the bees a widely swinging range of hive temperature; it's just the nature of infrared energy. Of course the tar paper will stop wind draught. This winter I will be using 1" thick aluminum faced foam board and a top cover that will give the proper venting for moisture control and minimal heat loss. I'll be monitoring the hive temps with some of those cheap remote sensing wired Chinese digital thermometers; it's just part of my learning process.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    662

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    What is required for winter is very climate specific. Winter in central Alberta is much different than winter in Vancouver. Think your main issue is high humidity and mositure after ensuring adequate winter food supply.

    Black building paper provides a wind barrier but I think without insulation between it and the hive, will warm the interior too much and will fool the bees into flying when ambient air temp is too cold. It does breathe somewhat. See attached link.

    http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&...51156542,d.cGE

    Close any screened bottom boards and provide adequate ventilation by bottom entrane and top exit vents such as notch in inner cover lip, pop sicle sticks under inner cover, 5/8 inch round hole, quilt box, etc.

    No black building paper wrap but a wind break a short distance a way from hive. South exposure so sun does hit hive directly( if you ever see the sun in Vancouver in the winter!!!!)

    To control condensation, I'd place a piece of styrofoam under the outer cover. Moisture condenses first on coldest surface and you don't want that to bee over head.

    I would seriously consider a quilt box. If moisture does condense the wood shavings will absorb it and with vent holes in the sides of the quilt box, it should get exhausted.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,288

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    Thanks...scrunched up paper is what was suggested to me in the quilt box. I plan to do that..the quilt box also has screened vent holes. I would put it above the inner cover that has grip opening in the centre. I will a screen over the hole to stop bees from getting into the paper. My hives are spread out...8 are up against the house...most also are at least partly under the roof over hang. 7 face south 8 face west. They are too spread out to place under a tarp. One of the pollinator beeks in our area has black insulated construction tarps that he lays over his hives...says it works well but they are from eons ago and are huge.

    Has anyone successfully used tar paper wraps in a moist, overcast, not too cold environment?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,587

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    I wrapped the hives with tar paper last year, my buddy did not. No difference EXCEPT I had a lot more dead bees out front due to them getting "fooled" that it was warm enough to fly on a sunny day.
    I won't wrap anymore.

    Although, I will continue to use the 3/4" insulation board between the inner cover and the telescopic cover. At least there will be no moisture problems on top of the bees. Bees still need moisture to drink in the winter, which they will get from the sides.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Strasburg, Pa, USA
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    Can someone explain what a quilt box is, I saw several people comment on this thread talking about them. A picture of one would also be nice. Thanks

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,288

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    I have no photo but it is a very shallow box...mine are 3" deep and I will put stuff in to insulate the top of the and capture moisture from condensation...it will sit as the top box on the wintered hive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    662

    Default Re: Winter hive wraps...questions

    Google "bee quilt box"

    An example is shown in following link but I'm sure there is many variations

    http://foozmeat.tumblr.com/post/4995...stroth-beehive
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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