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Thread: Quilt Box?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Durango, Colorado
    Posts
    161

    Default Quilt Box?

    So in my quest to provide the best winter experience possible for my bees here in SW CO, I ran into the idea of a quilt box. Has anyone tried them? Good, bad, indifferent? They are used to suck up moisture in the hives during the winter.

    I have moisture boards - good or bad idea?

    Talk to me, peeps!

    On the winter thread, we get a lot of snow at times and very cold weather. Winters here last from October (we had a snow storm yesterday!) to mid-April.

    My plan for addressing moisture/ cold:
    * Moisture board above inner cover
    * Quilt box?
    * No opening the deeps until Spring - keep propolis in order.
    * Tar paper around hives
    * Two entrances - upper and lower
    * Custom bottom boards to close up the SBB
    * Wall of straw on pallets a couple feet from the hives on wind exposure sides
    * pray and hope they make it

    Anything else?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by SunnyR2000; 10-11-2013 at 02:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,487

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I have not tried them since we have fairly mild winters here (my bees were bringing in dandelion pollen on Christmas Day last year), but a quilt box is a perfectly good idea for very cold areas.

    Staple some screen to the bottom of a shallow super and fill it to the top with chopped leaves, fine bark mulch, planer shavings (not sawdust unless you can get sawmill, very coarse stuff) or any other similar porous organic material. No notch in the box, no hole in the next hive body, etc. Put the super on top of the hive with a telescoping cover on top.

    This gives great moisture absorption, no condensation, nice conditions inside the hive, and no howling wind inside on bitter cold nights. Heat rising from the cluster will slowly dry any accumulated moisture out of the "packing" and slow air movement will keep the bottom of it warm and dry. The combs on the sides of the hives will get cold enough to condense water vapor for the bees to use.

    I would also wrap the hives to keep wind out, and face the entrance away from the prevailing winds.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Downingtown, PA
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I have used them since I started. This will be my third winter coming up and I have not lost a hive over the winter months yet. I did have a NUC die off last winter late February, but it was formed late in the year and really was not strong enough going into winter.

    I used this design for mine the first two winters - 2 hives first winter (that was the very warm winter), and 4 hives last winter.

    http://www.beebehavior.com/THSC_Unit.php

    This year, I have 17 hives going into winter (I expect some losses this year) and not enough time to build this style box. I'm going to use 2x6 and build a box that I will allow the bottom to be replaced. #8 hardware cloth in the winter, and 1/4 ply when I want to have a hive top feeder (like the fatbeeman design). I'll make the insides swappable to maximize the utility of them. I plan to fill the new boxes with cedar chips this year.

    Whatever you decide, make sure you have a top vent to let the moisture escape. If you just have an inner cover over the cluster and not anything to absorb the moisture, make sure your hive tilts back to front, or front to back so the condensation will run down the front or back wall and not drip back onto the cluster.

    Good Luck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Battle Ground , Washington, USA
    Posts
    747

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I have put a queen excluder on top of my double deep boxes, then added a super and filled it up half way with shavings, leave the super lid cracked a bit and it wicked moisture up great.
    I'm not tense, Just terribly, terribly alert!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,514

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Ventillation and proper insulation practices is key to moisture problems. Although, most of the moisture will be consumed by the bees over the winter.
    As of yet, I have never had an issue with moisture. I may be just lucky in that regard.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morris Plains, NJ USA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    In viewing the many YouTube videos from the Russians on beekeeping, you will see that all they use are two layers of old carpeting or an old pillow above the frames. The hives are often close to falling apart and riddled with air leaks but they couldn't care less. The videos may be in Russian language but you will get the point when you see them push two feet of snow off of the hive, lift the pillow to check the hives. No winter feeding for them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,384

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    About 1/2 my hives have quilt boxes made from either a shallow super filled with cedar chips and screened, or a top cover with integral vents and cedar chip quilt built in. The hives that do not have these get burlap stuffed under the cover above the frames and emergency feed. Works for me.

    Instead of true quilt boxes I have switched to a vented quilt box with a permanently attached top cover. It also helps to exhaust heat in the summer.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
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    676

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I'm in the process of making 2 quilt boxes for my 2 hives. I use all medium supers, so I just sacrificed a medium super, I have 1/4" hardware cloth to staple on the bottom, I will fill the box with clean pine shavings which I also use for my chicken coop, and that's it, just put the telescoping cover on top. Some people put the shavings or whatever into a pillow case first, that might keep the shavings from falling through, but I'm just going to try mine plain. If I find that shavings have fallen into the hive in the spring, I'll use a pillow case next time.

    I have heard that not only will it wick up excess moisture and keep the condensation from dripping back down on the bees, but that it can be a source of water for the bees in the winter. I can't say for sure because I haven't tried it yet, but that's what I've heard. It makes sense that something porous like shavings would treat condensation more effectively than a styrofoam board.

    P.S. - I've also heard that pine shavings are better to use than cedar because cedar is a natural insect deterrent, but since people make entire hives out of cedar, maybe that's not accurate.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Posts
    303

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I live in the cool damp Pacific Northwest - with moisture being a big problem. I'm trying these this year with wood chips:

    http://www.honeybeesuite.com/how-to-...ngstroth-hive/

    I used burlap (previously used to hold coffee) instead of canvas.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,384

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Cedar does not seem to affect honeybees. I use it because it deters ants and other critters. I also use it in my smoker because it has an effect on mites, supposedly. I used to use burlap to hold the chips, like a pillow, but have switched to simple window screen hardware cloth stapled to the bottom. The shavings that fall through don't seem to be a problem.

    FYI - I am pretty high up and my weather should be very similar to what SunnyR2000 experiences. I actually have better luck overwintering at high altitude than down in the desert. It gets pretty warm down there during the day, and much colder at night. The bees go through a lot more down there and usually run out of stores faster. Up here in the mountains - the cold keeps them clustered better. My preference is actually to bring them up so they will sleep through winter and just make sure they have a supply of emergency feed. That being said, I usually overwinter about 1/2 on the mountain and the other 1/2 in the fields down in the desert for next season, to avoid a lot of moving hives. I normally run about 25 hives or so. Any more than that and I can't keep up with my full time job and everything else.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Based on Rusty's general plan I built these 4-in-1 inner covers for Pacific Northwest wet-winter beekeeping. They have a 1 1/4" space between the screen and top bars for placement of pollen/fondant patties. A few hives have tried to build comb in this space, but generally they don't.

    1. With lid over center hole, screened inner cover (summer configuration)

    2. Inverted half-gallon jar with feeder lid in center hole, empty super and telescoping cover on top (fall configuration, see hive in background in photo below)

    3. Lid over center hole, filled with 2 1/2" layer of cedar chips (winter configuration)

    4. Chips still in place, pollen/fondant patties below screen (early spring configuration)




  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Harbor, WA
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    303

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Luterra - how have you liked that set up?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,384

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I like that!
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I built five of them last fall and overwintered 5 out of 5 hives. So far so good on that count. They are great for feeding, though I might add some #8 screen below the feeder lid to prevent bees from boiling out when I change syrup jars. In big hives the top 1-2" of cedar chips become saturated over winter, but I never had to change the chips as the airflow through the side holes allows some drying. I had one hive that built burr comb below the screen, so I gave them a regular inner cover for the summer season.

    They are built from 1x4's, with a 1x6 across the middle with the wide-mouth size circular hole and 1/2" wide strips ripped from a 1x4 to attach the screen around the sides.

    I suspect (though I haven't tested it) that the significant summer airflow and light admittance might discourage bees from making use of the space directly below the cover. For this reason I switched back to regular inner covers when adding new supers of foundation that I wanted them to draw and fill.

    Mark

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    I have been using regular inner covers under my quilt boxes from the start. My first boxes used burlap, and the bees liked to chew on them. They don't usually go above the inner covers, however, unless you put food up there. I normally fill my hives with candy for emergency food, so I place a piece (or pieces) of burlap between the candy and inner cover.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Durango, Colorado
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Went ahead and built these for my 4 large hives that will overwinter. I used 2 mediums, one shallow, and one homemade box. The two mediums have fine screen stapled to the bottom - one has Aspen chips in it and the other has dried wood pulp shavings. The shallow has screen and wood pulp shavings. None of these have holes drilled in them, instead, I decided to shim-prop the top edge between the moisture board and top of these quilt boxes. The homemade box has ventilation holes on the long sides covered with screen and a fabric bottom with dried wood pulp. It will be a nice test! Am monitoring moisture by checking custom removable bottom boards.

    I've read that burlap has been treated with chemicals, so decided not to go that route.

    Anyway, my set up for overwintering is as follows:
    2 Deep FULL Brood boxes
    Inner cover
    Quilt Box
    Shim-prop
    Moisture board
    Tele-outer cover
    Propanel pieces as roof over hives
    Heavy rock

    ...AND I built a wind block out of straw bales about two feet from the hives on the N and W side - where the wind hits this location.

    All have upper entrances (which they are using more frequently lately) along with reduced to medium size (about four inches) lower entrances. The plan is to reduce lowers further to one inch when the days are colder. All have mouse guards on - particularly at night when temps are in the high 20's.

    Soon will make tar paper covers, then will cam strap entire contraption for the winter.

    My bees are still taking some feed and really going at the pollen patties I've added. Monitoring mite load by checking custom board that cover SBB for winter/ non-summer weather. These girls are looking good so far as I can tell!

    Am I missing anything?

    Crossing my fingers (and my eyes) hoping all is well.
    Last edited by SunnyR2000; 10-16-2013 at 03:08 PM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    70

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyR2000 View Post
    So in my quest to provide the best winter experience possible for my bees here in SW CO, I ran into the idea of a quilt box. Has anyone tried them?
    I would consider quilts necessary, and have them on every hive I run. In the winter, I fill with leaves for the insulation/wicking, and in the summer, I empty the leaves and they act as an air conditioner.

    I've created step by step instructions at:

    http://members.shaw.ca/metropropolis...th%20Quilt.pdf

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Viola, OR, USA
    Posts
    63

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Why not use a standard Vivaldi ventilation board and fill with shavings or burlap? Isn't that the same as a quilt box?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Strafford County, NH
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    676

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Metropropolis, that was about the best step by step with photos I've seen. I also like your idea of storing the entrance reducer in there.

    I was concerned the bees might chew thru aluminum screening, so I opted for the hardware cloth but it's closer to 1/4 than 1/8 so we'll see how that goes. Might need a lining cloth/pillow case. I don't think you'd need a cross bar with hardware cloth tho.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Durango, Colorado
    Posts
    161

    Default Re: Quilt Box?

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    Metropropolis, that was about the best step by step with photos I've seen. I also like your idea of storing the entrance reducer in there.

    I was concerned the bees might chew thru aluminum screening, so I opted for the hardware cloth but it's closer to 1/4 than 1/8 so we'll see how that goes. Might need a lining cloth/pillow case. I don't think you'd need a cross bar with hardware cloth tho.
    Mine are building wax and/ or propolising part of the inner cover ventilation hole. I checked their feed yesterday and noticed a pile of bees hanging from the quilt box. They don't appear to be chewing through the aluminum. I did notice a few shavings from the quilt box on the bottom board yesterday, but not so much to be concerned.

    The only homemade version I have is the one I built to ventilate my hive last year. It was so hot last year...

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