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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,164

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    The way I prevent moisture (condensation) from forming on the ceiling of the hive is to build a cheap frame (using 1X2's) with 2 layers of cheap 3/4 in. styrofoam. The styrofoam prevents the cold outside from transmitting to the inside surface (ceiling). The aim is to have the temperature of the ceiling surface essentially the same as the moist air inside the hive so that no moisture condenses. I have a bottom and top entrance to provide adequate air movement. Whenever I did take a quick look into a hive with this frame, I found the underside to be bone dry, even when the outside temperature was in the 20's.

    Regarding the styrofoam, I found it necessary to attach window screen to the underside; when I didn't the bees enthusiastically chewed it up, rather quickly I might add.

    We are at the end of the 2nd winter using these frames; I am very pleased with the results.
    Last edited by philip.devos; 02-15-2017 at 09:18 AM.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    NE SD
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    Quote Originally Posted by philip.devos View Post
    The way I prevent moisture (condensation) from forming on the ceiling of the hive is to build a cheap frame (using 1X2's) with 2 layers of cheap 3/4 in. styrofoam. The styrofoam prevents the cold outside from transmitting to the inside surface (ceiling). The aim is to have the temperature of the ceiling surface essentially the same as the moist air inside the hive so that no moisture condenses. I have a bottom and top entrance to provide adequate air movement. Whenever I did take a quick look into a hive with this frame, I found the underside to be bone dry, even when the outside temperature was in the 20's.

    Regarding the styrofoam, I found it necessary to attach window screen to the underside; when I didn't the bees enthusiastically chewed it up, rather quickly I might add.

    We are at the end of the 2nd winter using these frames; I am very pleased with the results.
    I think this will be my plan going forward. I've read this method is successful from a few people now.

    Thank you!

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    Styrofoam insulation will act as a vapor barrier, and it will impede the elimination of humidity from inside the hive. If we assume the bee cluster has a temperature of approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit to protect brood (or even 55 or 65 degrees when possible) where humidity is created by consumption of honey, there will be no areas within the hive that has that same temperature (except a small area above the cluster when heat rises) if the outside temperature is less than that cluster temperature. Around here, it may possibly be as low as -20 or -10 degrees Fahrenheit. If the roof/ceiling is sealed by a vapor barrier, there needs to be rapid air exchange to avoid the possibility of condensation someplace within the hive, and none of the entrances (top or bottom) should be so large as to allow breeze. Please note the U of Minnesota specifically says -- do not use styrofoam; use Bildrite, or even newspapers. Free movement of the vapor is desired; it should not be impeded. Winters in our portion of the world (Holy Land North) is significantly different than the 20 degrees referenced in Maryland. I suggest you consider the geographical location - I believe this is one of the times you should consider "local beekeeping practices".
    Last edited by JTGaraas; 02-15-2017 at 11:05 PM. Reason: Wrong phrase

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Southern Maryland
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    I'd be worried about that condensation, especially because it's centered (presumably) over your inner cover opening. Keep an eye and see if it dripped right back down onto your cluster. Look for water marks or mold inside the hive bodies, or on the bottom board.

    I use no insulation and keep an empty box on top of the inner cover all winter - it holds feed in spring. My inner covers have a vent hole covered with screen to keep secure - pulling the screen creates an upper entrance during spring. I use screened bottom boards left uncovered all winter. Bottom hive opening has #8 screen to prevent robbing that I just leave on all the time now. Doubles as a mouse guard. In other words, I have lots of ventilation. I also tip boxes forward in case of condensation, and also because feed bottles start to drip during air pressure changes. I don't vary the tilt - it's always the same all year long. Trees are a solid wind break.

    My score so far is five hives - five alive. All strong (for now). All beekeeping is local, but bees can survive cold, cold weather if they are out of the wind, have stores and keep dry. This was my first winter but a lot of local folks who took a extra steps (insulation inside, etc.) lost their hives. We're humid by nature in our woods, fwiw.

    I went to a couple of local beekeeper meetings last fall when everyone compared over-winter strategies. Without targeting any particular approach, it was clear that those who took the greatest amount of extraordinary effort had the highest historical losses. Wasn't sure if losses were because of the extra steps, or if the extra efforts were attempts to stem losses that would happen no matter what. I still don't know and it's possible they just have bad locations and without some extra compensation they'd lose even more. But those who took a simpler approach seemed to have fewer issues (again, maybe they have better locations). So going into winter I just made sure to treat and feed the snot out of those bees. Then I ignored those boxes all winter. Didn't even look at them. I figured if I lost them all I was out of beekeeping, and if they survived then the location was good.

    I suggest you mix it up next year. Try something else.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    NE SD
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    Quote Originally Posted by Green Tractor View Post
    I'd be worried about that condensation, especially because it's centered (presumably) over your inner cover opening. Keep an eye and see if it dripped right back down onto your cluster. Look for water marks or mold inside the hive bodies, or on the bottom board.

    I use no insulation and keep an empty box on top of the inner cover all winter - it holds feed in spring. My inner covers have a vent hole covered with screen to keep secure - pulling the screen creates an upper entrance during spring. I use screened bottom boards left uncovered all winter. Bottom hive opening has #8 screen to prevent robbing that I just leave on all the time now. Doubles as a mouse guard. In other words, I have lots of ventilation. I also tip boxes forward in case of condensation, and also because feed bottles start to drip during air pressure changes. I don't vary the tilt - it's always the same all year long. Trees are a solid wind break.

    My score so far is five hives - five alive. All strong (for now). All beekeeping is local, but bees can survive cold, cold weather if they are out of the wind, have stores and keep dry. This was my first winter but a lot of local folks who took a extra steps (insulation inside, etc.) lost their hives. We're humid by nature in our woods, fwiw.

    I went to a couple of local beekeeper meetings last fall when everyone compared over-winter strategies. Without targeting any particular approach, it was clear that those who took the greatest amount of extraordinary effort had the highest historical losses. Wasn't sure if losses were because of the extra steps, or if the extra efforts were attempts to stem losses that would happen no matter what. I still don't know and it's possible they just have bad locations and without some extra compensation they'd lose even more. But those who took a simpler approach seemed to have fewer issues (again, maybe they have better locations). So going into winter I just made sure to treat and feed the snot out of those bees. Then I ignored those boxes all winter. Didn't even look at them. I figured if I lost them all I was out of beekeeping, and if they survived then the location was good.

    I suggest you mix it up next year. Try something else.
    Thanks GT,

    I'm already planning on getting rid of the covers next winter. I know what a strong hive is supposed to look like now. And 4 of the 6 did not go into winter strong. The condensation was probably just a contributing factor that resulted in a quicker death. Probably would have died either way.

    I doubled down for next year. 11 hives it is!

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    carney, maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,164

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    Regarding styrofoam acting as a vapor barrier, one must also provide adequate air circulation to allow warm moist air to escape. All of my colonies have a lower AND upper entrance which appear to provide sufficient air circulation.

    The reason the styrofoam works is that the temperature of the styrofoam surface is essentially the same as the air below it. Similarly if you have 2 glasses of water sitting in your house, one with ice cubes in it and the other with luke warm water, no condensation will form on the glass of luke warm water, while the outside surface of the ice cold glass of water will become wet with condensation.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Southern Maryland
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeDakota View Post
    ..

    I doubled down for next year. 11 hives it is!
    See, now that's the right attitude!

    I'm with you, bro. Going to split and feed until I have double next year.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Portage, Wi
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    Thanks for the info on the beelab!!

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Hamlin, South Dakota,USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: I lost 5 of 6 hives this winter and might have just figured out why....

    BeeDakota check your pm

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