Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?
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  1. #1
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    Default Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    First winter with bees in MN/WI and there is so much information out there on over wintering!

    I ended up with just one thriving hive with 2 deeps that I am still supplementing 2:1 feed. I have a bee cozy and a metal top telescoping lid with inner cover. I purchased the metal entrance disc and plan on installing that asap on the top deep and putting bottom entrance at smallest opening with a mouse guard.

    Question regarding moisture:

    What are the pro's/con's of moisture boards versus quilt boxes? The moisture boards are appealing from the simple fact of they can be purchased easily and I am thinking less mold? However the quilt boxes seem like they would capture more moisture? Thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    In my opinion CAPTURING moisture is exactly what you do not want to do. I would have to drag out my chemistry book to do the exact calculations (moles and all of that), but bees produce GALLONS of water over the winter. I want it out. I do NOT want to capture it. Moist air rises. Let it out the top.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeswinter.htm#Top
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Vent the interior by a small bottom entrance opening and a top entrance.

    Install extra insulation on top so interior top is not the coldest part of the hive. Any moisture condensation will occur on cold surfaces first.

    Personally, I use a feed rim with a 3/4 round entrance/vent hole, an inner cover with notch up, a quilt box above inner cover, and a telescopic hive with 2 1/2 Styrofoam permanently installed. Inner cover will catch any drips that might occur from quilt box( I have never seen evidence of this). The notch up vents the cavity between top side of inner cover and underside of quilt box.

    Quilt boxes work best with side holes in quilt box and/or venting of area above shavings. Moisture works it way through shavings in quilt box and exits hive. I have never used a quilt box with a bee cozy but would suspect you may get some moisture trapped in the quilt box and get some molding happening.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Thanks for the info!!

    OK total newbie question here:

    I have been using migratory tops so far, but decided to use a metal covered telescoping for the winter. I just received it and am completely confused when everyone keeps talking about a "top" or "Bottom" to the inner cover? And I have looked it over and do not see any "notches" in the inner cover?

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Quote Originally Posted by Angiebubs View Post
    Thanks for the info!!

    OK total newbie question here:

    I have been using migratory tops so far, but decided to use a metal covered telescoping for the winter. I just received it and am completely confused when everyone keeps talking about a "top" or "Bottom" to the inner cover? And I have looked it over and do not see any "notches" in the inner cover?

    Here's a link to a pic of an inner cover in our area. Notch in lip is 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch.

    http://www.beemaidbeestore.com/img/p...7c62e2b4c5.jpg

    One side is flat and side with notch has a 1/4 or 3/8 rim and notch in the rim. You can cut the notch out with a hand saw and save the piece if you want to block it. I typically nail the notch to the inner cover so I don't lose it.

    Think the intent is to use the flat side to the frames in the summer. Leaves about bee space between frame tops and flat side of the inner cover. Can leave notch open as a top entrance or block it for the summer. A lot of hives in my area are operated with a bottom entrance only for the summer. You can also run notch down in summer, creating a top entrance. May get a bit more bridge comb due to extra space created by rim but is not overly problematic.

    A lot of bee keepers don't use a feed rim and need a top entrance for winter to exhaust moisture. If they have inner covers, they often place them notch down and create the upper entrance. If they do not have an inner cover, they drill a 1 inch hole in top deep brood just below hand hole to create an upper entrance/moisture exhaust port.

    My personal preference from bottom to top is feed rim with 3/4 entrance, inner cover with notch up, quilt box and insulated outer cover. Also put two inches perimeter Styrofoam insulation and a black wrap. Black wrap is just to top of Styrofoam and does not cover side holes in quilt box.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Awesome thank you! So I do NOT have this notch out of my Mann Lake inner cover (and am not losing my mind LOL) But that makes total sense. However I think that since I am planning on drilling a hole and putting the metal entrance disc over it, that would work out just as well.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    >I have been using migratory tops so far, but decided to use a metal covered telescoping for the winter. I just received it and am completely confused when everyone keeps talking about a "top" or "Bottom" to the inner cover? And I have looked it over and do not see any "notches" in the inner cover?

    Not all inner covers are the same. Some have a notch and some have no notch. Some are flat on one side and recessed on the other. Some are recessed on both sides by different amounts.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Quote Originally Posted by Angiebubs View Post
    Awesome thank you! So I do NOT have this notch out of my Mann Lake inner cover (and am not losing my mind LOL) But that makes total sense. However I think that since I am planning on drilling a hole and putting the metal entrance disc over it, that would work out just as well.
    Your talking about the one for 5 bucks or so that has several different openings right?...anyway I'd only use that if i was not using an inner cover. so like for a nuc or hive with attached bottom and a migratory cover that was moved around it would be useful. since you have an inner cover might think of just notching out some wood enough for a top entrance.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Without question I'd recommend quilt boxes rather than a moisture board. Quilt boxes remove the moisture from the hive all winter (someone here calculated that's 5 gallons over the course of winter). They are poorly named. While they may sound cozy, their primary function is moisture management, which they do perfectly.

    I have described mine so often regular readers must be bored to death to see it again. Do a search on my user name and you will quickly turn up a description of mine.

    I am in northern NY and I wouldn't winter without one on top of every hive.

    Enj.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    I use moisture boards (homasote) with bottom reduced entrance mouse guard and upper notch entrance in a moist marine air winter climate.
    They work and work well.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    In my opinion CAPTURING moisture is exactly what you do not want to do. I would have to drag out my chemistry book to do the exact calculations (moles and all of that), but bees produce GALLONS of water over the winter. I want it out. I do NOT want to capture it. Moist air rises. Let it out the top.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beeswinter.htm#Top

    Michael,
    I totally respect your opinion. Last year I had ONE Warre' hive that had a quilt box and survived the winter just fine. This year I have 9 hives going into winter strong. I"m putting quilt boxes on them but also giving them top entrances......do you think this is a mistake? My thought is that the quilt box gives some "R" value to the cover and the upper entrance allows the moist air to escape.
    zone 5b
    Back in 2019!

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    I would have to experiment more with quilt boxes to have a firm opinion on them beyond that I don't think you can trap all the moisture. But that may be a mistake in what people believe about how they work. Perhaps all they do is slow the moisture down to keep it from condensing. It just seems (and don't have a lot of experience with using them but I have a lot of experience living outdoors) that anytime you catch moisture that is a bad thing because now you have to evaporate it and that takes a lot of energy. If the moisture can escape through a top entrance, the quilt board will probably just be insulation and insulation on top is always a good thing as it cuts down on condensation as well as cutting down on heat loss.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    I have eight one inch holes, two per side in my quilt boxes. They are covered by a 1/8 mesh screen. There is no doubt that moisture is being vented through them as they get covered in frost in cold temps. Round hole in feed rim and notch in inner cover also nearly frost over.

    Think most of the moisture is vented by bottom entrance and 3/4 feed and notch in inner cover but no doubt some is migrating through quilt box. With inner cover below quilt box, I vent underside of quilt box. I can't imagine a scenario where quilt box would contain enough moisture to drip. And if it did drip, the dripping would mostly land on inner cover.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    I think the inner cover under the quilt box material may be a hindrance. The shavings quilt provides enough resistance to air flow to prevent over ventilation and thus loss of heat. If your quilt box is vented out the sides above the shavings layer the inner cover can go on the top of the quilt box then insulation and the weatherproof cover. In other words I see the shavings or whatever of the quilt as being a wick so I want the maximum area exposed to it. The upper surface is an evaporator or dissipator; dont restrict air access to it.
    Frank

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Keep in mind I have a 3 1/2 round hole in my inner cover. It is sized to accommodate syrup feeding with jars. Underside of quilt box has good access to top hive moisture. I am having no problem with getting moisture out of the hive. I sometimes wonder if it is too dry as some condensation is helpful to supply moisture to dissolve crystalized honey.

    Many hives in Western Canada are vented by a bottom entrance and a single 1 inch round hole in top brood or notch in inner cover. I consider the quilt box just additional gravy.

    I have a small bottom entrance and 3/4 round hole and notch open and quilt box, there is no problem with moisture.

    The inner cover below the quilt box also aids in opening the hive when adding sugar blocks. I get some bees clinging to the bottom side of the quilt box now but wouldn't want to deal with them clinging to a bigger area.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Quote Originally Posted by mgolden View Post
    Keep in mind I have a 3 1/2 round hole in my inner cover.
    I think what Frank is saying (correct me if I'm wrong) is that, the only air that is directly going up to the quilt box is from your feeding hole. All other warm, moist air must move across the bottom of the inner cover to get to the feeding hole. This will cause moisture to condense on the inner cover in other areas and on warmer days could drip on the bees and freeze as temps drop back down.
    zone 5b
    Back in 2019!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Yes, hackleguy that was my line of thinking; probably though, in reality, with the shavings above the inner cover the insulation effect would be enough to prevent condensation. I am just throwing things out for contemplation. I can see the bee clinging issue but the way I did it with removable quilt pillow the bees dont cling to the screen very long when the cold air hits them. From a purely moisture exchange angle I imagine the inner cover in the circuit to be some resistance. Maybe we are far on the safe side of moisture exchange so this may not be a concern at all.

    I am using a fair bit smaller top entrance than some are successfully using. I envision the main air exchange and moisture venting to be via the quilt material and large vents above. I went from the old traditional inner cover and telescope top to what I am doing now. The old way definitely produced ice on things and mold. With the vented shavings quilt box, dry sugar on top frames does not even cake up in my climate and I have seen a problem with it running down between frames in the spring and the bees flying it off into the trees. Maybe less would be good enough. Will have to play with it.

    Enjambres for instance is much more lavish with insulation etc. than I am but is having 100% wintering success so you can't knock that. Maybe if she had 20 hives she would be looking for ways to back off a bit and that would likely be very successful too. It is good to see this being discussed; I have not heard anyone that tried the vented shavings quilt box complain about results!
    Frank

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Quote Originally Posted by thehackleguy View Post
    I think what Frank is saying (correct me if I'm wrong) is that, the only air that is directly going up to the quilt box is from your feeding hole. All other warm, moist air must move across the bottom of the inner cover to get to the feeding hole. This will cause moisture to condense on the inner cover in other areas and on warmer days could drip on the bees and freeze as temps drop back down.
    ????????

    As stated previously, I am not having any moisture problems within the hive. There is no problem with air rising through 3 1/2 round hole in inner cover and moving outward in 3/8 space on upper side of inner cover and then up through and out of quilt box. I think heat from cluster will prevent any condensation on quilt above hole in inner and area around hole in inner cover due to rising cluster heat. Quilt boxes are not necessary but I think they are a useful addition.

    I also have 2 1/2 Styrofoam installed in outer cover so there is little problem with condensation and frosting with inner cover and quilt box.

    Inner cover also makes it easier to open hive on a warm day to replenish sugar blocks, as easier to get bees out
    of the way.

    Working extremely well for me, having wintered 7 out 7 hives last winter.
    Last edited by mgolden; 10-09-2015 at 08:51 AM.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Crofter, what size is your bottom entrance and now smaller top entrance? My winter air is on the dry side and I operate with two side 3/8 by 1/2 wide bottom entrance and a 3/4 round hole in feed rim, 3/8 by 1 1/2 notch in inner cover and quilt box.

    I'm all for reducing hive ventilation to minimal so that one is adequately venting moisture and supplying oxygen. I am pretty confident that interior temp is higher than exterior so one gets less food consumption, looser cluster that can get to food stores, and early and large brood build up in spring. I have a thermometer with a remote hard wired sensor taped to a thin rod and see temps of 20-30F warmer than ambient on top side of inner cover. Sensor is located about half way between center hole of inner cover and side wall.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Moisture Board versus Quilt Block?

    Well it sounds like there is not a lot of difference in the sizes of our top and bottom entrances. My top entrances probably average about 3/8 by 1". I have about 20 sq. inches of ventilation above the quilt though. Likely the flow resistance of the shavings layer is the controlling factor rather than the vents themselves.

    From your survival numbers your method is obviously working. There is not a lot of difference in our winter temperature but you get a few more breaks and an earlier spring.
    Frank

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