Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried... - Page 2
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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    1,145

    Default Re: Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried...

    Rader Sidetrack,

    You can also use an LM35 as a temperature sensor. Unlike a thermocouple, it doesn't require any linearization and at roughly a buck fifty each you can stick 8 in a hive and then know the cluster location and size as well.
    Zone 6B

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    3,796

    Default Re: Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried...

    I wonder what the size of the quilt box means in terms of humidity level. I currently use old comb honey supers that I bought used probably 10 years ago. I could go with a medium super? Or just make a box out of dimensional lumber? I ordered some Broodminder units today to see how I like them? @Nancy, I appreciate your observations and how this is a better year for you!

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1,463

    Default Re: Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried...

    I think 4 inches of pet shavings would be more than adequate for your climate. I know people getting by with 4 inches in my area and my climate is colder than yours. 4 inches for my climate seems minimal to me, so I am using 5 inches(quilt box is constructed using 1 x 6 lumber resulting in 5 1/2 wood height).

    My view is ???less depth should be better in a humid climate as less depth for moisture to migrate through.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried...

    I, too, used old comb honey boxes (shallower than shallows) in the beginning and then I tried mediums. But I've settled on shallow-depth boxes as being right height for me and my climate.

    I use a 2" high vent shim above the quilt box and I find mounding up the shavings above the top of the shallow box makes the box work better by exposing more surface area. (Just a telecover with insulation tucked up inside on top of the shim.)

    Medium boxes full of shavings cause the fabric floor to sag more than I like when I do the mounding up.

    Depth is important, in my opinion, to protect against loss of heat, not as function of the speed or quantity of moisture migration. While I don't cram the shavings in, I make sure that they are not thin, especially in the corners.

    Nancy

  6. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    3,388

    Default Re: Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried...

    I suspect bees in the wild, using a hollow cavity without upper ventilation, collect water condensed in the outer parts of the comb and off the bottom of the cavity. While they "make" more water than they need, they also require a supply of liquid water to re-hydrate honey and especially crystallized sugars.

    When my brother had a hive with a white plastic Kelley cover, one year the bees supplied an entrance reducer by propylizing the entrance shut except for a slot about an inch and a half wide, and filled in the Porter Bee escape hole down to two holes about a quarter inch in diameter. I think this is a good suggestion of how much "ventillation" a hive needs around here. As in "not much".

    I've been using a feeder rim and dry sugar on newspaper as "cheap spring insurance" here, as we often have warm weather in early March and cold weather in April. This results in starvation during cold snaps as the bees are in full spring buildup and get stuck in the hive for a week or more of very cold wet weather, and I find it better to put the sugar on in early winter or late fall than to get into them in early March. Occasionally I've used solid inner covers made before I had some nice large Forstner bits for the holes, and on hives with NO upper ventilation outside of a less than perfect seal the bees didn't propolyse between the shim and covers, I get bees drawing comb and raising drones up there.

    Soggy wet dead bees could easily be a result of dead bees accumulating condensation from external tempurature swings -- before I heated my pole barn all winter, it would be soaking wet in spring from all that steel and wood being slow to warm up on damp days.

  7. #26
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Amsterdam, NY, USA
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: Humidity in Winter Hives. Has anyone tried...

    It would work, but would not work for long, but even if you found a way to make it work for a long time it would not be good for your bees. There are several issues you'd need to solve...

    - The typical saturation capacity of industrial grade silica gel is about 40% by weight. That means to "adsorb" (different from "absorb") the water vapor from a gallon of water under ideal conditions would require about 21 pounds of silica gel, after which it would need to be regenerated. Assuming you wanted to do this, you'd need at minimum 2-3 times that amount so you could keep the hive drying as you're performing the regeneration. You'd also have to deal with the energy usage to regenerate, constant monitoring of the gel to determine when regeneration is necessary, changing out the gel, storing it so it stays viable, managing less than ideal conditions, and the costs among other issues.

    - Silica gel is typically used in closed systems, or in open systems that have well defined operating characteristics. In your bee hive, the bees are generating water vapor through respiration and other biological processes, however, the beehive itself is not sealed to the outside. As you remove water vapor from the air inside the hive, water vapor contained in the atmosphere will enter the hive through cracks and openings and continue to do so until the vapor pressures have equalized. Unless you can seal your hive and stop atmospheric water vapor from entering, your desiccants (silica gels) are essentially trying to dry the atmosphere. Sealing the hive for water vapor also means you're sealing it from oxygen coming in, and carbon dioxide going out. Neither of those conditions are good for the bees.

    - Finally, assuming you are able to resolve the two problems above, the desiccants will not only dry the air in the hive, they will also dry the bees themselves. Similar to the atmospheric problem above, vapor pressures within the stores, the cluster, and the bees themselves, will attempt to equalize with the vapor pressure in the hive, so the bees, the stored honey, the bee bread, and the hive wood will desiccate as well.

    Silica gels are commonly used in food preservation applications because of their ability to efficiently remove water from the container. In food the goal is to remove enough water so that enzymes and biological activities in both the food and bacteria cease to function, and therefore the food resists decay.

    Condensation is the real threat to the bees. In a beehive, particularly during the winter, the goal should be to manage water vapor (or moisture as many call it) in way that inhibits condensation; or, when condensation does occur, manage where in the hive it happens. There are several approaches to doing this, including ventilation, insulation, temperature management, vapor barriers, and diffusion. Enjambres has a good approach in my opinion (for whatever that's worth) and from the information she's posted is using elements of each of the processes above and is managing her hives by correctly utilizing several thermodynamic principles. Ultimately every process plays a role though because they all interact. Understanding the interactions is key to optimizing hive conditions for the bees.

    I hope you understand that I am not being negative to you or your ideas, I am just trying to explain why using silica gels in this kind of application won't achieve the results you're after.

    lobo
    Last edited by lobottomee; 02-25-2018 at 11:37 AM. Reason: incorrect calculation

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