Wrapping Hives and Ventilation
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  1. #1
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    May 2019
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    Idaho, USA
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    Default Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    I am looking for some pointers on wrapping hives and entrance sizes for winter. As far as wrapping goes I have mostly looked at Michael Palmer's information. It seems like he leaves about half of the lower brood box exposed without wrapping. Does anyone know why this is? Also with production hives he leaves the entire lower entrance open for ventilation but the double nucs have a very tiny opening. I understand the difference in colony size and ventilation requirements but is the 1 inch or 1 1/2 inch opening at the bottom enough if there is an upper entrance? Do exposed lower entrances cause extra moisture problems in areas with deep snow? I'm wondering if the heat from the entrance causes snow to melt and run into the hive, especially if there is a landing board?

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  3. #2
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    Aug 2016
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    St. Stephen, N.B. Canada
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    On the border near 04619
    Zone 5B @ 29m

  4. #3
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    May 2019
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    Idaho, USA
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    I actually watched this video just the other night and that is what got me looking into this. Maybe I missed it but I don't recall it addressing the specific questions I listed.

  5. #4
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    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Don't worry about snow melting and running in your hive. Just not an issue. My bees winter nicely with the only ventilation being from the mid level 1" entrance bored under the hand hold on the uppermost brood box, front only. Bees are expert ventilators and choose a cavity in nature with one hole for a reason. Ventilation is necessary and the bottom entrance in most hives indeed does not get the job done and mostly plugs with debris and dead bees. So I shut it off for the winter.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    3,486

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by Beut Idaho View Post
    ....... (1)Do exposed lower entrances cause extra moisture problems in areas with deep snow? (2) I'm wondering if the heat from the entrance causes snow to melt and run into the hive, especially if there is a landing board?
    1)A non-issue. No.
    2)A non-issue. No. Heat does NOT exit from the lower entrance (for sure not enough to melt snow).

    (the lower entrance WILL get snowed in many situations and requires constant monitoring/cleaning - an upper entrance for wintering in my location is much more important - the lower entrance becomes useless/liability over the course of the winter in a snow belt).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #6
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    May 2019
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    Idaho, USA
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    15

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Great. Thank you both.

  8. #7
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    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    5,536

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Stick a wooden door shim under both of the back corners of the hive to tilt it 1/4" forward. That takes care of any snow melt that wants to go where it's not wanted.

    Nancy

  9. #8

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Having troubles with Hive ventilation too in addition to some basic setup troubles and video linked above helped me tremendously, thank you a lot! No idea how i didn't find it myself. It's pretty long but full of content, thanks again!

  10. #9
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    Aug 2016
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    St. Stephen, N.B. Canada
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    If one uses the black tar paper(roofing felt) the snow contracts and moisture crystalizes next to hives. You can have soft snow on the surface and corn snow down next to hive. there is virtually no water. As mentioned all hives should be tilted a bit forward , forget about snow, every rain would run into the hives if you don't. I have reducers or sticks in most of my openings but they in some cases cover less than half of the opening. I live in an area of high humidity in winters and welcome the ventilation. However, my hives sit in a natural wind tunnel so they need a bit of wind break. today for example is clear and -8C. however, the humidity is 70%. So i need the ventilation. In the long run we lose more hives due to weather swings and the bees declustering. When it turns cold again they are caught in small clusters and freeze. Moisture is not far behind. This year 98% of my hives are wrapped in cool shield bubble rolls. A number of commercial keepers I know much farther north of me use this product. They are inland and have less humidity in the air. Spring will tell....………...
    On the border near 04619
    Zone 5B @ 29m

  11. #10
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    May 2019
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    Idaho, USA
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    I am in Zone 5b also and get fairly large temperature swings. We are not humid at all in the summer though with cold temps in winter relative humidity is higher but that would be true anywhere. I think my concerns of ventilation and moisture have been answered as long as things are set up correctly. The temperature swings you mention may be a concern.

  12. #11
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    Feb 2015
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    Wayne, WV, USA
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    232

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Heavy top insulation (R-10) and no upper vent allows the bees to reclaim the metabolic water without leaving the hive. The condensation happens around the outside edges of the cluster, not directly over it. In other words, condensation happens on the sides.

    Allowing the hot moist air to escape stresses bees.
    "The amazing thing about the honey bee is not that she works, but that she works for others." St. John Chrysostom

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA
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    662

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by Beut Idaho View Post
    Do exposed lower entrances cause extra moisture problems in areas with deep snow? I'm wondering if the heat from the entrance causes snow to melt and run into the hive, especially if there is a landing board?
    Usually heat from the entrance will eventually melt the snow in the opening. Most people, including Mike, have their hives tilted a little forward to allow water to run out.

  14. #13
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    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    What works in warmer climate where cold spells are short may not work where it is colder. It is 5 below F. here at the moment and dropping. Dont depend on a sloped hive to save you from having the entrance iced shut. It may build up to an inch of ice and dropped bees. If the rest of your hive is tightly sealed and propolized your bees can suffocate. I got caught with a combination of extreme weather and health issues and lost bees last winter. That is the first winter I went with no top ventilation. I suggest leaving at least a small top opening even a couple of bee widths. I made mine about 3/8 by 1 inch and I see the bees have propolised them closed to about a 3/8 hole.
    Frank

  15. #14
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    Mar 2012
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    Catskills, Delaware Cty, New York, USA
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    1,753

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by Beut Idaho View Post
    I am looking for some pointers on wrapping hives and entrance sizes for winter. As far as wrapping goes I have mostly looked at Michael Palmer's information. It seems like he leaves about half of the lower brood box exposed without wrapping. Does anyone know why this is? Also with production hives he leaves the entire lower entrance open for ventilation but the double nucs have a very tiny opening. I understand the difference in colony size and ventilation requirements but is the 1 inch or 1 1/2 inch opening at the bottom enough if there is an upper entrance? Do exposed lower entrances cause extra moisture problems in areas with deep snow? I'm wondering if the heat from the entrance causes snow to melt and run into the hive, especially if there is a landing board?
    I have overwintered those dbl nucs successfully with an upper entrance. No problems with moisture. Insulation inside outer cover, wrapped with roofing paper, insulation on 3 sides. The upper entrance is on a shim with sugar that acts as a moisture quilt and extra feed if needed. Deb
    Proverbs 16:24

  16. #15
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    Oct 2019
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    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
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    193

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Curiously there is not one comment as to why and how water vapor condenses. What acts as a moisture buffer, honeybee over-winter and Spring water requirements and in-hive humidity requirements which are connected to in-hive temperature requirements and brood rearing. At the top of these requirements is one of the driving forces of living creatures, conservation of energy.

    I simply remember when the windows of the apartment were covered in ice - inside, we had a central stove, no running hot water, etc. We did not open windows, especially in the heated area. We do have one advantage over bees - we can add on layers of insulating. My dog and chickens put on new "coats" for winter but bees can only cluster up and generate heat to avoid freezing to death (I know bees do not die from freezing , just starvation, right!). If they cannot generate enough heat to compensate for the loss out of the cluster, they die. Heat always flows from a high temperature to a low er temperature - period. Condensation of water vapor releases heat as well as provides water. It is a complicated system based on physics not anecdotal observations. Everything you do has consequences, intended and un-intended.

    If you go with no top vent (like me and others) make sure the surface above the bees is insulated as a minimum to prevent heat loss and the inner surface temperature dropping below the dew point.

  17. #16
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    Jul 2016
    Location
    Croatia
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    100

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Holcombe View Post
    If you go with no top vent (like me and others) make sure the surface above the bees is insulated
    And along with no top ventilation goes wider opening for ventilation on bottom side.
    Btw. my preferred option is top ventilation (for new oxygen only) and top condensation. With top ventilation, ventilation is more under control and condensation releases energy and it is then sort of active insulation.

  18. #17
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    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Two comments and questions 1) do humans regulate internal conditions of the hive better than honey bees? 2) vented vapor is lost energy and water so how does man or the bee regulate it, meaning a unit of measure? We just went from 3 days of snow,rain,fog and now [email protected]% relative humidity. I do use a screened bottom board with sticky board in place to provide a lot more venting capability.

  19. #18
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    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    5,042

    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Yes, how does one design a setup that reacts to the undesirable extremes. I see temperature control (insulation) as being the easiest by far. We really can do very little practically when outside humidity goes high. I see people mention that they live in climate conditions with very high humidity, so they need lots of ventilation.

    When it gets very cold out here the air is very drying as it is heated, so we dont need more ventilation in those conditions either! My guess is that we never need a rapid air exchange rate in the hive. Air exchange to satisfy Oxygen/Carbon dioxide needs of the bees does not have to be rapid. I think the permeability of a shavings box is enough to allow air exchange without setting up a chimney effect. Shavings also have enough R value to prevent condensation on its lower surface. My view is that shavings box as opposed to a foam slab of equal R value has a potentially large affect on moisture control and upper entrance question.

    The transition from vapor to liquid should occur within the shavings so perhaps the change of state heat value stays within the hive. In the big picture I dont know how consequential this is compared to the overall heat loss to the walls and top of the hive.

    I think local climate dictates like short or long intervals between cleansing flight opportunities could make a difference in the desirability of upper entrances. The upper entrance question seems to pull in different directions to convection induced heat loss. Local variations in snow accumulations and ability to manually clear entrances of snow, internal ice and dead bees etc., also are part of the equation.
    Frank

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    I see people mention that they live in climate conditions with very high humidity, so they need lots of ventilation.
    Because the bees are attempting to add moisture (and so further raise the level of humidity) to an already high level of humidity. The only recourse - short of heating, in order to allow the local air to hold more moisture - is to keep exchanging as much of the existing moist air as possible, Failure to do this would otherwise eventually result in complete moisture saturation within the beehive.

    A high level of humidity affects the efficiency of gaseous exchange - so that when humidity is very high, many people complain of respiratory distress - DRY air is the cure, but how do you provide it (short of providing air conditioning which removes the moisture) ? There's no reason to suppose that honey bees are in any way less affected.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  21. #20
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    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: Wrapping Hives and Ventilation

    This was one solution offered (in 1880) for 'beehive air conditioning', by deliberately providing a cold surface upon which moisture would condense, prior to exiting the hive.



    Some of us achieve the same sort of thing by allowing uninsulated hive sides to cool during the night, thus providing a similar cold surface upon which condensation occurs.

    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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