Pay attention to the video dates - the blankets are in places 1)at the end of the winter (to promote spring brood rearing) OR 2)at the end of fall (to since the brood rearing not done yet in the very late splits).
The dates of the video creations are an important part of the context so you know how to "read" what you observe.
No blankets/top insulation early December through mid-February - the brood-less period.
The channel owner has specific videos how he adds insulating blankets mid-February to just a single layer of fabric that was in place through the winter.
Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.
Gray Goose - I have not gotten to the point of trying to capture moisture. Sponges would seem plausible. I have wondered if empty, drawn out frames in the bottom of the chamber, coldest area, would be a condenser and collect water. I do see condensed water on my bottom sticky board which I leave in all winter. It is also accessible as there is bee space between it and the screened bottom board. I have also seen ice build up. The bottom board provides a lot of information all year.
Crofter - It is simply a box with a top and 4 sides, no bottom. I have a standard brood chamber year round now; a medium-deep-medium with a 12 ox duck cloth inner cover and a 2 inch top spacer for installing sensors or push in dial thermometer, add old tee-shirts to act like a quilt box and incase I need to emergency feed ( seldom to never now). Using my standard brood chamber I make my box 24 inches deep and a 1/2 inch clearance all around. I give it a good paint finish as the carpenter ants love to live in it and sunlight damages the foam. Oh - I use urethane spray foam or crack filler to glue the pieces together - messy but works well.
I have gone to a five-sided 2-inch thick XPS foam (R10) from a screwed on version for two reasons. Primarily to provide fast access to the brood chamber in the Spring to verify queen status - too many drone laying queens lately. I also find small clusters which I have managed to save a few times.
The second reason is to provide another, possibly significant, vapor path through the wooden pine boxes or even for a top vent which I do not use. This allows the hive to "breath" anytime and avoid wood rot. I thought of bonding foam to wood but worried about to many issues like joint design. I also get to play by closing the bottom opening with fiberglass insulation or a wooden step, maybe porous vent material contractors use for house peak venting.
Third reason is, on selected hives, I am going to leave the "box" on all year and observe effects. I am guessing it helps dry the honey without overheating the bees as I add supers. I left foam tops on all summer, no top vents, and measured temperatures on the hottest days. Top got up to 100-102F, brood chamber stayed at 93F. Top would cool off going into the evening, cluster never changed. I felt like the bees would let the sun heat up the supers to 98 before fanning begun. Wish I could measure humidity accurately at a reasonable cost.
My philosophy so far is to give the bees a chance to regulate their own environment so I emulate a tree in several ways. It seems to work, especially in winter. Eight of nine hives were warm and dry on top today. One hive was damp and the hottest at 64F today - second year in a row for this colony, hot and damp - early colony build-up, best foragers, lots of honey.
This is my third winter with no top vent and heavily insulated - yet to see a drowned bee. This Spring and Summer should be interesting with the ability to keep insulated boxes on or off.
Thanks very much for laying that out. That type of cover would be something like the tea cozy that used to be common. Sure would lend itself to quick access. More or less top insulation would be easy to accommodate and the bottom air exposure would be easy to experiment with.
Due to my bad experience last winter with snowed in colonies and losing them to (possible?) asphyxiation, I am a bit trap shy of going with no upper entrance/ventilation at all, but that aspect could be optional though.
Having a uniform configuration would be a plus; I am not that well disciplined but working on it. I used a mixture of empty bottom boxes, and lift rings etc. to arrive at a common height this past winter but that is more fiddling than I enjoyed.
Leaving the wraps on all summer would be an interesting experiment. I know for certain that I have had the wraps off far earlier than I should have with my late springs. Once I took them off for first inspections in March and April it was too much trouble to refit my puzzle pieces. They struggle to heat their houses till the first week of June here. For sure they would build up faster with less heat loss.
Crofter: A little update on a very rough scientific experiment. I had installed nine XPS foam boxes on the hives with open bottoms. The inside dimensions of the boxes are bigger than the hives by 1-inch or a bit more - made them using a hive as a mold with 1/2 plywood attached to create an air-gap and fit-up allowance.
This approach creates options from the expanded amount of warm air available, and even supports an upper vent with condensing air or condensation occurring in lower regions of the air gap. It also lets the wood boxes "breath". I am evolving towards emulate a tree hive's top nest conditions. By accident I have notice my 2-inch spacer, sitting on my heavily propolized duck cloth inner-cover, to house the temp - RH sensor along with cotton tee-shirts becomes a very high humidity, damp tee-shirt, water storage compartment ( but not in all cases, just one big clustered hive).. It has been very warm and with high RH this winter ( warmest I can remember) followed by occasional below freezing dry days. The compartments RH will drop with dry exterior conditions, as much as 10% or more. It dries out over a few days if it stays warm. Two other test hives remain dry, clusters are one small and one small-medium.
I expected a thermal gradient from top to bottom and relative to one inside temperature sensor. The temperature values were a lot closer to external ambient than internal ambient although warmer at the top. It has been windy, windy enough to create air currents in the air-gap and cool the gap significantly and remove water vapor / moisture.
It is 54F today and sunny - Indian summer? Doubt it! I am installing a 2-inch lip on my bottom board frames about 1 1/2" below the foam boxes. The I install 2-inch, porous memory foam ( scrap I had) to close the air-gap. I completed two yesterday and like it. It is easy to maintain, easy on-off and I can open up the gap if required / desired easily. The effect was dramatic in one day as I would expect. I hope we get a spell or real cold weather so I can watch the changes from warm and humid to cold and dry outside.
I have 9 hives like this. I use dial thermometers, mostly, 3 weather stations inside the hives. I can also use an ice pick to make a hole and insert a thermocouple (verifies dial indicators are working). I also stick dial thermometers with 5 inch probes thorough the duck cloth, in between top-center frames - verifies cluster are alive - anytime.
When I know what's really going on I will take pics and post some comments. My objective is to produce a foraging colonies ready for Spring forage - nice light, smooth honey. And of course to reduce dead-outs and correct queen issues, my biggest issue last year, early.
One point - I do not like pure foam boxes, I use one for nuc building for now. They do not have a moisture buffer so I am building 4 deep wooden nucs with 2-inch foam glued to the sides as an experiment. I will be able to butt two together or go stand-alone through winter/summer.
Spring is coming but I would like a cold blast soon. Bees greeted me at my door today Bob
I am waiting on delivery of some electronic thermometers with slender cable thermocouple. I will drill holes near the bottom of the shavings boxes just above their screened floors so I can slide the thermocouple in approaching the center of the hive. I went into a couple of them a week ago because they were so quiet and no fly outs, that I thought they were dead. The reflectix wrap makes comes partially up the sides of the shavings boxes so it makes them difficult to lift off. In future I hope to have something with easier access so I can put some pollen sub on them probably early March. I have never done that before but I think I can nudge these Carni type bees to get going a bit earlier. My season is very short so it would be to my advantage to have their numbers up a bit earlier than their normal brood up which does not start till willow and tag alder bloom in April.
Until my summer with EFB and following winter of probable suffocation with bottom only entrances I had 6 winters with no deadouts. 6 colonies average numbers so that could be some luck in having zero losses. Last winter with extreme heavy snow combined with periods of rain created problems with the bottom only vents but that winter was a bit of a blip. Having the moisture exchange at the bottom (condenser fashion) rather than from an upper area has some theoretical advantages re. heat loss but I wonder how big it really is in comparison to the overall energy consumption of the colony.
It would appear that there is more than adequate air exchange inside your external insulation barrier. It will be interesting to see what your humidy readings in the cluster area will be affected since you have restricted the bottom of the shell.
Side by side five frame nucs three high, really winter well and 15 frames catches up to a double deep quite quickly. Two inches permanently attached foam should help them build in spring even after winter survival is checked off. I wonder if a somewhat colder front upper surface that would induce a bit of selective condensation area would be insurance in providing a water source for honey dilution when they brood up. I have seen this issue and winter fly out to perish, kicked around quite a bit but not conclusively laid to rest one way or the other. I will test the depth of that water one foot at a time though.
Crofter: "It would appear that there is more than adequate air exchange inside your external insulation barrier. It will be interesting to see what your humidy readings in the cluster area will be affected since you have restricted the bottom of the shell."
Since I closed off the bottom with the lip/soft foam the internal RH readings have dropped from 99% to low 80s in my big clustered hive.( opposite of what you would think) Right now it is [email protected] 83% (dew point is 79F) inside top air, 78F air-gap - top to bottom - with an outside ambient of [email protected]% and 18 mph winds. The hive is drier (air gap is now having vapor driven into it (through the wood?) via vapor pressure (and condensing?) plus water vapor out the bottom entrance and condensing too. The air-gap has risen from external anbient to a uniform 78F bottom to top. A hot windy day for Jan. - some really strong gust - with bees flying and happily pooping.
I have made the claim that I have often seen what looks like a regulated system - bees raising temperature with a high RH so that the Dew Point is just below the regulated temperature in areas above the cluster. I have seen the dew point track with internal air temperatures. changes. Very hard to validate when your humidity sensor has an accuracy of +/- 7% but a tracking response is bee control
BTW, honey bees seem to like high temperatures (93-95F for brood, below 105 when working?) and humid conditions, Varroa does not. This is currently a sample of one, soon three sensed hives will be bottom sealed. There is a dearth of quantified humidity data in hives. Accuracy is a real issue.
As a follow up for those intrigued by the water thread....
Noticed the sugar bricks looked dry and not touched. So I spritzed them with water just to see if the addition of moisture would entice the bees. Yep. Today they are back at it eating the sugar bricks.
I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.
Location, location, location! It really impacts beekeeping but they seem to be able to adapt. You seem to be really dry as opposed to my very humid climate on the eastern seaboard. I have made temperature + moisture a focal point while beekeeping.
What is your ventilation scheme? And insulation?
I have seen it written that humidity levels can be used to affect varroa reproduction. Whether or not to a useful degree I dont know. I think Fusion_power has indicated that the relative colony population will have a large influence on moisture production. Outside temperature and amount of insulation will affect stores consumption which is the driver of much of the moisture production. Local weather conditions generally as well as presently also skew any constants.
I dont know whether it is practically possible to react to the variables; being able to get ahead of them is even more of a challenge. It is easy to understand why there is a lot of disagreement and conjecture about ventilation.
I have been running various configurations of insulation levels with no top vent. My objective is to get a feeling / gain knowledge about hive temperature and humidity stability and consumption rates. Mother nature has not been cooperating with cold weather until this past 10 days but no real cold weather. There was a lot of warmer, 40-50 F, days and lots of humidity. I have not drowned any bees, all nine hives are alive. It may e a cleansing day as the temperature rises to 45F today and sun comes out strong.
I am seeing a surprising trend or tipping point, I think, as I emulate a tree hive based on Mitchell's / Seeley's comments based on my simple approach using three sensed hives. Inside conditions are moving in the right direction but I need more weather variations. I have now approached an R11 to R14 side-wall insulation condition in cold, drier weather. Based on three years of crude observations I may have learned enough to conduct an improved observational experiment next year with better humidity sensors. I am continuing my crude experiments into and through summer, I hope. Imagine insulated supers! A new solar beeswax melter?
Put a slice of wet sponge on their landing board and spritzing it daily. They love it. If I were a grad student doing bee research I would be doing research on water in winter. Its a big deal and deserves far more attention.
I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.
Last edited by LAlldredge; 01-25-2020 at 05:31 AM.
I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.
"Running small upper notched" - why? You are apparently in a drier zone than I am. Obviously you are putting a lot of effort into protecting your bees. Knocking down the wind velocity or confection currents around the hive surface is a factor.
I am doing my own crude observational testing of various hive configurations. Measuring temperatures is easy with a lot of data out there on the web. Measuring humidity is very difficult but getting better, scientific test data is very limited. CO2 is mostly ignored. Measuring hive weights / consumption is also ignored but a couple of good reports are out there for typical hives. All four parameters need to be evaluated, as a minimum, when evaluating a hive design.
Tidbit: when 40 lb. of honey is consumed, 3.5 gallons of water is released as water vapor inside the cluster / hive. Imagine all the paths a single molecule of water takes when entering the hive, how it got there and how it leaves to be recycled.
FYI - just came across this as I was searching for lowest temperature / foraging - it agrees with what I saw yesterday afternoon as we hit the low 40'sF
In spring, when our colonies had to provide already a lot of brood, the bees collected water at very low and for them critical temperatures (down to 5 °C). At these very extreme conditions they exhibited thoracic temperatures of 33.5 °C above the ambient air on average. In some cases, mean Tth per stay was kept 36 °C above Ta. This extreme energetic investment for thermoregulation, therefore, emphasizes the water foragers’ highly motivated state despite the fact that water contains no usable energy. This is a good hint at the high importance of water for the survival of the colonies.
Could lack of accessible moisture explain the demise of some marginal colonies during the winter?
Blog post on condensation by Dennis Murrell:
Your work sounds really interesting. An area of beekeeping that still has much to learn.
I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.