Insulating hives. - Page 2
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  1. #21
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Amsterdam, NY, USA
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    37

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Lobottome;

    Heavy wet snow turned to heavy rain and then quick temperature drop. Not the usual breathable snow. Thanks for info on shavings box bottoms. With 1/8 hardware cloth only, shavings rained down a fair bit of fines into the frames. Cotton like Tee shirt got chewed. I have a bunch of ex sand bag burlap. The criss cross wire would be easy and not permanent so the box is still useable as honey super.
    Equipment creep and storage can get out of hand!
    I need to build some additional quilt boxes for this winter. I am thinking of trying landscaping fabric like what is put down under gravel driveways or in gardens to control weeds. It's a tough fabric but will still breathe and allow air and water to move through it. I'm hoping it's strong enough so I can avoid having to use the wire.

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Amsterdam, NY, USA
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    37

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by William Bagwell View Post
    Have you tried the sand bag burlap yet? Sounds like the same material flexible intermediate bulk containers (AKA Super Sacks) are made of. Have a bunch over in the barn I drug home years ago intending to cut flat and use under gravel in the driveway.

    I plan to soon test polyester felt filter bag material on my one Warre hive. The natural fibre canvas that was on it was full of holes. I think from wax moths but not sure. The filter felt is quite strong so should hold up well.
    I've not had any problems with chewing the material on the bottom of the quilt. But I also take the boxes off pretty early in the spring while the bees are busy near the bottom of the hive.

  4. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Out of respect as he reads this site and contributes occasionally. It is possible I misquoted him but I trust my memory. I have yet to be able to quantify how much CO2 snow which contains water, can absorb and transport away from a hive by some mechanism.

  5. #24
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Amsterdam, NY, USA
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Akademee View Post
    Bees can deal with the cold very well, what they can't deal with is cold+wet and cold+wind. The biggest benefit you get from overwintering inside of something like a barn or the cellar is that it cuts out the wind blowing through the hives.

    That being said, I am a big believer in insulation (pink rigid insulation). The only thing I have to worry about is that more insulation=more active bees in the hive=more honey consumed over the winter. Good luck this winter!
    Akademee, I have heard the concern about more insulation makes the bees active and increases honey consumption. Do you have any data to support that? My goal is to design a hive where the insulation allows the bees to maintain a temperature of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit inside the hive throughout the winter. The old-timers who over-wintered bees inside determined that 40-45 degrees was the sweet spot where bees were loosely clustered and could move around, yet were still in a state of torpor and used the minimum amount of honey stores.

  6. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    lobottomee "allows the bees to maintain a temperature of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit inside the hive " - check your facts, I believe the external storage temperature in warehouses is held to 40-45 F, not inside. You will find there is a three dimensional profile inside a hive with gradients.

  7. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,948

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Holcombe View Post
    Out of respect as he reads this site and contributes occasionally. It is possible I misquoted him but I trust my memory. I have yet to be able to quantify how much CO2 snow which contains water, can absorb and transport away from a hive by some mechanism.
    Snow covering a beehive melts into an ice cave and I used to winter bees best in North Dakota on the downwind side of dense shelter belts that covered the hives deep in snow. I did not measure C02 but the bees wintered much better than wrapped sitting out in the wind.

  8. #27
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Vance G "I did not measure C02 but the bees wintered much better than wrapped sitting out in the wind." You are confirming what I have heard from other far north beekeepers. Can I assume it was a less packed type of snow? Deep snow can be a very good insulator and maintain an ambient around 32F - not far from the 40-45F used form warehousing hives. Add a little heat (from the bees) and you get a cavity. Apparently, if not too deep, the top vent used by many BK's can melt a chimney hole to the surface - small but effective it seems.

    It would seem bees like stability around them and then adapt to minimize waste of resources. Wrapping was helpful for me but not nearly as good as the sleeve approach with the no-top-vent, 5 sides enclosure with no air gaps. It "works" a lot better( so my rough data shows) and much easier to manage.

    Values are stable all winter, rises in early Spring with brood rearing (clearly), indicates trouble like drone laying queen (lower values. Early brood rearing produce Spring honey and overall increase in total production (only two years in a row so other reasons could easily apply). I left the insulation on all winter and summer (one hive had 3 supers of "perfect" honey frames). My observations, so far, indicate different behaviors like consuming honey from outside frames and working inward, early build up, no significant change in consumption, steady temperature and humidity values with slow changes and no significant moisture buildup just the curious total hive weigh increase in winter. Caveat, I measure at the top of the hive in 1 1/2- inch gap created by a spacer using a canvass inner cover. The inner canvass cover becomes heavily propolized with beeswax+propolis supports built up from the frames' top bar ( 1/4 to 3/8 inch). I leave a couple of cotton tee-shirts in there too. I used it as a crazy indicator of moisture. In my biggest hive / early producer the tee shirts got damp. Apparently propolis is water vapor permeable but impermeable to condensed water. The biggest surprise is that the hive's temperature and humidity were much more stable in summer and cooler (no big daytime swings) with the no-top-vent, insulation on. Finally I have not drowned a single bee since going top vent-less. I now have 8 out of 9 strong hives going into winter and no disease loses last winter but two queen issues ( detected early in Spring).

    I am looking forward to snow this winter, last year had little snow but a lot of rain and freezing rain with some big temperature swings.

    Two issue with my results. I have all my hives treated the same way so I have no comparison hives, insulated versus uninsulated. I am measuring values at a single reference point coupled with observations. My insulation moved up with the supers so I am making 4-sided modular sleeves to adjust for next year.

  9. #28
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,827

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Robert, how much clearance is there between the inside of the rigid foam housing and the outside of the hive bodies? I am wondering about how much circulation there is there to remove moisture transpired through wooden hive bodies. Perhaps this is inconsequential.
    Frank

  10. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
    Posts
    1,715

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    Lobottome;

    Heavy wet snow turned to heavy rain and then quick temperature drop. Not the usual breathable snow. Thanks for info on shavings box bottoms. With 1/8 hardware cloth only, shavings rained down a fair bit of fines into the frames. Cotton like Tee shirt got chewed. I have a bunch of ex sand bag burlap. The criss cross wire would be easy and not permanent so the box is still useable as honey super.
    Equipment creep and storage can get out of hand!
    Hi Crofter, For my quilt boxes I use 3/8 Hardware cloth, stapled to the bottom, then a bead of Silicone, and a 3/8 strip of wood is tacked on.Creates the bee space under the wire.
    On top of the wire I cut up "drop cloth" the white heave cloth sold in the Box stores for paint drop cloths. I take it up the sides and staple it with T50 staples. As I use a planner to size rough sawn wood the shavings go in the box . I have drilled a couple 5/8 holes in to the top edge which I cover with screen to allow some breathing. these can be corked if the wind is heavy.

    GG

  11. #30
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
    Posts
    1,715

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Quote Originally Posted by lobottomee View Post
    Akademee, I have heard the concern about more insulation makes the bees active and increases honey consumption. Do you have any data to support that? My goal is to design a hive where the insulation allows the bees to maintain a temperature of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit inside the hive throughout the winter. The old-timers who over-wintered bees inside determined that 40-45 degrees was the sweet spot where bees were loosely clustered and could move around, yet were still in a state of torpor and used the minimum amount of honey stores.
    I would think the better insulation would allow less honey consumption , due to less heat loss. the carbs convert to BTUs. BTW in a state of "torpor" they cannot eat so that can be a state for a bit of time but not for a long time, they need to occasionally eat. Well insulated would not be in torpor but warmer.

    GG

  12. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    crofter "how much clearance is there between the inside of the rigid foam housing and the outside of the hive bodies?"

    I built the sleeve with 1/2 inch clearance all around or air gap. Using test data I quickly realized that winter winds had a huge temperature affect on this air cap. I closed it up with open cell foam. I used compressible open cell stuff in case there was sweating on the outside of the boxes plus leaving a low resistance vapor barrier. It worked really well. I leave the foam out in summer time, now, to aid drying honey. ALso to see what would happen. Bees have no problem maintaining uniform temperatures and relative humidity.

    Did I mention that removing the sleeve to work a hive that it makes a great table to work table.
    I also cannot believe my yield this year, a mid to late summer drought year. Fall appears to be even tougher - buying sugar.

  13. #32
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,827

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    Every spring I find myself saying that I wont feed so much next fall. Too many frames worth of unused stores! Darned insulation! I did some probing with a cheapy temperature guage last winter and even below zero F. found close to 45 F as soon as I stuck it any where inside the upper box but as it approached the cluster much warmer. You could see the temperature near the cluster jump nearly 20 F. in March when they started rearing brood.

    It used to be very often said that the bees only heat the cluster, not the hive, but with some insulation much of the space within the box is certainly far warmer than the outside temperature. I think this will soon be mostly put to rest. Put some scale hives out, insulated and not, and plot the stores consumption. I think sometimes things people are too lazy to do get described as not effective.

    That said, I usually dont insulate before the middle of Nov. which typically would have been first real fall of snow; seems that is getting later than years ago. We could almost bet on a few nights of 40 below but that seems to have become 30- 32.
    Frank

  14. #33
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Wakefield, Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Insulating hives.

    crofter "It used to be very often said that the bees only heat the cluster,"

    If true it would be in defiance of physics. The thermal gradient form cluster to internal ambient temperature determines the amount of heat the bees must generate to maintain internal cluster temperatures. If the cluster is too small, meaning lower heat generation capabilities, the outer layer will go into cold stupor and die. I know this is not in agreement with "classical beekeeping knowledge", bees do not die of from the cold, but that is the contrarian me. Allow more drafts which increases convection current velocities around the cluster and you will see them die faster, even for bigger clusters. Your area gets a little chilly at times.

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