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My developing understanding informs me that winter condensation is undesireable, and to that end, I've planned to build a warre-quilt for my lang.

Today, however, I read an analysis that suggests that condensation is a necessary winter water source for bees:

It can be read at: http://beenatural.wordpress.com/natural-beekeeping/observations/condensation/

If I understand the article right, by building a "breathing" roof for my bees, I may be condemning them to a winter of thirst.


I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on condensation.
 

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a lot of condensation is bad if you have a freeze and thaw winter

what i do is have a shim above the inner cover about 1 inch and pour sugar on top the inner cover - the dry sugar soaks up the exess water and the bees store and or use the sugar water
 

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It seems that both methods work. A lot depends on where you live. Some regions are very moist and the ambient moisture when combined with the water given off by the bees can drive the humidity in the hive higher than the bees find comfortable. In other areas, like Dennis' and mine, lack of moisture can be a problem for bees trying to liquefy hard honey or dilute it for feeding larvae.

In my experience, good bees can do just fine in a dry hive or one with condensation, as long as the water does not drip.

Many northern Europeans do not use top entrances and they winter quite well.
 

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When I had bees in the Panhandle of Nebraska, I didn't have any condensation issues (dry climate). When I moved to Southeastern Nebraska (moderately humid climate) I had to put in top entrances or the condensation would drip on the bees. It depends on your climate.
 

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I'm thinking a slightly pitched inner lid would do the trick to divert the drip flow enough to allow the excess water to run down the side. Besides, doesn't the honey they consume have some amount of moisture ? And doesn't the warmth of the cluster give off enough heat to keep the inside above freezing ?
 

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When I had bees in the Panhandle of Nebraska, I didn't have any condensation issues (dry climate). When I moved to Southeastern Nebraska (moderately humid climate) I had to put in top entrances or the condensation would drip on the bees. It depends on your climate.
Alberta is an odd place, climate wise. The climate is dry all year, and cold in the winter. In southern Alberta, our winters consist of a yo-yo between -30c and +5c from Oct to May, due to a regional phenomenon known as a "chinook".

Right now it's +10c outside. In two weeks, it will probably bliizard and drop to -20c.
 

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I saw that article before.

He's in Wyoming where it's really dry. I'm in Colorado where it is also dry.

I'm not really sure what to do about it other than stand pat with a standard inner cover and telescoping outer cover.

I've provided a barrel of water that refills on my drip system every week and I've only seen a single bee in it one time...not sure where they get their water but it's not here (neighbors have complained a bit :)
 

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How close is your water barrel? I have water gardens and a plant tray a few hundred feet from the bees and they are there constantly, but they ignore the same water dish when it is right in front of their hives. I'm a bit north of Denver.
 

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My thought was to build a candy board from 1 x 4's. Put wire mesh across the bottom, lay a sheet of newspaper on it and fill it up with sugar. I will leave a hole in the center for moisture to escape. Then I will put an inner cover above this with the center slot left open, blue insulation with a trail to the upper entrance. The sugar should absorb excess moisture and give the bees emergency feed if its a long winter. This is my first year, so this could be the worst idea ever, but it sounds like a good plan to me!
 

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How close is your water barrel? I have water gardens and a plant tray a few hundred feet from the bees and they are there constantly, but they ignore the same water dish when it is right in front of their hives. I'm a bit north of Denver.


Wow, that's something.

My water barrel is 5 feet from the hives :)

My bird bath is 150 feet away but still no activity. My neighbor's deck is 1/8 of a mile away and the bees flock there apparantly to drink the water in the drip pans under the plants...

Maybe it's too close after all.
 

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i have notches in my inner covers to allow some moisure to escape.

i also put one half inch of pink insulation board between my inner and outer covers. i believe this keeps the ceiling from getting as cold as the sides, letting any condensation form on the sides, where it can't drip on the bees, and at the same time keeping the water available to the bees if they need it.
 

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Squarepeg-It's my 1st year and I have been encouraged locally to do just what you do. I have a 2 inch wide notch in my inner cover that will hopefully allow air flow, help control condensation, and serve as a top entrance for the winter months. I have heard that once the styrofoam insulation is in place(above inner, below telescoping) I should duct tape shut the inner cover hole so the bees don't chew the insulation. Since the insulation will be covering the hole anyway, it makes sense to me to tape the hole shut. How many years have you "wintered" this way? Does it work well? Do you have any problems or suggestions of what else needs to be done in addition to keep the bees safe, dry, and healthy throughout the winter. I am in Wisconsin, so the winters are probably a bit different. Thanks, juzzerbee
 

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jb, i have only two winters under my belt, the first with four hives and the second with ten. i had no losses either winter.

i did not insulate the first winter, and even though there were no losses, i found a lot of mold on the underside of the inner cover and on the top of the frames beneath it. not good.

after the the second winter, and with the insulation, no mold.

sounds like a good idea to use your notch for a top entrance, in case of deep snow. i have to keep mine screened to help with the hive beetles and wax moths.
 

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Thanks. I was thinking about this idea too last night. Would it be good to place some sort of shim on top of the insulating styrofoam and the underside of the telescoping cover? This would create a pocket of air(maybe just a half inch), the would possible control moisture and make a area of dead space that could help with heating? Or......is this idea unneccessary if I am already using the styrofoam layer and a notched inner cover?
Also- does a 1 inch thick piece of foam elevate your outer cover too much that the notch in the inner cover may be too exposed to the elements? Thanks again, juzzerbee
 

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jb, the one half inch is an extra r3 of insulation, and raises the outer cover up about as high as i would want to with the inner covers i have. i guess the dead air space above the inner cover might add a little insulation, but i don't think i need it here.

as far as tape, i was suggested to me after i put the styrofoam in, and i never got around to it. none of the 10 hives chewed the foam, it is pink dow board.

ed, no cut for the escape holes, and the foam was fit tight inside the inner cover rim. it does not interfere with the notches in the front and back that provide some air escape from the super below. i have these notches screened, but some of the hives propilize the screen to varying degrees.
 
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