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I have a big problem here in the northwest. When my hives winter over they become very wet and I have a big problem with mold.

I was think maybe this year I would add a Damprid bag in a box with a wire bottom on the top of the hive. That way the hive would stay drive throughout the winter. What I am not sure is if the Damprid Bag would be harmful to the bees. The crystal are enclosed in a plastic bag.

Any thoughts on trying this?
 

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I think possibly you should try a simple bag of cedar shavings instead. They will soak up the excess moisture just as well and add insulation to the top side of the hives.
 

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Find a way to ventilate the hives that have a moisture problem. The shavings mentioned above in a 'quilt box' are one possibility. An upper entrance is another possibility.

While Oak Harbor winters may seem cold* to you, in comparison to hives in many places elsewhere, you have mild winters. You can afford to lose some heat out the top in exchange for better ventilation.


*(I lived in Seattle for 13 years, I am familiar with the area weather.)

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You might want to try fabric-floored quilt boxes with wide open ventilation holes above the pine shavings. Keeps the bees in a stable, mildly-warmed environment (warmed by their own heat rising off the cluster and trapped under the shavings in the box) while providing excellent through-put for the excess vapor.

I copied my quilt box design from Rusty who writes the HoneyBSweet Blog. I believe she's in the PNW, too.

I am not; I'm in the quite cold, and not usually very damp, north eastern part of NY. I used quilt boxes last winter and was astonished at how much moisture transited through the shavings to the underside of my insulated telecovers. While it condensed there (and sometimes froze when outside air temps hits the skids well below zero) as soon as it got back in the 20's it rethawed and started leaving the hives. Whether it vented immediately or condensed on the underside of the telecover's insulation, mattered not at all because once it was above the shavings it was effectively out of the bees' living space.

My hives were quite dry despite having only very small openings for nearly six months. I have my quilt boxes set above 2" high feeding rims to give some space for Lauri's Recipe sugar bricks laid on the top of the uppermost frames.

Enj.
 

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I think really what you want to accomplish is not the absorption or storage of water; it needs to be transpired off through a porous but insulating layer with lots of surface area. Keep the heat in- let the water vapor out!

The wood shavings in a burlap pillow do very well. I intend to try some styrofoam packing peanuts on a hive or two this winter.
 

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i have had good success with the cedar shaving quilt box. very effective for moisture control

I use something like this
http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/shop/woodenware/woodenware-10frame/all-season-inner-cover

but with a cedar instead of foam and screen bottom instead of plywood
Another vote for the Honey Run Apiaries' All-Season inner cover, but with the foam insulation as supplied from Honey Run. Our Denver winters are cold and dry. For the winter, I simply insert the foam insulation into the All-Season IC. I don't do anything else to the hive, i.e. no wrapping, no moisture absorbing, etc. In other words, my hives spend the winter with insulation on only the top, and with a top and a bottom entrance.

For bees in winter, moisture is the greater enemy than cold because a healthy hive with good honey stores generates it own heat, but wet bees quickly become dead bees even in mild temps. Put another way, bees have developed a sophisticated strategy to keep themselves warm in the winter, but have no way to dry themselves despite emitting a lot of moisture when metabolizing honey.

I think some people may over react to the cold, and end up cutting off a hive's ventilation by adding unneeded insulation, which then kills the hive by causing moisture buildup. Unless a hive is already impaired for other reasons, I would suggest insulation is only needed when very far north, so beeks not in the extreme north should first focus on providing effective winter-time ventilation. Again, this is for a healthy hive, meaning a good size cluster and good honey stores.

JMHO
 
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