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I have two winters keeping bees. The first winter I didn't insulate and lost the only hive we had. The second winter I insulated all but one hive and it didn't make it could have been weak. The other hives overwintered well. Does anyone have experience insulating there hives with success and how do you go about doing it.
 

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I've never insulated here but one of my buddies does. We're both at about 2000ft elevation.

He staples either felt or tarpaper around his, with nothing additional except propping the outer cover up for a little ventilation.
 

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I don't insulate but I do put up a wind block. The bees seem to do fine without it and from what I have heard you have to worry more about moisture if you do.

I wonder if your bees died from starvation more then cold...which is usually the case.

BTW I am over 8000 ft here and it was 7 degrees yesterday morning...got up to 44 today and the bees were flying all over the place... :thumbsup:
 

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I don't insulate but I wind block. I don't want brood too early in the season and I worry about that when I insulate.
 

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I attended a beekeeping conference this weekend and the experts said do not insulate- bees need ventilation. The danger is that condensation forms on the top and freezes then melts and drips cold water onto the bees.

If they are a strong, healthy hive they will warm themselves overwinter.
 

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I insulate the inner cover, and I do wrap with 15 lb felt. Just finishing up the 35th year I've wrapped bees.

I don't think it helps every year, but does often enough to keep me at it. Some years, the bees here won't have a cleansing flight from mid-November to April. By March, the bees are needing a cleansing flight. There will be days that are almost warm enough...just not quite so. I've seen such days...25-30 degrees, sunny, no wind. The black paper warms up the hive environment, both inside and out. At the end of the day, there are 4' wide strips of yellow snow in front of the hives, while there is no spotting on the snow away from the hives. Also, there are no dead bees on the snow.

Where I keep bees, you never know when you'll get a year like that.
 

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The way I see it is condensation is the main problem. Solution?... ventilate by using an additional upper entrance on the same side as the lower entrance AND insulate the inner cover. Condensation occurs when moist warm air touches a cold surface. If you insulate, then the outer surfaces will be less cold, hence less condensation. Same is true for ventilation... moist air is expelled and once again less condensation.
 

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I wrap most of my hives. I never have enough wraps. They help in the late cold snaps in spring when the bees have brood that they sit on and starve 1" from honey. When you open a hive like that it makes it worth it. Last year over wintered some hives inside. Going to try it again. Had good luck. If I have the same thing this year the wraps will go to the burn pile.
 

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Well NDnewbeek, the way I do it is just staple 2 or 3 peices of thick cardboard to the inner cover (on the deep side away from the bees facing the outer cover). I also block up the hole with folded paper towels or news paper and cover that with cardboard too. I put a peice of styrofoam then on top of that. (my covers have deep sides so I can build up the inner cover without any problems. The important thing is to use water absorbant material.
 

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I've been reading that some beeks are wrapping their hive with large black garbage bags for winter insulation? Would the black garbage bag store the sun warmth as much as tar paper? and would the black garbage bag also work as a wind break?
 

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I have two winters keeping bees. The first winter I didn't insulate and lost the only hive we had. The second winter I insulated all but one hive and it didn't make it could have been weak. The other hives overwintered well. Does anyone have experience insulating there hives with success and how do you go about doing it.
Contrarian Opinion: I insulate all-year now. I have R20 top insulation, R10 side insulation and no top vent. Deep snow is a consideration and I am working on a solution, a solution to handle dangerous CO2 levels. We only get 3 foot blizzards every 50 years. I am retired and can clean my entrances if needed. but I am getting older.

I have progressively improved the heath, quantity and size of my colonies. I now have 9 hives and 2 nucs. My biggest problem is too much honey even with a 3 month drought. Strange? I also base my decisions based on accurate measurements of temperature and rough Relative Humidity ( +/-7% RH) measurements at the top of the hive - just above a canvass inner cover. I am buying more sensors to improve my understanding.

Sorry for rambling - best of luck.

Moisture or condensation: I am still learning but I have seen no winter moisture issue. The inner hive temperatures always seem to be above the dew point ( calculate dew point from temperature and RH measurements). I had to make my insulation scheme water tight to prevent Nor-Eastern driven rain storms form driving water into the hives. I watched that event one day with bees lined up drinking the water - very interesting observation. Bees, specifically large colonies have died from dehydration ( Scotland testing report). I am beginning to believe the honey bees, when the ability is given to them, to control the dew point by heating the air mass. It works most of the time except in summer when it is hot, 85 to 95F and RH is very high - foggy and high RH here along the coast. Impossible to control with heat alone unless you make a dehumidifier so I think the beard when this happens. The amount of bearding I see has been greatly reduced with all-year insulation ( by observation).

Their is one unique, random event which occurs when "tub" feeding in the Fall, usually near the end of October. The syrup tub seems to become a moisture condenser on one out of 9 hives. The hive appears to stop taking syrup and a cold snap comes in ( we got freezing weather and snow). The tub feeder collectsa fair amoutn of water on the syrup side of the split feeder. The dry side has little water and no "crystals". I have seen this twice in two years. I intend to investigate next year, if possible. Could the bees have clustered in response to the sudden cold snap, reduced heat generation and the feeding tub temperature drops below the dew point - all other hives remainded active as noted by continuous sugar consumption. I also have seen sugar blocks melt and drip in similar conditions. BTW - no apparent damage form any event. Crazy idea or question - could the bees be collecting water for winter?? Crazy ?? :unsure:

Spring impact of insulation has been ntoed for a long time. Summer impact is really surprising.
 

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I didn't get to insulate when a cold snap came for 3 days (4 days ago). I noted when I peeked in that I had condensation dripping from cover into hive, a lot.
I put on the deep box for a quilt box with Burlap in it for the time being top at least stop the drips going into hive.
Huge warm up here in New England with temps hitting mid/upper 60's till next Wednesday!

This is my 1st Winter, I was going to do big insulation wraps on them but changed my mind .
I'll put some more burlap in the very top deep I put on ( dry sugar will be below it), and roofing felt around the outside with upper & lower entrances open.

I am wondering if I need to add foam insulation on top of the burlap though...
 

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I didn't get to insulate when a cold snap came for 3 days (4 days ago). I noted when I peeked in that I had condensation dripping from cover into hive, a lot.
I put on the deep box for a quilt box with Burlap in it for the time being top at least stop the drips going into hive.
Huge warm up here in New England with temps hitting mid/upper 60's till next Wednesday!

This is my 1st Winter, I was going to do big insulation wraps on them but changed my mind .
I'll put some more burlap in the very top deep I put on ( dry sugar will be below it), and roofing felt around the outside with upper & lower entrances open.

I am wondering if I need to add foam insulation on top of the burlap though...
TIgger " ( dry sugar will be below it)" bee careful - sugar is hydroscopic. I have had it dripping down but did nor detect any real damage. Did you notice any damage from the dripping cover? If you want to learn to manage hte moisture issue, read up on relative humidity, temeprature and dew point issues. The DOE has a good section on house design that applies.
 

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I am wondering if I need to add foam insulation on top of the burlap though...
You did well adding the burlap. It soaks up excessive moisture. I have insulation over my burlap under the tele lid as well as over the tele lid. For me the key is balancing the necessity of humidity without generating condensation directly on the cluster. So when I feel the burlap its damp. And just below it they are happy as a clam eating sugar slurry in the food court.

Just be diligent as you tinker with your design.
 

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Our weather this year is so all over the place.
I left the burlap and have not been inside and Won't go back inside to add more burlap untill temps start to hit 30's steadily.
I don't think I'll add anything outside the lid and just wrap with felt. They need to get through our Winter with out over helping them.
 

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TIgger " ( dry sugar will be below it)" bee careful - sugar is hydroscopic. I have had it dripping down but did nor detect any real damage. Did you notice any damage from the dripping cover? If you want to learn to manage hte moisture issue, read up on relative humidity, temeprature and dew point issues. The DOE has a good section on house design that applies.
Thank you, the temp swings were not something we have like this, and this being my first year, I was not ready for it.
I didn't notice any damage as there was syrup bins inside so I think it mostly went on that.
But had water coming out the entrance due to the 3 days of wind rain we had :(

It seems all dry now and I now have the hives tilted forward a bit plus taped the box seams where it connects to each box and bottom board..... just to be safe that there are no other gaps where water can come in.
The burlap will grab any more moisure so I feel safe on that for now.
 

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Wind generated pressure while raining sure finds leaks fast. I tell the story of a Nor"Easter and my detecting a humidity issue. Suited up and wen tout to check the hive. Caught a break in the heavy rain, lifted the the covers and low behold - honey bees lined up drinking the water as it came in on three rim sides. Wish I had a camera!
 
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