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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had made some insulation blankets for my hives when the temps got into the single digits earlier this winter. We just don't see single digits here typically. So being a 1st year beek I wanted to ere on the side of caution. Well a few weeks ago I took them off so I could inspect and left them off. Now we are suppose to get 6-12" snow. Temps are suppose to only get to high 20's. In my most productive hive I have a deep that has capped brood in at least 7 of the frames with lots of bees. Shuold I go put my blankets back on so the brood on the outside frames is not chilled?
 

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Go with your gut instinct, I would put the blankets back on at least till the cold front has passed.

Could you provine a picture or description of your insulation blanket and how you use it on the hives? I will be insulating my hives in future winters to protect against these extreme temperature swings so the search is on for some type of home spun design that is not too costly......Thanks
 

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Studies were done many years ago, you can read about them in the ABC XYZ of Bee Culture, that showed insulating does not help keep the inside of the hive warmer. I have insulated hives myself with foamboard, but I feel that it did more good for me (other than costing me more money) than the bees. Don't misunderstand, whether you insulate or just wrap with tar paper, those two things help with cutting down wind penetrations, which I really feel is much more important and should be the goal. A strong cluster can deal with below zero temperatures, but add in strong winds and it makes it much worse, not because of the wind chill, but the wind forces its way through cracks and crevices in the hive and makes it more drafty which in itself is detrimental to the cluster keeping warm.
 

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The tar paper (being black) helps with solar gains. I have personally observed unwrapped hives being stuck inside the hive, whilst the tar paper wrapped ones were able to get out for a cleansing flight. I also tried open screen bottom boards vs solid bottom boards, finding no significant difference. http://honeydrunkapiaries.blogspot.ca/2014/01/overwintering-experiment-winter-2013.html We have been experiencing weather in the -30F range to give you an idea of the extremes.
 

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Right, the tar paper helps absorb heat on sunnier days, even if its bitter cold outside, and transfers some of that heat to the walls of the hive. Even on cloudy days, I'm sure the tar paper is warmer than the air, even though only slightly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Go with your gut instinct, I would put the blankets back on at least till the cold front has passed.

Could you provine a picture or description of your insulation blanket and how you use it on the hives? I will be insulating my hives in future winters to protect against these extreme temperature swings so the search is on for some type of home spun design that is not too costly......Thanks
Basically I just took two pieces of 30# roofing felt and batt insulation and made a sandwich out of it. Duct taped the edges together and then wrapped it around the hives with duct tape. I made sure there was enough room for the bees to come and go at the bottom.
 

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I wonder who did that research. Prior to moving to North Carolina, I lived in SE Idaho and insulated houses. If insulation doesn't keep the inside of a hive warmer, why do we insulate our homes? To keep heat IN and cold OUT. I plan on insulating my hives with 3/4 inch foam board which will stay on year round.
Studies were done many years ago, you can read about them in the ABC XYZ of Bee Culture, that showed insulating does not help keep the inside of the hive warmer. I have insulated hives myself with foamboard, but I feel that it did more good for me (other than costing me more money) than the bees. Don't misunderstand, whether you insulate or just wrap with tar paper, those two things help with cutting down wind penetrations, which I really feel is much more important and should be the goal. A strong cluster can deal with below zero temperatures, but add in strong winds and it makes it much worse, not because of the wind chill, but the wind forces its way through cracks and crevices in the hive and makes it more drafty which in itself is detrimental to the cluster keeping warm.
 

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I wonder who did that research. Prior to moving to North Carolina, I lived in SE Idaho and insulated houses. If insulation doesn't keep the inside of a hive warmer, why do we insulate our homes? To keep heat IN and cold OUT. I plan on insulating my hives with 3/4 inch foam board which will stay on year round.
The bees heat the cluster not the hive..... Ambient temp inside the hive will not be much above the outside air temp....
 

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If the hive is insulated, and the warm air generated by the cluster can't escape, it seems logical that the ambient temp inside the hive would stay higher. I believe that is the purpose of insulation, to keep the warm in and the cold out.
The bees heat the cluster not the hive..... Ambient temp inside the hive will not be much above the outside air temp....
 

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If the hive is insulated, and the warm air generated by the cluster can't escape, it seems logical that the ambient temp inside the hive would stay higher. I believe that is the purpose of insulation, to keep the warm in and the cold out.
if warm air can't escape then moisture will build up and start dripping down on the bees, then you will have wet dead bees
venilation is needed to keep moisture down
what is the purpose of putting a bunch of insulation on only to let the cold air in when the heat excapes through ventilation?
 

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It is a misconception to say interior temp of an insulated hive is not much above outside ambient.

A heat source(cluster of bees) inside a closed insulated enclosure will raise the internal temp. A significant factor on how much inside temp increases is how much ventilation is going on. If there is a large flow of air, ambient temp will not increase appreciably

If both bottom and top entrances are reduced to minimal size to reduce ventilation to a minimum yet adequate internal temp rises significantly. Temp rise varies significantly from next to outside wall to just above cluster.

From my experience with two side 1/2 by 3/8 inch bottom entrances, the temp above the inner cover is 20-30F warmer than outside ambient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
if warm air can't escape then moisture will build up and start dripping down on the bees, then you will have wet dead bees
venilation is needed to keep moisture down
what is the purpose of putting a bunch of insulation on only to let the cold air in when the heat excapes through ventilation?
I have reduced my entrances but do not block them with the blanket. I have also installed 1" spaces under my bottom board that have a gap in one side and added paint sticks under my top cover. I also have sugar blocks on the top frames that are feeding and absorbing moisture. Hopefully this is providing proper ventilation to get the moisture out or at least absorb what does not get out.
 

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The studies that I referred to, used at least 118 temperature sensors located throughout each two story hive in the study, these were double walled hives with extreme degrees of insulation.
They found that even in these highly insulated hives in a protracted cold spell, the air temperatures in the hives were all at ambient except right at the very edge of the cluster where the temperature was around between 43 and 46 degrees. That proves that the bees don't heat the hive, only their cluster.

Now, if you wrap your hive with tar paper, on a sunny day the paper will absorb heat and transfer it to the walls of the hive, which in turn probably heats up the interior of the hive above ambient. That is different than saying the bees heat up the hive above ambient and the insulation conserves that heat.
 

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What was the size of the bottom entrance and top entrances? Amount of ventilation is a very significant factor. If there is lots of ventilation, then internal temp will not increase much over outside ambient.

As an analogy, run a furnace in an insulated house and open the doors and what would inside temp be?

Temp above my inner cover is 20-30F warmer than ambient.
 

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They did not say an exact measurement, only that they were using greatly reduced hive entrances. No mention of whether top entrances were used. They also said that a benefit of using insulation is that it retards the rate of temperature change within the unoccupied hive space, helps it cool down more slowly with sudden outside drop in temperature, allowing the cluster to contract slower. On the other hand, insulation can slow the transfer of warmth from the outside to the inside when outside temperatures are rising quickly, this can hurt because the bees may not benefit from being able to take a quick cleansing flight.
 

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>The bees heat the cluster not the hive.....

I spent a good portion of my life outdoors in a very harsh climate. I guarantee that small things make a huge difference in how cold you are. I have put plywood up in a metal building and you could feel the difference in how much warmer it was and this is a three sided building with the front open. I doubt a thermometer would show much difference, but my ears, nose, fingers and body could sure tell the difference that 3/4" of wood made on only three sides of a three sided building with the front still open to the air. The tempearture in my living room stays the same whether you leave the back door open or not... but it takes a lot more heat...
 

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Please understand that I am no expert. I'm new to keeping bees and learn something from every response. With that said, Do you not create moisture when you breathe? YES you do. Does that moisture condense onto the ceiling of your insulated house and rain down upon your head? It doesn't in my home. Why? Because my home, while insulated, is also ventilated. A well insulated and ventilated hive shouldn't experience a condensation problem. I also understand that the bees heat the cluster and not the hive. However, if the heat from the cluster is allowed to remain in the hive, does it not make sense that over time, as that heat rises and hits an insulated cover, the entire hive temperature will also rise. Maybe not to the same temp as the cluster, but warmer than the ambient temperature outside. I'm thinking that 20-30 degrees would make a huge difference in a hive surviving a winter.
if warm air can't escape then moisture will build up and start dripping down on the bees, then you will have wet dead bees
venilation is needed to keep moisture down
what is the purpose of putting a bunch of insulation on only to let the cold air in when the heat excapes through ventilation?
 

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LAndrus, the studies have already been done which show that the small amount of heat that a cluster creates does not add to the warmth of the whole hive. When their warm moist air hits the colder roof and walls it condenses, but good ventilation will carry away most of that moisture so that it doesn't become a problem. People keep trying to compare the inside of an insulated hive in winter to our insulated homes in winter, it simply doesn't work the same, I know that I have a hard time comprehending it also, I guess that's why I keep insulating hives every year.
 
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