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Opinions on wether to add Insulation under the roof-wrap some around the hive-the bottom-and basically anywhere.
Central PA USA. Dec Jan Feb average Temps 0 to -10 to 20F. Lasts for 8 weeks or more.

BTB
 

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Insulation overhead is very important to prevent condensation and potential dripping onto the cluster. As above, wet bees die.

I'd also encourage some perimeter hive insulation, not just a black wrap. The hive may/will survive without it. However, the warmer interior all winter and into the spring results in large populations and early large populations. I find I need to pull a couple of NUCs in spring, a month apart, to keep the population under control. The main hive barely skips a beat.

The profits from one NUC will far exceed the cost of perimeter insulation. And you only need to buy the insulation once.
 

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Insulation overhead is very important to prevent condensation and potential dripping onto the cluster. As above, wet bees die.

I'd also encourage some perimeter hive insulation, not just a black wrap. The hive may/will survive without it. However, the warmer interior all winter and into the spring results in large populations and early large populations. I find I need to pull a couple of NUCs in spring, a month apart, to keep the population under control. The main hive barely skips a beat.

The profits from one NUC will far exceed the cost of perimeter insulation. And you only need to buy the insulation once.
mgolden:

Do you have a picture or could you please describe exactly what you mean by your 'perimeter insulation'? It gets awfully cold and windy here in Central Minnesota in the winter.

Thanks,

kerryq
 

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I used two inches of rigid foam insulation on all my hives last year. This year I am going to make and use some quilt boxes to try and gauge any difference in their success.

As stated above, ventilation is very important as well.
 

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I used two inches of rigid foam insulation on all my hives last year. This year I am going to make and use some quilt boxes to try and gauge any difference in their success.

As stated above, ventilation is very important as well.
Hello BM,

Could you give us more info, pictures? How do you manage the ventilation?

Thanks, Joerg
 

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think about moisture build up when planing. wet bees die in winter.
Spot on. I killed a colony this past winter when we had up and down temps with relatively high humidity. The moisture thawed in the hive, saturated a candy board, and the syrup drenched the bees. My mistake was in not providing enough ventilation. Experience is what you get right after you need it.
 

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Hello BM,

Could you give us more info, pictures? How do you manage the ventilation?

Thanks, Joerg
Hello Biermann. I manage ventilation on my hives last year my ensuring the upper entrance notch was open to allow moisture to escape. I have also used popsicle sticks in each corner to allow
air circulation.
I do not have any pics of the quilt boxes as yet, as I am getting ready to build them. Basically you make a box the size of your hive bodies, cover the bottom muslin or some other breathable cloth, put some sort of insulation on top of that (I have heard of dried leaves and other items used as insulation but I will be using woood chips from a local farm supply)
Drill holes on all sides of your box and cover with screen or #8 hardware cloth.
This goes on below your inner cover and absorbs moisture from the bees and allows it to escape as well.
Search this forum or the internet for honeybee quilt boxes, you will find plans.
 

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How about insulation from below, we get up to 6' of frost in the ground and it creeps under buildings and will go under the hive.

Joerg
 

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I'm in central PA also. You only need to use an insulated cover (lid). That way the moisture will condense on the sides. Otherwise, water will condense on the lid and drip on the bees, killing them. Don't bother wrapping the hive either. Waste of time. Make sure your hive has good ventilation. Don't seal it up. Also, I highly suggest making a 4" box for the top and fill it with blocks of plain ol' sugar. This will absorb moisture throughout winter/spring while providing emergency food. Also, do sugar shakes and make sure your bees don't have a mite issue going into winter. You can always to an Oxalic acid treatment in the fall after the brood cycle is over.

Edit: Don't forget mouse guards!
 

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I think some posters have missed the fact that this is in the topbar hive forum. The bars with comb form the roof of the hive so any trapped moisture acts a bit differently than in a Lang hive where there is an inner cover with frames that don't touch. If your TBH has sloped sides, you will see the condensation forming on the sides and running down the edges. My window side seemed to condense first before the wooden side of the hive.

I'm in a warmer area of VA. Some of the beekeepers will wrap their hives. I don't since I like to peek in the window daily (especially during winter to make sure they are ok) and a wrap would preclude me from doing that. I did find that a wind break was a better bet for me. I had some nucs sitting out in the yard and they were struggling with the cold temps in January. Moved them up against an unheated shed and they did much better. TBH's that are up against the house had an active group of bees that overwintered well. The full size TBH that was out in the middle of the yard along with the nucs suffered alot of dead workers and got off to a late start because of it.

I did put some rigid foam insulation around the hives for the couple of cold nights where we were getting into the low single digits. I had added remote temperature sensors that I could monitor from the house. I added them to hives that didn't get insulation as well. For those few nights that I monitored, I did not find a big difference in the hives that had insulation vs. those that did not. (this wasn't a large experiment with hundreds of hives, so there were other factors in play, like hive location).
 

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Didn't realize this was a Top Bar Hive discussion. I generally hit Activity and scan the posts and don't go looking for what forum the posting is in.

Have no experience with a TBH and no interest unless I get too old to lift 10 frame lang.

My comments are related to langstroth. Two inches of styrofoam on walls and bottom, and quilt box and 2 1/2 styrofoam in inner cover.

P1010233.jpg

I get amazing results using insulation. Pulled two NUCs out and sold them for $195 each, just for the bees. Bought a queen for $32 for a profit of $150 per NUC.

Main hive is bursting with bees and need to extract every 7-10 days to have open comb for them.
 

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A slatted rack will do nothing for ventilation in the winter. I do use a an un-slatted shim under my lowest box, year-round.

Ventilation in the winter is all about a) preventing the (relatively) warm, moisture- laden air rising up from the bees' cluster within the hive from making contact with a surface above that is much colder resulting in condensation raining back down on the bees.

Quilt boxes work superbly for this purpose. Warmer moist air passes up through the fabric floor in the QB, through the shavings and OUT of the hive, without condensing. Problem solved. That QBs also may provide some modest thermal protection is a secondary effect.

I insulate, all around my hives (2" between adjacent hives and four inches on exposed surfaces.) I use a QB. I put some insulation under my lid, but mostly to keep it raised a bit so the ventilation holes above the QB are unimpeded in anyway (See QB above. for reason I need that ventilation.)

I also do some more extreme insulation, which is probably overkill even for my cold climate, so I'm not promoting that. But 2-4" of foam insulation is not something that will in any way impede "ventilation" because it isn't tightly sealed to the boxes, like you might caulk foam panels in house construction. It just operates as a radiant barrier.

The cost of insulating a hive is minimal considering what the cost of replacement bees is. The panels take some trouble to craft the first year, but can be re-used indefintely, and once they are cut into the right sizes to cover hive walls they are not diffcult to store during the off season. Mice don't hurt them, mildew doesn't faze them etc., so they can spend the summer in your attic, barn, shed, basement, etc.

I do four things to make sure my bees winter well: year-round mite control; more-than-enough winter food (supplemented as needed); quilt boxes and insulation. I must be doing something right because I have never lost a wintering colony.

Enj.
 

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I am in Northern Virginia. I do not insulate my top bar hives and they do just fine. I put a small twig under a couple of bars just past the cluster to allow a bit of moisture to escape.

A fellow that I am mentoring wrapped his top bar hives last year - nearly killed them. When we checked them mid-winter they were dripping wet throughout. We removed the wrap and vented like mine and they dried out and did just fine.
 

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of course bees can winter in a top bar hive. the further north the harder it is. as far north as i am it is not easy. it would not be recomended for beginers localy.
 

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I will no longer insulate my kTBH's. I'm in N IL, so winters here can be brutual or mild....we just don't know until we've gone through them!

With the recent up/down winters (warm at day, frigid at night), insulating the hive prevented the bees from hibernating deeply....and created moisture problems from their respiration. They were also MUCH too active (as the video link above shows) for the season. Once very early spring hit with the warmer sunshine hitting the hive, the bees thought it was warm enough to do cleansing flights....but when they hit the air (it was a 10 degree day), they froze almost on leaving the hive. Saddest sight I've ever seen - I watched some of them fly out and drop, as I was out with the dog at the time.

I had put the silver bubble-wrap type insulation on the sides of the kTBH, (duct taped in place) with an old pillowcase with R-20 unfaced insulation under the gable top of hive. The R-20 I think was fine...it was the silver stuff which I think was incorrect. The pillowcases each had a mouse house in them by spring. Not sure when the mice moved in, but they had a very cozy home for the winter. And we all know how fond mice and bees are of one another....The mice never made it down into the hive, but their stench was strong above the bars....

My neighbor with Lang hives wraps hers in the black wrap sold via Dadant? or someone on-line. She lost a few hives to moisture problems as well. So watch for moisture issues...I'll place a small twig at the back of the hive before the follower board to help vent out moisture.

However, the bees are building for the conditions they're experiencing. Change those conditions and they may not have time to catch up or switch operations. So I'll leave the hive as it stands come early October.

I do have a wind-break all year round for the hives - simply a pair of 4x8' sheets of plywood with a 2x4" in each end for stability and pounded into the ground about 2' away from the hives. Prevents the blisteringly bitter North and West winds from directly hitting the apiary. The wind break is there year round, so the bees have built as they need. The east and southern winds here aren't that hot, so I leave the windbreak in place. No where to store it really either! The long side of the plywood is on the ground, the 2x4" on the end is about 12" longer than the board, so it's pounded in about that far. Not sure I'll get them out anytime soon....good thing I don't need to!
 
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