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Mold on inner cover

1586 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  laketrout
My set up for this past winter was a solid bottom board two deeps a candy board and a quilt box then a inner cover and telescoping top cover .The candy board had a 4'' x 4'' area in the front without candy so air could rise up and then out the 7/16 hole in the candy board .I was able to check the quilt box on warmer days as the candy board below kind of protected the brood chambers and I never found the wood chips wet and just maybe a little damp at most . But both sides of my inner cover have quite a bit of mold growing , what caused it and what could I do different for next year , this colony did survive are arctic winter .
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I took my inner covers off for the winter, relying on the quilt box and a shim above it with two wide-open holes (each @1.25 inch in diameter), instead. Above that I had a tele cover with 1.5 " of foam tucked up inside. About half the times during the fierce cold when I opened the hives I would have some condensate on the bottom surface of the insulation. (I also have a shim below the below the QB where I fed sugar bricks, and later pollen patties, which were just plunked down on the top bars.)

When I first applied the QB I had only one hole open (the front one) and during that first interval (about 4 weeks in November to mid Dec.) the shavings appeared moist enough to me that I changed them out and opened the second hole. From that time forward the shavings were always dry to the touch. So I think that you might benefit from having a one- or two-hole shim above the QB, and leaving off the inner cover.

You might start with a shim with one open hole in the front, and another drilled but capped so you could open it up if necessary. My hives were also covered with blankets and a tarp, so the hole on the back side of the shim wasn't really open to the air, and perhaps wasn't necessary, or only mildly so. But the lack of any further palpable moisture in the shavings after I opened it seemed to be connected. (But even that time the "moisture" was so modest, it was almost imperceptible. This was my first time using QBs, so I erred on the side of changing out, assuming it might be just the tip of the iceberg, instead of a single event.)

I was glad to take my inner covers off for the winter and give them a nice long period inside my extra-dry, wood-heated house to recover from the mold they grew while over my BeeMax top-of-hive feeders in the late summer and fall. The humidity above all that open syrup made them furry, which I didn't like at all. It was a mistake to have them over the feeders. Next year I will use something else to keep the bees from getting into the feeders (probably a carpenter ant-proof screening "box" that fits down the sides of the box.)

(And thanks for the reminder about the moldy IC - mine need a week or so of sunlight and good scrubbing down with bleach water before I need them again - one more thing on my Spring Bee Chore List!)

Edited to add: I run a solid bottom board; a screened bottom board with varroa monitor plastic sheet in and a closed back slot; two deeps (and in one case ,plus a medium). All of my hives had some interior insulation consisting of (at least) a solid wooden follower board and between 0.75 - 3" of foam insulations panels outside of the followers boards on each outer side of the frames. My wintering interior space is taller and narrower than its nominal 10-frame Lang dimensions. The trick will be to reverse this before I prompt swarming.

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Ran my hives with feed rim above the frames, c/w 3/4 round hole at front.

Then installed the inner cover with notch up. Had problem with mold on top side in previous years and notch up eliminated this.

Then had quilt box with 2 x 1 inch screened holes in the sides to vent quilt box. Need to vent the moisture in the wood shavings. Then outer cover with 2 inch styrofoam above that. Did get a bit of moisture on top side of quilt box and could raise outer cover a popsicle width.

Wood Bee Furniture Plywood

My winter air is dry and can absorb quite a bit of moisture. And bottom entrance is 2 - 3/8 x 1/2.

If I ran a candy board, I'd eliminate the inner cover. But put a 3/4 round hole in front, a hole in center of top of candy board(mine are 3 1/2) and an upper lip with a notch to the front.
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the top vent hole needs to be above the quilt box. So warm moist air can rise out of brood area and condense on the colder wood shavings.

A little black mold is fine, i wouldn't be concerned
My quilt box is probably a good 3'' hi with six 1'' holes the shavings come up just level with the bottom of 3 holes on both long sides .

I was trying for a upper entrance and ventilation in one spot and because they can't get up into the quilt box I put the hole in the candy board. With 6 holes in the quilt box I still had mold on both sides of the inner cover , should I eliminate the inner cover for my winter setup , and if so should I plug the small hole in the candy board . The small hole in the inner cover might have discouraged bee's from getting to the sugar as I would think some cold air was coming in there also .
All my hives were set up the same for winter. No wraps, foam insulation board under top cover, quilt box, tie down strap to hold lid.
Most had no moisture. Two had a lot and powdery grey mold on inner cover, one had some mold down the south wall. It did not seem to bother the bees. I wonder if the tops weren't well seated on those hives.
I wrapped with tar paper , 1/2' tuff-R insulating board in top cover and also ratchet strapped , it seemed weird taking the strap off the other day and not putting it back on seemed like I was leaving them vulnerable or something .
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