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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
These are my key takeaways. Feel free to post your own below, or to correct mine.

1. Insulation reduces honey consumption in winter, which means:
  • Lower risk of starvation,
  • Lower risk of dysentery due to ash buildup in the gut,
  • Less condensation due to less water intake/water production, and
  • Bigger honey harvests.

2. Eating honey produces moisture in 2 ways:
  • The 15-20% moisture in the honey goes into the bee's body and is released in its breath,
  • Part of each sugar molecule is converted into H2O when it is metabolized (and this is also released in the bee's breath) to the tune of an extra 3/4 cup of water per pound of honey!

3. Conventional wisdom about the bees only heating the cluster, not the hive, is only true in conventional wooden hives. It is true there only because every watt of heat radiates through the walls as soon as the bees produce it, meaning they have to eat and eat and eat just to stay warm. In insulated cavities, the bees heat the cavity. (So, hollow trees and poly hives). In Etienne's hives, the entire cavity stays at or above 40 degrees F, even near the entrance, even when it's minus 40 outside. In other words, most of the hive is accessible to the bees throughout the entire winter. Which leads to an even lower risk of starvation (no honey left behind).


4. Insulated hives cost more than wooden ones, but they pay for themselves quickly (due to less mortality and a bigger honey harvest).


5. Conventional wisdom about bees needing upper ventilation to stay dry in winter, is only true in thin-roofed wooden hives. It is true there because the warm, moist air from the bees' breath rises straight up and encounters a very cold ceiling. The cold ceiling immediately cools that warm, moist air off to a temperature far below its dew point, forcing it to deposit its humidity directly onto the nearest surface, which is the ceiling directly above the bees, where it accumulates and drips down on them.


6. The conventional way to solve this problem is to release the moisture through an upper vent/upper entrance, wasting a huge number of BTUs. Etienne's way to solve this problem is to insulate the roof so much that it never gets colder than the dew point, and the condensation happens at the bottom of the hive, below the cluster. At 40 below, condensation is going to happen to matter what you do. Therefore, since Etienne can't stop it from happening, he does the next best thing, which is to CHOOSE THE LOCATION where it is going to happen. He does this by having all ventilation occur at the bottom of the hive, between the entrance and the screened bottom board, ensuring that the coldest part of the hive is below the bees.


7. Because warm air rises, a conventional hive loses 15-20% more heat through the ceiling than through the walls. Another reason to insulate the top more than the sides.


8. Etienne used to find dead/wet bees along the walls due to condensation forming there, but lining the walls with plywood somehow solved that problem. He's not sure why. (His guess: the plywood absorbs the moisture as soon as it forms. My guess: the thermal mass of the plywood helps the inner surface of the plywood stay warmer than the dew point, causing the condensation to happen behind the plywood.)


9. There's more to temperature control than insulation. The only thing that insulation does is slow the transfer of heat from one place to another. Thermal mass actually STORES heat. Thermal mass is anything heavy that takes a long time to heat up and a long time to cool down (like a slab of concrete, a comb full of honey, or the wall of a hollow tree cavity). So honey stores are more than just food, they also help with climate control.


10. Etienne seals the gap between the lid and hive body with vapor barrier tape to stop cold drafts, so that the ceiling above the cluster stays warmer than the dew point. Otherwise, a large amount of heat is lost at this seam, as his infrared camera shows.


11. Random fact: disturbing/tapping the hive increases a colony's metabolic rate by a factor of 4 to 6, for a period between 4 and 72 hours (as measured by the increased amount of heat they release during that time). This means their rate of eating honey increases by a factor of 4 to 6 until they calm down again. (I'm thinking that those "4-hour bees" are the "quiet bees" that Michael Palmer selects for).


12. The honey consumption of Etienne's bees pre-brood is 3-4 pounds/month. After brood rearing starts, it becomes 14 to 16 pounds/month!


13. Etienne triggers brood rearing in March by adding a pollen patty. Within hours, the temperature spikes as they shift into brooding mode.


14. Conventional wisdom about bees needing a huge space full of honey, to not starve before spring, is not true in poly hives. The amount of honey and space that they need is proportional to the amount of bees. Etienne's small colonies do not survive if he puts them in large hives full of honey. They do survive if he winters them in nuc boxes (5x5s). Smaller colonies need less food; and they struggle to heat large cavities, even if they have all the food they could possibly eat.


15. Bees start to cluster at about 50 degrees F. Down to about 40 degrees, they control the temperature by tightening the cluster, rather than by increasing honey intake. At 40 degrees F, the cluster is as tight as it can get, and they start eating more as the temperature gets lower.


16. Therefore, bees need the least amount of food between 40 and 50 degrees. Above 50 degrees, bees eat more because they are more active. Below 40 degrees, bees eat more because they are heating the cluster. It is interesting that the entire cavity stays in this range in Etienne's hives. (Of course, the other way to reduce honey consumption is to winter them indoors in an shed, like Ian Steppler, where you can keep the shed at the ideal temperature.)


17. Etienne worked with a beekeeper in Maryland who collected temperature data from their hives. The wooden hives in Maryland consumed 3 pounds/week at a 30 degree difference between the inner and outer temperatures. Etienne's hives consumed 0.3 pounds/week at a 30 degree difference between inner and outer temperatures. Etienne's bees at 100 times less honey than the Maryland bees in these circumstances. At least if I understand this correctly.


18. Etienne leans plywood against the front of his hives in winter for three reasons:

  • to keep snow from plugging up the entrances and reducing ventilation;
  • to prevent the sun from warming the entrance on cold days, so the bees don't take premature cleansing flights; and
  • to prevent excessive drafts from occurring due to wind.


19. Etienne's bees only eat 60 pounds in his 6-month winters.


20. Concepts to look up if you want to understand Etienne better: dew point; heating degree days; the three means of heat transfer (convection, conduction, and radiation).


21. To sum up, Etienne lowers heat loss in three ways. He lowers the radiation type of heat loss by having insulated hives. He lowers the convection type by having all ventilation occur at the bottom of the hive, away from the warm air. And he lowers the conduction type by having his hives butt up against each other to share heat (this also lowers the radiation type, since they are radiating heat into each other).


Etienne's channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-BMXy_Hxg_PF35VGPxgr1Q


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


EDITS TO ORIGINAL POST (for the sake of completeness):


22. To be clear, there are 2 keys to Etienne's method of preventing condensation on the ceiling, and the 2 keys MUST both be present for this to work:
  • Enough insulation to keep the ceiling warmer than the dew point, and
  • Ventilation at the bottom rather than the top.
The 2 keys must both be present, because it is not enough for the top of the hive to be warmer than the bottom. The top of the hive must be warmer than the dew point of the bees' breath. The top of the hive will be warmer than the bottom regardless, if there is no upper vent; because the warm air will collect there and will radiate heat into the surrounding materials (until it cools off enough to sink down the sides of the box and be displaced by the new warm air coming up from the cluster). So even if the ceiling is the warmest surface in the hive, moisture can still condense there, if it is not warm ENOUGH.

The point is that you can't just plug your upper entrance, put an extra layer of foam on top, and GUARANTEE that condensation won't happen above the bees. The only way to GUARANTEE that condensation happens below the bees and not above, is to GUARANTEE that the ceiling never gets colder than the dew point of the bees' breath.



23. Review of how condensation happens: Warm air can contain a lot of water vapor, and cold air can't. The maximum amount of water that 100° air can contain, is much higher than the maximum amount of H2O that 50° air can contain. (Of course, air usually doesn't usually contain the absolute maximum amount that it CAN, unless maybe you live next to the ocean or something.) That is why humidity is measured as "relative" humidity, because it's "relative" to the maximum amount of H2O the air can contain at that particular temperature. So 50% relative humidity when it's warm out vs 100% relative humidity when it's cold out, might actually represent the exact same amount of water (because it's 50% of the max and 100% of the max). For example, 70% relative humidity at 39°, means 70% of the maximum amount of H2O that 39° air can contain. And 70% relative humidity at 85°, means 70% of the maximum amount of H2O that 85° air can contain. BUT 70% relative humidity at 85° is a lot more water vapor than 70% relative humidity at 39°.

So when the temperature of an air mass goes up, and the amount of water vapor in it stays the same, the relative humidity goes down. When the temperature of an air mass goes down, and the amount of water vapor in it stays the same, the percent relative humidity goes up. But that percent can never go above 100%. When the temperature goes so low that the air is holding all the water vapor it can (at that cold temperature), it is said to be saturated. If that saturated air gets any colder, some of the water vapor is forced to turn back into a liquid--and that is condensation. Now, the dew point of an air mass is the temperature at which it becomes saturated. So if the ceiling of your hive is not warmer than the dew point, then the warm air will touch the ceiling, cool off until it is saturated, and then be forced to release some moisture.

So the dew point of your bees' breath depends on how much water vapor it contains.


22. Etienne points out that none of this matters if your winter bees are sick or malnourished. His late summer pollen is neither abundant enough nor varied enough to raise healthy, fat, winter bees. In fact, it's so bad that the bees start bringing in rust spores instead of pollen, and they stop brooding as soon as that happens. So he gives them pollen patties before the rust appears.


23. They tend to make lots of honeydew honey in the boreal forest. This honey contains lots of ash. One year he let them have it for winter and had terrible dysentery issues with high mortality. The poop was also full of nosema spores. So now he pulls off all the honeydew and fills them up with sugar syrup.


24. Etienne knows the amount of energy released by metabolizing a molecule of any sugar. He can also calculate the number of molecules of sugar in a pound of syrup. So he can calculate the watts of heat produced by "burning" a pound of syrup. Well, his hives are full of temperature sensors, so that allows him to measure how many watts of heat the cluster produces. Therefore his temperature data allows him to calculate the weight of his colonies at the end of winter, without weighing them. He claims that he is always accurate to within five pounds. Out of reach for most people, including me, but amazing nonetheless.


25. In the same vein as #23, Etienne came up with a unit of measure called "cluster degree days" to allow people to calculate the energy requirements of their hives (in other words, the winter honey requirements). I don't understand it very well, but it's akin to the unit of measure called "heating degree days," used for measuring the amount of energy that is needed to keep a building warmer than 65° F all winter long.
 

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These are my key takeaways. Feel free to post your own below, or to correct mine.

1. Insulation reduces honey consumption in winter, which means:
  • Lower risk of starvation,
  • Lower risk of dysentery due to ash buildup in the gut,
  • Less condensation due to less water intake/water production, and
  • Bigger honey harvests.

2. Eating honey produces moisture in 2 ways:
  • The 15-20% moisture in the honey goes into the bee's body and is released in its breath,
  • Part of each sugar molecule is converted into H2O when it is metabolized (and this is also released in the bee's breath) to the tune of an extra 3/4 cup of water per pound of honey!

3. Conventional wisdom about the bees only heating the cluster, not the hive, is only true in conventional wooden hives. It is true there only because every watt of heat radiates through the walls as soon as the bees produce it, meaning they have to eat and eat and eat just to stay warm. In insulated cavities, the bees heat the cavity. (So, hollow trees and poly hives). In Etienne's hives, the entire cavity stays at or above 40 degrees F, even near the entrance, even when it's minus 40 outside. In other words, most of the hive is accessible to the bees throughout the entire winter. Which leads to an even lower risk of starvation (no honey left behind).


4. Insulated hives cost more than wooden ones, but they pay for themselves quickly (due to less mortality and a bigger honey harvest).


5. Conventional wisdom about bees needing upper ventilation to stay dry in winter, is only true in thin-roofed wooden hives. It is true there because the warm, moist air from the bees' breath rises straight up and encounters a very cold ceiling. The cold ceiling immediately cools that warm, moist air off to a temperature far below its dew point, forcing it to deposit its humidity directly onto the nearest surface, which is the ceiling directly above the bees, where it accumulates and drips down on them.


6. The conventional way to solve this problem is to release the moisture through an upper vent/upper entrance, wasting a huge number of BTUs. Etienne's way to solve this problem is to insulate the roof so much that it never gets colder than the dew point, and the condensation happens at the bottom of the hive, below the cluster. At 40 below, condensation is going to happen to matter what you do. Therefore, since Etienne can't stop it from happening, he does the next best thing, which is to CHOOSE THE LOCATION where it is going to happen. He does this by having all ventilation occur at the bottom of the hive, between the entrance and the screened bottom board, ensuring that the coldest part of the hive is below the bees.


6. Because warm air rises, a conventional hive loses 15-20% more heat through the ceiling than through the walls. Another reason to insulate the top more than the sides.


7. Etienne used to find dead/wet bees along the walls due to condensation forming there, but lining the walls with plywood somehow solved that problem. He's not sure why. (His guess: the plywood absorbs the moisture as soon as it forms. My guess: the thermal mass of the plywood helps the inner surface of the plywood stay warmer than the dew point, causing the condensation to happen behind the plywood.)


8. There's more to temperature control than insulation. The only thing that insulation does is slow the transfer of heat from one place to another. Thermal mass actually STORES heat. Thermal mass is anything heavy that takes a long time to heat up and a long time to cool down (like a slab of concrete, a comb full of honey, or the wall of a hollow tree cavity). So honey stores are more than just food, they also help with climate control.


9. Etienne seals the gap between the lid and hive body with vapor barrier tape to stop cold drafts, so that the ceiling above the cluster stays warmer than the dew point. Otherwise, a large amount of heat is lost at this seam, as his infrared camera shows.


10. Random fact: disturbing/tapping the hive increases a colony's metabolic rate by a factor of 4 to 6, for a period between 4 and 72 hours (as measured by the increased amount of heat they release during that time). This means their rate of eating honey increases by a factor of 4 to 6 until they calm down again. (I'm thinking that those "4-hour bees" are the "quiet bees" that Michael Palmer selects for).


11. The honey consumption of Etienne's bees pre-brood is 3-4 pounds/month. After brood rearing starts, it becomes 14 to 16 pounds/month!


12. Etienne triggers brood rearing in March by adding a pollen patty. Within hours, the temperature spikes as they shift into brooding mode.


13. Conventional wisdom about bees needing a huge space full of honey, to not starve before spring, is not true in poly hives. The amount of honey and space that they need is proportional to the amount of bees. Etienne's small colonies do not survive if he puts them in large hives full of honey. They do survive if he winters them in nuc boxes (5x5s). Smaller colonies need less food; and they struggle to heat large cavities, even if they have all the food they could possibly eat.


14. Bees start to cluster at about 50 degrees F. Down to about 40 degrees, they control the temperature by tightening the cluster, rather than by increasing honey intake. At 40 degrees F, the cluster is as tight as it can get, and they start eating more as the temperature gets lower.


15. Therefore, bees need the least amount of food between 40 and 50 degrees. Above 50 degrees, bees eat more because they are more active. Below 40 degrees, bees eat more because they are heating the cluster. It is interesting that the entire cavity stays in this range in Etienne's hives. (Of course, the other way to reduce honey consumption is to winter them indoors in an shed, like Ian Steppler, where you can keep the shed at the ideal temperature.)


16. Etienne worked with a beekeeper in Maryland who collected temperature data from their hives. The wooden hives in Maryland consumed 3 pounds/week at a 30 degree difference between the inner and outer temperatures. Etienne's hives consumed 0.3 pounds/week at a 30 degree difference between inner and outer temperatures. Etienne's bees at 100 times less honey than the Maryland bees in these circumstances. At least if I understand this correctly.


17. Etienne leans plywood against the front of his hives in winter for three reasons:

  • to keep snow from plugging up the entrances and reducing ventilation;
  • to prevent the sun from warming the entrance on cold days, so the bees don't take premature cleansing flights; and
  • to prevent excessive drafts from occurring due to wind.


18. Etienne's bees only eat 60 pounds in his 6-month winters.


19. Concepts to look up if you want to understand Etienne better: dew point; heating degree days; the three means of heat transfer (convection, conduction, and radiation).


20. To sum up, Etienne lowers heat loss in three ways. He lowers the radiation type of heat loss by having insulated hives. He lowers the convection type by having all ventilation occur at the bottom of the hive, away from the warm air. And he lowers the conduction type by having his hives butt up against each other to share heat (this also lowers the radiation type, since they are radiating heat into each other).


Etienne's channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-BMXy_Hxg_PF35VGPxgr1Q
Good information and nicely presented. I am trying a couple of Apimaye 7 frame nucs (splits) this year and if they are successful I will transition my other hives to them. i can lift a 7 frame much easier than a 10 frame (old back)
Thanks
 

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Very nicely put together Sean. I struggle to get all the info from his graphs. Verbally it is much easier to assimilate for many people. My experience totally supports those internal hive temperatures when the hives are insulated and pulled together. Sure puts the lie to the notion to the trite old saying that "they only heat the cluster, not the box" with the inference that insulation is wasted. Maybe in the south but sure doesn't apply in the north!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I struggle to get all the info from his graphs.
Me too. Several people have told him so, and his most recent videos reflect an effort to explain things better.

Sure puts the lie to the notion to the trite old saying that "they only heat the cluster, not the box" with the inference that insulation is wasted. Maybe in the south but sure doesn't apply in the north!
I think it helps in the heat as well. Think of all the unnecessary effort of the bees carrying water and fanning when they could be doing something less stressful. First hand experience from Kansas. (I'm convinced that bees live longer when they work less. Laying worker hives literally survive for months if you let them. Also, I suspect that one reason for winter bees living longer than summer bees is just that--rest. I think it's more than just huge fat bodies packed with vitellogenin.) Think of a bee tree in summer--shady canopy with massive wood walls. Probably pretty comfy.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good information and nicely presented. I am trying a couple of Apimaye 7 frame nucs (splits) this year and if they are successful I will transition my other hives to them. i can lift a 7 frame much easier than a 10 frame (old back)
Thanks
Good point, weight is another big advantage.
 

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All the OP posted may be true, but we tried the early styrafoam hives from Finland and they where not worth the trouble.

Crazy Roland
The bee space is very poor in mine from Finland.
 

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The honey consumption of Etienne's bees pre-brood is 3-4 pounds/month. After brood rearing starts, it becomes 14 to 16 pounds/month!
Moses Quinby: "A stock of bees will, generally, consume a pound of honey per month, betwixt the 1st of October and the 1st of March: from this time to the end of May, they will consume two pounds per month"

Etienne's bees only eat 60 pounds in his 6-month winters.
Moses Quinby (at a latitude of 42 degrees): "Not one swarm in fifty will consume twenty-five pounds of honey through the winter, that is, from the last of September to the first of April (six months). The average loss in that time is about eighteen pounds; but the critical time is later — about the last of May or first of June, in many places."

Bevan and Warre tell a very similar story. So much for progress ... :)
LJ
 

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7. Etienne used to find dead/wet bees along the walls due to condensation forming there, but lining the walls with plywood somehow solved that problem. He's not sure why. (His guess: the plywood absorbs the moisture as soon as it forms. My guess: the thermal mass of the plywood helps the inner surface of the plywood stay warmer than the dew point, causing the condensation to happen behind the plywood.)
The bees were going thirsty - the real issue, as the foam absorbs none.
Then they would go down to the very edge where some condensate was to be found - and froze there.
Now they are able to lick the moist plywood without quite going to the very edge of life and death (there, at very bottom of the hive, by the screened bottom water condenses).
The phenomenon of bees needing water in winter is discussed enough here:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm glad you all enjoyed it, it was kind of fun to write.

I edited the original post to include some notes I forgot about. Two of them are pretty important and you might want to check them out. They are at the very bottom of the original post.

Moses Quinby: "A stock of bees will, generally, consume a pound of honey per month, betwixt the 1st of October and the 1st of March: from this time to the end of May, they will consume two pounds per month"
Did Moses Quinby have insulated hives? Like, double-walled with sawdust in between?

I listened to Langstroth's famous book The Hive and the Honey Bee last year (you can find the audiobook for free on librivox.org), and discovered that he was very passionate about insulation. He absolutely HATED thin-walled wooden hives, in fact he must be turning in his grave today looking at all the uninsulated hives with his name attached! He probably spent more time writing about insulation than he spent writing about movable frames!

The bees were going thirsty
I don't disbelieve you, but how do you know? Do bees actually need to drink the condensation, or is that just another common misconception? How do we know that they don't get all the moisture they need, just from consuming the honey and metabolizing the sugars? (This would be a good question for that engineer in the Yukon). Perhaps large colonies need to drink the condensation because they need less honey per bee to stay warm. Perhaps small colonies don't need to drink as much condensation because they need MORE honey per bee to stay warm.

Then they would go down to the very edge where some condensate was to be found - and froze there.
You could be right, but to me it sounded like something else. To me it sounded like he used to get condensation along the walls, at the same height as the cluster (before he started using plywood). And whenever the cluster touched the edge of the box, the outer layer of bees got wet and could not stay warm. It did not sound like they were leaving the cluster to get a drink.
 

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I don't disbelieve you, but how do you know?
Go that thread I posted.
Read.
Watch a handy video I specifically posted for the demonstration - people spent the time to document the issue (and did a very good job).
One of common bee needs in the winter - they need to re-hydrate the honey that crystallized (happens often enough).
It is not about drinking that much.
It is about liquefying the hardened carbs.
Where will they get the water?
 

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And whenever the cluster touched the edge of the box, the outer layer of bees got wet and could not stay warm.
Bees don't just "get wet" as if something is dripping on them in the super warm poly hives.
There is nothing to drip - as you very well documented.

Instead, the bees go the edges of the friendly environment to get the water (again yourself you documented how the bees easily move around).
IF gone too far - they quickly get hypothermia and freeze in place.
Notice that temps drops rapidly within inches away from the cluster if going downwards (it is very, very cold just at the screen bottom level).

Now IF a bee freezes and later thaws - it will be wet. Absolutely so.
This has nothing about condensation - a common misconception.
It has everything to do with the internal ruptures of the bee organs - the moisture from inside the bee simply oozes and thus the bee is wet (just if you thaw a frozen apple - the same story).
 

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You could be right, but to me it sounded like something else. To me it sounded like he used to get condensation along the walls, at the same height as the cluster (before he started using plywood). And whenever the cluster touched the edge of the box, the outer layer of bees got wet and could not stay warm. It did not sound like they were leaving the cluster to get a drink.
Quoiting you again:
...........and the condensation happens at the bottom of the hive, below the cluster. At 40 below, condensation is going to happen to matter what you do.......
And this is completely logical.
This is where the thirsty bees are trying to get their water
Then they freeze.

Once the plywood was installed - it helped.
Plywood wicks the moisture UP from the point of condensation - thus the bees no longer need to travel to the very bottom of the hive - the very edge of terminal danger.

This is a well documented issue with overly warm hives (poly) - the relative humidity in them in cold winter is very, very low.
The colder it is outside - the lower the relative humidity inside.

OK, fine, let me save you few minutes.
Here is a video where a beek virtually waters his bees in the poly hives - after the hard freeze the bees were screaming thirsty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is very good information, Greg.

It'll take me couple days to assimilate it, I guess. Simple enough but I am a slow learner.

You posted a lot of videos in the thread you linked to. It will take me awhile to go through them, but they definitely seem worth it, so I will. Thank you.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I just watched the video with the sponges. Wow. This is a paradigm shift for me. They were grumpy because they had no condensation to drink, so he put wet sponges on them and they calmed down. Also gave an impermeable surface for condensation to form on (clear plastic).

Too much condensation right above them can still kill them, right? If they can't drink it as fast as it forms? Or do you think that never happens?

How come some colonies got sponges and others did not? (My attention was divided between the subtitles and the image).

I have 54 nucs that I am wintering in just 5 deep frames. My intent was to have R10 insulation on the sides and bottom, with R20 on top. Now I am thinking of having an R10 roof for half of them, and an R20 roof for the other half, just to compare.

I am going to do a YouTube series on how these nucs overwinter, starting this weekend and running to next April or May. Should be pretty interesting.
 
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Sean; My guess is that if you can get the vapor loss and insulation levels in the ball park that the bees can control the amount of condensation droplets with their ability to control the temperature. Need more water, back off on the heat; need less water crank up the heat above the dew point and the condensation will react accordingly.
That is just my analogical way of trying to understand it. It meshes with Etienne's and others graphing of fairly tight range of temperature and humidity in the cluster area. If we go too wild in providing what we think should be good :rolleyes: we could easily be hurting the bees game.
There are quite a few inquisitive minds playing with this issue and how to fit it into local conditions. Sometimes we have to go back over the past and look at things in a different light.
Fusion_power has mentioned that the relative size of the cluster can make a big difference in insulation and ventilation requirements in order to give the bees workable environments.
 

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Too much condensation right above them can still kill them, right? If they can't drink it as fast as it forms? Or do you think that never happens?

How come some colonies got sponges and others did not? (My attention was divided between the subtitles and the image).
Back to that thread; this has been discussed - the never ending talk of the "condensation right above them" (which should not even occur if a little thought given to it - the immpermeable cover should be made warm right above the bees; it will be invariable cool on the edges and in the corners - where the water will condense and be available when needed).

Sponges - he gave the sponges to the most distressed colonies.
The strongest colonies were really, really desperate as they indeed heat the hives warm enough to drive the RH way low - thus no liquid water anywhere in the hives to speak of.

The less stressing colonies (most smaller colonies) just simply got the plastic film installed - so they could just collect the condensate as needed.
Smaller colonies simply don't heat the volume as much - which makes the poly hives about ideal for them - good balance of moisture and temp.
 
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