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Discussion Starter #1
I know moisure is an issue - but yesterday it was warm here in Maine (relatively speaking) so we opened our telescoping cover and our homesote board was wet and there were water drops on the inside of the cover. So we opened one end of the entrance reducer and could see dead bees on the SBB that were wet. Our bottom board was also wet - this seems excessive. We have shims between the inner cover and the homasote board and between the board and telescoping cover. We have a second entry hole in the 2nd deep that is open - and of course, the entrance reducer has a slight opening. Weather in Maine has not been as cold as usual - high fluctuations - we're thinking of taking the entrance reducer off and adding even more shims - we replaced the homesote board with a new, dry one...

Any other suggestions or explanations? This hive is the one that was huge going into fall. We also noticed a lot of brood cappings on the SBB.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!!

Leann
 

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I would get them an upper entrance to provide ventilation ASAP. I lost a hive last year with much the same indications. My other hive was living, but in the condition you describe as well. I quickly built a 1" shim with a 5/8" hole in the center/front piece. The hive dried out and the bees pulled through.

But then, that would just be my experience.
 

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That hole in the second super is no good! Plug it!
Bees don't need no hole in the sides. They do not defend such holes and only mice find them handy. Such holes are useless and a sure sign that the keeper is a novice. (Or don't know much. Or both?)

A proper hole is at the top! Everybody knows that moist, damp, gassy air (bee-breath) collects under the ceiling and not on the walls - certainly not there where someone decided to drill a hole?!
In the hive has to be "chimney effect' which is created by bottom entrance and top entrance (under the ceiling) and this MUST be on the same side of the hive! Usually in front.
Upper entrance should be cut into the rim of your inner cover. That is where the warmth and humidity goes.

Your way is that humidity/warmth goes through the center hole and stays under the homasote - soaking it and creating wet, soggy, unpleasant conditions for your bees.

Upper entrance is needed under the inner cover for the simple reason that bees need a way out, when weather is suitable for cleansing flights. They can't go way down to your bottom to get out.
Well, they can, when is plenty warm? But on a colder day, way too many will die in so doing. Up under the inner cover, outside is just a few steps away and they are out and back again in a flash.

The humid air from bees breath and burning of stores, will stop/accumulate under the inner cover and if you have no Styrofoam on top of your homasote, this humid air will condense and create water.
When and where winters are really cold, this is compounded many fold and ice will form. When it warms up, it will melt and drip on your bees and that will be the end of them!

It boggles my mind why there are so many people that just don't get this basic rule of beekeeping ?

I probably flapped my mouth too much here?
Basic set up for a wintering hive:
Notch cut in the rim of inner cover. 1/4 inch by 3inch wide is fine.
(This used to be done by manufacturers, years ago - now it seem, it is too much of a bother?)
A piece of homasote over the inner cover. To provide "dead space."
A piece of Styrofoam over the homasote.
A telescopic cover over that.

Note:
Styrofoam should be about 1" to 2" thick. Colder your winter - thicker Styrofoam is better!
Trick is, that the warm/humid air condeenses where it comes in contact with cold surfaces. This "dead space" and Styrofoam will keep this from hapening.
(in an event where nice warm days are abruptly followed by sharp drop in temps, any condensing that will accur because of such rapid change will happen under the homasote - in "dead space.")
From there it won't drip on bees and kill them!
The top of the hive should alvays be kept warmer than the sides. (Reversed is true for Summer) Therefore the condensation will happen on sides and run down and out the front. That is also why all the books teach that a hive MUST be slightly tilted forvard!

Good luck and Happy Holidays...
 

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Such holes are useless and a sure sign that the keeper is a novice. (Or don't know much. Or both?)
I belive this person is a novice so lighten up a bit after all it is Christmas.

Merry CHRISTmas to all!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We were taught in our bee school to add a hole in the front of our second deep. Of course we have an entrance notch in the inner cover and all holes are in the front Our homasote board also has a groove that extends from the center of the inner cover to the edge of the deep. One person who was supposedly very experienced posted here that you did not want a chimney effect.

Erin - the homesite was not dripping wet but had absorbed a lot of moisture and was quite damp. We have a dry one on now. We also added more shims along the inner cover edge and homesite and telescoping cover.

We stopped feeding medicated syrup in mid-oct as instructed by our state inspector.

Thank you for your insights.
 

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I used the old method of adding a super with shavings above my inner cover, using a queen excluder to hold the shavings in, plenty of moisture absorbing without all the heat loss, I checked yesterday at 35 degrees, quick peek..

12 of 13 hives doing good. stirred the shavings only 1 had much moisture in it and that was on the top of the shavings.

Still got 3 months to go, so far so good.

Good luck
 

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We were taught in our bee school to add a hole in the front of our second deep.
I've also met a lot of knowledgeable and experienced beekeepers here in Maine that drill a 3/4" hole at the top of their upper hive body as a winter entrance. Have also seen the same advice from others on this website. I believe I've seen a photo of Alpha6's showing just such an entrance on his hives in Colorado.

An opinion is only an opinion. It is not necessarily factual, no matter how harshly it uttered.

Wayne
 

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Well as the saying goes ask 5 beekeepers a question and get 6 answers or something like that.

Here we have an example one does it one way another does it another way so listen to all and decide which one will work for you, mabee all will work but some will bee better but we all agree moistuer in a hive is a bad thing in winter.
 

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I think by swapping out the homasote and adding some shims, you're just fine. York isn't the driest place in Maine so you'll likely be battling moisture now and again. Good thing you checked on them. You're doing well. If you had a fair amount of syrup that was stored but not capped before the cold weather hit, it will add to the condensation issue. Not much you can do about it now besides taking the course you're already mentioned....adding ventilation. A few years ago I had a "rain making hive". You know, the hive was always dripping water off the "roof". I slid the SBB tray out about halfway and that stopped the problem. In that hive, the cluster was fairly large and they were very near the top of the hive. They just needed more airflow.
 

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Moisture is very hard to avoid when temps fluctuate that much. Condensation will strike even the best weather sealed homes. Maybe the Mountain Camp method of dry sugar will help absorb most of the excess moisture. The only other way to aid this that I can think of is to slightly angle the inner lid & outer cover towards the back of the hive so it drips away from the cluster. Humidity is a hard thing to control, however easy to manipulate.
 

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One person who was supposedly very experienced posted here that you did not want a chimney effect.

If you don't want or don't have the "chimney effect" than you have a "cross draft" and that will be the end.
(cause in cross draft - cold, wind, draft, what-have-you, simply goes across the hive - therefore right through the cluster or brood-nest itself!) :no:
 

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I guess I'm a novice as well. One of my hive bodies has a half round 1" hole in the front, right at the bottom of the box. Third box up. It stays that way year round. The bees would be more than able to seal it up if they felt the need to. Top venting is also another one of those things that isn't a given. Look at Bwranglers site about winter moisture.
 

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Actually, the bwrangler write up is very interesting. Makes me think twice about the presence of condensation. It may not be the issue I always thought it was in a strong hive. In a weak hive I would be more concerned. I've had hives with ice all across the top bars and the bees inches below. If I can prevent that, I certainly will. Not to worry today though....it's raining here in MA. Might open a few tops and peek if the weather lets me.
 

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Lots of good info. The only thing that I'll add is that Erin is a master beek who has graciously shared info that has helped many of us get our nucs through the winter. Hardly an amateur.
 

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I have "upper entrances" in all of my hive boxes and I leave them open all winter.
See Photo here as example:

http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j37/Maine_Beekeeper/December82007016.jpg

I've yet to have a single colony propolize them shut. As long as you've got your inner cover hole lined up with the homasote groove I think you'll have good ventilation. I switch out the homasote with a dry one if I find them "pretty wet" - if I didn't have a spare, I'd switch out the homasote for a good stack of newspaper supported by chopsticks and then dry the homasote out near the woodstove and switch back in a day or two.
That's me.

Thanks Duhbe for the kind words, I'm glad to hear that your nucs are coming through! We need as many people raising their own healthy bees as we can get. Success breeds success.

-Erin
 

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It's great to see you monitoring your hives and taking action. I would remove the absorbent material (and have) from my hives if it was soaked too. I also have a 2" by 3/8th notch in the front of the inner cover for ventilation, turned down for the winter.

We were taught in our bee school to add a hole in the front of our second deep. Of course we have an entrance notch in the inner cover and all holes are in the front Our homasote board also has a groove that extends from the center of the inner cover to the edge of the deep. One person who was supposedly very experienced posted here that you did not want a chimney effect.

Erin - the homesite was not dripping wet but had absorbed a lot of moisture and was quite damp. We have a dry one on now. We also added more shims along the inner cover edge and homesite and telescoping cover.

We stopped feeding medicated syrup in mid-oct as instructed by our state inspector.

Thank you for your insights.
 
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