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What do you think of using silica packets to trap winter moisture?

  • Thats just silly

    Votes: 11 57.9%
  • Probably harmful

    Votes: 6 31.6%
  • May be worth trying to prevent mold

    Votes: 2 10.5%
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I'd be reluctant to introduce any silica packets into the hive for fear that the bees would somehow gain access to them, or that small quantities on the surface of the packets would escape and get in their food chain within the hive if they tracked it over the combs.

Why not just use quilt boxes, instead? You'd get excellent moisture vapor management and some useful insulation at the top of the stack.

BTW, I'm in as cold, or colder, a climate than you, (slightly north of Albany, NY). My quilt boxes have kept my hives so nicely dry this awful winter, that I've even wondered if a wintering hive can become too dry. I have only two small vent holes in my hives below the level of the quilt box. Both are scarcely 1/2 x 1/2 inch apiece (a reduced front entrance and a small hole in my feeding shim just below the QB.) Above the QB, I have two, wide-open, 1.5" holes. My hives are also insulated with pink foam panels, and other coverings to minimize their radiant heat losses and ease the energy-cost to the bees of maintaining their vital cluster temps.

While collecting (adsorbing) the moisture could help with preventing condensate dripping back on the bees, removing it from the hive completely seems like a more effective solution. It also requires no additional work, no matter how much moisture is in the air in the hive, whereas silica packets can become fully saturated and required drying to return to effectiveness. And my sense, though I could be wrong about this, is that they are meant to be just buffers in an otherwise mostly dry, and essentially closed, environment (like packages, camera cases, etc.) and not for gross removal of an unending (well, at least as long your bees are still breathing) supply of vapor. There are other substances sold to actively dehumidify larger areas (boats in the off-season, damp basements, etc.). I expect they are some form of salts, and certainly all that I have encountered also contain a good whack of chemical "air fresheners" to disguise the musty smell of damp places. Nothing I would consider suitable for inside a hive.

If you haven't tried QBs, why not think of doing that next winter? I think they probably work better in areas where it is cold, and fairly dry (high plains, upper mid-west, Canada, the northeast US, etc.) than in places where it is cold and miserably damp all winter. So in Easthampton, you're good, I think.

Enj.


Enj.
 

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Well, the product you linked offers 25 of those 10 gram desiccant packages. If you use all 25 at once, that is 250 grams of desiccant, and it states that it will absorb "up to 40%" of its weight in water. That amounts to 100 grams of captured water (for all 25 packages). That is about 3.2 oz of absorbed water.

How often are you prepared to replace these packs?

My hives have year round top entrances and I don't see moisture problems, but I realize that may not be suitable in every situation. My suggestion would be to explore other options, including quilt boxes (which incorporate a form of top venting). Also note that ordinary granulated sugar can be used as a desiccant, and a secondary benefit is that bees can also eat it. If they don't eat it by spring, you can turn the leftovers into syrup.
 

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I always have this idea of making a dome U shaped (quonset roof) hive top cover to divert the excess moisture/condensation
onto the sides of the hive body. Is this doable?
 

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My thoughts are along those of Rader - the silica packets would be quickly overwhelemed by all the moisture the bees generate. You would have to open the hive so often during the winter to replace exhausted packets you would cause more harm than good.

I don't know if this is practical in your area, but here in Colorado running both a top entrance and bottom entrance easily solves all the moisture problems. It is so simple and so effective, I am not sure why anyone needs something more complicated than that.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone. I guess it was one of those late night ideas that wasn't so hot! Hadn't heard of quilt boxes, something to research today. Thanks again.
 

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I use crumble newspaper . It absorbs moisture plus is a insulator but you may need to replace in the spring. I put a empty hive body on top and put a half gallon of syrup on top of the inner cover with newspaper around the syrup. I use a half gallon with wide mouth. Going to try a gallon jar next year.. This may not work for someone in a colder climate than here. I make sure they have plenty stores to last along with the syrup until spring and it is a warm day to open them and check .
 

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I always have this idea of making a dome U shaped (quonset roof) hive top cover to divert the excess moisture/condensation
onto the sides of the hive body. Is this doable?
There's a company that makes…or used to make this very thing. They were a vendor at EAS Rhode Island in 2011…I think that's where I saw them. I go to too many meetings.
 

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As others mentioned, you'll need a lot of those packets to be of any use. In addition, you'll need a quilt box anyways to keep them away from the bees. If you are going to build a quilt box, you might as well use a cheaper alternative, such as shavings.
 

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I put peaked roofs on my telescoping covers. This means that when the condensation hits the cold tin roof, it condenses, but then runs down the inside of the roof pannel to the outside edge and drips off. Never drips in the middle due to surface tension.

Easiest solution Ive found.
 
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