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Author Topic: wrapping hive with tar paper  (Read 2131 times)
jim p
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« on: December 20, 2008, 06:42:46 AM »

New bee here.  Have a question wrapping hives, I have 1 hive wrapped with tar paper.  On a 25 degree day the bees seem to get a false seance of temperature and want to start to fly out of the hive however the ones that do don't make it back you can see them make it about 15' or less from the hive and fall on top of the snow.  Has any one else had this happen?  I will try and remove about 8 inches of tar paper around there entrance and see if this will help. That way it will be cooler at the entrance but still be able to help warm the hive on cold sunny days.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2008, 06:51:40 AM »

Hello Jim,

Losing some bees is always normal as the bees that are dying through attrition will leave the hive if at all possible. They will not die inside the hive if they can fly out.

I don't think the paper is causing bees to get a false sense of the temps. But having a top entrance may allow bees to be MORE active at the entrance in cold weather as the top of the hive is more heated. Do you have top entrances?

Bees using the bottom entrance, will know exactly how cold it is as the cold outside air is being sucked into the hive. If they are still doing this with a bottom entrance, whether wrapped or not, then it's what they want to do.

Having a few dozen or a few hundred fly out when they can, is normal and some see as a good sign as the hive is still alive.

And....where are you located?
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jim p
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2008, 06:57:53 AM »

I am in Columbus Nebraska,  I have top entrance and that is were they are coming out of.  I have picked up about 20 of them out of the snow and when I put them back at the lower entrance of the hive they warm up come back to life and then they will go in the hive that is why I was asking.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2008, 07:08:08 AM »

Top entrance...figures. That's why I asked. I could list many reasons NOT to have a top entrance, but it seems there is a "movement" of sorts, and if a few vocal people say to have a top entrance, many will.

I promote "upper" entrances, which are not the same as "top entrances".

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2008, 10:42:07 AM »

I tried wrapping and wasn't impressed:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#stopwrapping

Some people swear by it.
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« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2008, 01:20:22 PM »

I swear by it . . . only time I lost a hive, and it was heavy, was last year when I bought in to our local bee supply guy and his no wrap policy.  The 2 years before were without loss.  I admit, 3 hives is not same as 1000 and it requires little effort to wrap just 3.  What I believe it does is allow the cluster to access side frames of stores easier when it is cold like the next few days  23 high    5 low  On cold but sunny days it facilitates movement within the hive . . . . I believe anyway.  Can't hurt, in January that is, and it stops leaks on windy days.

About dead bees found outside hive, a colony of 50,000 bees in October reduces by attrition to 15,000 or so for the heart of a rocky mountain winter.  Those 35,000 that are not needed die and are not replaced until March.  The dead are carried from the hive on sunny days . . . and the snow around my hives become dotted with dead bees.  Not the most pleasant of sights but that's nature.  I'll wrap . . . no forced air heating here . . . . but I'll wrap.
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2008, 02:44:37 PM »

i don't wrap, but i did tape on some old horse blankets last year when we got nasty east wind.  it was good for a couple of days.  other than that, snow is a pretty good insulator.  best use i have found for tar paper is blocking sideways rain from going under my migratory covers.

can't buy into the top entrance.  doesn't make sense to me.   heat rises.  to me upper entrance = more lost heat.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2008, 03:01:24 PM »

i don't wrap, but i did tape on some old horse blankets last year when we got nasty east wind.  it was good for a couple of days.  other than that, snow is a pretty good insulator.  best use i have found for tar paper is blocking sideways rain from going under my migratory covers.

can't buy into the top entrance.  doesn't make sense to me.   heat rises.  to me upper entrance = more lost heat.

True heat rises, so does warm moisture which then condesates on the underside of the migratory or inner top unless a small top entrance or vent is provided that allows that moisture to vent to the outside.  Believe me the moisture can do a lot more harm to your bees than a slight heat loss.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2008, 04:06:04 PM »

Twenty years ago, before all the mites came along, and forced, or let me say "encouraged" beekeepers to play around with this or that, hive loss was almost NOTHING. And yet, I talk to people from those years past, and none of them provided top entrances unless they bought or acquired inner covers with notches. And most of them that did have notched inner covers, sealed them. I have bought inner covers from guys going out of business, and many had the notches filled or blocked off.

Yeah, someone, somewhere, always will promotes this or that, and I'm sure someone can dig up an old BC or ABJ article about top entrances and moisture perils. But how did beekeepers 30 years ago, keep almost all their hives alive, and yet so few of them used top entrances? I'll tell you why....because this whole thing has been way overblown by a few, who seem to feel that if you do not have an top entrance, the hive will die. No way!

My hives that have upper entrances, the bees block 50% of them off. If it is the only entrance, bees will sometimes close them smaller but will not close them off. If the bees have other entrances, many will close off an upper entrance. I see no difference in hive kill between those that have upper entrances and those that do not.

Now can a beekeeper do things that will cause an unnatural amount of moisture in a hive? Sure, like feeding syrup way too late in the season, and thus not allowing bees to process it correctly. But that is an example of not doing the correct thing to begin with, then continuing a second manipulation to offset the first one. Quit feeding syrup in the late fall and throughout winter, and almost ALL moisture concerns are eliminated.

A healthy hive, not filled late season with syrup which causes huge moisture problems, will not perish due to moisture in the absence of a top entrance. If that was true, many hives prior to mites would of perished due to so many NOT having top entrances. That was not seen then, and I do not see it now.
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2008, 05:54:15 PM »

Bjornbee, I understand where you're coming from and can agree that what you say, in many areas, is legitimate. I know a lot of people, in other areas, that have never seemed to have encountered a serious excess moisture problem in their hives.  But in other areas it seems moisture abounds.  I guess I'm in one of those areas, as I've found Ventilation to be a prime consideration in overwintering bees.  I years past, come spring, I've opened hive after hive that looked like they'd been flooded out from within, bees that had plenty of natural stores and weren't feed syrup. 

Over the years I've tried a lot of things and having a ventilation system has always proved to be more of an asset than not having one.  I have my hives currently with open bottoms and a small vent (top entrance) in single digit weather, I guess we'll see how things turn out come spring.
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1of6
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2008, 06:29:53 PM »

I do not wrap.  I am in PA at 2000'.  There could be environmental factors that play into my moisture issues here that I just haven't gotten my mind wrapped around yet.

I don't provide an upper entrance during winter but I do provide some spacers to lift the front of the outer cover just a bit, allowing for a little ventilation.  I have seen wet hives in my area, and am not able to keep them dry unless I do at least this:


During the summer, I just slide my second super back 3/8", and that serves well as a summer upper entrance.  (Wish I had a photo of this handy.)
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BjornBee
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2008, 10:08:29 PM »

Bjornbee, I understand where you're coming from and can agree that what you say, in many areas, is legitimate. I know a lot of people, in other areas, that have never seemed to have encountered a serious excess moisture problem in their hives.  But in other areas it seems moisture abounds.  I guess I'm in one of those areas, as I've found Ventilation to be a prime consideration in overwintering bees.  I years past, come spring, I've opened hive after hive that looked like they'd been flooded out from within, bees that had plenty of natural stores and weren't feed syrup. 

Over the years I've tried a lot of things and having a ventilation system has always proved to be more of an asset than not having one.  I have my hives currently with open bottoms and a small vent (top entrance) in single digit weather, I guess we'll see how things turn out come spring.

I hear what your saying.

I wonder if moisture control could be utilized for those wetter areas, by the use of some sort of particle board, or absorbent material. Something to lick up the moisture without the use of a top entrance or opening. Seems like if you could solve one problem, without creating another (Additional heat loss), than that would be more advantageous.

I use "upper entrances" which are actually a second entrance, part way up the second box. I think having that trapped heat on the top of the hive is important. Many times, my bees are in the second box in the deepest part of winter, when they start raising brood. I think the second entrance is used by the bees for ventilation, due to there ability to move air. Yet, I still maintain that dead air space in the upper third of the colony.

I like upper entrances. But I see no reason to use top entrance, if a solution can be found, that does not compromise dead air space and trapped heat, which I think is important to the hive.

Upper entrances...yes. Top entrances....No.
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fermentedhiker
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« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2008, 12:13:40 AM »

I wonder if moisture control could be utilized for those wetter areas, by the use of some sort of particle board, or absorbent material. Something to lick up the moisture without the use of a top entrance or opening. Seems like if you could solve one problem, without creating another (Additional heat loss), than that would be more advantageous.

I would stay away from particle board or any of the chip/mdf/hdf type boards for that matter.  They disintegrate quickly in the presence of moisture.  Although I have heard of beekeepers using homasote.  Which is more fibrous and will absorb and release moisture with fluctuations in humidity.  Not sure where you can still get it though as it was used for house insulation 50 or 60 years ago.  I've also seen(and you're probably already aware of it) a website were somebody details how he uses a shallow super with hardware cloth on it's bottom to keep the bees out and placed a pillow case filled with wool scraps to wick and release moisture through the winter.  Wool would really be the only choice since it's the only natural fiber that still has insulating value when wet.  You can find synthetics that do, but it would cost a fortune to make a "humidity pillow" out of something like capilene.

I had given some thought to making something like a slatted rack for above the brood chamber.  Without the front shelf and making the slats full thickness and making them out of homasote, perhaps including a couple wine cork sized holes as an upper entrance.  I'm not sure that the homasote slats would have enough surface area to adequately control moisture or not, and I still haven't made up my mind about an upper entrance yet.

Adam
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« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2008, 07:28:12 AM »

Burlap on top of the frames followed by an empty super filled with crumpled newspaper or hay works great.
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rose
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« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2008, 07:43:28 AM »

Burlap on top of the frames followed by an empty super filled with crumpled newspaper or hay works great.

Hay or do you mean straw?   I am a hay/straw/livestock farmer and hay doesn't usually soak up moisture..STRAW does.   Just my input cus this is my first year keeping bees.
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« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2008, 08:51:19 AM »

I've used hay, saw dust, wood shavings and newspaper.  I'm sure straw would work fine,  I don't have free access to it, so never tried it.
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2008, 03:02:36 PM »

This is my first winter. We had a reallly bad one a few years back and altough things havn't been too bad thus far I decided to go with the wrap. Check out my blog to see what it looks like. I'll let you guys know in the spring how well it did or didn't do.

I perodically go out there and knock the snow off the top of the hives and clean it up a bit and last time I did I noticed a bunch of dead bees near the hive entrance. I was thinking that it was just the dead bees in the hive that got pushed out, or maybe some that started to peek out and got blasted by the cold or something. I dunno - hopefully the extra warmth from the roofing wrap isn't confusing them.

They seem okay, I can hear them buzzing around in there and after the first frost we had a little indian summer I went out and watched them fly around for a little bit.
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