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Author Topic: Moisture (a lot!) in hives  (Read 2104 times)
mtbe
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« on: February 28, 2010, 09:23:00 AM »

Just opened up our TBHs last weekend.  I lost one hive, but all three had the same problem with moisture/water.

There was a lot of water on the bottom (not screened bottom), and even some mold starting to grow on the sides and top.  I'm assuming much of the water is from melted snow.  I thought they were level, but it appears snow on the landing board melted and ran inside.  They have bottom entrances.

There was even mold on the outside of the bars.

I realize I didn't have enough ventilation, and will probably go to a top entrance hive.  I also put insulation in 55 gal garbage bags and draped them over the hives in November for warmth.  I think this added to the ventilation problem.

So, what can I do now?

I opened the top of the hives for a little ventilation.
Can I clean the mold with bleach? (I have spare hives that I can transfer the bees to once it gets warm enough)
Will the bees clean it up once they get moving when it warms up?
Is insulation really necessary?
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Finski
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2010, 02:08:28 PM »

The main reason in mold and too much moisture is too much room for the cluster.

If the room is smaller, the room will stay warmer and it keeps interrior better.

The hive should be slanting in winter that water drills off from bottom.

Covering with plastic bag is bad.

I use as wind&snow shelter road construction geotextile.
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RyanB
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2010, 04:50:16 PM »

I guess it depends on the construction of the TBH.  I use entrances on the side so it is near impossible to get much rain into the entrances. So, beyond that the key is in the construction of your roof. If your top bars are getting wet you have a serious problem you need to address.  If you have an end entrance with a landing board and water is getting inside due to that, remove it. The bees dont need it.

I wouldnt advise using bleach inside the hive. Just make sure they have some ventillation, and that the water source is prevented from continuing to get inside and the bees will clean things up as it warms up.

I am not sure insulation is really needed. Some do it, some dont. IMHO if you have a leak in the roof than plastic will just make the problem worse as it will help hold water against whatever it touches.  As Finiski said, the key is to make the living space smaller for the winter. Remove all unused/empty bars/comb before winter sets in as part of your inspection/preperation for the coming cold.  Empty bars can mean dead bees from starvation.
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aartiana
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2010, 03:01:01 PM »

Funny, I had been talking with a guy in Bozeman, MT in another forum who had similar issues.  He has switched to Warre hives and is having amazing luck with them compared to his TBH experience.  Besides the many things on the internet for Warre hives, he told me one of the best sites he found was www DOT thebeespace DOT net (sorry, can't link here) - hope this helps!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2010, 12:12:34 AM »

In my experience the most important thing is an upper entrance.  This lets out the moisture.  The next would be perhaps some insulation on the top, but nowhere else.  Wrapping in my experience just holds in the moisture.
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Michael Bush
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BjornBee
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2010, 06:43:21 AM »

mtbe,
Not to pile on, but about the only thing that you didn't mention that contributed to moisture was late fall feeding with syrup. Did you feed in the fall? And was there open cells of stored syrup?

You don't need to drastically change to another type hive or some other arrangement.

Do you use screen bottoms? That not only is helpful for mites, but can also diminish moisture problems. The hive needs to rid themselves of moisture, but they have been doing this themselves for years. So quit wrapping in plastic.

It is funny that two different replies are so opposite in advice. One mentions a top entrance, and one mentions a Warre Hive that values a sealed hive and the trapped heat. Makes you wonder sometimes.

I think you can correct your problem without using a top entrance that goes against the natural instinct of what bees desire, or the use of the very unpractical Warre hive.

You have a moisture concern. Hundreds of thousands of other beekeepers use standard hives and do not have this problem. So don't go jumpiing off a bridge over this one concern. It is easily dealt with.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2010, 08:29:18 AM »

Now you should be thoroughly confused.

I agree late feeding adds greatly to moisture.

The notches in most inner covers is for the same purpose.  To let out the moisture.
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Michael Bush
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Hethen57
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2010, 01:40:41 PM »

I have noticed two schools of thought: run ventilation through the hive so moisture escapes and minimize open interior space and put insulation in the attic (above top board or top bars and under roof).  I subscribed to the ventilation approach with upper entrance until I checked my hives mid winter and found a moisture mess.  Then changed my approach and insulated the attic and it solved my moisture problems (this same theory would work on TBH's).  The way Finsky explained it to me...and it makes sense...is that hot humid air from the cluster will condense moisture on a cold wall (like single pane exterior windows in winter).  With my upper entrance, the whole inner cover was cold and condensing moisture on the bottom of my cover and the underside of my inner cover and creating mold.  When I placed insulation up there, the moisture began to condense on the sides of the hive (away from the cluster) and dripped through my screened bottoms onto the tray...no more moisture or mold problems.  Finsky doesn't use SBB's, but has drip holes in the corners of his BB's...which I will try on my solid bottoms when I can swap them out.

Not saying upper entrance ventilation won't work, but it didn't work for me, the way I was doing it...in our cold, damp, winters.  I'm sure one major variable would be where your upper entrance it (front of hive body, below inner cover versus above, etc...I may have been making a mistake by having it above the inner cover rather than below...
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-Mike
luvin honey
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2010, 02:02:11 PM »

I put in styrofoam insulation above the topbars, fed with sugar (absorbed some moisture) and drilled in 1 small hole in the side of the hive for ventilation. Moisture did not seem to be a problem in my hives this winter...

The 2 that died had mold, but the one that survived was good and clean/dry.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2010, 12:08:49 AM »

I've found that both work best.   A small top entrance and some insulation...
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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