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Author Topic: Bluebees Styrofoam Nucs  (Read 11702 times)
windfall
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« Reply #100 on: February 01, 2012, 05:10:21 PM »

Bluebee, are you only seeing white mold? No blue or blackish (mildew)??
Is it present only on the luan panels? What about the solid wood ends or the edges of your frame top bars?

I ask because I often see veneers with white rot fungi in luan. If that were present at construction it would run rampant with a high humidity environment...would not require condensation. The only mold I saw in mine was some black mildew and a bit of early blue stain (it can be precursor to several varieties of fungi) The types of fungus you get can actually tell you a bit about the conditions in terms of temps and humidity as well as substrate issues...they all have their own niche.

I have become more familiar with them than I care to repairing old rotten boats, but it can help diagnose the problems. Don't know how much it will translate here though.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #101 on: February 01, 2012, 05:45:06 PM »

Windfall, I think you hit the nail on the head.  The white mold/fungi is only attacking the luaun.  All the solid wood parts look fine; no molds or fungi’s of any color I could see.  I had a suspicion that the luaun might be a good food source for mold/fungi and this looks like confirmation now. 

Do you have any good remedies to preventing these things from attacking luaun?  Paint?  Polyurethane?
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windfall
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« Reply #102 on: February 01, 2012, 07:48:16 PM »

Luan is generally rot susceptible. More likely than new rot attacking it, is that rot which was in the tree got incorporated into the ply and is just taking off once conditions got damp.
Sorry, but shy of aggressive fungicides (wouldn't use them in the hive) or keeping it below 16-18%MC it is going to do that.

I know the stuff is cheap and easy to use, but I only use it for patterns anymore..and rarely even that. It is prone to delaminating, it rots superfast, is notorious for off-gassing excessive formaldehyde (poor oversees gluing quality control)...and it comes from some pretty awful land use practices.

You may want to consider using 1/8" or 1/4" temperd masonite. It isn't too spendy, about the same as luan; glues and machines well, is pretty water resistant/proof (some folks build division feeders from it), and bonded by heat and pressure rather than glue (no offgassing).

I was going to use it on mine but had some 1/4" cedar planking lying around and went that route instead.....I like real wood and scrap is endless for me.

None of this helps your present hives I know.
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S.M.N.Bee
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« Reply #103 on: February 01, 2012, 09:27:35 PM »

windfall

The temperature in my hives only seems to lag in the winter months.

John
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BlueBee
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« Reply #104 on: February 01, 2012, 10:12:17 PM »

Thanks for the help Windfall.  I always learn more from failure than success…..so I guess I did some learning today evil  The only real purpose for the luan in my design was to keep the bees from chewing the foam.  I would rather use a plastic product like coroplast but I didn’t find a good way to glue it to foam.  I think the coroplast is polyethylene which is notoriously difficult to glue.  

I don’t know a whole lot about trees, but did have a willow removed due to fungus so I learned a little about the stuff then.  I suspect you’re right, spores from the junk wood used to make the luan being the culprit.

This is all good to know for the future, but in the mean time I have been experimenting with my vaccum press and have made up 3 more jumbo brood bodies…..using luan.  Arrrrrggggggg!!!!! evil evil evil  Given the fact I don’t want to scrap all that work, what might I try to salvage these new jumbo bodies?

Assuming fungus needs food, water, and oxygen to grow, can I effectively limit any of those?  The cellulose, no.  However can I block water and O2 via polyurethane or resin?  The polystyrene is closed cell so it should prevent water and O2 from one side.  Do I have a realistic chance of blocking water and O2 from the other side with polyurethane?
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BlueBee
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« Reply #105 on: February 02, 2012, 12:57:42 AM »

I’ve been thinking about this some more…..the masonite sounds good.  Is that stuff I call hardboard at Home Depot/Lowes?  A rather dense flimsy dark brown material, 4x8 sheets?  I didn’t go with that originally because of the flimsy nature of it, but that really isn’t an issue if you use 1.5” foam. 

Secondly, what is the theory why masonite would be more immune to fungus/mold than luan?  They’re both still cellulose material, right.  Is it because the heat and pressure has compressed the wood fibers of the masonite to the point there isn’t any air space left in them for organisms to take root?  Heat probably also bakes any spores. 

Finally how does masonite hold up to humid conditions like in a bee hive?  If this is the stuff I’m thinking of, it seems like it gets a little fuzzy on the surface over time doesn’t it?  Would it benefit from some sort of coating?  (paint, poly, etc).
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windfall
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« Reply #106 on: February 02, 2012, 08:47:19 AM »

Hardboard is a common name, with the little holes folks know it as pegboard. Masonite is a name brand, I don't know how many different manufacturers produce it or if they are all equal...I should be a little careful recommending it as I have not used it extensively myself.
Kirk Webster and Michael Palmer have been making division feeders with the stuff for years. I got a few of Kirk's old ones in the nucs I bought this spring, and they looked and continue to hold up well. So it does have a proven record in hive use. I believe all the common adhesives work on it but I do NOT know that.

Spores are always present everywhere. The conditions required for fungus to become established are a bit different (more specific) than the conditions required for it to grow and thrive once established.
So if you accidentally use a piece of wood that already has fungus growing in it, even if presently dormant, it doesn't take much for things to go south quickly.
I doubt you will see the super rapid degradation in all your luan work that you did in those nucs.....you got a bad sheet, all the pieces from that sheet will be iffy. A better, uninfected sheet will probably hold up longer....

Broadly speaking rot resistance comes in 2 forms: chemical and density. Many species of timber have natural rot resistance from extractives(chemicals) they deposit into the wood as they grow:Cedar, black locust, osage orange....
Density comes into play with regard to your points about O2 and water. Simply put water and o2 migrate more slowly in dense media and this slows down the rate of fungal growth.

Luan is a species that has no inherent rot resistance chemically and is extremely low-density...so it gets the double whammy
I really can not speak to the long term rot resistance of the masonite...I wouldn't expect much, probably on par with Pine, But it is relatively dense and absorbs water very slowly. And as you mention it has been heat treated which at least starts it with a "clean slate".

Failures are a drag but at least we can learn. I wish I had mentioned my reservations on luan to you this past summer, but it seemed presumptuous since you had been making these for awhile and I was "new to the scene".
I really can't think of a good "fix". Most of the applied fungicides are also pretty toxic to insects. You might try to "salt" the surface with strong saline solutions...but I don't know how the bees would like it, nor how effective it would be (it is usually done with prolonged immersion in seawater). Surface films (paint ect) won't stop rot, but they can help keep it from getting started, or at least slow the "Seeding" by spores. Ultimately good air circulation is necessary to keep Moisture content down unless the material is inherently rot resistant.

Hope this helps. It is a bit of over simplification but probably still more than you wanted to know!


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derekm
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« Reply #107 on: February 02, 2012, 11:13:45 AM »

no condensation that the bees havent drunk ...
 another day with -4C outside and 16C at the floor 20C at the top...
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
BlueBee
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« Reply #108 on: February 02, 2012, 02:41:29 PM »

Quote
I wish I had mentioned my reservations on luan to you this past summer
Then I might not have learned a number of things about wood, fungi, and just how wet my current design is.  Learning can be painful, but in the end it is good.

I ran nucs last winter with luan cores too.  I didn’t see this kind of fungi growth.  My understanding is Fungi require a much wetter environment than mold which suggest to me something needs to be altered in my current design to remove moisture better.  Solid wood sides or plywood might avoid the fungi issue, but that doesn’t really solve the moisture problem.

I have done some googling of masonite and it looks like it has had some mold issues over the years too (masonite siding and lawsuits) when not properly protected from the elements.  Since we know making these foam hives is rather labor intensive as it is, I think I will continue experimenting with non organic materials for the inner surfaces.

Derekm, are you giving your super insulated bees any extra winter food/sugar?  I wonder how they're doing on stores.
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derekm
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« Reply #109 on: February 02, 2012, 03:12:11 PM »

not using much -- i have given them some  to see how much they need and the answer is not a lot, Alwaysfoam has hardly consumed a kilo of sugar all winter.  The scales show it as well... the predicted amount from heat loss figures is around 15gm to 35gms/day of sucrose or sucrose equivalent.
dependent on ambient temp...
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
BlueBee
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« Reply #110 on: February 02, 2012, 07:48:00 PM »

Now this is interesting.  Take a look at what I found inside Ohm today!



Ohm is the 3rd super insulated 8 frame nuc I built last fall.  It sat right next to Newton all winter but Ohm never had ANY bees in it.  Newton has bees.  My plan was to have two identical foam hives next to each other so I could accurately measure the wattage the bees generated in one hive by recreating the temperatures in another with an electrical heat source.  Watts = Volts x Current.  So my plan was to put a heater in Ohm and ramp up that electrical heater until the temps in Ohm (beeless) matched those in Newton (bee-full).  At that point electrical watts in Ohm = bee watts in Newton.  The thing is I never found time to run that experiment so bee-less Ohm just sat out in the elements all winter right next to bee-full Newton.  

My plan today was to pull Ohm into the garage and polyurethane its pristine luan walls (or so I expected) and move my bees from fungus attacked Boyle into a poly sealed Ohm.  I had ASSUMED Ohm would be in pristine shape just sitting out there in the cold with no bees making moisture in it.  I was wrong.  Wow, was I ever wrong.  

If you want to see photos of the United Nations of Mold inside a bee-less super insulated nuc, I uploaded some photos to a photobucket album.  The mold attacked everything:
http://s1082.photobucket.com/albums/j365/MichiganBee/Super%20Insulated%20Nuc%20Mold%20Feb%202012/

Clearly the bees have been doing a better job ventilating these super insulated nucs than I gave them credit for.  The nucs with bees are MUCH less moldy than the nuc that did not have bees.  The other interesting thing I found in the bee-less nuc was a slab of ice (10mm thick) on the floor of the hive!  We’ve been above freezing here for about 3 days now.  Literally an ice box if you don’t have enough bees making heat!  



Clearly something unexpected is going on here.  Going to have to investigate more.

BTW… nucs with bees are reading 70F to 80F/26C today.
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windfall
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« Reply #111 on: February 02, 2012, 08:45:48 PM »

That is quite a bit of water. I suppose multiple condensation cycles could generate it but without a thermal mass inside to act as a condensor I doubt it. Perhaps once you get a bit of ice slab in the bottom it acts as such and self magnifies. With the yo-yo temps and humidity this year I could be convinced.

How confident are you that rain water/snowmelt is not running off the roof and then wicking in the hive body joints? Do you have some sort of drip edge or groove on the lids to keep run off off the hive body walls? Over hang alone isn't enough without significant pitch. Drops will run right around and back under.

On my nucs I saw in the fall that I was getting that effect right away (my tops were flush to sides). I would open them after rain and have water in the joint and some damp down the insides. So I cut some 1/2" ply 2" larger in all directions for a rain lid and ran a kerf all the way around the bottom 1/8" deep 1/4" in from edge to force dripping clear of the hive body...seemed to fix it.

If that is your problem it is easy to fix. But you are in your hives a lot it seems, I would think you would have noticed it.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #112 on: February 02, 2012, 09:20:08 PM »

Windfall, you seem very knowledgeable of construction!  I think you hit the nail on the head again; at least for some of the water.  I was out investigating some of my other bee-less nucs this evening.  They are all nice and dry except for one; had a little mold.  Something is different in my new design.   

My 8 frame foam nucs just use a flat piece of foam for a cover.  It over hangs, but not by much, about an inch.  There is NO drip edge.  There is a foam gasket between the top cover and the hive to keep cold air out.  I figured that might also keep out the water, but now I think it wasn't as water tight as I hoped.  I do think this is a problem area.

I have observed that if I pour water on my flat foam tops, it can run back 3 or 4 inches on the underside.  So I do think it would be wise to install a drip edge like you suggest.  My original foam nuc tops DID have a lip on them that in retrospect also acted like a drip edge.  My dead out last week DID have a 3.5” deep lip the extended below the top of the hive body.   It was moist too, but had nothing like this amount of mold.  I stopped adding the lip because it was more work than simply throwing a flat slab of foam on top.  Sometimes simpler isn't better Sad

I will be adding a drip edge to the 8 frame nucs before we get more rain.  Thanks for the suggestion.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #113 on: February 02, 2012, 09:33:17 PM »

There is a foam gasket between the top cover and the hive to keep cold air out.  I figured that might also keep out the water

Ooooops, I had a Rick Perry moment.  I did NOT use that foam gasket on the 8 frame nucs after all.  I used it on my 5 frame extra deep nucs.  The 5 frame extra deep nucs that also sat out all winter are bone dry, whereas my 8 frame deep nucs are soaked.  I think this is the source of most of my water problems!   
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Sparky
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« Reply #114 on: February 02, 2012, 09:41:30 PM »

Another product you may want to check out is the tileboard that Lowes and Home Depot sell. It is a compressed masonite that has a smooth white finish on one side that could be used to keep the bees from chewing where you use the luan.
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derekm
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« Reply #115 on: February 03, 2012, 10:30:54 AM »

-7c outside 13 C at the floor 22c at the top
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
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« Reply #116 on: February 04, 2012, 12:09:23 PM »

BlueBee, this may be out of the blue, but have you considered cutting a veneer?  It's something you can do with a hand-rip saw.  I've been using it to try and cut thin pieces of wood for little parts, and it works well enough, though I need to work on my technique.

I cobbled a feeder from it and decided it was easier and simpler to use the ply for the same project.  This looks like a way to shave a few 1/4" plates off the Cedar your "neighbor down the way" cut and left by the road to get picked up by the organic wastes people.
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JRH
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« Reply #117 on: February 07, 2012, 04:22:54 PM »

Titebond II glues coroplast to styrofoam with no problems at all.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #118 on: February 07, 2012, 05:22:34 PM »

Thanks for the tip Jeff.  I never thought of using Titebond II!  I guess I was thinking too hard on this problem.

Sparky and CapnChkn, thanks for your ideas too.  I’ll check them out the next time I’m at HD/Lowes.

More typical weather has returned to my bee yard so I popped the tops off my over active nucs to see what they are doing today.   They have screened inner covers so I can see what’s going on inside.  It’s cold cloudy and 29F/-1C today.  Feels like winter again.  The bees are back in cluster and the nuc temps have dropped from 80F to about 57F. 

It seems like once the bees go back into cluster, they don’t make as many watts of heat as when they’re riled up.  That’s probably good for extending stores, as long as they have enough food within their cluster!
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derekm
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« Reply #119 on: February 08, 2012, 08:54:20 AM »

-2c outside 16C at the floor 22c at the top
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
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