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Author Topic: top entries & insulation  (Read 4803 times)
rober
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« on: September 17, 2011, 03:46:49 AM »

this is a good time of the year to rehash this. i've been searching these topics here & still have some questions. 1st- if you cut a notch in the outer band of your inner cover is that considered a top entrance? those of you who are using top entrances, what other types of top entrances are y'all using? at my association meeting this week 2 different experienced beekeepers used 2 different methods ( imagine that ) to insulate at the inner covers. one removed the inner cover & replaced it with 1" foam board with a hole in the center. the other used foam board on top of the inner cover & left an open groove in the foam to a notch in the outer band of the inner cover for ventilation. i also remember reading a thread but could not find it again that talked about insulating the hive walls causing condensation. since the bees need fewer stores with warmer hives what is the best way to insulate without turning the hive into a sauna? yet another member at our meeting says she leaves her screened bottom boards open & has had no problems. the winters here in missouri are always a crap-shoot so i hope for the best & prepare for the worst.  i've picked tomatoes as late as december & have seen snow on the ground from november thru easter.
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T Beek
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2011, 07:18:35 AM »

I can only tell you what works for me and mine.  This topic always gets some folks worked up, usually those who've never tried top entrances Wink.  I use a notched (bottom/front) inner cover as top entrance on my Langs (but during summer I also leave the 'smallest' opening open for a bottom entrance as well, now closed up for season). 

I also use a vent/feed box (just a converted deep or medium super) over the inner cover which for winter I place 2" rigid insulation inside (lays evenly on rests placed on inside sides).  Under the insulation, right on top of inner cover, I'll place as much dry/damp sugar as will fit.  The 2" insulation covers up the 'screened' vent holes in the vent/feed box. 

Lastly, before wrapping hive I cut the top entrance opening in half w/ a piece of wood, down to 1" wide x 1/4.  I don't insulate the sides , however I do place straw/hay all around and about half way up.  Then when winter kicks in I'll shovel snow right up the top, leaving just the top entrance clear. 

Hope this helps.  Remember; the colder it gets, the tighter the cluster, bees actually consume 'less' not more when 'very' cold.  Only during periodic warm ups are they able to move around and feed at will and if needed, change position of cluster.

thomas
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Finski
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2011, 09:23:29 AM »

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I have finger tip size upper entrance in front wall'" upper part.

I cannot understand, why moist respiration air is leaded via inner cover under the rain cover. That makes zero sense.

I have restorative inner cover. It has 10 mm wooden board an 70 mm foam plastic matres. Part of moisture comes through these materials.

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T Beek
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2011, 09:55:37 AM »

I must respectfully disagree Smiley.  Having an escape for bee gas via top entrance AND vent/feed box that can be closed and insulated make perfect sense to me.

thomas
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 03:55:55 PM by T Beek » Logged

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mikecva
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2011, 12:47:53 PM »

I use two screws on the bottom of the inter-cover to lift it up 3/8" as a top entrance (this intercover is fliped to close it off in winter) with a 1.5" reduced entrance above the bottom board (this entrance is closed off to the wind when it starts to snow.  -Mike
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 11:39:39 AM by mikecva » Logged

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derekm
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2011, 01:07:56 PM »

I can only tell you what works for me and mine.  This topic always gets some folks worked up, usually those who've never tried top entrances Wink.  ...

thomas
MY Bees told me
I  personally disagree with top entrances and vents for winter on scientific grounds  but we had some hot days so swapped my roof for one with four  mesh top vents. The weather being weather then turned cold 4c over night .  In the morning  opened the vent and  measured the floor level temperature change with the one of the vents cracked open, it dropped 6C in a minute.
 I left one vent a tiny bit open to try this top vent thing out.

Then the bees told me "NO MORE TOP VENTS" by propolising the vent mesh shut with working parties on each vent.

So I have no choice if the weather is cool -no top vent.. my bees say so and I 'm not going against the democratic will of the bees.

btw. These are not wussy bees but tough Buckfasts who actually venture out when its 4C
« Last Edit: September 17, 2011, 01:26:22 PM by derekm » Logged

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 #6 on: September 17, 2011, 06:06:24 PM »

This is a hotly debated topic like Thomas said.  As with all human designs, there are conflicting goals to balance and compromises to be made.  Rarely is any design perfect in all areas. 

Speaking only for myself, anything biological that I try to keep alive over winter has a top entrance or vent to vent moisture.  Yes, a top vent compromises the thermals to a degree, but it has worked for me.  I winter bees with a top entrance, silk moths with a top vent, and hundreds of Dahlia tubers in a plastic containers with top vents.  Itís not perfect, but my success rate has been very high.

As for the size of my top entrances, they are about what Thomas and Finski reports.
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Finski
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2011, 01:48:43 AM »

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When the hive eates  20 kg food, it produces 8  kg respiration water.
When the  air meets cold enough surface, extra moisture condensates on the coldest place.

It is better lead the moisture out via upper entrance.

If you have a mesh floor, don't use upper entrance open.

In spring upper entrance is not needed for condensation, but it is needed as a door if bees have accustomed to fly through certain spot.
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derekm
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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2011, 12:39:00 PM »

This is a hotly debated topic like Thomas said.  As with all human designs, there are conflicting goals to balance and compromises to be made.  Rarely is any design perfect in all areas. 

Speaking only for myself, anything biological that I try to keep alive over winter has a top entrance or vent to vent moisture.  Yes, a top vent compromises the thermals to a degree, but it has worked for me.  I winter bees with a top entrance, silk moths with a top vent, and hundreds of Dahlia tubers in a plastic containers with top vents.  Itís not perfect, but my success rate has been very high.

As for the size of my top entrances, they are about what Thomas and Finski reports.

In scientific research (USA) bees when given a choice vote for bottom entrances (vote is literal not metaphorical)... see the book "Honey bee democracy" by Thomas b Seeley They also prefer hives off the ground and entrances between 12 and 30 sq cm... apparently much over 30 sq cm is a deal breaker.
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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?
Finski
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2011, 01:06:58 PM »

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I would not ask bees's opinion. Surely they first vote me get off fo far as pepper grows.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2011, 01:37:21 PM »

The bees donít get to vote in my bee yard Smiley

Half my hives now have a top entrance and half a bottom.  I really havenít seen a difference in performance in the summer.  The bottom entrance hives have a lot more bearding though.  That seems like good supporting evidence for derekm's position that a bottom entrance is going to retain more heat.  I donít refute that fact.
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derekm
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« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2011, 02:37:34 PM »

The bees donít get to vote in my bee yard Smiley

Half my hives now have a top entrance and half a bottom.  I really havenít seen a difference in performance in the summer.  The bottom entrance hives have a lot more bearding though.  That seems like good supporting evidence for derekm's position that a bottom entrance is going to retain more heat.  I donít refute that fact.

 its the beekeeper who doesnt get to vote in any beeyard unless they can tap dance Smiley

Read the book its facinating ...
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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?
Finski
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2011, 01:13:48 AM »

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I have seen a meaning of upper entrances in . When nectar flow is heavy in summer, it is hot and moist inside the hive and bees need to slow down their working. Ventilation is huge.

When the hive is almost 2 metre high, why it should ventilate via one hole in bottom.

Last summer I arranged a second wide opening  in the middle of hive. i put 10 wooden slices between boxes. Ventilaton moves from down to that opening.
The hive got 100 kg rape honey in 2 weeks
I had 7 hives on 30 hectare canola field. The flow was huge..
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BlueBee
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2011, 01:33:40 AM »

Finski, just what is your hive configuration and ventilation system in the summer?

I thought your hives had bottom entrances?  Are you using drill holes in your honey supers for venting or are you using some other type of top venting?

I agree with you, a hive vents much better with a top vent.
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Finski
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2011, 04:44:04 AM »

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In summer

I use 3 bood boxes and no excluder.
Fast bottom.
I keep quite small bottom entrance and 1 wall entrance.

In main flow I keep bottom entrance wide open. It keeps the lowest box too cold and the queen move to second and to third box to lay.
When flow is over, I keep the bottom entrance again small.  The queen return to lay down

when bees have accustomed to the wall entrances, they must keep open on  that  site where bees have accustomed to fly.

Honey supers do not need  to be open hole in normal summer.

I have a hole in every box.  when I change the order of boxes, bees need hole in same place.
In the rain or  in the cold weather they have no time to search for home door when they are in a hurry.

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T Beek
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« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2011, 06:45:12 AM »

Since I've been using both top AND bottom entrances at the same time (only during summer months), I've noticed my bees preference for one or the other depending on time of season and/or flow. 

Spring shows most bees using the top entrances for foraging and the bottom for clean out and removing the dead.  That changes w/ summer flows and is somewhat unpredictable (and unreliable) in that two colonies right next to each other will have differing preferences at the same time, sometimes using the top more, sometimes the bottom more.  I don't have an explanation.

I suppose it may depend on the work the bees are trying to complete at any given time, but in my limited observation, my bees 'seem to prefer' the top entrances better overall, but will use the bottom (for foraging) whenever a flow is on and must appreciate it (if that's possible for a honeybee Wink) as a means to remove trash without having to climb through the nest colony.  Just my observation and opinion.

thomas
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Finski
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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2011, 02:18:19 PM »

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I have noticed that in many hives, which use much upper entrance, they store much pollen into the comb which is nearest the hole.  wrong place? No. Pollen is in the middle of brood area and young bees have food table very near  to eate pollen.
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rail
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« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2011, 07:43:56 PM »

Langstroth described in his writings about the importance of ventilation in the hive in cold regions, pages 340 and 341!
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Sirach
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2011, 08:58:18 AM »

T Beek, we both use the same system on top. How much space between the inner cover and the insulation for placing sugar ? Pictures?
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T Beek
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« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2011, 11:51:51 AM »

I use 2" insulation flush to top, placed on rests inside my vent/feed boxes.  The space between depends on the size box.  I use deeps and mediums for vent/feed boxes so the space varies accordingly.  Deeps obviously allow me to put more sugar inside.  I try to allow for at least a 2" air gap between sugar and bottom of insulation, again depending on box size.

thomas
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