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### Author Topic: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.  (Read 16656 times)

#### JackM

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##### Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« on: October 09, 2011, 09:05:06 PM »
Been doing a lot of viewing online books, videos, U-tube, forums, and talking to many folks.  I am well aware this may get a bunch of hackles raised here and do not want a war.  (I was at one time a residential/retrofit insulation contractor so I have than knowledge to help me)

First let me begin by stating that wood has an R-value of 1 per inch, each additional inch adds another R to the stack.
Second, in nature, the bees love trees, existed in them for eons before man intervened....right?....I am sure there are caves and underhangs and such, but in general.

Now our hives are made from "1 inch" thick wood that is really 3/4 inch, so R value of a very generous 1.
The dead air space inside the hive has a value, and again being generous, lets throw a full R for that, now up to R-2.  On a CALM day there is another half R for the air around the exterior.  Max R-value of 2.5.

Yet in a tree, depending on how huge it really is, can be surrounded easily by 8 inches of solid wood on all sides at a minimum.  Lets be generous again, cut that number in half and say it is only 4 inches thick, an R-4.  Adding in the 1.5 for the airspace we also gave to the hive we now have an R-5.5.  Without showing all the math, the R-3 additional that the tree has is huge figuring a brood temp of 95 degrees....

I am surprised that virtually no one insulates hives....or there isn't much info that I found on it.  Using a 1 inch polyeurothane foil-backed insulation (Thermax is a brand name) just by putting it on the side of a hive you add an additional R-8 to the 2.5, making now R-10.5.  But if you can create an air space of 1/8 inch between the hive and the insulation board by using strips of ? 1/8 thick, you effectively double the insulations value.  That hits R-18.5.  In my mind that says to me that the bees don't have to work so hard to keep the brood warm, if your temps drop below freezing, it is a real concern I would think.

I do not think that really is much different than a good old thick tree.

Now I wonder why in nature the bees frequently have an high and a low entrance, exit?  Some folks swear you gotta have a top only, or a bottom only exit, don't see much about using both.  The bees in a tree can't close it off, and probably don't want to as it vents out stale air and unnecessary moisture.

So, it seems to me that much of what is "required' to do bees right, is quite opinionated.  Me thinks the bees know better than we.  But I bet they would like an insulated box in cold climates.

Please don't belittle or get too contentious.
Master of none.

#### Jim 134

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 09:38:11 PM »
You can use BeeMax hive.Just my \$0.02

BEE HAPPY Jim 134 :)
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
Chinese Proverb

"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

#### splitrock

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2011, 09:45:49 PM »
Sounds reasonable to me.

It, (insulating for winter) has been on my mind quite a bit lately. We have hit 30 below zero up here.

Joel

#### Michael Bush

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2011, 10:25:46 PM »
When I used the beemax there was a lot of moisture and condensation in the hive.  I wasn't impressed.  maybe if I used the boxes, but not their lid and a top entrance of some kind, it might solve some of that.  I don't know.  But since they don't come in eight frame boxes, I doubt I will try them again.  Putting my hives against each other for winter seems to work better than trying to wrap or insulate.  Wrapping just makes them wet all the time and the bees don't do as well, in my experience.  I have 14 hives all up against one another.  Huddled together for warmth.
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

#### Finski

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2011, 01:43:43 AM »
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When you calculate R-value, the tree is wet during winter.

I remember when 50 years ago German Black mongrels were common (Black Devil) skeps were usual.  Those hives were small and they swarmed twicely.

Normal frame hives were small too. The space was equal one langstroth box and then medium size super. The yield was 15 kg. It was not able to keep Italian bees in those tiny huts.

Now colonies are  3 times bigger. Yield is 60- 100 kg. Even in Finland, where yield season is only one month, top hives bring 200 kg.

In Finland every beekeepers has insulated hives. Like in human houses insulation  saves energy.

When humans live here, they do not keep doors and windown open during winter. Why they keep hive bottoms open?

90% of beekeepers do not understand insulation or ventilation. They just do.
But bees stand quite much variation in human beekeeping.

.
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#### T Beek

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2011, 08:48:49 AM »
Honeybees are the absolute 'masters' of adaptation, thanks in part (a small part when looking at the big picture) to humans spreading them around beyond where they'd 'prefer' to dwell, based on historical evidence.  Their will to survive, despite 'our' interference (and millions of years) is truly amazing.

We beeks tend to forget the honeybee history of 160+ million years before we came along, especially when discussing comparisons of bees and humans (one of my personal pet peeves, that and tailgaters :-D)

I think the OP :) is an example of such forgetfullness, no offence intended, as shown by its omission.  I just think its always important to keep this in mind whenever comparing bee behavior to human behavior.

That all said, I use both 'top and bottom' entrances on my Lang hives (bottoms closed for winter) and I absolutely agree;

The bees know best.

There actually has been some research conducted on this issue but most is (as is the case w/ a lot of beekeeping) anecdotal and/or individual based.  It seems there are basically two camps.  One says insulate the entire hive, the other says just the top.  I guess I'm with the just the top crowd as I feel such complete insulation of sides and top can/does cause moisture issues.

(trees hold the most moisture in Spring when the sap is running, unless its dead of course)

thomas
"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."

#### oliver

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2011, 09:05:09 AM »
When you insulate, you must ventilate, think about how your house is constructed, tremendous amout of moisture produced, that must escape generally through 8 or 10 inches of insulation in the overhead and out some type of roof vents..I have been in attics not properly vented that had several inches of frost on the rafters, a warm up can ruin ceilings in these cases, same with bee boxes, I construct mine the same way I used to do houses..dl

#### JackM

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2011, 09:36:10 AM »
Wow, so many great responses.

Quote
Putting my hives against each other for winter seems to work better than trying to wrap or insulate.
Yes, that would be even better, then just insulate the exterior 'wall'.  Each hive has an R-Value, and actually is a heater in severe.  Great idea if you have many hives.  Even 2 next to each other will have a 1/4 reduction in heat loss by having a side next to another....an hopefully with a 1/8 inch air space.

Quote
When you calculate R-value, the tree is wet during winter.
True, but the difference is minimal as the wood will only soak up so much moisture.

Quote
Wrapping just makes them wet all the time
That is because the wrapping had no permeability.  I think a hive under normal circumstances, even closed up can properly vent the amount of moisture the bees produce....we are not talking outdoor moisture inside a closed hive.  Moisture will permeate in an osmotic fasion even through solid wood.[/quote]

Quote
When you insulate, you must ventilate, think about how your house is constructed, tremendous amout of moisture produced, that must escape generally through 8 or 10 inches of insulation in the overhead and out some type of roof vents..I have been in attics not properly vented that had several inches of frost on the rafters, a warm up can ruin ceilings in these cases, same with bee boxes, I construct mine the same way I used to do houses..dl

Few understand how a home  vents the moisture we create daily. I too have seen attics like you mention.

Now, for my opinion on venting in the winter.   Let me know what you think.  My climate rarely goes below freezing but is wet as hell.  Put a wire mouse guard on the bottom and have it open.  Close the screened bottom.  I think a Vivaldi top cover is perfect to vent the top of the hive.  All I need is to provide a top exit if I want.  The moist warm air rises, the telescoping cover has just enough space around the edges to allow the sides of the Vivaldi to vent.  I think I will use some 1/2" thermax on the sides as a slide over box and put 1/2" on the inside of the top cover.

Oh, and the Thermax is polyisocyanurate foam, not what I mentioned earlier.  Big difference.

Master of none.

#### Finski

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2011, 01:46:33 PM »
.
What  rubbish I must again read.......

Need of ventilation: to get oxygen and get rif of carbondiokside.

Need to  ventilate moisture depends on the difference between outer and inner temperature.
When out temp is low, its absolute moisture is low. When that air is heated up, its relative moisture is quite dry.

Our rooms are too dry in winter when we heat houses.

So, insulation makes the room dry, because it is warmer and the dew point moves outside of room.

If we want to dry up our houses or clothes, we raise temperature.

INSULATION SAVES ENERGY. It hinders warm to escape through the walls, roof and floor and windows.

INSULATION IS NOT A REASON TO CONDENSATION AND VENTILATION. Insulation happend when moist  warm air meets a cold surface. Look the car windows when you are inside.
- If the hive interrior  is cold, condensation happens onto comb surfaces.
-  If the wintering space is small, moisture condensates on walls.
- when inner cover is well insulates, surface is the most warm, and condensation happens onto sidewalls.

- in wooden hives moisture goes into the wood and in plastic and ply wood surfaces water drils to the bottom boar.

If you ventilate too much, it makes the wintering space cold and it needs more winter food.

.

INSULATION SAVES 30% OF WINTER FOOD IN MY COUNTRY. It hinder starving.
I have used 15 years American style noninsulated hives and I know what I am talking.
Nowadays I have a problem, what to do with extra winter food when new honey starts to come in.

When you feed the langstroth hive full, the food lasts 9 months, from September to May.
If the hive is not insulated, food lasts 6 months from September to February. February is the coldest moth.
.
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#### T Beek

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2011, 03:00:18 PM »
Yes its true, if humans want to dry (heat?) 'our' houses we raise the temp w/ fossil fuels or more rarely, sunlight, wind or the earth itself.  Such 'artificial' heat generated inside an enclosed area generally makes the surrounding air dryer.  That's True, true, true.

But what if it were just a bunch of humans in an 'un-heated' dwelling?  People do generate 'some' heat, but whether its gonna be "life supporting" heat for months on end and no working plumbing, is highly debatable for sure.  AND this heat that humans create has loads of moisture from respiration (like bees), so that would definitely affect condensation levels in this unheated space.  Would they be advised to open a window to let this moisture out?  Even at 30 below zero?  Yikes, do we still wanna compare bees and people?

As most anyone can tell, I'm still not convinced on how any of this relates to honeybees and their human forced dwellings, insects that generate enough heat to keep themselves alive for months on end in sub freezing temps w/out taking a dump, and/or how it compares w/ people.  This is where the argument/debate always seems to end for me, the same stalemate I'm afraid :'(.

However, on a lighter side, it is NOT true that clothing needs high temps to dry :?.  All one needs is bright sunshine, they'll still dry just fine (maybe a little stiff) when temps are well below freezing and hung on a line in the yard.  Try it 8-)

thomas

"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."

#### derekm

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2011, 03:20:09 PM »
A part from the incorrect usage of the term dew point (its the temperature at which the relative humidy would be 100%) I must agree with Finski...
The thing is to understand the standard wooden hive is much worse than the bees natural habitat than you have calculated, as often the bees hole is lined with rotted wood,  a natural foam... I'm not  familar with R values (I use W/Deg C)  but an estimate of the insulation values we should be looking at is something in excess of 15 times better the standard wood hive. The insulation values in commercially  available polystyrene hives should be considered as a minimum standard (8 times a standard wooden hive).  Then we need to keep the amount of heat in the hive inside easy control of the bees. Conserve the bubble of heat in winter, and allow cooling in summer.
Top vents in spring/summer open(temperature to do this is dependent on hive design), closed in winter, baffled/sheltered/screened bottom grid/mesh/slots open all year
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?

#### derekm

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2011, 03:43:12 PM »
Yes its true, if humans want to dry (heat?) 'our' houses we raise the temp w/ fossil fuels or more rarely, sunlight, wind or the earth itself.  Such 'artificial' heat generated inside an enclosed area generally makes the surrounding air dryer.  That's True, true, true.

But what if it were just a bunch of humans in an 'un-heated' dwelling?  People do generate 'some' heat, but whether its gonna be "life supporting" heat for months on end and no working plumbing, is highly debatable for sure.  AND this heat that humans create has loads of moisture from respiration (like bees), so that would definitely affect condensation levels in this unheated space.  Would they be advised to open a window to let this moisture out?  Even at 30 below zero?  Yikes, do we still wanna compare bees and people?
...
Consider the design of an igloo, the domed structure traps heat, the low entrance  keeps it in, the walls are mostly trapped air like a foam. If you have ever been in a properly made snow hole or igloo you will know how  warm these are. Remember the Inuit used to go on long hunting trips with no more heat than a blubber oil lamp.
With modern matierals you can construct an igloo that doesnt melt and isnt cold to touch. Why not build one for your bees?
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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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2011, 03:48:22 PM »

However, on a lighter side, it is NOT true that clothing needs high temps to dry :?.  All one needs is bright sunshine, they'll still dry just fine (maybe a little stiff) when temps are well below freezing and hung on a line in the yard.  Try it 8-)

i must tell what happened hen I spent hollyday in Malysea Langawi.

The weather was mere sweet. Temp 30 C and 100% moisture (at least).
I washed my shirts and I put them in bight sun. Nothing happened. They dis not dried.

Only place to dry clothes was cooled room. Temp was cooled to 22C and in that process the moisture is condensed into cooling machine. The room air was dry, I do not know how many percents.

In winter when temp is -20C,  you may wash your clothes and put them into frost air.
After a while clothes are stiff like ice can be. But the clothes dry up in the frost air.
Actully a big part of snow evaporates direct from ice form  to gas form to air moisture.

When you look forecast data, relative moisture goes daily   from 95% to 50% and again to 90% at night. That affect on hive drying too.

.
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#### oliver

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2011, 07:59:50 PM »
Picture an insulated box sides and top with screened inner cover and insulation above that, gable type out cover with vents in the gable. this retains heat allows moisture to pass out the top vented to outside..I don't ever want to open another hive and find an ice ball of bees..I frame this body just like framed wall in a house, ripping 2x4s to 5/8 x 1 1/2 using this for studs and plates, 1-1/2in foam in the wall wi 1/8in hardboard skin in and out, fiber glass ins above. Not recommending this, its just the way I do it..dl

#### FRAMEshift

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2011, 11:32:54 PM »
The most critical part of the hive is the top.  If the temperature of the inner surface of the cover  reaches the dew point, then condensation will form and drip on the bees.  So the first thing is to insulate the top.  We just use a half inch solid foam on the exterior of the top.  Since the interior surface of the  top will then be warmer than the interior of the sides, any condensation will form on the sides and run harmlessly to the bottom of the hive.

Our screened bottoms are reduced but not closed completely.  You want to have enough air exchanges so that the interior humidity can track the outside humidity.  If the outside temperature falls rapidly and drops below the dew point, there will be condensation outside the hive.  This make the outside air dryer.  If that air exchanges with interior air, the moisture is removed from the hive.  If the hive is too tight, the interior surfaces can reach the interior dew point and cause interior condensation.

Of course Finski is right about what works in his cold climate.  I'm sure that full insulation and limited ventilation works there.  I don't think the extra insulation is necessary in North Carolina where a little ventilation is a much cheaper option.

"You never can tell with bees."  --  Winnie-the-Pooh

#### Finski

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2011, 01:42:11 AM »
I'm sure that full insulation and limited ventilation works there.

I don't think the extra insulation is necessary in North Carolina where a little ventilation is a much cheaper option.

insulation and ventilation options. No way! They are not alternatives.
"Bees die for dampness not for cold". The most stupid sentence beekeepers have ever invented.

A proper ventilation? What is difficult in that?

Beekeepers do not understand either the meaning of warm hive in Spring build up. Spring is long. In our climate it is 3 months when the hive has the brood temperature 36C and food consumption is high. Weather are often so bad that bees cannot come out.

.
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#### CapnChkn

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2011, 02:35:33 AM »
The trouble we always seem to have is in anthropomorphism.  While it's true you wouldn't want to open a window in a room full of people without an external source of heat, it would depend on the number of people, the volume of the room and the size of the window.  Take into account the number of individuals in a Beehive.

In a room of humans, you wouldn't have them hanging from the walls, the rooms would be shallow and spread out increasing the surface area, and everyone would probably be keeping personal space unlike bees who can't seem to get enough of each other.

In my beehives, I'll close the entrances down to about 1 or 1 1/2 x 3/8 inches, and have a 3/4 or 1 x 1/4 inch vent in the top cover farthest from the entrance.  The amount of air exchange is not going to be that large.  The cross-section of that "chimney" is somewhere around 1/3 an inch^2 (2cm^2).  The volume of a single deep and shallow super is 2.5 cubic feet (71 Liter).
"Thinking is like sin, them that doesn't is scairt of it, and them that does gets to liking it so much they can't quit!"  -Josh Billings.

#### Finski

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2011, 04:31:38 AM »
.
I remember my work place public works of Helsinki. City council of Helsinki is the biggest employer in Finland.

Our public works had architects, engineers and what ever who took care of ventilation of public buildings. But in our meeting room, where we had 100 persons, was hot, lack of oxygen and filled with carbon diokside. No window open and  air did not changed in basement floor.

I can convince that  the audience was full of knowledge but it did not change that meeting room. It was allways same during 20 years what I was there.

"Well planned is half done amd often it remains there".
.
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#### derekm

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2011, 06:49:33 AM »
The trouble we always seem to have is in anthropomorphism.  While it's true you wouldn't want to open a window in a room full of people without an external source of heat, it would depend on the number of people, the volume of the room and the size of the window.  Take into account the number of individuals in a Beehive.

In a room of humans, you wouldn't have them hanging from the walls, the rooms would be shallow and spread out increasing the surface area, and everyone would probably be keeping personal space unlike bees who can't seem to get enough of each other.

In my beehives, I'll close the entrances down to about 1 or 1 1/2 x 3/8 inches, and have a 3/4 or 1 x 1/4 inch vent in the top cover farthest from the entrance.  The amount of air exchange is not going to be that large.  The cross-section of that "chimney" is somewhere around 1/3 an inch^2 (2cm^2).  The volume of a single deep and shallow super is 2.5 cubic feet (71 Liter).
the issue is not anthromorphism but trying to use analogy to explain straight forward physics questions and answers.

q1: You have a varable small heat source ~20w to 5w that   that combusts saccherides it emits water vapour and Co2, requires o2 .
what regime of insulation and ventilation  is required to regulate a temperature between 25c and 34c in a cavity of 40litres in ambient temptures of 10c to -20c.
q2: given your answer to q1 what changes are necessary for temps above 10c.
q3: given your anser to q1 what happens to the water vapour.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 10:02:42 AM by derekm »
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?

#### T Beek

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##### Re: Insulation, venting, real bee life, exits.
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2011, 08:57:21 AM »
Bees don't build igloos, people do:shock: Traditional igloos were heated w/ whale oil (and to a lesser extent, human generated body heat) and people sure don't stay in igloos for months on end w/out relieving themselves.  To suggest so or to include human activity as part of this debate as examples over how to properly house bees lacks credibility IMO :).

What is 'natural' for a bee hive?

I don't know, but I've seen and heard of them occupying some pretty strange places 'other than' trees.

There was a pic floating around here awhile back w/ a colony occupying an empty gas tank.  Hows that for preference?

Honestly, it seems clear that a lot of this banter serves only to stroke the egos of some presenters and offers little real insight into "bee behavior" or bee preference which is what I'm looking for (guess its why I always get sucked into these discussions :-D).

thomas
"Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who say they've found it."

anything