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Author Topic: what am I seeing, bees "drinking" condesation?  (Read 3275 times)
windfall
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« on: October 27, 2011, 05:01:33 PM »

This fall, I built a couple of insulated 5 frame Nucs very similar to Bluebees: thin wood core, 2" polystyrene all around.

Today I was peering into the entrance tunnel (bottom) out of curiosity since I was seeing some condensation on the mouse guard and it's finally getting coldish here (36F daytime)
Inside I see 2-3 bees fanning...not good I decide: keeping them too warm, so I open up the top entrance a bit to 1/4 X5/16...it had been completely closed.

I peek in again when done. Now I see 1-2 fanning and 3-4 apparently licking the damp cedar floor. It is just damp at the entrance, no visable liquid water except for some droplets on the galvanized mesh mouse guard.

What am I seeing? Are these bees drinking the moisture? Is this part of how they attempt to dry a hive? Or is this some kind of response to my disturbing them a bit?
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Hemlock
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2011, 08:16:28 PM »

It's natural for hives to have condensation in Winter.  It is a water source for the bees. They cant fly outside to a source so they utilize what they make in their own hive.  The big problem with condensation is when there is so much it drips through the cluster stealing the bees heat.  So we vent a little and tilt the hives slightly forward so it runs down the front wall and not over the bees.


Did you insulate the inside of the top cover?
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windfall
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« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2011, 08:00:17 AM »

Thanks hemlock,
I was aware that bees drank their condensate, but I had not observed it before and was wondering if their were other behaviors/actions that looked the same. It seemed especially curious since it showed up immediately after I disturbed them a bit opening up the top vent.

The nucs are insulated on all sides. On the standard hives just the tops for winter.
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Buffalo Bee Farm
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« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2011, 09:05:25 AM »

I placed plexi glass inner covers on a few hives last winter to watch the condensation in the hives to prove to myself a few things since i do not ventilate the top...

Here are pictures on my blog from 2010/2011 winter...  Since i cant post a link, Google Buffalo Bee Farm Blogger and click the 2010 button on the left and scroll down...
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BlueBee
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2011, 12:29:27 PM »

I read your blog on winter condensation.  Nice work and nice blog Buffalo Bee Frame.
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T Beek
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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2011, 01:31:54 PM »

Yes bees drink hive condensation throughout winter as able.  The discription appears excessive to me however. 

Does the Nuc have an 'out' for excess condensation?  Either a tilted bottom entrance or a top entrance letting it out.  Are/were you feeding and perhaps there's a leak?  Don't mean to overthink this.

If hive bottom is damp already in October, what do you think it might look like in March?  Bees can't/won't use it all before it turns bottom into an ice rink/brick causing thermal mass to go in the opposite direction needed for survival.

thomas
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Finski
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2011, 12:30:41 AM »

.
20 kg winter food forms 13 litre water via respiration.

I follow the style of respirative inner cover. It  moves the moisture out from the hive, not to form drinking places there. Condensation over the cluster is the worst place. If it happens, inner cover has too thin insulation.

I have 10 mm thick wood panel in inner cover and above it 70 mm plastic foam matress.
Part of moisture goes through the cover material. Inner cover and raincover must have a venting gap. Otherwise moisture rains back to insulation.

Most of the moisture exists via upper hole.

Yes condensation. It happens even in summer night when warm hive air meets cold bottom.

In winter the moisture may form a thick layer of ice. Respiration moisture forms snow and ice sticks inside too. Then it melts and that is why hive bottom should tilt a bit.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 12:51:00 AM »

Yes bees drink hive condensation throughout winter as able.  The discription appears excessive to me however. 

Does the Nuc have an 'out' for excess condensation?  Either a tilted bottom entrance or a top entrance letting it out.  Are/were you feeding and perhaps there's a leak?  Don't mean to overthink this.

If hive bottom is damp already in October, what do you think it might look like in March?  Bees can't/won't use it all before it turns bottom into an ice rink/brick causing thermal mass to go in the opposite direction needed for survival.

thomas
well said Thomas
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Finski
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 09:00:26 AM »



If hive bottom is damp already in October, what do you think it might look like in March?  Bees can't/won't use it all before it turns bottom into an ice rink/brick causing thermal mass to go in the opposite direction needed for survival.

thomas

it may be damp even in July.

In March the bottom looks rotten bees and black mouldy juice included. 
bottom will dry up and bees carry the mesh out.

My opinion is that uncapped food in the hive soaks moisture and dilutes the food.

What ever you think bees do well in their hive.a meshy bottom does not disturb them.

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windfall
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 09:55:31 AM »

I can only see the entrance tunnel, and it is only just damp around the entrance where the interior air is cooling off. I don't believe their is much condensate in interior...at least not yet.

The questions may all be for naught as the last warmish day this nuc had bees pulling out dead with DWV and about a dozen varoa can be seen on the tunnels bottom.....not good.

I was surprised, they were started from a swarm at end of June didn't think the mite population would balloon quite so quick. I suppose I could check for brood and treat with oxalic next warmish spell. I had been planning on attempting no-treatment, so this is my first "test" of conviction Wink

I doubt I will do anything but wait and see. From what I read a nuc showing these signs at this time of year is pretty well doomed?
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BlueBee
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 09:59:47 AM »

There’s always that high temperature idea for killing the mites Smiley  I suppose that is technically a “treatment” too, but it would be chemical free.
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T Beek
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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2011, 10:22:29 AM »

IOM each treatment simply renews and affirms future treatment.  The only way to break dependence on treatment is to stop. 

Bees will die in either case, but its the untreated survivors that will become the future.  I believe it is our perpetual interference, more than any other factor, that is killing bees (and most other lifeforms in general Sad

(guess the cat is out of the bag now heh?) grin

thomas
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windfall
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2011, 10:25:39 AM »

Thomas I am in principle right with you.

I waited 2 years to get starter Nucs from Kirk Webster who stopped treating years ago, accepted the consequences and bred from the survivors.

It's just hard to watch it (a colony crash) happen for the first time and do nothing....
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T Beek
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2011, 10:29:12 AM »

No matter what route you take you will kill bees, I've killed plenty i'm sure.  Its part of the program.

thomas
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BlueBee
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2011, 10:57:27 AM »

You can’t solve all the world’s pest problems using the ‘survival of the fittest’ approach.  Some bugs are here to stay. 

The varroa mites may in fact be like the mosquitoes; something that is impossible to permanently get rid of.   A better idea might be figuring out how to keep them at bay like we do mosquitoes.  I’m not a fan of letting colonies crash and hoping for some magic the next time. 
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windfall
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« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2011, 11:11:24 AM »

I don't think anyone breeding/selecting for survivors expects the mites to be eliminated, but rather to get to a place where they can be tolerated as a less virulent parasite.

But we all know this debate, I really don't want to start it up here again.

Thomas, I am sure I will kill plenty of bees. I tinker and experiment an awful lot in all my hobbies and there are always some spectacular failures grin. But I think I will let the mites take the blame on this first bunch.
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hvac professor
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« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2011, 06:32:01 PM »

as i always start out, i am a new bee keeper, and may have a moisture problem? late fall i dropped my hives from 5 boxes to four and since all of the boxes had a 1" entrance hole i blocked all of them off but the top box. To really throw a wrench into this i thought and clarified that i had a mouse/mouses in the bottom box. I was told to block the entrance off except for a small 1/4x1/4 hole which i did. I was told if i opened up the hive so late in the season that i would be better off blocking the mouse/mice in rather then subject the hive to late season opening.
Today i took the top cover off and notices a couple of small puddles of condensation, and through the oblong top cover i could see bees moving around? looking for any assistance to this situation
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Finski
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« Reply #17 on: December 25, 2011, 08:55:28 PM »

late fall i dropped my hives from 5 boxes to four and since all of the boxes had a 1" entrance hole

The hive is too big for winter. It should be one or two box.
Now the heat of cluster escapes totally upstairs, the interior is cold and condensation happens inside the hive.

You saw bees walking upstairs? It mean that cluster is very near top.
Your weathers seems to be near freezing point and bees should be in cluster.

What about your inner cover insulation? How much?

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« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2011, 07:39:56 AM »

I have no insulation only top hive cover with oblong hole and top/main cover. Isnt it too late to reduce the ammount of boxes? I can see through top cover hole bees wax and bees just below hole moving around, it is likely that the mice in lower box pushed bees up to top box. out temperatures today is about freezing 32degrees and we have already had single digid nights
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Finski
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« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2011, 08:08:30 AM »

.
It is possible if you lift 2 top most the new bottom then take away 2 lowest.

Have you given oxalic trickling yet? It is usefull this time..
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« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2011, 11:18:03 AM »

I just removed bottom box as expected mouse in first four frames, dead now because i closed it in, nothing else in bottom box it is empty no bees or honey so that explains why the new hive made it to 5 boxes over summer sun is out and bees came out so i will leave alone until they return to hive then remove next box and leave top two....no i have not treated with anything
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hvac professor
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« Reply #21 on: December 26, 2011, 03:13:07 PM »

hope what i did is ok, took 2 bottom boxes off today 39 degree weather both boxes empty besides one dead mouse due to me blocking off entrance too small to get out. bees were pushed up to the two upper boxes, now two upper boxes are only boxes left but i am worried about over crowding observed a bee in entrance fanning wings, would it help to add an empty box? i have 6 frames of honey i took off this fall in freezer and could put them on top?
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Finski
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« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2011, 04:04:55 PM »

.
Take the inner cover off and look how much the hive has  capped food in uppermost box.

'When you do that, give at same time oxalic acid trickling against varroa.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #23 on: December 26, 2011, 06:03:59 PM »

 Hvac--what size boxes are you runing-deeps or mediums-??-RDY-B
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hvac professor
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« Reply #24 on: December 26, 2011, 07:45:29 PM »

ok finski thank you, i am using 10 frame dep boxes
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rdy-b
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« Reply #25 on: December 26, 2011, 08:32:00 PM »

 thats alot of boxes- Wink there are many on the forum that have great luck with
 notching the inercover for ventilation -I think blue bee and tomas both make there
 own inercovers-and have much successes -RDY-B
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Finski
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« Reply #26 on: December 26, 2011, 11:05:57 PM »

thats alot of boxes- Wink there are many on the forum that have great luck with
 notching the inercover for ventilation -I think blue bee and tomas both make there
 own inercovers-and have much successes -RDY-B

I have a 15 mm entrance in a front wall + solid bottom. so it goes.
Inner cover has 9 mm pruce board and no holes. Insulation is 70 mm foam plastic mattres.
Construction breathers = part of moisture goes trough the wooden board and insuation.
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« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2011, 06:14:57 AM »

Two deeps s/b plenty of room.  Bees will continue to die throughout winter.  While open did you notice amount of capped honey?

Its true, I use a 'notched' inner cover as a top entrance.  On top of that I place an 'empty' box that I fill with dry sugar for the winter.  The sugar also acts as an absorber of excess moisture.  I place 2" rigid insulation on top of the sugar. 

With the abnormal weather I've added another ten pounds of sugar to each of my three colonies just last week.  With the top box (feed/vent box) there is little disturbance when checking feed stores, just lift, look, dump in some sugar, close back up.

thomas
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hvac professor
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« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2011, 07:56:20 AM »

how do you add empty box with sugar? where is the sugar placed, on top of inner cover
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Finski
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« Reply #29 on: December 27, 2011, 11:40:35 AM »

how do you add empty box with sugar? where is the sugar placed, on top of inner cover

You have those extra 6 frames capped honey, you need not think about dry sugar.
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T Beek
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« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2011, 11:58:03 AM »

True what Finski says, use up your honey first. 

In my case I have no extra honey, so like you said, place empty box on top of inner cover and fill cavity w/ as much sugar as you dare.  Dry sugar should be treated as 'insurance' or 'just in case' they need it.

thomas
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« Reply #31 on: December 27, 2011, 03:45:34 PM »

ok thank you, i do have 6 frames of honey in freezer so when will i know when to add them and since box holds 10 and i only have 6 how should i place them together or another arrangement? your advuce is greatly appreciated
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« Reply #32 on: December 27, 2011, 03:59:33 PM »

finski you mentioned oxcilic trickling, if i remove top inner cover bees will be sure to come out and give me a run, is there a way to do this without removing top inner cover?

I am curious about how much honey is in top box but worried about hive population being subject to 30 degree weather
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T Beek
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« Reply #33 on: December 27, 2011, 05:00:00 PM »

Put the honey frames in the middle and 'empty' frames on sides if that's what/all you've got. 

Some beeks will even put wool blankets or sweaters on sides of honey stores when there isn't enough honey to fill a box, keeping honey frames in the middle.

thomas
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« Reply #34 on: December 27, 2011, 07:55:22 PM »

Thank you for your help thomas grin
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T Beek
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« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2011, 06:20:13 AM »

Hope all works out for you and yours.

thomas
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« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2011, 02:46:41 PM »

Today i took my 6 frames of capped honey and four of my neighbors and put the full deep box of 10 frames on top of the two boxes of bees left. I put the inner cover on the top box with the 10 new frames of capped honey and the outer cover on top of that. Temperatures were in the upper 30's but now down to @ 30, will be single digits tonight hope all is well
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