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Author Topic: Lets talk winter insulation  (Read 1892 times)
Parksguyy
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« on: August 28, 2012, 10:11:13 AM »

Hello everyone,
First year beekeeper here, an hours drive from Ottawa, Ontario ... here the winters are cold.
I need some advice before wintering up my bees.  I will purchasing a winter wrap one of the local beeks makes, basically foil wrapped bubble sheet that simply slide down over the hives, with a smaller insert under the top cover that is suppose to wick away condensation (it has silica beads sewn into it).  My concern is ventilation and if I should be providing more.  My inner cover is notched and has a hole in it for feeding/ventilation.  Do I need more?  I will be running with double brood chambers.  I've read where one can glue popisle sticks to the flat side of the inner cover creating a very small space around the rim of the inner cover which would ventilate the brood chamber.  I also plan on putting some batts insulation in a honey super above my inner cover as well.  I just want to ensure I deal with the condensation more than anything.  Any suggestions, working experience out there would be greatly appreciated!
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mikecva
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2012, 02:58:02 PM »

Welcome to beekeeping.  cheer

I have not tried wraps on my hives since the bees will seal between the boxes. I did put pink insulation on one year but the wind blew most of it off even with tie down straps so I have not tries it since.
 
It does not get as cold here as I think you might get so I will just tell you of my experience. We get some strong winds here near the mountains so the wind is a big problem as the temps are between 5 and 45 F. average days ~ 40. 

I reduce the door to 1", keep the inner cover on a tilt so any condensation does not drip into the brood area. I put hay bails near the hives to block the wind. We did get 3" drifts a few years ago but the snow is a great insulator so I only cleared the snow directly in front of their door.  good luck, let us know in the spring how things worked out for your bees.   -Mike

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derekm
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2012, 03:24:12 PM »

Read "outdoor wintering of bees" by Everett Franklin Phillips.
you can get it free on google.books
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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?
MTWIBadger
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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2012, 10:27:02 PM »

I completely surround my hives with 2 inch blue foam insulation secured to the hive with 2.5 inch screws. There is no way any wind can blow it off.
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Nyleve
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2012, 10:10:51 AM »

I completely surround my hives with 2 inch blue foam insulation secured to the hive with 2.5 inch screws.

On top too? Last year I wrapped in tar paper but this sounds like a warmer solution.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2012, 04:24:21 PM »

My hives have 1 to 2 inches of foam on ALL 6 sides.  I don't worry about them freezing to death anymore, now I worry more about them getting too hot in the middle of winter  Wink
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derekm
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2012, 04:28:35 PM »

My hives have 1 to 2 inches of foam on ALL 6 sides.  I don't worry about them freezing to death anymore, now I worry more about them getting too hot in the middle of winter  Wink

according to Everett Phillips who appeared to use bottom entrances you cant put too much insulation on and the secret was to get the insulation on very early while the weather was still warm.
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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 #7 on: August 29, 2012, 04:45:02 PM »

Hmmmm, now you’ve got me thinking a cool experiment might be to build a nuc with say 10cm thick walls (4inchs) and see what happens  Smiley

I worry about over heating only because I had a couple of nucs last winter that lost of lot of bees from being overactive.  One of those two eventually died.  For some reason those 2 nucs were agitated or something and just wouldn’t calm down like the rest.  Their constant buzzing and activity overheated the hives IMO.  This did not happen with the other hives/nucs, just the 2 that got agitated for whatever reason.
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S.M.N.Bee
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« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2012, 06:37:59 PM »

I don't know if I agree that you can't have too much insulation but I am going to add some to my covers. I am currently running 1 1/2" foil face. About R 10.

Like Bluebee stated bees could become too active with nothing to do. I think  cluster or near cluster temperatures are what we should be shooting for.

I also am not in favor of insulating to early. I typically put on my covers about November 15. By than in Minnesota we have had several nights in the low twenty's or teens. These cool temperatures put the bees in wintering mode.


John
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BlueBee
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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2012, 08:57:53 PM »

I like my winter hives to sound like a well tuned Chevy Small block engine running at idle.  Any more active than that and I think you risk problems; just my opinion.   One winter I did experiment with electric heat and discovered a new problem can occur when the hive gets too warm; the wax moths keep multiplying all winter long.  It’s also been my observation that in my climate, if it gets too hot in a hive, more than the average number of bees will fly out during the day (thinking it is warm) and die in the snow. 

In Michigan 1.5” or 2” thick foam (3.8cm to 5cm) is plenty adequate to create a warm winter hive for the bees.  I’m experimenting with more 1” thick foam nucs this winter since the cost of 1” thick foam (2.5cm) is significantly lower than 1.5” or 2”.  By cutting down air filtration heat losses in my designs to a minimum, I’m thinking the 1” stuff will perform well in Michigan, but time will tell.
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Pearl City Apiary
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2012, 09:58:37 PM »

I have used the "colony quilt" from b & b honey farm.  Pre cut and a good product.  No issues with mold.  It breathes pretty well.  I NEVER wrap a hive tightly anyways.

I build my own insulated outer covers.  My tops are 1/4" luan with 1/2" insulation with 3/8" BC plywood covered in flashing.  Cooler in summer and dry in winter.
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Finski
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« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2012, 02:42:28 PM »

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I have nursed bees 50 y.
First my hives were 3 cm thick solid pine.

Now I  have had polystyrene hives. Fist poly brood  I bought 1987.

Polyhive is extremely good. Weight of box is 1000 g.

Polystyne insulates 10 times better than wood. So 4 cm polywall is egual 40 cm wood.

- I have solid flloors. Hive needs upper entrance 15 mm on the upper part of brood, that air circulates and move moistre out.

- inner coves had 9 mm thick wood panel box, and it has 70 foam plastic matress piece.
...it i so called inside breathing. It moves moisture through panel and matress.

- It is good if solid floor has in back corners an inch wide hole capped with wire mesh. It keeps the back part dry.

- Snow does not insulate in winter because it is so short time on ground. Our bees' winter rest is 8 moths long. Snow covers hives only 2 - 2,5 months.

The most important is Spring in insulation when hive rises the hive temp from 23C to 36C.

My hives consume  during 9 months about 20-25 kg sugar. I extract all honey away in Autumn and perhaps 5 kg/hive stays for winter.
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2012, 06:35:45 PM »

After several years poo-pooing the effects of insulating hives I've finally become a convert (told you all I might) just this year and plan on doing a number of different things, including using rigid insulation.  There's an EXCELLENT article in the latest Bee Culture that explains the process very well, along with an interesting story revolving around a colony the author found in a tree and brought home.  Well worth the read. 

As for the colony/hive insides getting TOO warm when wrapped in insulation, I've read that leaving the from free from insulating helps.  Its what I'm doing this year.

In answer to the OP;   A notched inner cover should provide enough ventilation for your Winters.  IMO; I wouldn't use the stick method though, especially during winter when you want moisture to escape, not necessarily heat.  Use those sticks when it gets hot if you want but don't leave them on all winter.

You can also place another super (empty) above the inner cover, filled w/ 5-10 lbs of dry sugar (as insurance)with 2" rigid insulation on top of that to insulate the top, then covered by a telescopic cover.

t
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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2012, 10:24:27 PM »

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Problem in these discussions are that, especially in Britain, that guys do not understand insulation at all.

They are mad to talk about condensation and ventilation

When the British want to dry something, they add ventilation. when the Finnish want to dry room or hive, he adds heat. The relative moisture goes down when you add heat.

How you can add heat in the hive so that dew point moves out from hive

- constrict the hive size the most small before winter feeding.
- keep quite good ventilation at the level of bottom
- if you have mesh bottom, then no upper ventilation
- if you have solid bottom, then finger size upper entrance to make air circulation that moisture moves out.

 - condensation happens onto surfaces which are coldest.
- inner cover must have the best insulation that the surface is warm and no water droplets will emerge above the cluster and combs.

- Condensation, when it happens, it becomes on side wall, and it drills out to the bottom.


« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 11:49:07 PM by Finski » Logged

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Finski
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« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2012, 11:27:42 PM »

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Why insulation

In my country all wintering hives need insulation

Winter is long and bees cannot come out during  5-6 months  (Ocht-march/April)

You can put a vertain amount of food into a langstroth box and any more. That will be enough from September to May.

Wintering hive consumes about 1 kg sugar per month  in Autumn. In Spring when they rear brood, comsumption may be 4 kg in a month.
The hive starts small brood rearing in February even if out temp is -20C. If it has pollen stores, it adds brood area if it gets drinking water.

In my area bees get drinking water when snow has partly melted. That thappens ate the beginning of April.

On another hand one frames brood needs one frame pollen. That is much, and wintered hives have not more than 1 or 2 pollen frames in April. Normally bees have consumed all pollen then and hey stop brooding.  Again broodins start when willow starts bloming at the beginning of May.

Brooding consumes food and good insulation saves food.

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Finski
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« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2012, 11:46:35 PM »

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Insulation and Spring build up

When you have insulated hives and noninsultaed hives, you will find that insulated hive builds up clearly faster than cold hive.

After winter the minor factor in build up is amount of nurser bees.
When first broup of new nurer bees emreges, the minor factor will be the heat of the hive.
I noticed that when I started to heat hives with electrict heating.

The secret is that brood area is not area, it is a ball.
In warm box the colony may keep larger brood ball.

If we compare a ball which has radius 12 cm and the radius 15 cm (25% bigger) we get a volume of ball:

-  3/4 *pii * radius to exponent 3

12 cm radius --- volume 4070
15 cm radius ----volume 8000


So, volume is  100% bigger
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Finski
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« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2012, 12:06:50 AM »

Saving food

As sugar price saving food means nothing. But if the food store is finish, the hive dies.

When I have compared 3 cm wooden box and polystyrene box food consumption, polyhive saves 30% food.

It means that our food MUST be enough from September to MARSH. It is 6 months.
'We cannot feed hives during that time. In in insulated hives same food stores are enough  9 months, up to MAY.


If a hive has brood in Aitumn, it will die in december to the end of stores.
If I add food and pollen to the coolony, it will die during pring becaus it cannot live with that system over 6 months.

So we must have bee strains which do not make brood during September- Marsh.
And everybody has.
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