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Author Topic: Wintering, ventilation, and polystyreen feeders  (Read 3009 times)
IndianaBrown
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« on: October 16, 2006, 09:24:49 PM »

Excerpt from a letter I just sent to betterbee.com:

I wanted to comment on your polystyrene hive top feeder:

Since I live in a residential area, I did not want me bees to bother the neighbors if at all possible.  To keep bees away from nearby swimming pools, I left my top feeders on all summer as water sources.  It seemed to work well.  There were no complaints from any neighbors anyway.  Also, as a new beekeeper, it was fun to be able to remove the cover and take a peek at the bees through the plexiglass panel without having to suit up or disturb the bees.  

I will be leaving my feeders on all winter as well.  I figure that anytime the bees are warm enough they can take some syrup if they need to.  One idea I am considering is drilling a few small holes in the plexiglass panels to allow the warm moist air from the winter cluster to condense in the feeder rather than inside the hive.  I would rather do that than drill holes in the hives themselves since I feel that would defeat the purpose of having the bees in an insulated hive in the first place.  I figure that leaving the screened bottom board uncovered will provide enough ventilation otherwise.  I am sure that the bees will just propolize the holes in the plexiglass when they get around to it, but I am hoping that the holes stay open through the winter.  You may want to consider experimenting with replacing part or all of the plexiglass panels with some #7 or #8 hardware cloth.


I am sure that some here will dissagree, and I have not made up my mind yet, so feedback will be appreciated  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2006, 09:42:44 PM »

I would definately advise to get some upper ventilation for the winter.  Especially with the polystyrene hive, as it will not absorb any moisture like wood would rolleyes   I'm not familar with the feeder you have, but it sounds feasible, just not sure how big a hole would be needed to be efficient.
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Finsky
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2006, 03:11:37 PM »

Quote from: IndianaBrown
I will be leaving my feeders on all winter as well.  I figure that anytime the bees are warm enough they can take some syrup if they need to.


That makes no sence.  The Bee-System is that bees store honey/sugar and cap it.  Continuos feeding makes only harm. Bees do not know that they have extra store somewhe and they do not do to eat from that store.

.
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IndianaBrown
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2006, 09:08:24 PM »

I really was not planning on keeping the feeder filled with sugar water all winter.   All summer I have been using it as a water source rather than as a feeder.  I only fed them sugar water briefly when I first started, and again for the last couple of weeks.  They have been very busy capping it lately.  Once it gets cold enough that the bees cluster I will stop refilling it.  

The point is I want to try modify to feeder so it can double as a ventilated cover, allowing water vapor to condense into the feeder but keeping the hive warmer than it would if I just drilled a hole in the hive body.  The added benefit would be that the bees would have access to water if they need it.  I am just trying to work out the best way to do this.
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Finsky
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2006, 09:18:53 PM »

Quote from: IndianaBrown


The point is I want to try modify to feeder so it can double as a ventilated cover, allowing water vapor to condense into the feeder .


That makes sence either  Tongue  Why?

Bees get water in hive when they uncap the honey, moisture goes into winter food and dilute it.

Do you know Indy, how much 10 lbs honey generates water when it burns in respiration to water and carbon diokside?




.
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IndianaBrown
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2006, 10:50:29 PM »

I guess have still not made myself clear... I am not really worried about the bees not having enough water, at least not here in Indiana.  I know that respiration produces water as a byproduct.  Collecting the water in the top feeder would be just a bonus, allowing the bees to have easy access to water when it is too cold to leave the hive.  (Aslo, I want the bees to continue to get their water from the top feeder year round, not from the neighbor's swimming pool.)  
On the other hand, here is a beekeper from a drier climate that has done some experiments with ventilation and water:
http://bwrangler.madpage.com/bee/gwin.htm

Water aside, I just don't see the point in drilling holes in my hives - allowing more HEAT to escape than is necessary - IF there is an alternative.  That just seems like a waste of the bees' energy

Do the bees need ventilation?  I am sure that they do.  
Is it bad to allow excess moisture to drip on the bees?  That makes sense.  

But... if there is a way to provide good ventilation, avoid wet bees, and allow for better temperature moderation all at the same time, then that sounds like a winning combination to me.
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Finsky
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2006, 11:32:50 PM »

Quote from: IndianaBrown
Inot really worried about the bees not having enough water, at least not here in Indiana.

 Collecting the water in the top feeder would be just a bonus, allowing the bees to have easy access to water

On the other hand, here is a beekeper from a drier climate that has done some experiments with ventilation and water:
http://bwrangler.madpage.com/bee/gwin.htm


Do the bees need ventilation?  I am sure that they do.  
Is it bad to allow excess moisture to drip on the bees?  That makes sense.  .


Sorry Indy, you are making theory of your own. I have 45 years experience  to get bees over winter and  do not nothing like you plan.

If you have plain ground on winter, bees get water from ground if they need. They need not "extra bonus".

Bwranler is really wrong with his ideas that bees need condensation water during winter. Moisture makes nosema in hive during winter. As Bw:s pictures show, bees can come out and get water.

In my country bees are in the hive from Ochtober to Marsch and cannot come out neither get water., Still they are alive in spring.  In northern Finland they are in bee cellars 7 months without water and they do well.

Bees need water when they have brood in spring but not in winter ball.
.
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« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2006, 11:46:34 AM »

I have three hives with the exact feeder you describe, INBrown.  I too have noticed condensation on the plexiglass dam in the mornings following cool nights.  I too thought about drilling a few holes in the plexiglass and still may, but for now I have placed a tiny 1.0mm shim beneath the rear of the feeder.  This essentially creates a thin crack along the back of the hive beneath the feeder that allows warm air to escape but doesn't allow for bees to pass through.  A rough calculation estimates that the crack I've created is around 50cm2 in total surface area.  I placed the sim beneath the rear of the feeder because that is the highest point since my hives are angled forward a few degrees.  So far, there has been minimal propalizing of the crack, although I expect the bees will begin filling it in as they deem necessary.  When the weather heats up again, a quick scrape of the propolis and the upper vent is restored.
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Finsky
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« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2006, 12:14:45 PM »

.

If you have snow cover, keep hive on 30-40 high from ground.

**********
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1) I have wooden inner cover and insulation is 7 cm foam plastic. Then ventilated gap is necessary. Otherwise moisture condensate in upper prood and it "rains" back into insulation.


2) Fingersixe upper entrance is open in front wall of hive.

3) Lower entrance is wide open because during winter dead bees may stop ventilation.

*********

Screened bottom.

Bottom is open and no need for upper system.

Screened bottom is sentisite to wind blow. Take care of that.

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NO NEEF FOR EXTRA TRICKS.
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mizkidmas
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2007, 01:19:29 PM »

I just experienced the death of my hives  Cry (2) due to condensation dripping onto the bees.
Before winter began I thought I was being a smarty pants by adding a small (1/8") gap with a
piece of shim for ventillation and also entrance reducer on to the smallest opening. I tapped on
the hive yesterday only to hear NOTHING, and when I opened up the hive, there was so much honey
and dead bees, and some mold and dampness down the backside of the hive (below the area where
I placed the shim for ventillation.). I could see where the bees were trying to move away from
the freezing water.
What is the easiest way to give ventillation and keep bees protected during winter?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2007, 07:51:11 PM »

>What is the easiest way to give ventillation and keep bees protected during winter?

The secret is there has to be controled air (not draft) coming in the bottom and out the top.  Insulation on the top doesn't hurt either.

I use a SBB with the tray in (which still leaks some) and a top entrance.
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Michael Bush
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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2007, 11:22:49 AM »

I just experienced the death of my hives  Cry (2) due to condensation dripping onto the bees.
Before winter began I thought I was being a smarty pants by adding a small (1/8") gap with a
piece of shim for ventillation and also entrance reducer on to the smallest opening. What is the easiest way to give ventillation and keep bees protected during winter?
That is too bad that your hives died, I know I have lost about 8, but that was due to other factors other than winter cold.  This is my experience during winter.  I have not yet switched to screened bottomboards.  I still have the solid (which I am changing this season).

We live in a fairly damp and cold (for 2 months approx.) climate.  I leave the entrance reducer with the wide slot active on.  The inner cover has a slot in the front.  This provides the airflow from the bottom and the slot on inner cover provides the escape of moisture.  I do not have any problems with water dripping down on bees.

I my area it is not necessary for the styrofoam on top, although I hear some beekeepers do here.  I hope that next winter fairs better for you.  Great day.  Cindi
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mizkidmas
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2007, 05:19:46 PM »

ok....I understand.
Now I have all this capped honey. 9 out of 10 frames of solid honey. Some parts toward the back of the hive where the water was
dripping has caused a mold build-up. Now I assume all this honey is spoiled. Is it a fair assumption to say that any part of a frame or comb that has some mold on it is assumed to be contaminated with mold even though in other parts it can't be seen?
These are plastic wax coated foundation...is is safe for me to just scrape out all the honey (cry!) and re-use....or do I have to buy new equipment?...including the frames and the hive bodies themselves? :?This is very frustrating and sad.
thanks for your help!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2007, 09:54:11 PM »

I would re use all the equipment.  I would let the bees clean it all up.  Mold will not hurt the bees at all.  I would put a package on the combs in the spring.  They will take care of it.
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Michael Bush
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michelleb
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2007, 01:13:36 PM »

Here's what I did this winter for three colonies: On top of the brood chamber, I placed an inner cover, and then a ventilated shim (vent holes drilled two to each side, and screened with 1/8 cloth). On top of that, a feeder. The feeder is there mostly to keep the sides of the tele cover from covering up the shim.

I did notice some condensation that had collected in the feeder--not much.

Open screened bottom boards.

Bees are thriving. Knock on wood.

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mizkidmas
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2007, 05:13:18 PM »

I'm glad to hear that mold will not hurt the bees and that I don't have to buy new equip.(thanks Michael!)...but what do you mean by " I would put a package on the combs in the spring"? huh I don't follow you there. Do I leave all that honey capped as is? How do I introduce a new package of bees to that....new brood chamber with fresh foundation and put the capped honey (large super) on top of that? tongue
It also sounds like the SBB is way to go as far as ventillation help goes. Will have to get a few of those.
I'm not sure what the problem with my outer cover was,...but it seemed to collect condensation...I had a shim in there for ventillation and also notched innercover with notch to the front...maybe I had it all backwards....not sure.
What do you guys think of the Bee Max polystyrene hive outercovers and condensation/insulation/ventillation...I think I might try one this spring. the rest of my hive would be of course...wood...
thanks for your help Michael and michelleb!! Smiley
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mizkidmas
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2007, 05:28:32 PM »

.

If you have snow cover, keep hive on 30-40 high from ground.

**********
Solid bottom

1) I have wooden inner cover and insulation is 7 cm foam plastic. Then ventilated gap is necessary. Otherwise moisture condensate in upper prood and it "rains" back into insulation.


2) Fingersixe upper entrance is open in front wall of hive.

3) Lower entrance is wide open because during winter dead bees may stop ventilation.

*********

Screened bottom.

Bottom is open and no need for upper system.

Screened bottom is sentisite to wind blow. Take care of that.

***********

NO NEEF FOR EXTRA TRICKS.
I just read Finsky's notation on ventillation...sounds like I still would need a ventillation gap if I use the polystyrene outer cover (with wooden inner cover). Will the notched inner cover suffice? If so would it be notch up or down?...probably up so they don't make burr comb between frames and cover , right?
Finsky also makes a note about 'wind blow'....so I will put a rock/brick on top so it won't blow off....I'm thinking that if I use a vent. gap I will create too much draft....
help me I'm confused!
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Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway.
Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2007, 05:57:22 PM »

>what do you mean by " I would put a package on the combs in the spring"? huh I don't follow you there. Do I leave all that honey capped as is?

Yes.

>How do I introduce a new package of bees to that....new brood chamber with fresh foundation and put the capped honey (large super) on top of that?

No.  Just dump a package in the hive with the honey and all and let them have it.  They will clean up the mold, use the honey and the comb and be off to a roaring start.

>It also sounds like the SBB is way to go as far as ventillation help goes.

I have found them very helpful.

>I'm not sure what the problem with my outer cover was,...but it seemed to collect condensation...I had a shim in there for ventillation and also notched innercover with notch to the front...maybe I had it all backwards....not sure.

I'd put the notch up and the telescopic cover forward.  But even if you did that upside down it should work fine.

>What do you guys think of the Bee Max polystyrene hive outercovers and condensation/insulation/ventillation...I think I might try one this spring. the rest of my hive would be of course...wood...

I haven't tried them, but I like a piece of styrofoam on the lid to cut down on condensation.

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Michael Bush
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treeshade
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« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2007, 06:17:10 PM »

Iam new this year, I put shims( 1/16 inch ) under the inner cover and have a solid botton board and enterance reducer. so far so good. I have a question about the sbb. I am going add them in the spring and I am wondering if I should put a slatted rack on top of the sbb ?   and if has any effect for winter time ?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2007, 06:42:03 PM »

If I had a slatted rack on top of the SBB I'd probably pull the tray part way out for ventilation because the slatted rack will break up the draft more.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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