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Why does the humidity matter so much on a beehive and how do I control it?

Temperature itself doesn't affect bees so much, since they can regulate their own temperature and the beehive's temperature. On the other hand, humidity in the beehive has several negative effects on the well-being of the hive, the worst of all being that it endangers the honeybee colony living there, since with humidity levels below 50% eggs can't hatch meaning that the colony numbers will drop.

It's the 21st century, so it's time to put some technology to use, and get correct readings on temperature and humidity levels on my beehives, and I've been using a gadget manufactured by Ruuvi

I equiped every single one of my beehives with a Ruuvi Tag, and whenever I'm around I check how has the temperature and humidity been on the colonies.
The device is pretty simple to use, just get the Tag on the beehive, connect it to the app via Bluetooth on your phone and whenever you are within range you can check how the temperature and humidity has been on the previous days, since the device stores all the info that it has been reading.

This allowed me to improve the overall performance of my colonies and adapt every single beehive to have my bees confortable.
 

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I use screened bottom boards defended from drafts, it allows some ventilation without things getting out of hand. Since I have 2 hives and am usually around, and have been keeping bees about 11 years with very few losses, I'm not too worried about it. Bees do regulate humidity in the hive except when they are in cluster, which is why winter humidity is so much more serious. But I regulate that.
 

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A screened bottom board does not control humidity. You do not control humidity, the bees do.

Why are you asking about humidity?

Is it due to condensation?

Condensation is caused by a cold surface, not by humidity.

I have a 30 frame horizontal that is insulated and closed up with a 1/2" x 5" entrance. The humidity hovers at 75% regardless of what the outside humidity is.
 

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I must apologize for the tone of that post.

No, actually I have a stack of them for sale.
I suppose a screened board is good during summer, but its extra work to change them and redundant gear.

Anyway the heat and moisture rise so an open bottom is like forgetting to close up the trap door in your jammies, gonna chill your giblets. It's a big gulp, when the hive only needs a sip

Coins under the top cover will vent excess moisture when they are drying honey.
 

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I live in Texas. There are Texas beekeepers who keep their hives low to the ground and I bought a stack of SBB's from one for $3 apiece. I also sold half immediately for a profit. And kept the rest. In Texas we have both heat and fire ants. I keep my hives 18 inches off the ground, I can defend my stands from fire ants, the height keeps skunks out and the sbb's work very well at allowing ventilation without allowing robbing, I do obstruct them partially in winter, but they do help condensation escape the hive. I also insulate the top with a piece of styrofoam. We get intense summers and intense winters. Heat rises, coins under the lid let it out. I insulate the top, so condensation is attracted to the sides, and it ends up under the hive and vented via the SBB

Beekeeping is local. What works in the Pacific North West may not be the best thing for the rest of the country.
 

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For certain beekeeping is local! X10


I'm also in zone 8 25° this am!

And that is Pacific North Wet, the "s" is silent.... :^)

Finished this post the next day 55° and raining and the bees are not flying.
 

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While I have been in an intermittent drought for 10 or 15 years. The only humidity in my hives this winter came from the bees.I think I am zone 8b. We have maybe had an inch of rain this winter, and winter used to be our rainy season. But bitter cold winds with humidity built up in the hive can be an issue, so styrofoam on top, reflective bubble wrap crossing all box seams covering the north side, screened bottom board stuffed with some polyester floss to allow moisture to escape but not a draft. Complicated
Works really well for me, and no changing bottom board for winter / summer./ Our summers feature many days over 95 and often many days over 100
 

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I think I read somewhere that the bees are good to 116° before showing signs of distress?
Morning sun - afternoon shade.
 

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I don't know where you read that but we don't often get to 116 here and the ones in the hive if it is inadequately ventilated start dying around 110. You lose a few hives, you learn something. Want to commute and park a couple of hives in North Texas?
Thank you for your advice Rick. We have this thing called the sun down here. A plant that is full sun in the US is shade here. Or it's dead.

@Rick_Bee how many years have you been keeping bees all over the US? or is your experience confined to the Pacific Northwest? If it is, please confine your advice to the Pacific Northwest.

How many years have you been keeping bees since 2000? Our climate has changed. It is much hotter. I will not argue about why, it simply is. The bees told me so. I started keeping bees on a solid bottom board in 2011, the hottest year on record since 1980. We had about 70 days over 100 degrees that year.. In shade we have small hive beetles and moths, they got my solid bottom board hive after the swarm of Africanized bees left. I wasn't chasing the africanized bees that the Bee Charmer sold me. I let them go.

I went to a screened bottom board in the sun after that, and got better bees. The story is on the site somewhere.
 

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One of the guys that was working on cooking the mites worked out how high the hive temp can be before the bees are in distress.
Our bee species was originaly a tropical resident and can survive quite high temps.

I'm not poo pooing screen boards year round, just in the winter. If you stuff it, it's not really a screen board anymore, only in name.

Location location! We are in the same zone but have totally different weather!
If you take wet, and make it a lot wetter you will be close,
April showers bring May flowers, but May showers flood the fields.
Then someone flips a switch and the clouds go away and it jumps to weeks of 100+ with high humidity except during the winter freezes.
We don't hardly see any hive beetles here and winter is cold enough to stop the moth from being too much trouble.
 
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my uncle used to live in Portland. And allowing moisture to exit without allowing the north wind in is not the same as a solid board.

Hive beetles and wax moths are not half the problem. Can you leave a wide entrance on your hive any time when there is not a super flow? I have drought most of the time, drought means robbing, by other honeybees, wasps, yellow jackets etc. I need the ventilation without the access. I am familiar with the varroa cookers. I'm a skeptic, I've followed a couple of these flyers, I'll watch and see. Back to how long you have been actually physically been keeping bees.
 

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I don't buy into the varroa cooking thing I just used that as a reference as to the bees ability to handle heat.
 

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I don't buy into the varroa cooking thing I just used that as a reference as to the bees ability to handle heat.
when you empty a dead hive that didn't have adequate ventilation do you then put the hive back with a thermometer in it?
 

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Why did the hive not have adequate ventilation?
You can close up an entrance without messing with air flow, by folding a piece of #8 screen and inserting it in the slot.
Spring pressure will hold it in place. You can have a 1" entrance and the full width open for venting.

I built slatted bottom boards for this season, 1.5" of air space below the slats.

My Horizontal colony has moved away from the only entrance (5/8" X 5") maybe 4 frames of honey between the cluster and the entrance now.
I set only 2 frames of honey and then the brood when I installed them.
it feels like they want separation from the entrance.
I may take that hive apart this summer and change the bottom to a slatted bottom.
Maybe as a drawer, that would solve the cleaning issue.
And It could still potentially house 3 colonies, a drawer front center and one on each side.
 

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Why did the hive not have adequate ventilation?
You can close up an entrance without messing with air flow, by folding a piece of #8 screen and inserting it in the slot.
Spring pressure will hold it in place. You can have a 1" entrance and the full width open for venting.

I built slatted bottom boards for this season, 1.5" of air space below the slats.

My Horizontal colony has moved away from the only entrance (5/8" X 5") maybe 4 frames of honey between the cluster and the entrance now.
I set only 2 frames of honey and then the brood when I installed them.
it feels like they want separation from the entrance.
I may take that hive apart this summer and change the bottom to a slatted bottom.
Maybe as a drawer, that would solve the cleaning issue.
And It could still potentially house 3 colonies, a drawer front center and one on each side.
I am going to be working a lot this month, so I will let you experiment with your horizontal hive and have a great time. In 10 or 11 years you know things can get hot and humid and bees can die. When you have 10 or 11 years in Texas heat you might comprehend. so anyway have fun with your solid bottom board
 
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