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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

We live in a climate that as soon as it rains, it fogs up- dense enough not to see 15 metres away ( fun driving on windy roads above precipitious drops) and the fog generally stays all day. Winter temperatures go down to about -5 celcius ( 23 deg F), and up to about 5-8 degrees C (41- 46 deg F) in the day. The hive will be closed up from early April to probably late September. Usual sleet, hail, roaring winds, usually only one light snow a year, etc. The conundrum is not the temperature, it's the fog. There's no use opening up for ventilation if the air is cold and the air is more saturated that inside the hive. So does one just totally close up and let moisture drain out and that's the only in/ out? I use inside/ outside intrances, not the normal langstroth entrance. (big fan of these,excellent for keeping out robbers, wasps, slugs, mice, infact almost everything larger than SHB,and also very little draught ). I will plug up most of these for winter. Does anyone have any insight or live in similar climate and how do you approach it? Thanks all.
 

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Hi all,

We live in a climate that as soon as it rains, it fogs up- dense enough not to see 15 metres away ( fun driving on windy roads above precipitious drops) and the fog generally stays all day. Winter temperatures go down to about -5 celcius ( 23 deg F), and up to about 5-8 degrees C (41- 46 deg F) in the day. The hive will be closed up from early April to probably late September. Usual sleet, hail, roaring winds, usually only one light snow a year, etc. The conundrum is not the temperature, it's the fog. There's no use opening up for ventilation if the air is cold and the air is more saturated that inside the hive. So does one just totally close up and let moisture drain out and that's the only in/ out? I use inside/ outside intrances, not the normal langstroth entrance. (big fan of these,excellent for keeping out robbers, wasps, slugs, mice, infact almost everything larger than SHB,and also very little draught ). I will plug up most of these for winter. Does anyone have any insight or live in similar climate and how do you approach it? Thanks all.
 

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I live in Indiana and fog isn't a real big problem here, however, last year I lost a hive due to the fact that we had some really low temps for longer periods of time. I had insulation around all four sides of the hive except entrances. My mentor thought the humidity was condensing off the tin roof and dripping back down on the bees basically freezing them.
Any how this year I built a Bee Blanket to insert and I put insulation only on the North and East side of the hive, and although we did have some really cold weather my bees survived the winter. I saw a couple out flying around the hive at 45 F temperature and about 1 ft of snow still on the ground. I'm sure they were just taking either poop flight or doing guard duties.
It really is nice to see activity though. In about another week we will be having night temperatures in the 40's and day temps in the mid to high 50's. Spring really is getting here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Jay Gee.
Yes, we don't get as cold as you, luckily. We do get big winds though, happily boxes are all are relatively new and good at keeping out drafts. I am thinking i will make a slot over box made of freezer panels, they are easy to work with and form, so they'll have 50mm of foam insulation all around. They've got a pitched roof with foam inside.. I also thought about making a custom roof with inner ceiling on such a slope that condensation would drip down walls and not on brood, but that's some serious slope and lot of room for bees to warm and a lot of clean up for the beekeeper come spring (i.e. a terrible idea). Yes, I've seen bees do cleansing and foraging in winter down in the valley from me here, as long as there is no wind in winter, the still days they can generate enough warmth themselves. Trying to create microclimate here with enough winter foraging close by to make it worthwhile for them to venture out on still days. Next season when I have more bees I'll do 2 trials, one box that drains well with very little air inflow, and one that has vented bottom ( i use blueboards), both insulated. I guess time will tell! It's just very very foggy....
 

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Thanks Jay Gee.
Yes, we don't get as cold as you, luckily. We do get big winds though, happily boxes are all are relatively new and good at keeping out drafts. I am thinking i will make a slot over box made of freezer panels, they are easy to work with and form, so they'll have 50mm of foam insulation all around. They've got a pitched roof with foam inside.. I also thought about making a custom roof with inner ceiling on such a slope that condensation would drip down walls and not on brood, but that's some serious slope and lot of room for bees to warm and a lot of clean up for the beekeeper come spring (i.e. a terrible idea). ....
You might want to try one of the "winter blankets" in your trials also.
I made one before hard winter came and took some pics. See these on the attached PDF file. Easy to make - IF - you can make the box finger joints, although those are not necessary. The screen is the toughest part so use gloves and tin snips and make bends over a sharp corner (maybe a good board?) and you're well on your way to assembling it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You might want to try one of the "winter blankets" in your trials also.
I made one before hard winter came and took some pics. See these on the attached PDF file. Easy to make - IF - you can make the box finger joints, although those are not necessary. The screen is the toughest part so use gloves and tin snips and make bends over a sharp corner (maybe a good board?) and you're well on your way to assembling it.
Hi Jay Gee,

Sorry Its been a while since I checked in. Yes spring is here now down in southern hemisphere ( although you wouldn't know in in South australia (just cold, wind, rain). These are my thoughts and observations this side of winter Yes, i have made custom roofs and insulated wraps. Since we had sheep i put sheeps wool in my roofs, it has an excellent R factor and stays warm when wet, and holds a fair amount of mositure. Hives with a good population keep hive warm, which means it is humid, moisture stays in the air. If the walls are colder than the centre/ roof, moisture will condense on them and drip down. Think of heated room and then think of cold room and moisture on the windows. Which should be fine in winter, as the brood cluster will be centralised in the box. Winter hive management dynamics are much less complex for us, because as yet, touch wood, we have no varroa with all ensuing complications and damage. (I have much sympathy for the rest of the beekeeping world!). There is some evidence that high humidity hives are better for varroa management. So anyway, I am hoping the sheep's wool, as it holds a good amount of moisture will help maintain hive humidity so it is adequate, but not supersaturated. Because I felt (a way of making cloth from unspun wool), you can make a very light, fluffy, consistent thickness blanket with lots of air in it. (If you want cheap wool check out etsy as some sheep farmers who don't keep for sheep for wool but have to shear them anyway, will sell on line.) I tried stuffing it in but felting gives a beautiful and more even and functional result. For the peaked roof I stuffed, for my economy flat roofs I put 1" of felted wool then aluminium flyscreen to keep bigger moths and SHB beetle out, then a layer of hessian so the bees can propolise if they want to. It weighs a ton because I used hardwood (did a drawer joint with router- wood joins overlap) andthen covered it with powdercoated tin. But that's okay, it hasn't fallen off yet. We don't have bears but kangaroos like to scratch themselves on them.
As said, my ventilation will be minimal as the plastic blueboard I use for a base, sits in an open bottom box, so anything that falls through it's slippery convex curves will eject towards the outer world to let things fall through (It's sort of like corrugated iron, with on the bottom apex of the wave form .The slit openings in the bottom of the depressions are only about 2mm or less maybe that's about 1/32 I'm not sure. It's off the ground about 30cm (a foot) on a welded box section steel base on top of concrete tiles. The entrances I use are 1 inch holes, but there is a baffle behind that so no direct breeze comes in.
For the hive wrap (it's a bit of a rough prototype as I was in a hurry to make before winter) is a powdercoated tin outer, with 19mm foam on the inside- joined very, very precisely with no cracks. (it was a pain because I cut the sides out of foam boxes). So the insulated wrap has a stainless steel piano hinge on one corner, and those adjustable closures on opposite corner It buts up hard underneath a telescoping roof, now packed with wool. i have a better design now ( not yet made where each box is individually insulated, but loses nothing to heat loss through joins. as you can se in pic, it now has uninsulated honey super.

I put a wool insulated migratory roof under that, so if I need to slip in a frame of honey ( from last season) I can take off main roof and then slide migratory cover over just a little without letting all of the heat out. Except for the plastic base, I think there are no cold spots. I also think it works very well for insulation and keeping moisture suspended as humidity, because I remember it was a feral day in winter and I saw 3 bees in one of the open entrances. I thought they were super keen guard bees but when i got closer, they were drinking the raindrops that had pooled on the wood of the opening hole. Normally bees would drink the wall dripping condensation, but I suspect there is none. The hive wrap stays on winter and summer and only comes off for inspections. Next time I have a design that will be box by box and will insulate just as well.

sorry for the essay here, condensed points:
minimal ventilation, from bottom only. Colder at bottom of hive, warm walls, no vents or heat loss through roof and some air exchange with bees traffic through entrances. Hive stays humid, winter and summer but not dripping.

I have a conception for a super dooper moisture control roof which will vent excess moisture outside of the hive, with out vertical heat loss, and still maintain hive humidity. After my next bee projects are finished I'll make the roof and share if it works as well as I anticipate. Just a little engineering but there are plenty of handy bee peeps out here with the know how and a few tools.

I'm also curious enough to hunt down some wild hives and out some humidity sensors in there. I have a lot of questions. Attached is pics of insulated wrap. I can't find photos of wool felted roof.

I guess you're coming into Autumn now. I hope your summer and autumn forage was good and hive looking healthy to go into winter. good luck!
 

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Nice Idea!

I use a a slatted bottom board on my conventional hives, but the angled members and grid you have there might prevent them from building burr comb in the baffle area.

I am working on how to incorporate a feature like this into a horizontal hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Nice Idea!

I use a a slatted bottom board on my conventional hives, but the angled members and grid you have there might prevent them from building burr comb in the baffle area.

I am working on how to incorporate a feature like this into a horizontal hive.
yes I'm making a horizontal hive also. I don't think bees really care about the sloping walls so I'm making mine with removable langstroth full depth frames for convenience (and 38mm thick cypress walls, I think that's 1 1/2"?). For the base I'm just going to use the same blueboards, so the long hive width will be the determined by the length of a langstroth frame, and hence the blueboards (which are also the length of a standard langstroth box) will slot into a groove (circular saw or router bit), and underneath I'll put some cross members on the base to support the edge of each one. The attached pic is pretty crappy but you get the idea (blueboard will slot into the groove represented by blue line) and I'm going to make it four wide, not 3 as shown.Yes, I've never had burr comb attached to it. Also attached is pic of blueboard, inserted within a standard lang hive base (I don't use standard base, on a langstroth I make an open bottom four sided shallow box, same dims as hive box so they just hang in the air) . You can order if you're keen from bluebees.com.au. He'll prob post to you. or I think you could get excited with a bit of corrugated tin and drill holes on the low points. Not sure if they'll attach to the tin and it would be colder in winter.
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Sheep's wool sounds like it might be a good idea for insulation. I have one sheep here on our farm. She is a pet, actually and we have her sheered every year and as of last year, our sheer guy doesn't have a need for the wool anymore so we have it stored in garbage bags. Does the wool have to be cleaned? I imagine it does as it has a lot of lanolin throughout. How do you clean the wool to be used for ventilation in the hive?
 

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I have not seen those wire clips @amandabee But I bought most of my equipment in 2012, and kind of build what I need to add now. I don't shop much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sheep's wool sounds like it might be a good idea for insulation. I have one sheep here on our farm. She is a pet, actually and we have her sheered every year and as of last year, our sheer guy doesn't have a need for the wool anymore so we have it stored in garbage bags. Does the wool have to be cleaned? I imagine it does as it has a lot of lanolin throughout. How do you clean the wool to be used for ventilation in the hive?
Pick the biggest bits of grass seeds out etc. I have a kitty litter tray and drilled holes in it. Then I fill laundry sink with wool wash or velvet soap and COLD water. ( hot water will cause fiberes to knit togher, not desirbale when wool is in raw form). Agitate gently ( jiggle tray side to side) and soak, drain, repeat a few times. Carding wool means aligning all the fibres in the same direction, but it's a bit of work without a proper carding machine, I would suggest just washing and stuffing with fairly consistent density. It takes a little while to dry but a few warm days will do it. Hope your bees like it! ( oh yeah, seal wool inside roof, or away from bees- their feet will get stuck in it. I make my 'economy' roofs for nucs, swarms etc with an inch of wool then aluminium flyscreen, then hessian. Flyscreen is to keep big critters out (SHB) and the hessian is nicer for bees as i encourage them propolise walls and hive mat for hive hygeine and they love to propolise their hessian hive mat.)
 

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Pick the biggest bits of grass seeds out etc. I have a kitty litter tray and drilled holes in it. Then I fill laundry sink with wool wash or velvet soap and COLD water. ( hot water will cause fiberes to knit togher, not desirbale when wool is in raw form). Agitate gently ( jiggle tray side to side) and soak, drain, repeat a few times. Carding wool means aligning all the fibres in the same direction, but it's a bit of work without a proper carding machine, I would suggest just washing and stuffing with fairly consistent density. It takes a little while to dry but a few warm days will do it. Hope your bees like it! ( oh yeah, seal wool inside roof, or away from bees- their feet will get stuck in it. I make my 'economy' roofs for nucs, swarms etc with an inch of wool then aluminium flyscreen, then hessian. Flyscreen is to keep big critters out (SHB) and the hessian is nicer for bees as i encourage them propolise walls and hive mat for hive hygeine and they love to propolise their hessian hive mat.)
Thank you for the detailed instructions. That doesn't sound to hard at all so I will give it a good try when we have our Boarder Leicester sheered next time.
 
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