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-   -   Insulating bee hives for winter (https://ecorenovator.org/forum/showthread.php?t=3259)

sunspot 10-12-13 03:13 PM

Insulating bee hives for winter
 
I decided it was time to wrap some insulation around the beehives in preparation for colder weather.

Cut some styrofoam.

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...ps1aa33799.jpg

Duct taped the edges for durability.

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...ps7242166f.jpg

Tape "hinges" hold the sides together.

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...psc5405868.jpg

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...pse2c625dc.jpg

Weatherproofed the styrofoam with repurposed lumber tarp.

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...ps57f22804.jpg

Ready for installation

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...psb2ba44cd.jpg

Repurposed bicycle inner tubes hold things in place. A roof to match. And that's a wrap ;-0

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...ps8bb7bb4b.jpg

hikerjohnson 10-12-13 07:15 PM

Loks like top-notch craftsmanship there, but you may not want to insulate your hive...

Check out a forum like beesource - I have had my hives for awhile now, and my limited experience, and the general beek's consensus seems to be that insulating the hive helps to cause condensation inside, to the detriment of the bees. Also, it will keep them colder longer when you start to see warmer days.

No disrespect meant, just throwing in my two cents.

UltArc 10-12-13 08:38 PM

I now have to search the benefits to keeping bees. Other than honey...lol

sunspot 10-13-13 08:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hikerjohnson (Post 32343)
consensus seems to be that insulating the hive helps to cause condensation inside

I think insulation is the unfortunate scapegoat for poor ventilation. Condensation occurs on relatively colder surfaces. Want to reduce condensation on the inside of that quonset hut, boat hull, cargo van? Insulate. Double pane vs single pane windows - the difference is insulation. Most of us have seen frost on the inside of an SUV windshield but not so many on the headliner. Don't want a wet ring on your table? Slip that cold beverage in a foam sleeve.

But wrapping a hive, or any other living, respirating thing (insulated or not), in plastic - vapour barrier - without ventilation is sure to lead to humidity issues I agree. I've been using a top entrance exclusively on my hives and, while reduced to roughly 25% in area for the winter, I'm hoping that supplies the necessary venting. The screened bottom board, again choked for winter, should let some fresh air in.

Time will tell I guess. I'll post the results of this little experiment in the spring when I remove the foam.

Thanks for replying Hikerjohnson. It's good to know there are other beekeepers on this board. And the site you referenced, Beesource, has been invaluable to me thus far.

Cheers, Greg

greif 10-13-13 10:24 PM

How cold does it get on the island? I would think it would get cold enough to wrap

visited there about 14 years ago beautiful place

sunspot 10-14-13 08:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by greif (Post 32367)
How cold does it get on the island? I would think it would get cold enough to wrap

visited there about 14 years ago beautiful place

It's a mild climate. Ten below (celcius) is rare. Much of the winter is just around freezing with wet snow and rain. It can feel much colder than it is.

Greg

greif 10-14-13 08:07 PM

That is too warm to wrap them, if they stay to warm they will eat up a bunch of the honey stores and may run out...... I know because I did that when we had a mild winter 2 years ago

sunspot 10-14-13 08:15 PM

We'll see. Some folks here insulate them for winter some don't . Others move them into a barn or similar, I'm ok with them eating the honey. That's what they collect it for.

Cheers, Greg

Phantom 11-06-13 12:26 PM

If you place a few holes near the top of the wall you will give some room for moisture to leave but still hold most of the heat in. I think that blocking the wind would do a lot to help keep the temp up even if the top is open.

sunspot 11-06-13 01:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phantom (Post 32835)
If you place a few holes near the top of the wall you will give some room for moisture to leave but still hold most of the heat in. I think that blocking the wind would do a lot to help keep the temp up even if the top is open.

The hive have top entrances. No need for more holes.

gspike 12-10-13 10:15 AM

Nice work, insulating can be a good strategy for a quick spring buildup.

Might need a hole or two in the bottom to keep airflow, and prevent condensation every clime is different
I lost some hives that way. Terraced a new hive stand into the side of a hill, and the blocks settled backwards to a negative slope. Fine through a dry fall but when winter rain and high humidity came the bottom boards got water inside and the poor cold wet bees ate through sixty pounds of honey in a month and starved.

I felt awful, but learned a few lessons, keep dry, keep feed out in winter, and check them as often as i can.

sunspot 12-10-13 10:34 AM

Thanks gspike.

I've got a partially choked screened bottom board in place to provide ventilation. Only a few season's experience will tell me how much is needed. Right now the bees are enjoying a bit of extra insulation courtesy of Mother Nature ;-)

http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z...ps9db2638c.jpg

gspike 12-10-13 11:21 AM

They are probably happy and warm then.. Nice snow, I'm jealous.

David 12-26-13 08:54 PM

Hello,
I am new to the forum.
My name is David .
I have kept bees for nearly 20 years now.
Whilst I have never had to worry about snow I have had severe frosts from time to time.
I thought I might ad a fact that I suppose many of you know and that is that in winter bee numbers fall considerably. Those that remain gather together in a football shape within the hive regardless of the presence of frames. The Queen is well within and all of the bees take turns on the outside and then return to the inner and warmer core and so the cycle continues.

Kind regards and
I hope you have a happy new year

David

gspike 12-29-13 09:40 AM

Yep, thats the natural life cycle.
But you can intervene, by keeping them warm and fed in winter, you can inspire them to keep eggs and brood going all winter(depending on clime). That leads to a fast spring buildup and a chance to get honey flows they normally miss.
It takes more management and a little more risk. Some places its not worth the effort and in others its the only way to bring in any surplus at all.

jbarb2903 10-25-14 03:38 AM

Those are some lucky bees!

greif 10-25-14 08:03 AM

Since we had 58 days last winter below zero with a bunch of those be -50, it was really hard on bees with lots of frezze outs around here. They are predicting an even worse winter this year (I hate winter). I am going to build a tempory enclosure around a hives this year to help protect and keep the wind off .... and lots of feed, I found this recipe I will try this year.
My recipe/method for sugar blocks


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