Monday, January 18, 2010

Condensation: Insulating the Vent Box & Dry Sugar

As you might recall from the last post condensation is puddling in Mary. Not certain how or why so I posted the questing at the Beemaster forum (here's the link plus some more good info). What I learned is that condensation is a part of the Winter hive and can be good & bad. It may be necessary since it can be a source of water for the bees. Yet, it can kill the colony if it drips down on the bees. Controlling it seems to bee the task at hand.
  • Vent the hive properly so there's not too much. Some type of top vent...(Check)
  • Tilt the hives to promote drainage away from the bees. Down the sides rather than on the bees...(Check)
  • Control which surfaces cause condensation by the use of insulation. Such as insulating the top of the Vent Box...(Check, see below)
Mary, sans her T-cover

I'm using 3/4" styrofoam as insulation. This should keep condensation out of the top part of the hive. I left open two vent holes; to the South & East to let the humidity out. I thought about opening the bottom of the SBB a crack but did not. Too easy for a critter to work it's way in and set up shop. The condensation should be less now. I'll monitor of course.

Now this insulated area above the IC provides a good location for Dry sugar to be dumped. As mentioned on the forum dry sugar can help mitigate moisture in the hive by absorbing it. That's good incentive. Plus, Mary's a small colony with half her reserves gone now. I have more honey & pollen frames I'll put in this week but first...
Diner time

I only had a pound of sugar left and gave it all to Mary. I'll pick up a 25# bag tomorrow. The gap between the IC and insulation is 2". I'll see how much sugar I can put in there between refills.
aun Aprendo

Friday, January 15, 2010

Inspection 1/15/10

57 F

The second fly-day in a row a good time to check the bees. This is my second Winter with bees so one might think it would be easier on me but it's not. I think last Winter I was too inexperienced to know what was happening. Fortunately it was a mild Winter. Yet, this year Winter has been very harsh and I now know just enough to be worried all the time, Ha ha. The girls just spent a month in cluster with daytime temps in the 20's. However, next week's forecast calls for lows in the 30 & highs in the 50's. A warm spell sure would be welcome.

First a quick note about Mary- Weak, under productive, & limping along. SBB (closed), Single Deep, IC, Vent box, & T-cover.

Now back to the inspection. Approach at mid-day, bees flying around the hive. Veil and gloves but no smoker today. Much more evidence of cleansing flights today than yesterday. Good thing I'm wearing the veil. A cloud of bees takes to the air as I remove the T-Cover. A couple hundred bees had congregated inside the vent box above the IC. Yet i still see several bees holding on to one another as if they're still in cluster in the IC opening. Once that comes off i see where the majority of bees are on the top of the frames in the middle of the Deep. Not a great amount of bees, population somewhat low in numbers but I still think they'll make it

For orientation I stand behind my hives and number left to right; more or less. Frames 1 & 2 are still filled with capped honey as are frames 9 & 10. Frames 3 & 8 have capped honey corners and partial pollen filled centers. Frames 4 & 7 are 2/3's empty. Frames 5 & 6 are too busy with bees to check. I replace the frames in this order: 3, 4, 2, 1, 5, 6, 10, 9, 7, & 8. Bees on moved frames were brushed onto 5 & 6 to keep them together. Then it all got put back together. I'll replace the empties with full ones soon. I figure the bees will bee balled up in the middle for now anyway.
*Moisture & Condensation. -Again with the puddle of water in the hive. They did this last year too. So over Summer I replaced the solid board with a SBB. I added a Vent cover above the IC with 1.5" holes in it. And all the wooden ware is new. Not much water probably several table spoons worth resting on the luan beneath the SBB (and dripping out the back!) . The T-cover was dry. The IC was dry. As far as I can tell the bees were dry. So why is there water puddling in rows beneath the frames? 8 out of 9 vent holes were closed off so I opened one more, left side, to increase ventilation.
Water leaking out the through the closed SBB ^
Two puddles on the left side beneath the SBB ^

*Heating. Passively that is. -The vent box is 2.5" tall. Heat escapes upwards of course so this box draws heat away from the cluster. To fix this I bought some foam insulation to fill the box. I'll leave enough room, or channels, for the humidity to escape through the vents though.
Vent box currently ^

*Dead bees. -2 kinds of dead bees. The ones that are still standing where they were in the cluster when they croaked. And, of course, the bees that starved head first in a cell. Very few dead in the cells. More dead from the cluster locations.
All dead ^

Starvation ^

Then there's this bee. I believe she wandered away from the ball during a warm spell. Found a whole frame of honey to eat. Then didn't make it back to the cluster before the temperature dropped at night. Poor girl.

(click to enlarge) ^

I did not get into Myrina as I ran out of time. I'll try to inspect her within the week. Although Myrina almost never has any problems.

aun Aprendo

Thursday, January 14, 2010

First Fly Day of 2010

It's been almost a month since the last fly-day. Compared to last Winter when it happened about every week so I've been concerned. Both hives are brewing with warm bees today. At 55 degrees & sunny it's a great day for flying & the all important Cleansing flights. Tomorrow is to be 56 or so but then it's back to being in the 40's. Tomorrow afternoon I'll peek in each hive to measure their reserves. I have 6 deep frames filled with honey & pollen to replace any empty frames.

If you're from the north and need a fix just put on your veil and turn up the volume


Mary was the first one out at Noon. Odd I thought since she's the weaker & smaller of the two. It made me nervous about Myrina's condition.

MARY: A good showing

Yet not an hour later out came Myrina to show Mary how it's done. Of course Myrina does have more bees...

MYRINA: Bring out your dead!

We had one not so cold day 2 weeks ago. It was warm enough for the bees to move around some but not fly, 47 degrees. The ground was covered in snow. All the bees did was to toss out the bees that died. The snow was peppered with dead bees in front of the hive. That plus today makes for a big piles of bees. Hopefully the queens will start laying eggs again soon. I have some pollen substitute ready to go. I'll make patties for them. I plan to start some time before the end of the month. Next week might be warmer than this one has been. So hopefully we'll get more days like today.