This year has been busy thus far. Things were hot and heavy through May and June, but now there aren’t as many pressing issues until extraction time. There are some laggard hives, but for the most part all the production hives were supered and now I’m just waiting on them to finish some capping. Extraction time is being planned for sometime mid-August.
It is during times like these that scheming begins. This year there is going to be an overwintering experiment. I have an issue with the quilt boxes I use for overwintering, too much moisture. Last year when they were removed all of them had mold growing on the burlap. I know it is growing because the moisture is being retained in the burlap, which in one way is good. Better the moisture be there and retained than to be dripping back down on a cluster of bees. I don’t like the idea of mold growing on the inside of the hives so I need to think of something.
There will be three groups in this trial. The 21 hives will be assigned into 3 groups of seven.
Group 1 will get the normal Warre-like quilt box. This configuration provides excellent insulation and it wicks moisture up and away from the bees, unfortunately there is poor ventilation. I have been using these for two years and wintering success has been good. Why do I insist on changing it up? If there is no experimentation I am foolishly assuming that the current way of doing things is the absolute best it can be. There is always room for improvement.
Group 2 will have a top entrance that I have seen pictures and video of. It is used by a gentleman named Tim Ives (liquidgold2009 on YouTube). He uses what looks like a 4-3/4″ comb honey super ON TOP of a modified inner cover. In the winter time he places foam insulation inside the comb honey super. This configuration provides some insulation in the winter and improved ventilation over the Quilt box method. The bees can still come and go through the upper entrance through the winter on good bee days.
Group 3 will have one of the top entrances made this summer. (See Top Entrances) These will provide no insulation value, but will give the most ventilation. I don’t know how they will do in winter, but the bees seem to be loving them this summer. Initially the bees were not using these entrances, but as the summer has progressed they have been using them more and more.
Any predictions on outcomes? Leave a comment.
I have never had moisture problems in my hives because we use the Serge Labesque equipment in addition to our standard hive ware: the follower boards, the Serge-style hive top feeder, and the ventilation board.
I use the follower boards as insulation and as a protective device between the cracks between the hive bodies. If rain gets in, the water will run down between the hive body wall and the follower board, not onto the frames.
I use the hive top feeder mainly as a device to catch any drips from condensation on the ceiling of the hive. That way, it doesn’t drip on the bees and chill them.
The ventilation board has a screened opening that goes between the hive top feeder and the hive lid. According to Serge, the design helps to ease air that might cause condensation out the back of the hive.
We’ve been doing this since 2009, and I have yet to see any signs of moisture trouble.
I need to look at what Serge is doing with those feeders. I have been using the follower boards and I need to make some design changes to mine. The girls are building comb off of them for some reason and it makes it almost impossible for me to get the frames out. I will be working on re-designing that this winter. I am experimenting with them though.
I have seen moisture issues manifest themselves in a couple of different ways inside the hives over winter. The one I dread the SECOND-most is MOLD. It has to be hard for the girls to keep everything nice and sterile with mold growing all over the place. I need to ask Sam if he has ever noticed mold problems in his Warre hives. The most dreaded is condensation dripping back down on the cluster. At least my current Warre boxes do prevent that.
How far are your follower boards from the frame?
Do you mean center of the frame, to side of the follower board? I can look. I figure that it is probably my fault. 🙂 I probably didn’t build my board properly. I will measure and get back with you.