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Air chamber below roof

I have a question for the thermal physicists.

In order to feed my new colonies, I raised the roof by a frame I made that sits on the crown board, and is ~6cm high. This gives me enough headroom to place some jars of syrup.

I know, I could have used an empty brood box, but I was over enthusiastic and decided to make something specific from scrap wood I had.

Once I stop feeding, would it hurt if I leave this frame between the crown board and roof, if I block the round hole of the inner cover? Essentially it will be an air chamber under the roof. I was thinking it may be beneficial in insulating the hive in summer, and maybe even in winter. ( I get regular temps of over 36°C in summer, and under 6°C in winter nights).

That would be a help Stefan to help with a stable temperature although with that range of temps it’s well within the ‘happy range for bees’. You can add wood shavings, for example, to help further, but if you make it too comfortable I might just move in…:laughing::laughing::laughing:

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Hahhhhaaa… you would have to pay your rent Pete, by being my mentor!!!

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Why are you feeding yr bees ?

I thought they were a bit skinny…

Haha, not really. One of my new colonies is a bit weak, and there’s a bit of a dearth here. My bees rely mostly on natural bush and not much is in flower here. The good people of this forum recommended I should feed… and feeding they are. They are going through half a litre of syrup a week .


I guess Glen is not aware that there is a drought covering 90% of Australia and that honey bees are struggling to survive over huge areas because of a lack of nectar.


Lol that was a great start to a reply

“Thought they looked skinny” brilliant.



air has low thermal conductivity, so the ‘air barrier’ between the crown board and roof you have created is a good thing for stabilising hive temperature. you can further stabilise with wood shavings as mentioned by pete. same principal applies to house

Maybe we need to introduce energy star ratings to bee hives… http://www.nathers.gov.au/


Not a bad thing Fred!

Thanks for your comment, makes sense. Was going to fill with Marri leaves as I have several truck loads and my compost bins can’t keep up.

I think my concern was mainly around moisture control, and that hole in the crown board. If I block it moisture may have nowhere to go, and if I don’t I create a bigger space for bees to air condition.

I don’t have any experience with what to expect with hive moisture and condensation here in the west.

It’s a valid question that @Glen_Rae asks and I wouldn’t really say we’re in a dearth going by what I’m seeing with my colonys. I’m not a fan of feeding as it can give the bees a false economy. You certainly don’t want the few drawn frames in the box to become honey bound or syrup bound so the queen has nowhere to lay but you don’t want them to starve either and my experience is that Jan, before marri time is the dearth time.
Having said that its generally accepted that the bees will leave the syrup if there’s nectar available. Last season I thought a nuc I had was knocking back the syrup however it turned out the syrup was leaking into the box…
Are your bees drawing comb?

I think it is an excellent question and kept thinking about it ever since. I hope that my silly answer didn’t give the impression that I dismissed it. I think I should behave myself and blend-in more on this forum as I might be coming across as a smart ass, while I’m just trying to lighten things up.

I am still trying to figure that out. I have a Wandu on the verge in flower, and that’s about it. I see some calothamnus at the end of their flowering and have some melaleucas in flower but I never see bees on them.

The other day I was next to my hives and I could smell “honey”. I took that as a positive sign, that they are building up stores and there’s a flow.

When I opened the hives it was a different story. One hive, I can see comb being built on my frames, and they are starting to repair the one I stuffed up. Not a lot of progress, but some.

The other hive, they barely built any new comb at all. I cannot tell if they are honey bound or not, but I saw empty cells.

I keep getting this diametrically opposite advice. Feed. Do not feed. Of course, everyone has a very valid point that makes perfect sense, and it is up to me work out what actually is valid in my particular situation at this particular point in time.

I now stopped feeding, hoping the Marris which are budding will bloom soon. My next step is to donate a frame of brood from one new hive to the other weak one. I just want to build enough confidence to make sure the donor hive is strong enough to donate.

I don’t want to screw up the same hive twice, that’s why I’m a bit apprehensive.


Hi Stefan, from my experience, the smell of honey doesn’t necessarily mean a honey flow. It just means that the bees are doing a good job of de-watering the honey they do have. It could also coincide with light to no winds that would normally blow the smell away.

Ignore what anyone says about brood frames being honey bound, with nowhere for the queen to lay eggs. If you get an understanding of what they’re saying in the video “City of Bees” in relation to the relationship between the queen & the rest of the hive, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

I have a short story to illustrate: The other week a bloke offered me a split that, as he thought didn’t make a queen. I accepted the offer & as I was transferring the frames into my box, I noticed the classic arc of honey around completely empty cells where brood normally goes. I said to the bloke this colony might have a queen. I took the frame into more light to discover eggs & very young larvae in the empty cells.

It’s the presence of all those empty cells that the house bees deliberately left empty for the queen to lay eggs in that prompted me to suspect the colony was queen-rite.

Bees just don’t back-fill cells with honey if they want the queen to lay eggs in them. It’s the hives mind that decides how many eggs the queen is to lay & they will feed her accordingly, which is dependent on factors such as size of colony, numbers of nurse bees & available forage for the field bees, as well as the time of season.


I found that when I was feeding my hives (because they were very low on honey stores and there was precious little nectar about) they really went for it but as the nectar came on they left it so I stopped the feeding. I fed for about 8 weeks and never needed to before.Why I began feeding is because there was no uncapped honey, few cells were capped and a heap of dry cells, so to be I simply had no option.
I also boost a split with feeding for a couple of weeks to help them along. It might not be needed but I figure it does no harm.
I understand your apprehension about boosting the weak hive with a frame from the strong hive
but I would be a bit apprehensive not to do it. I don’t have issues with robbing in my apiary, touch wood, and I put that down to all of the hives being strong and about equal in numbers, even though the hives are really close together.

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Thanks Jeff, you are Ah Muzen Cab (look him up if you don’t know him) haha. Sorry promised to behave and already sinned.

I always wondered why a hive would compromise itself and fill cells with honey when they need it for brood.

I have no doubt that is sound advice Peter. I only have a problem with my own judgment about the donor hive’s strength. Maybe it is not yet as strong as I’m thinking it is. I haven’t seen much hives yet to be able to make that judgment. At the end I will bite the bullet and do it, I just need that self confidence.

You missed the point of my question Peter. WHY!!! Every area is different, every hive is different some hives thrive some struggle. Don’t feed because Peter and others are feeding, only feed syrup if yr bees need it to survive and prosper. :slight_smile:

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Hi Stefan, you haven’t sinned at all :slight_smile: I had to look it up.

You’ll have to bite the bullet sooner or later if you’re going to transfer that frame of brood. The more times you do it, the easier it will get. However it doesn’t come without a slight risk. It happens on the odd occasion that the bees can ball & kill a queen just because we look into their hive. Or a queen could drop off the frame onto the ground or get accidentally squashed. But don’t let those possibilities stop you from manipulating the frames in order to boost a weaker colony.


Glen, as I have said already, that is the reason I have fed my hives. Maybe you are not aware of the drought and harsh conditions that is effecting 90% of Australia. So I didn’t miss the point of your question at all, but I accept that if needing to feed a hive exists it is because of the conditions are in at the time that they need more food than is available naturally, and for no other reason.

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