Bee adaptations to hive vents

These are a few of the changes 2 of my hives made to the vents in the hive roof. One of the metal vents is now missing but was attached when it was on the hive. I changed the vented roof out for Moisture quilts about 4-5 weeks ago.!


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Hiya Kirsten, if the mesh was on the inside I’d suggest mice however it’s obviously not so, well wow, I wonder what their logic is? It would seem they really want a top entrance… Or exit.
All the vents on the ones here have the mesh on the inside and are now all propolized up.

They do have a top entrance…Both hives did all 4 vents, each was at a slightly different angle. I thought perhaps actual attempt to alter air flow? For some reason images are not all coming up. I’ll try & resize again, but here is one more, up the right way now, (as was on hive)

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My guess is it could be that because they can’t (for some reason) seal mesh when it is on the outside, even though they want to (but can do when it is on the inside), that this is some sort of failed attempt to plug the hole? Eventually with enough work they would seal it over I suppose. I do see it does look aerodynamic.

Mine block them up sometimes and open them at others. They will adapt their hive to the conditions. Interesting to watch though.


Same thing here Kirsten, I left the metal mesh vent off by accident and several weeks later it looks exactly like your photo, they really don’t like the vents in the roof. All my other hives have had the mesh holes completely sealed up with propolis, its all about the airflow within the hive and these vents interfere with that flow.


I’m super confused about ventilation… originally my plan was to have no upper ventilation- as I have screened bottoms. The idea is to have insulated roofs and an open bottom. However in winter I found too much condensation within my hives- so I ended up uncovering the holes on my inner covers to allow ventilation into the roof cavity- and having my coreflute in the bottom slot. That seems to have worked OK- reducing condensation in the hive. However now my roof spaces are a bit damp- and I think I’ll have to put ventilation holes into the roof. I never wanted to do this as it seems like it would create a chimney affect and the hive would lose heat which the bees would have to work harder to keep warm…

I know some people have solid bottoms- with no upper ventilation- and really only ventilation through the entrances. It seems to me in my climate such a hive would become very damp and mouldy in winter…

Now I’m thinking quilted covers may be the answer for my climate- allowing airflow through the roof but minimising heat loss…

This year I saw some mould in my hives- is this normal over winter or a sign of a ventilation problem?

HI Jack, I had lots of wetness in the carpet above the vinyl mat and water all over the underside of the roof - despite 4 ventilation holes. That surprised me. I’m now moving to unventilated but thicker roofs and as an experiment I am putting a thick blanket over the top of the hive. No extra ventilation underneath, just the entrance. I’m not using the Flow roof at the moment. We keep getting frosts, but with all the nectar and pollen around the bees seem not concerned with the cold days. Have you been feeding sugar syrup at all over winter?

I didn’t feed my bees once over winter- and they were out and about at least 70% of the time- bringing in pollen all winter. I had drones in the hives all winter too. I have a feeling when I inspect them soon I am going to find large stores of honey in all my brood boxes… It’s still a week before spring officially ‘springs’ but my bees have half filled their flow frames over the least 3 weeks or so- there is some kind of flow on. In Adelaide we never really get any frost to speak of- in the hills they get a little but not like you would have in tassie.

In my long hive I put a blanket over the inner covers to increase insulation- but I found it was getting damp and mouldy (and ants decided it was a nice warm place) so I took it out. I also added extra insulation to all my flow roofs- but I have some dampness in them too- though no breather holes.

from what I understand most beekeepers in Adelaide use solid bottoms and migratory covers. In winter they either have ventilated roofs- or they prop them up a little with matches or similar.


It sounds like it would be worth trying Moisture Quilts. They do work. When I removed these lids to put the MQ on they were both very damp, one was wet.


I wonder if I could just modify the existing flow inner cover into a type of moisture quilt - by adding some timber to the edges to make a trough I can fill with wood shaving or something?

Add a decent amount of proper insulation and your hive will remain dry. 50mm of that foil backed house insulation on top of the crown board

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Hi Dee -I hoped you would help as I had a feeling you had this issue under control. Do you have in mind something 50mm thick with a fibre filling (wool/fiberglass or the like) with foil on the outside(s)? I haven’t seen anything like that here exactly. Houses are wrapped in just the foil although I saw something similar to what you might be describing that went under a colourbond roof, but perhaps only 20-30mm thick. Thanks.

What type of ventilation do you have with that? Screened bottom? Top vents? Just entrance?

I made mine from Ideals plus calico & Allocasuarina shavings. I can post pic if you like? Took about an hour all up including putting in vent holes which are placed in long sides of boxes approx 2/3 from bottom edge so that they are above level of shavings. There are so many plans, e.g’s online & good old Rusty Burlew’s site has lots on this subject worth reading…
The base of your MQ needs to be permeable as the air flows up through it, condensates on the surface above the shavings & collects on the shavings at the top. Below explains process. Sorry if a bit incoherent, am writing while watching La Vuelta Espana

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not Dee…but I have my Nuc that I overwintered externally insulated with 30mm foil sided (both) polystyrene insulation & roof is also insulated between 2 thick pieces of timber. It’s the highest R value available for this sort of insulation. I also have wool insulation in the gable roof on my other hives, which is what I was using without the MQ & still had issues with condensation. So, as always it’s probably a matter of experimenting with your hives to see what works? Each one of my 4 hives has responded to a slightly different configuration.
The gable roof I use is enclosed ie. Gable not open to hive, so it has an ‘attic’ which I insulate.

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I think @Dee means the sort of high-density polystyrene foam (styrofoam) sheets which are used in roofing etc. Sort of like this stuff, but with foil on the outside:

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This is the stuff

No top ventilation at all.
Mesh floor open all winter. With the Flow you would have to take the corflute right out.
I have an issue with the corflute in the top position. The bees can’t keep the floor of their hive clean because they can’t reach the debris. You might as well have a solid floor which they will keep scrupulously clean. The top insulation works just as well with a solid floor

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I think you have to experiment with what works for you. I have no top opening in crown board or roof so I have no airflow to escape into a moisture quilt. The underside of the crown board stays warmed by the bees because it is insulated. Dew point is never exceeded so there is never any condensation. My crown boards are made of see through polycarbonate so that I can take a peek if needed without disturbing the bees


Not so in my Flow hive. With the slider in the top position, it touches the wire mesh, and the bees keep it pristine clean. With it in the lower slot, it is a mess within a week, and a breeding spot for ants and wax moths. :blush:

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