Hive insulation

I’ve been thinking on adding some insulation in the flow hive roof space.

My winters go down to low single digit centigrade and summers as high as 40c and above. Windy all year round often 40km/hr up to 70km/hr recorded on my weather station.

My hive used to be in the shade but now it will be in full sun most of the day.

I have some aluminum foil bubble wrap that I am going to staple under the shingles.

I am also putting some 30mm cork tiles on top of the inner cover.

My question is should I block the round feeding hole of the cover? I read somewhere that hole helps excessive moisture get out from the center of the hive where most bees are. Or is it wise to put the cork on some feet so I won’t block the hole?

Should I also use a hive mat on top of the flow frames?

Last question, should this insulation be kept in place all year round?

I would. Think about a colony in a hollow tree. It has much more insulation than a hive, and has it year round. That is what bees evolved to live with.

The other questions you had, I would say it is up to you. Perhaps try it, see if you like it, and change it if you don’t. :blush:


With that sort of temperature range it reminds me of when I had hives in the Mudgee area in NSW with -8C was common on Winter nights.
I like your idea of insulating the hive both for Winter and Summer. I would even think of putting a vent into the roof at the front and rear. I use the ones that used to be in a kitchen cupboard, about 30mm dia. I was told the bees would block them up to cut out the air draft but after a year that hasn’t happened.
So to your questions, I would put a mat over the flow super frames and keep the feeder hole open for better air flow and to cut down moisture build up. I figure the colony would benefit from being insulated all year round both from the heat and cold. An idea, put the cork mat down on the inner cover and cut out a hole in the cork tiles.


You shouof have a look at mannlake.They sell hive covers.
With regards Lars Kjærsgaard

I have scrubbed 3 attempts to answer this.
Finally I have settled on couple of points.

  1. After you have read all the comments in this forum on insulation you will just have to do what you are happy with. However you will need to monitor temperature and humidity closely especially in Winter. A lot of hives have drowned (I near lost one) due to condensation. There is a lot in the forum of how to overcome water in the hive from condensation.
  2. You say the hive will no longer have any shade. In Summer please provide shade in the afternoon from midday on. While official temperatures may be giving 40 deg C the sun on that hive will put the bees in overdrive trying to keep the temperatures down. If they can’t keep the temp down they will exit the hive
    and it could rise to over 60 + deg C and even melt the wax. Shade cloth in the high numbers will do fine.

or rather the bees are happy with.

I get a bit of conflicting info, sometimes from the same people on the same topic of ventilation, so I guess I have to monitor closely and only do gradual changes.

I have a tree in front of the hives that I’m hoping it will provide some shade in the afternoon in summer. Not sure yet. Having said that, I see hives with zero shade down the road from me, and I assume they are doing ok.

Think condensation! If condensation drips down on your hive and inner cover then you have a chance to freeze your bees. My bees get 5 months of winter and I use a Vivaldi inner cover which has burlap on top of food. The burlap wicks out moisture. This link explains it.

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A funny thing about bee keepers, you can ask 10 of them the same question and get at least a dozen different answers.:thinking::wink:

I generally don’t like additional ventilation. However, if you have water condensing and pooling on the coreflute slider, that is bad for the bees to be walking in. They don’t like it. That is why I suggested leaving it out for a couple of days. I would definitely put it back after that though. :blush:

I am not into roof ventilation at all. It shouldn’t be necessary unless you are transporting a locked up hive on a hot day. However, if you want to try it on a fixed location hive and expand your experience, it won’t kill your bees for a week or so.

I fully support people learning about what is best for them and the way they do things. My way may not work for you. Our climates are different, our forage is different, our bees are somewhat different, our pests are different. I can offer logic, but you have to develop your own experience. That is always the way with beekeeping and managing livestock generally. I am happy to advise based on what works for me, but you have to decide what is best for you, and I am supportive of that. :blush:


Haha… that’s true in every topic Peter, not just beekeeping, and is perfectly normal.

That sums it up nicely Dawn. I have no doubt in my head that all advice above, and in other threads from all the posters is correct and relevant.

I am a bit cautious because I’m going from a hive in the shade with no insulation and a 6-hole vented frame on top similar to the vivaldi that @Martha mentioned but no burlap (and if success is measured with honey, I had copious amounts)… to a hive in the sun with insulation and no ventilation.

The reality is that I work, and may not check the hive every day, only weekends and want to make sure I won’t let any problem get out of hand. Build up of moisture I can see, but excessive heat may not be as easy. Ok, I see them fanning in the entrance, but how much is too much?

Hopefully now having two hives instead of one, will help me compare.

Then there is is the added complexity if also having an entrance reducer which I didn’t have on the first hive, to mitigate robbing which I noticed several times… and keep the likelihood of pests to a minimum as the new location is a bit more wild.

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On the subject of hive insulation. The better insulated a hive is, the easier it is for bees to maintain the internal hive temperature. For example: I believe that wooden boxes would provide better insulation than plastic boxes. I recon that poly hives would be better insulated than wooden boxes. That insulation also applies to roofs & floors of hives.

I think a good test of how well insulated a hive box is would be to see if the bees produce brood right up to the outside frame closest to the wall of a brood box.

I noticed that bees build comb under the roof of a cool lid, but they don’t build comb under the roof of a hot lid.

With my native bees: I have a perspex lid. On top of that another moderately insulated lid. During summer the bees produce brood right up to under the perspex. During winter, they don’t come up so high. They add an extra layer of their own insulation over the brood. Then as soon as it warms up, back to summer mode.


When I think heating or cooling I think energy.
Bees like to keep the hive around 32-35 deg C. If it is colder they have to expend energy to heat the hive and similarly if its hot they will cool it, but it comes at cost of resources ie. honey (in my house money :money_mouth_face:).
The hives down the road may do OK in a week of above 40 deg C :hot_face:but they will not do as well as a hive which has afternoon shade on those 40 deg days :slightly_smiling_face:.

I think what you are doing is great.


Was just thinking you could modify this slightly to avoid having vent holes.
When I was a boy (not so long ago) we had what was called a coolgardie safe. Every country/ places had variations of this. You had a box framed on 4 sides with hesian or burlap with a water container on top (with ice sometimes) and wicks from the water to the sides.

The water wicked down would spread on the sides and cool the interior and meat butter etc by evaporation of the water (latent heat).

Now if your burlap was to extend over the sides of the hive, it could use the burlap to wick the condensation water out and it would either drip down outside the hive in Winter or evaporate and cool in Summer.

The burlap would also provide a gasket for those not so tight fitting boxes.

Just thinking outloud :upside_down_face:

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A young kid like you knowing about a Coolgardie Safe, guess your grand-dad told you about them, yeah, right.:grin::wink:

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Yes times were tough in a little coal mining town after WW2. The year before I went to High School we got a Frigidaire and my Mother was in over the moon.

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I remember my dad buying a kerosene fridge, it was a weekly chore to fill the tank and trim the wick. Now it is all press button and programming, but I’m not sure the new stuff is better.
Cheers Wilfred.

To elaborate upon which I neglected. The vivialdi inner covers are good in winter and summer due to the air circulation.

whilst I get your thinking I am not sure if it suits all environments. Here in South Australia moisture is an issue in hives over winter. Some beekeeprs have ventilated lids, some place small spacers in the lid to keep it slightly ajar over winter. Most tilt hives forwards so that any water runs out the entrance.

This is why I am considering using quilt boxes- as I believe insulation is good for our chilly nights- but also feel we need some kind of ventilation to try and keep things dryer. I have read that bees can tolerate cold better they can tolerate dampness- and than makes sense to me.

I also liek the idea of allowing the bees to go into the roof during spring- and leaving the hole open as a kind of ‘check valve’. When the bees start building comb in the roof it’s a sign they are running out of room and need more space.

So I am not sure i’d want to cover the hole in my inner covers.

then again the flow hives are screened bottom and anther strategy is to leave the bottom open over winter but seal and insulate the roof. That method is described here:

I am not sure what is best- and I normally put the corflute into the upper slot over winter- over the coming years I may want to try both methods to determine what works best here.


I think quilt boxes are a brilliant idea, but they go underneath the inner cover. So I would still close the hole in the inner cover. Having said that, your experience is what you need for your bees. My experience may not work properly for you. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Yes great article especially with the discussions above.
I think the quilt box is something I will do also. Condensation in my hives in Winter has been a constant concern.
Jeff has also made mention of the air flows in the hive pretty much as in the article.