Moisture problems

I an new to beekeeping. I live in the Pacific Northwest. We get 120 inches of rain and winter is long, wet, and cold. Temps are still in the 30’s and it is April 18!
I lost my first hive to moisture problems, but I also learned I made many mistakes. Mistake list

  1. I had the hive opening facing the wrong way.
  2. My hive tilted back and I didnt know it.
  3. I didnt have any ventilation holes or moisture box
  4. Our atea does better with 2 brood boxes going into winter and I had 1.
  5. Going into winter I had 1 brood box and I left 1 honey super on- i am told that is too much space for our cold wet climate…
    I knew my problem was moisture, so I learned about it and made a moisture box. But the question I have is should I use the moisture box. I was talking with a local beekeeper ànd he told me I shouldnt use it because then the bees wont have any water to drink during the winter. He doesnt use vent holes either.But I am afraid if I dont they will die AGAIN! Please, any advice will be greatly appreciated!

Hi Jen, there’s something to be said about seeking advice from a local beekeeper, especially if that beekeeper is successful with his/her bees. How successful is he with his own bees? If he is successful, he would be a good bloke to take advice from.

The thing about following advice from a successful local beekeeper is that we must follow all of his/her advice.

I have never kept bees in a climate such as yours, I’m in a sub-tropical zone. Based on my understanding of bee culture, if I was in a climate like yours, I would also have no added ventilation (as I do now). I like the idea of a downwards facing entrance, so as the keep snow from blocking it, plus reduce cold wind from blowing into it. I also like the idea of heavily insulating the hive, or better still, a bee house.

I think the better insulated a hive is during winter, the less honey a colony will consume in order to keep warm.

A hive mat like we use downunder might be a good thing to keep condensation from dripping onto the bees.

If you insulate the hive lid then the condensation doesn’t drip on the bees , but down the hive walls. This keeps the cluster dry and allows them water to drink.

Fred Dunn has a YouTube channel and lives in PA. he uses 1 deep and 1 medium for the bees with heavily insulated lids/inner cover.

What’s the insulation of choice Karby?

I don’t have enough years under my belt for a definitive answer. Last winter (my first) I used old underlay- it looks like matted hessian and coir. That was on the langstroth and long Lang. The warre was just set up no different.

I have since constructed some lids of different types to see what works best. Most of these are on newly built nuc boxes of different sorts so there are no bees in them yet.

I made two top bar nucs, only one has bees in it. Both lids were made using an internal door, one stuffed with wood shavings and the other with fibre glass. It has a piece of underlay under the lid also. We’ll see how it goes this winter.

The new lid on the langstroth is a wood sandwich with reflective bubble wrap, broccoli box polystyrene and reflective bubble wrap. Covered on top in the tin from an old hws.

For @jenadams , better bee sell an insulated inner cover by bee smart design, that has R-10 rated insulation.

But, like I said, I’m still new and don’t have many years of winter experience yet.

i made a 3" board filled with wood shavings. The bees chewed through a 1 inch hole but the rest has remained in tact for a year, and humidity (in a very high humidity area) seems now to be a non-issue.

Here’s my rough-as-guts moisture quilt. It worked really well but the sawdust went everywhere which was annoying when working with the hive. I left space up one end for the (rapid round) feeder and lined the mesh end with an old tea towel and put the sawdust on top. This time I’m going to make a ‘sawdust pillow’ with the towel so it doesn’t spew out everywhere when I take off the inner cover.

The wood sandwich looks interesting. I looked at it on Fred Dunn’s Q&A session where he showed a drawing of it. I couldn’t tell if the polystyrene layer was above or below the inner cover? It looks like it’ll do the trick though. I’d like to give it a try on my only single brood box hive as it might feel the cold this year and has had chalkbrood.

I used a tea towel for the base of my warre quilt and the bees ate through it pretty quick. Now I am using hessian.

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