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Setting up new hive - ventilation

I just sold my Flow Hive, but am setting up a new one in a new location. I will be doing some things differently from the lessons I learned.

In the old one, which was the original version on Indigogo, there were no vent holes in the lid.

I made up a frame with six 1" holes that I placed between the lid and the inner cover. It seemed like it worked well. I am in Perth with very hot summers and mild winters though it goes down 3 or 5 dec Celcius at night in winter occasionally. I left the ventilation frame all year round.

The new hive I bought (second hand but unused) seems to be a newer Flow 1 model, with the Flow logo drilled out for ventilation.

My question is, is my ventilation frame overkill? Will the ventilation holes in the new lid be sufficient, or maybe drill another hole on the other end?

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They should be enough. In my experience, generally roof ventilation is not as important as roof insulation (for heat and for cold). I would rather put some roofing insulation foam in the hive lid, than drill more holes. The bees will fan very efficiently and cool the hive well if they have a source of water nearby. Fanning will also get rid of excess moisture - if they weren’t really good at that, honey would never ripen to the 18% water or less that we like to see for shelf stability. :blush:


Thanks Dawn.

It does get over 38-40deg Celsius in summer hence my concern.

Insulation plus paint the roof white, and have water near the hive is the answer to your concern. :wink: @JeffH has some beautiful video of bees fanning inside a hot observation hive. You can see them lining up with each other to direct the airflow effectively. That is why hives sound like air-conditioning units on hot summer days - they are air-conditioning units! :blush:

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Hi, I endorse all @Dawn_SD has posted.

has a lot of good stuff on this subject. Just need to wade through it or go to the search box, top right corner, “ventilation Perth”

While not getting to those temps that Perth experiences, in Busso like Perth ventilation becomes more of a problem in Winter than Summer. Our dry heat is easily handled by the bees by fanning and if that is not working the hive sends bees outside to “hang around” (bearding) till it cools down.
The humid and wet conditions in Winter can cause condensation to the point of flooding the hive if not corrected. For help on the search “condensation”


Hive is already painted white, and I have a pond so water is not an issue.

I read a lot on insulated hives but those are double wall plastic. I can see the benefits there. Putting insulation in the roof space may trap heat inside because heat travels upwards? Good for winter not summer.

I’m guessing that if I can fix some insulation under the shingles that will work well because warm air can still escape from vents, but reduces the heat through the roof … though I think a lot of heat gets through the hive walls more than the roof.

My old hive was under trees and exposed to a lot of wind. The new location is in full sun and sheltered from wind a bit more.

Most WA and Perth Beekeepers run traditional Lang’s with solid bottom boards and migratory lids with 2-4 25mm holes. I think you maybe over thinking the ventilation. With a screened bottom board and the holes in the roof I reckon you will be fine. Like the others I would suggest insulation to reduce heat transfer in/out summer/winter respectively.

Yes hive wall thickness plays a role in temp transfer too, but 21mm is a bit of a sweet spot for cost of production. I’ve got 42mm thick long Lang’s and a friend made one with 75mm. They don’t have the same temperature pressures as the traditional Lang. If you are worried about summer temps look at some midday afternoon shade.



That is true for an empty box. However, for a hive full of bees which are actively fanning, the truth is quite different. If you ever get a hive thermometer, you will see exactly that. :blush:


Once we get an understanding of how the bees “air condition” the hive, then we will completely forget about hot air getting trapped in various places.

Bees air condition their hives, the same as domestic or commercial air conditioners work to cool houses & shopping centers etc.

On the subject of ventilation: extra ventilation works against domestic or commercial air conditioners. Therefore it would also work against the bees.

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Not exactly sure what you mean there Jeff.

The way I read hive cooling works is that bees get water and transfer it from one to another, it evaporates, which is aided by fanning. They fan at the entrance to get the air circulating.

I guess the need of ventilation varies to a degree by geographical location, and the micro climate to a certain extent.

One of the bee keeping courses I attended a couple of years ago, a local senior beekeeper pointed out that the Flow Hive (it was version 1 back then, with no vents) needed some vents in the lid here in Perth. That’s why I made the vented frame.

Where I live, I am surrounded by large boulders and it is always 2-5 degrees warmer than the surrounding suburbs because of the heat they reflect.

Anyway… I will be putting some insulation under the shingles (thanks for the advice @Dawn_SD). I have some silver lined bubble wrap that I’ll be using.

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Just be sure to keep an eye on condensation in Winter.

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Actually I was wondering about condensation. Goes back to ventilation.

If I staple the insulation to the roof, it won’t be easy to check for condensation. I might be creating a problem for a non existent problem with insulation, at least here in Perth.

The air conditioning starts at the entrance, by fanning, as you say. However that fanning continues right throughout the hive by bees co-operating as a team to circulate the air in from one side of the entrance & out at the other side. The bees deposit the water in strategic spots so that the draft of air evaporates it. The draft of air created by the bees also dewaters the honey in the comb before they cap it.

With respect to your local senior beekeeper, I can’t agree that a hive needs top ventilation.

By all means, insulate the hive. That will make the bees job of cooling the hive easier. Conversely, easier for the bees to keep a hive warm.

Thanks Jeff, I will definitely keep what you said in mind.

Conflicting advice from local apiarist is a bit confusing though.

I’m in your area and agree with Jeff regarding ventilation, not so much about his aircon processes.
The process of using water evaporation increases the air humidity and would then be inadequate for removing moisture from honey.
No doubt they do cool the hive but the process is far more complicated than just evaporative cooling.
As for ventilation, my hives are in full sun and more often than not the vents in the migratory cover are propolized so it would seem that they’re not required. None of the feral colonys on my block have upper ventilation in the trees, one entrance and exit. Loads more insulation though.
I have added insulation in the lid which appears to work well.

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If you don’t agree with me, it’s my fault for not explaining it properly. Let’s put it this way: I agree with & accept how they explain hive air conditioning in the video “City of Bees”.

As far as bees evaporating honey through air movement in the hive. I read that in “The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture”. I agree with their explanation.

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Yep Jeff have watched city of bees (hallelujah :smirk:) but haven’t been able to get my hands on the abc book, hoping to fluke one at the markets or garage sale.:grin: The air patterns demonstrated in COB’s only shows the entering and exiting air and it would be interesting to see what the air in/air out humidity and temps are. I’ll put it into my to do list. :wink:
Yes they must condition the air and dewater their honey with air circulation. The ability to do both at the same time indicates different circulation patterns which adds complexity as they are humidifying and dehumidifying in the same space. As we know warm humid air rises and the honey is in the top box yet this is where the dehumidifying takes place.
If the ABC book explains this then I’d be interested to see how it’s done.

Just Google The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture Hardcover

by A.I. Root (Author)

There are quite a few second hand for sale. Mind you the price has gone up since I bought mine but Amazon have hardcovers from US$26 +post. eBay seems most expensive.

Don’t Spend too much time wondering how the bees humidify as well as dehumidify at the same time. I understand your reasoning. It’s fortunate that the bees have the night hours, during which time nothing comes into the hive. There would be no humidifying taking place, only dehumidifying. Apparently the flow of air in at the same time as the flow of air out, as in the video is more evident during the night. The sound would be like how @Dawn_SD describes, like an air conditioning unit.

In recent years I’m keener to rob the bees during the early morning rather than late afternoon, because any uncapped cells will contain riper honey early morning than it would be during the late afternoon.


For what it is worth I have put plastic vents in each end of my migratory lids(roofs) and over the Summer (not as hot as Perth) it made a difference in reducing bearding which I had from late afternoon into the evenings. I was told the bees would plug up the vents but that didn’t happen in my location.
So I figure more bees were able to forage instead of air-conditioning the hives in the Summer, now with my very mild Winter the vents are still open for ventilation of the hive so for my sub-tropical climate I regard the vents as a good thing all year round. I accept the arguments for and against extra ventilation and that insulation should be considered in good hive management.