Ventilation of Flow Hive 2

I was gifted a Flow Hive 2 for Xmas and have become a new BEEK. I built the FH2 and painted the outside with one coat of water based primer, then two coats of water based outdoor latex paint. I added a vertical slatted rack just above the base and a Ceracell top feeder after I cut it down to fit under the FH2 roof. I live in Denver, Colorado, a semi-arid high-desert climate with an average of only 18 inches or rain per year, but the local beekeepers, none of which own Flow Hives, said I was going to have ventilation issues given the tight fitting non-ventilated roof. They suggested the vertical slatted rack to improve ventilation in the base but could not say what to do with roof other than use a standard Langstrom roof until using the flow hive super.

While we have a bit more rain this spring than normal, my FH2 has been a ventilation nightmare. After only 2 weeks I found water pooled on the inner cover and dripping from inside of the roof. The inner cover swelled and had to pried out of the roof. I literally fell apart. I rebuilt it with better quality glue and cross brad nailing in every corner and it has remained stable enough since. I had to router out the center hole because the wood plug or inner cover wood swelled so much it no longer fit. I then drilled two 1" holes adjacent to the center hole and covered them with rotating entrance reducers/screens. I consulted Flow Hive and followed their video for drilling three 1" holes in the roof eaves that I covered with wire mesh or rotating entrance reducers/screens.

It has been nearly 5 more weeks and I continue to find dampness on the inner cover (no wood center plug and both 1" vents open) directly above the Ceracell top feeder and condensation on the inside of the roof. The roof crown board is now warping and has split the paint on both sides as it obviously is taking on moisture and pulling away. I suspect the Flow Hive Australian araucaria wood may have not been properly dried.

I will be adding my Flow Super this weekend and removing Ceracell top feeder. I will plug the FH standard inner cover hole and leave he two 1" holes in the screened position. If I find too much condensation again, I will open the inner cover center hole and cover it with wire mesh.

I have a BroodMinder electronic monitoring system with a total hive scale + outside temp sensor, lower brood box temp sensor, and upper brood box temp + humidity sensor. The lower brood box is very steady at 96F degrees but the upper brood box varies significantly with the outside temp between 77 and 92F. Humidity stays in BroodMinder normal range of 50-75% so I simply can’t see the reason for all the condensation under the roof. I am so desperate that I bought a conventional Langstroth hive cover that I now plan to use whenever the flow supers are not on the hive. I do plan to build or buy a vented quilt box for the winter along with a candy board, but there is only so much one can do with adding ventilation to the standard Flow Hive 2.

Anyone have any comments or suggestions?

I had a similar issue so I built a moisture quilt. You can look it up on line, but it is effectively a shallow box filled with insulation. I built a wooden box about 3 inches deep and filled it with chicken ‘bedding’ wood shavings. The underneath is fabric and i sealed it with a hardboard cover on top. I don’t use the standard top cover and I have never had any condensation issues since then. In fact, put ‘moisture quilt’ in this forum’s search function and you will see various options, including pictures

I can tell you what works for me down under. I use slatted racks, solid floors, reduced entrances, migratory lids & hive mats, with NO added ventilation. I have no trouble with excess moisture in any of my 60 odd hives.

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What is migratory lid or hive mats?

I think I will make a quilt box and add it to the hive once I remove the flow super unless the condensation continues with the flow supper.

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Hi Lester, we made this video a few years ago showing the hive mat as well as a migratory lid.

The video doesn’t show it, however the the rim of the lid sits on top of the super, not around it, as in a telescoping roof. The roof in the video shows vents which are sealed with propolis, which I keep that way all year. Plus the roofs are completely water tight. The bees propolize the lid where it joins to the super.

The roofs that I make myself are made without vents. The roofs have a tin lid, which is painted white.

Is the excess humidity due to your syrup feeder? Or is there still an issue with the feeder removed?

That’s a great tip! Jeff!

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Thank you Paul. I like vinyl mats for the reasons I stated on this thread.

I see & I love that you are eager to learn. I promote this video to anyone that will listen. The 20 odd minute video answers a lot of questions that new beekeepers might have, and more. The video on Youtube is “City of the Bees”. Another good video is “Nova, Bees Tales from a Hive”.

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Thanks Jeff. I’ll have a look.

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