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Why are some hives "wet"?

“Most apiaries usually contain a number of ‘wet’ hives. These
consistently have high amounts of moisture, irrespective of
any type of ventilation, when most other hives are dry.”

Goodman, Russell & Kaczynski, Peter (2015), Australian Beekeeping Guide. RIRDC, Section 9, p. 68: https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/downloads/14-098

Tapping into the worldwide expertise of this forum, does anyone have any ideas as to why this is the case?

Never heard that. All mine are quite dry


The authors’ observations that the wet hives exist “irrespective of any type of ventilation” are most intriguing.
This could be one reason why there is debate amongst beekeepers about ventilation (migratory lids with or without ventilation for example) because these wet hives could cause odd results in their experimentation.
The longer I live the more I realise I/we don’t know.

I looked at your link. It does say what you have reported but there is no qualification. How many apiaries did they sample? That would be s good start


Stop reading stuff on the internet, Dan. :laughing:


You know @Dee, that is a very good point. Plus sometimes, even when you examine data, the interpretation can be very skewed.

I have in mind the www.beeinformed.org database. It is very valuable, and in fact much of the time, it is all we have. However, compared with clinical research studies, it is woefully lacking and full of bias. When you want to ask a question in medicine, you have to carefully design a study to gather all datapoints on every case, and preferably randomize cases to one intervention, or another, or nothing. If you merely look back at old data, that is a retrospective analysis, and is considered very low quality.

Some beekeepers like Randy Oliver, among others in the academic community, are doing much better designed studies, but they are in the minority and not widely quoted. I am very cautious about taking anecdotal, case-study information as reliable. Of course, my own experience is anecdotal and mostly case-study data for bees, but if somebody comes up with a really well-designed experiment that answers a question, I will consider changing my practice, if the new data tells me to do something better. Just a rambling thought from an old, evidence-based physician. :blush:


Hi Ed…you mean internet stuff like the flow forum?:grin:

Funny looking internet we have down under… They are size 14 US by the way :slight_smile: Perhaps only Australia has these wet hives? I have seen half a cup of water on the corflute once with no obvious explanation, but unlike others on the forum I have absolutely not enough experience and evidence to be add much of any use of course.
On reflection, I guess almost everything on this forum is anecdotal or case study -I don’t dismiss it but don’t necessarily take it as fact of course.
Edit; Dee- one purpose of the book is stated as being part of the RIRDC Honeybee R and D programme which aims to improve the productivity and profitability of the Australian beekeeping industry. It, “draws on knowledge and experience of apiculture scientists, various state and territory apiary inspectors and apiary officers, and most importantly, the many beekeepers who enjoy keeping bees”. If it is the case that what they are saying about “wet hives” is true, I find this incredibly interesting and would love to read scientific evidence as to why this is the case to, “solve the riddle”.


A hive can be very wet at the end of the day while honey is coming in. By the next morning it’s dry again. This is what I have noticed with my observation hive.


Hi Jeff, I guess one aspect of the flow hive, like an observation hive, is with the two windows it means you see the moisture much more. You could look at it every hour! Also the sliding corflute on the bottom means it is easy to slide that out and see any moisture on it as well. The observations of flow hive owners about condensation on the windows is evidence of how easy it is for them to spot the moisture.

Hi Dan, that’s a good point, however moisture in a hive is just a fact of life, something you never really have to monitor.

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about the flow hive roofs, it is a bit off subject but kind of on subject. The vinyl mats I use seems to help with condensation, however I was thinking that if flow hivers converted their roofs to migratory lids (keeping the same roof), instead of telescoping & used vinyl mats, removing the crown board, there would be way less problems in strong winds.

The bees will propolize the lid to the honey super, which they can’t do normally because of the crown board in the way.

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I like your thoughts on the lid. It would need some modification on the base of it. I guess if the winds are strong before the bees get a chance to propolise and the wind takes the roof off, then the hive is exposed - but for the mat. At present as the inner cover is generally propolised anyhow, if the roof takes off, there is a cover of sorts still on the hive. I like the look of the flow roof, but you’ve made me realise that if I really want to keep looking at it, I can simply put it over the top of a migratory lid which I have anyhow. Just get rid of the inner cover I suppose. The flow roof should then fit without modification. I’ll try that tomorrow. I have another plan for the flow roof which I haven’t had a chance to do yet, but hope to soon.
I know you don’t use migratory lids with ventilation holes - I’m going to post another curly question regarding that subject shortly! :anguished:
Edit: I’ve just researched a bit on the authors of that book. Russell Goodman has an amazing credentials…
Peter Kaczynski apparently came out of retirement as a preemptive move to fight against the arrival of the Varroa mite and has been a Senior Apiary officer in Victoria as far as I know. I can find one of his co-authored books going back to 1991…

Hi Dan, it would just need some wood nailed under the roof so that the roof sits on the super so that when you prize it off with a hive tool, it doesn’t damage the roof. The roof will only need holding down for a short period until the bees propolize it down. After that, whenever you remove the lid & replace it, it is virtually wind proof straight away. I always push them down a bit. If I ever want to lift it again, I always need my hive tool. That’s how good they stick down.

I don’t use ventilated lids as a rule. I do have some ventilated lids, however the bees always propolize the vents over. Vented lids are mainly for shifting hives, I could be wrong, but that’s how I understand it to be.

For stationary hives like mine are, there is no need for vented lids.


Hi Jeff - I tried today regarding my above idea but the metal top of the migratory lid prevented the flow roof from telescoping over it - but only by a mm or so. Without the metal top it would be fine. My current thought is that the roof shape of the flow roof with just a vinyl mat and even carpet might be too “airy” in Tasmania. I’m currently investigating the issue of the ventilation holes in Tasmania and will report in due course - not that my findings here will have too much relevance where you are!

I haven’t actually heard of any flow roof flying off? iv’e seen entire hives knocked over- and hives flooded and carried away- but not just the roof flying off. One thing: the hoop pine version is way heavier than the cedar one. The roof is quite solid and fits snugly over the inner cover meaning it would be highly unlikely to get blown off. My mum has the lighter cedar one and hers has survived some very windy storms A OK. But without maintenance hers would be quite leaky and poor at insulation by now (it’s been upgraded/strengthened).

My hoop pine hives have been through some pretty big storms- and came through fine. Though after one storm I did see that there was water inside the roof on top of the inner cover. The winds and rain were so strong it pushed water through the cracks between the roof panels. After that I took the roof off and added a layer of flashing under the panels- I also insulated it- and added some extra screws.

Hi Jack- I have had mine blow off but only once. Cedar roof. Tassie is in the roaring 40’s so we can really cop it. We have had many occasions over the years where you feel the house shake. Because the inner cover is reasonably quickly propolised it is not a big deal unless it is also raining heavily. My roof will not leak, warp or open up because of the silicone adhesive I have used. I’m working on a “solution” to the blowing off aspect that does not involve straps, ropes, bricks, latches or such things. I just need more time and won’t give anything away as yet…

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I can only think of one place you could be sitting to get that picture :neutral_face:

I keep plenty of bee books in my “office” as well. lol


@Dan2 @JeffH I know your posts date back to last year but my thinking is that a hive must have more humidity than what is ambient outside the hive because of the bees evaporating off the water in the nectar and if there is little flow through ventilation it then condenses to water.
I agree with Jeff that by mid morning the hive should be drier but in high humidity the hive may well be termed still wet, but that is something that we have no control over, maybe we shouldn’t either, it might be a part of the cycle of life for bees.

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Hi Peter, it seems that some hives are wetter than others. I have some new lids that I made. I used some ply that I salvaged from a wardrobe that someone dumped next to the gate where my bees are. Being internal ply, it delaminates very quickly once wet. The ply under one lid is delaminating while with other lids the ply still looks fine.

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