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greenelephant 

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I am sorry if this is a very silly idea. But just a just question everybody. I am a novice bee-keeper and I thinking of rearing bees for myself very soon. However in winter the problems I can think of is not only the cold but the damp which might get inside the hives and cause disease in the hive. As a beginner I have no solid experience of keeping bees but I was thinking of using small amounts of potassium hydroxide sealed by a wire mesh stopping bees access to it to combat dampness in winter to stop disease. Is this OK or a very insane idea. If so what does everyone here do to monitor bee health during the winter months?

thanks

P.S. Im aware keeping natural dessicant may be irrelevant but I'd like to know is it safe to use some around bees?
 

Hivemaker. 

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What disease exactly did you have in mind?

And no it does not sound like a good idea to me..
 

Skyhook 

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I'm another newbie, but scavenging information as fast as I can. I understand a lot of experienced beekeepers think that damp is worse than cold, and for this reason either leave mesh floors open all winter, or prop the crownboard up eg on matchsticks, or both, to increase ventilation, and reckon this deals with the problem.
 

mulholl 

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greenelephant,

Using potassium hydroxide (KOH) as a dessicant sounds like a bad idea for a number of reasons:

1. The chemical adsorbs about 80% of it's starting weight in water (121g KOH will dissolve about 100 mls water). I imagine you would therefore need to replace it regularly to be of use.

2. The potassium hydroxide is deliquescent - exposure to water in the atmosphere results in the solid KOH turning into a very concentrated liquid solution, called ley, which would require careful handling (e.g. gloves, protective clothing, and most importantly eye protection).

3. A container for the for this would need to keep bees out (e.g. a mesh) and contain the potassium ley, possibly using a plastic container. This would be difficult to get right, but could be done I suppose.

4. Disposal of the potassium ley. This would be a challange, not only from a safety point of view, but environmentally and in terms of infrastructure (can your drains last out after repeated assualt from ley even if diluted?).


Sorry this sounds so negative, but if you start using strong acids or bases these are the kind of things you need to consider.


Best wishes,
Vince

By the way I do not keep bees, just a scientist with an interest in bee health.
 
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MuswellMetro 

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I am sorry if this is a very silly idea. But just a just question everybody. I am a novice bee-keeper and I thinking of rearing bees for myself very soon. However in winter the problems I can think of is not only the cold but the damp which might get inside the hives and cause disease in the hive. As a beginner I have no solid experience of keeping bees but I was thinking of using small amounts of potassium hydroxide sealed by a wire mesh stopping bees access to it to combat dampness in winter to stop disease. Is this OK or a very insane idea. If so what does everyone here do to monitor bee health during the winter months?

thanks

P.S. Im aware keeping natural dessicant may be irrelevant but I'd like to know is it safe to use some around bees?

First Greenelephant, Can i welcome you to the Forum, and also for asking the question, this forum is built on questions

Like others, my veiw is that using dessicants is not practical.

In late february when the Queen starts re laying the brrod area is going to be about 35c and the outside temperature perhaps minus 5c over night. the bees are breaking down Honey/sugar into water and CO2 to provide the engery to heat up the brood...condensation runs down the cold internal face of the hives external walls and roof..easiest solution better insulation, extra ventalation or a poly hive
 

Poly Hive 

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Using matchsticks to keep the hive dry makes me shudder.

Would you prop up your roof over winter?

Thought not.

Try some insulation on top of them instead, they rather like it.

PH
 

plumberman 

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What sorts/thicknesses of insulation do people use? And please do not mention K***Sp** in my hearing:banghead:
On the assumption that you mean Kingspan /Celotex - why not?
 

darrenperrett 

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What sorts/thicknesses of insulation do people use? And please do not mention K***Sp** in my hearing:banghead:

I use 2" Celotex only because I happened to have a few sheets left over from job.
 

Hombre 

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I used two inches with a void for candy feeding and a further two inches of expanded polystyrene over a polythene cover sheet. The bees didn't start expanding the void until the weather got warmer.

Celotex is another option I guess. :) :) What exactly is the issue you have with K***S***, Susbees? Sounds ominous, but you might just feel that everyone's cut and paste answer is K***S*** without any further thought.

I'm looking for a replacement to the eps which was a bit of a rush job last autumn.
 

Erichalfbee 

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I haven't got any in yet but I'll get roll of sheepswool insulation from B and Q when any near me get some in stock.
 

oliver90owner 

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mulholl is quite right about KOH being inappropriate. But with any carbon dioxide around (eg from respiration) the solution would soon turn to potassium carbonate.

I would not waste it by throwing it down the drain - good fertiliser!!! Using caustic soda rather than caustic potash would be cheaper but still inappropriate, even for us chemists!

With regards to propping up the crown board - no thanks, if using an OMF (no top ventilation required at all) and with solid floors, propping the brood body 3mm above the floor would be a better idea.

I use 25 mm of anything for the top insulation - usually expanded polystyrene, but anything similar could just as easily be used, including kingspan. I usually fit 25 mm poly styrene into National recesses; might put 50mm over that, but don't normally. The Dartingtons have 50mm along each side of the brood area. That helps them to 'kick-off' much earlier in the spring.

Just remember it is the damp which kills the bees not usually the cold (unless a through daught). The insulation reduces the amount of stores needed to over-winter and helps to avoid condensation and encourages earlier spring brooding as the nest can be kept spherical rather than torpdeo shaped (so easier to maintain temperatures required for brooding).

Regarding dessicants, one can easily calculate the amount of water generated by the metabolism of, say, 20kg honey. I am not going to bother, as some may be converted to biomass during spring brooding, etc etc., but there is 4 kgs of free water for a start.

Regards, RAB
 
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Poly Hive 

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What about respiration? Must be a fair bit of water produced by the breating?

When I had timber hives there was 2" of insulation on the top of the CB.

And they were on open floors as far back as 1988

PH
 

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