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Oh No! Not Matchsticks Again?

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charlievictorbravo 

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I have just started reading January’s BeeCraft. They have a new writer doing Beginners in the Apiary - Lorraine Ragosa-Rout who has kept bees for 10 years and has apiaries in Surrey and Hampshire.

Under the heading ‘Ventilate’, she writes “More ventilation is required in winter because, as honey is consumed, water is given off (a bi-product of metabolism). Water is needed to break down stores or fondant. The Rev. Langstroth advocated upward ventilation by providing an upper entrance and space beneath the roof in winter, i.e. by placing spacers beneath the cover boards. The moisture-carrying capacity of cold air is small (the colder the air, the less water it can carry), so more air passing over the cluster helps reduce the humidity. By raising the crown board by 10mm, moisture can escape through the roof and moulds will be discouraged. Place matchsticks at the corners of the crown board to provide ventilation because removing the Porter bee escape can produce a chimney effect and allow heat to escape.” [my bold for emphasis].

I thought we had got away from matchsticks under the crown board years ago. This article is especially worrying as the writer has only been beekeeping for ten years - there’s no excuse for using such out-of-date and illogical thinking - it’s ok to put matchsticks under the crown board so that moisture can escape but not ok to leave the feeder hole open because that causes a loss of heat. Am I missing something? Rev Langstroth was a brilliant inventor who died in 1895 and although he graduated from Yale, he studied Divinity not Physics. Anybody with a modicum of knowledge would understand allowing air to escape at the top of a hive means that the bees have to work harder to maintain a liveable temperature. A heavily insulated enclosure, similar to a tree hollow in which bees evolved, is far better than a squat, thin-walled box with holes at the top and bottom.

How can we nail the ‘matchstick’ myths once and for all?

CVB
 

Apple 

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I have just started reading January’s BeeCraft. They have a new writer doing Beginners in the Apiary - Lorraine Ragosa-Rout who has kept bees for 10 years and has apiaries in Surrey and Hampshire.

Under the heading ‘Ventilate’, she writes “More ventilation is required in winter because, as honey is consumed, water is given off (a bi-product of metabolism). Water is needed to break down stores or fondant. The Rev. Langstroth advocated upward ventilation by providing an upper entrance and space beneath the roof in winter, i.e. by placing spacers beneath the cover boards. The moisture-carrying capacity of cold air is small (the colder the air, the less water it can carry), so more air passing over the cluster helps reduce the humidity. By raising the crown board by 10mm, moisture can escape through the roof and moulds will be discouraged. Place matchsticks at the corners of the crown board to provide ventilation because removing the Porter bee escape can produce a chimney effect and allow heat to escape.” [my bold for emphasis].

I thought we had got away from matchsticks under the crown board years ago. This article is especially worrying as the writer has only been beekeeping for ten years - there’s no excuse for using such out-of-date and illogical thinking - it’s ok to put matchsticks under the crown board so that moisture can escape but not ok to leave the feeder hole open because that causes a loss of heat. Am I missing something? Rev Langstroth was a brilliant inventor who died in 1895 and although he graduated from Yale, he studied Divinity not Physics. Anybody with a modicum of knowledge would understand allowing air to escape at the top of a hive means that the bees have to work harder to maintain a liveable temperature. A heavily insulated enclosure, similar to a tree hollow in which bees evolved, is far better than a squat, thin-walled box with holes at the top and bottom.

How can we nail the ‘matchstick’ myths once and for all?

CVB
How can we nail the ‘matchstick’ myths once and for all?
Sorry Colin... we never will !

BAD teaching... by bad teachers who have owned 2 hives of bees for ten years vs accomplished septuagenarians like us who have owned a good many more hives for considerably longer!

You can not learn it all from a book.

Keep well
Chons da
 

CaptainCymru 

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How can we nail the ‘matchstick’ myths once and for all?
Sorry Colin... we never will !

BAD teaching... by bad teachers who have owned 2 hives of bees for ten years vs accomplished septuagenarians like us who have owned a good many more hives for considerably longer!

You can not learn it all from a book.

Keep well
Chons da

It seems logical that you wouldn't open a roof to let all the heat out, you wouldn't do it in your own home !
 

hemo 

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To tell the truth last time I read the BBKA for any amount of time was when Eric offered up his helpful experiences and tips. Mostly I glance through it ready for the recycling bin.
 

Hachi 

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I have just started reading January’s BeeCraft. They have a new writer doing Beginners in the Apiary - Lorraine Ragosa-Rout who has kept bees for 10 years and has apiaries in Surrey and Hampshire.

Under the heading ‘Ventilate’, she writes “More ventilation is required in winter because, as honey is consumed, water is given off (a bi-product of metabolism). Water is needed to break down stores or fondant. The Rev. Langstroth advocated upward ventilation by providing an upper entrance and space beneath the roof in winter, i.e. by placing spacers beneath the cover boards. The moisture-carrying capacity of cold air is small (the colder the air, the less water it can carry), so more air passing over the cluster helps reduce the humidity. By raising the crown board by 10mm, moisture can escape through the roof and moulds will be discouraged. Place matchsticks at the corners of the crown board to provide ventilation because removing the Porter bee escape can produce a chimney effect and allow heat to escape.” [my bold for emphasis].

I thought we had got away from matchsticks under the crown board years ago. This article is especially worrying as the writer has only been beekeeping for ten years - there’s no excuse for using such out-of-date and illogical thinking - it’s ok to put matchsticks under the crown board so that moisture can escape but not ok to leave the feeder hole open because that causes a loss of heat. Am I missing something? Rev Langstroth was a brilliant inventor who died in 1895 and although he graduated from Yale, he studied Divinity not Physics. Anybody with a modicum of knowledge would understand allowing air to escape at the top of a hive means that the bees have to work harder to maintain a liveable temperature. A heavily insulated enclosure, similar to a tree hollow in which bees evolved, is far better than a squat, thin-walled box with holes at the top and bottom.

How can we nail the ‘matchstick’ myths once and for all?

CVB
For the same reason a proportion of the human race cannot be convinced a pot noodle is nothing other than shite processed food chap........ simples
 

fizzle 

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Edit: So what is the ideal conditions inside a wintering hive?

I put a piece of insulation board over the crown board and the bottom board was soaked from condensation running down the walls. In effect it was a sauna. I then added a 30mm spacer on top of the crown board for winter feeding with a couple of ventilation holes drilled into the sides and placed the insulation over that. This seemed to reduce the moisture in the hive but not completely as the bottom board was still damp but not soaking wet like before.
 
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jenkinsbrynmair 

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So what is the idea conditions inside a wintering hive?

I put a piece of insulation board over the crown board and the bottom board was soaked from condensation running down the walls. In effect it was a sauna. I then added a 30mm spacer on top of the crown board for winter feeding with a couple of ventilation holes drilled into the sides and placed the insulation over that. This seemed to reduce the moisture in the hive but not completely as the bottom board was still damp but not soaking wet like before.
:banghead::banghead::banghead:
 

Boston Bees 

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I put a piece of insulation board over the crown board and the bottom board was soaked from condensation running down the walls. In effect it was a sauna.
You use a solid floor?
 

Boston Bees 

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It's has a mesh bottom and board below that can be removed.
Well, I am no thermodynamics expert, but I overwinter with my varroa boards removed, which allows air to circulate and get rid of some of the moisture that naturally builds up during winter. The boards are there for occasional inspection of varroa levels, not as a permanent fixture (though I appreciate not all agree on this)

In nature of course bees wouldn't have an open bottom to their nest, but then they would have a nest floor covered with bits of wood and other detritus that would absorb the moisture (and possibly an entrance which is larger than the very reduced one on some managed hives in winter).

By adding a lot of insulation on top (which is good), but allowing very limited airflow from below (bad), you can create the sauna situation you describe. The moisture naturally created by the cluster simply has nowhere to go.

Adding ventilation at the top of the hive isn't the way to fix this, as it means the bees sit in a vertical draft, or at least stops them creating a snug cluster at the top of the hive.

So, I would remove that ventilated eke (or at least block up the holes, if you need it for feeding) and take out your varroa tray.
 
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Lol...what did I do wrong?

It's has a mesh bottom and board below that can be removed.
What you are doing is creating a chimney - hot air rises, cold air comes in through the mesh floor and the warm air that the bees spend precious energy on creating by vibrating their wings goes straight out through the holes you have drilled above them.

Once and for all ... No ventilation is necessary. Insulation above the crownboard and under the roof will prevent condensation not cause it. If there is some condensation in the hive then the bees will either use it as a water source or accept it.

If you have water on the floor - check your hives are rain proof.
 

Ian123 

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“similar to a tree hollow in which bees evolved,”.................yes but that statement shows how beekeeping myths evolve. Some races of bees like cavities, they can be found in caves, rock outcrops wholes in the ground and yes even trees!
 

Boston Bees 

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the entrance in a solid floor is sufficient ventilation, yes
Hmm... I think it depends on the entrance. Maybe a full width entrance with reducer removed is enough. But basically I agree. I think Fizzle's problem would be solved most easily by removing the varroa tray, personally (and the top ventilation of course!). But I could be wrong!
 

fizzle 

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Sorry if this has been discussed a million times. I should clarify a few things. The standard Commercial hive comes with vents in the roof space. By putting an insulation board above the crown board you are cutting off this air flow hence the sauna effect. I added the spacer above the crown board and drilled a couple of 10mm holes each side which I meshed over to allow the same air flow as before the insulation board was added. The bottom entrance block along with mouse guard will only allow a certain amount of air through.

I understand that you do not want a chimney effect as all heat is lost. I am only trying to find the balance between heat and moisture retention. The mantra they use in the building game is 'build tight, ventilate right'.
 

ericbeaumont 

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I put a piece of insulation board over the crown board and the bottom board was soaked from condensation running down the walls. In effect it was a sauna.
This not a problem, Fizzle.

Condensation is supposed to run down the walls and out of the floor: warm moist air rises from the nest, fails to condense on the underside of a heavily insulated crownboard, rolls over, condenses on cooler walls and runs down and out.

Second asset: moisture in a hive is useful as it helps to create a humid environment which reduces varroa efficiency; please read the intro to thermodynamist Derek Mitchell's paper on thermal conductance, humidity regulation and Varroa destructor.

You'll find plenty of baloney gathering dust in hobby beekeeping circles because too many find it easier to copy and repeat old habits than explore, assess and adopt new ideas and better practices.
 

fizzle 

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Thanks again Eric. I only read the abstract but that study looks interesting. I was thinking that the bees would propolise any vents they don't need. Then again, at this time of year they probably don't have that option. When I originally added the insulation board (October) I cut out a small section in the middle which could be lifted out to inspect below without taking off the whole board. I expected the bees to propolise this but they left it alone and porpolised the stones I left below that supported this section of cutout from falling down onto the crown board. This lead me to believe they were happy with a certain amount of airflow.
 

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