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Winter dehydration in insulated hives

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fiat500bee 

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Now I'm heavily committed to the concept of insulation I'm seeing the very lucid (sounding) arguments against it. :banghead:
This is bound to have been debated previously but I've been absorbing the theory that the winter cluster has a reciprocal arrangement amongst the bees in that the more central ones suffer from an overall water loss whilst the outer ones gain water. This is from the respiratory water vapour rising from the central bees and an inability to lose water by "cleansing" trips outside. Gradually, positions are exchanged so that water and warming equilibrium in all the bees is restored. If it's not cold enough to force a tight cluster then none of this works and the bees dry out. It sounds convincing but I'm not sure.

I thought the conundrum was mainly about bees using condensation from the hive walls which I was disrupting by using insulation.

Another problem to worry about?
 
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Good. I won't ask why not. ;)
With good insulation they will be on the frames in much the same way as they are in spring or autumn - when the termperature drops to the point where they cannot economically maintain a reasonable temperature they will cluster but it's not the tight ball cluster you may see when bees are having to live in temperatures where they can only survive by tightly clustering and rotating. In insulated boxes there will always be some element of consdensation - be it from atmospheric moisture condensing on the colder parts of the hive or from the bees respiration. This tends to be on the walls of the hive and not above the cluster as long as you have good insulation above the hive. Because the temperature inside the hive is such that they are free to move about they can access moisture if they need it.

Bees will fly on dry days even when the temperature drops to near zero - if they need water they will find it.

They don't dry out. It's a flawed theory ...
 

Antipodes 

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Most commercial beekeepers here (in this cooler island down under), actually almost all of them, don't specially insulate hives, apart from a hive mat on top of the frames and perhaps a bit of carpet on top of that. They are 22mm thick wooden hives with no lid insulation (thin masonite with a steel cover over it), solid floors and because they are migratory, they use a ventilated lid. I heard that the commercial beekeepers averaged 150kg (331 pounds) of honey per hive on the leatherwoods this year.
Most of their success comes from the queens, the nectar/pollen sources and the beekeepers' skill.
 

Gilberdyke John 

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Now I'm heavily committed to the concept of insulation I'm seeing the very lucid (sounding) arguments against it. :banghead:
This is bound to have been debated previously but I've been absorbing the theory that the winter cluster has a reciprocal arrangement amongst the bees in that the more central ones suffer from an overall water loss whilst the outer ones gain water. This is from the respiratory water vapour rising from the central bees and an inability to lose water by "cleansing" trips outside. Gradually, positions are exchanged so that water and warming equilibrium in all the bees is restored. If it's not cold enough to force a tight cluster then none of this works and the bees dry out. It sounds convincing but I'm not sure.

I thought the conundrum was mainly about bees using condensation from the hive walls which I was disrupting by using insulation.

Another problem to worry about?
My bees in their polyhives don't show any signs of dehydration through the winter and normally begin their spring activity slightly earlier than óthers in wooden boxes. I suspect the theory is BS from the luddite fraction.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Now I'm heavily committed to the concept of insulation I'm seeing the very lucid (sounding) arguments against it. :banghead:
This is bound to have been debated previously but I've been absorbing the theory that the winter cluster has a reciprocal arrangement amongst the bees in that the more central ones suffer from an overall water loss whilst the outer ones gain water. This is from the respiratory water vapour rising from the central bees and an inability to lose water by "cleansing" trips outside. Gradually, positions are exchanged so that water and warming equilibrium in all the bees is restored. If it's not cold enough to force a tight cluster then none of this works and the bees dry out. It sounds convincing but I'm not sure.

I thought the conundrum was mainly about bees using condensation from the hive walls which I was disrupting by using insulation.

Another problem to worry about?
Where does that come from?
The bees in my poly hives are active all winter unless it's really cold. If I look in they are often just ambling around the top bars and the hive hums quietly. I have never had dried out bees.
What rubbish..........
If your top is warmer than the sides you aren't disrupting anything, you still get condensation on the sides which the bees use

Please fiat where are you seeing these lucid arguments
 

fiat500bee 

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Where does that come from?
The bees in my poly hives are active all winter unless it's really cold. If I look in they are often just ambling around the top bars and the hive hums quietly. I have never had dried out bees.
What rubbish..........
If your top is warmer than the sides you aren't disrupting anything, you still get condensation on the sides which the bees use

Please fiat where are you seeing these lucid arguments
It was a video of a talk by, is it Ben Harden?
 

Erichalfbee 

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It was a video of a talk by, is it Ben Harden?
I’d like to see his evidence.
There is a large number of beekeepers here who insulate or run polyhives. Stick with their experience.
You’ll be putting rhubarb leaves in your hives next otherwise 😉
You are over thinking things
 

fiat500bee 

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I’d like to see his evidence.

You’ll be putting rhubarb leaves in your hives next otherwise 😉
You are over thinking things
The evidence appeared to be a series of unrelated international "experiments" which weren't all specifically chasing this "issue" but the results of which could be interpreted that way
No way will rhubarb leaves (or banana skins for that matter) be dropped on my bees.
I am overthinking but effectively doing a crash course, self-educating (with everyone's help) on the ins and outs of beekeeping.
Ta everyone for your commonsense replies. 🙂
 
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I’d like to see his evidence.
There is a large number of beekeepers here who insulate or run polyhives. Stick with their experience.
You’ll be putting rhubarb leaves in your hives next otherwise 😉
You are over thinking things
I'm not sure what was worse ... the days before the internet where misguided mentors passed on by word of mouth the rubbish that was put forward as facts or now when any idiot can post anything on the internet without any factual evidence and claim it as fact and pass it on to people who very often are not in a position to evaluate the information.

Thank goodness for this forum ... you may get differing views but at least you can evaluate a range of responses and make a more informed choice. The collective experience on here must be in 10's of thousands of years .... Afermo makes up half of them anyway !
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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It was a video of a talk by, is it Ben Harden?
Sounds like another Wedmoreite to me. Wading through his book at the moment which seems to be mainly made up pseudoscience to support his own flawed theories and much of it smells of what has been mentioned in this thread.
 

Antipodes 

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I thought the conundrum was mainly about bees using condensation from the hive walls which I was disrupting by using insulation.

Hi Fiat,
Tom Seeley says that the thirstiest honey bees he's ever seen are bees in the winter. Have a listen from 20.11 to 21.16 for his little story about it.

 

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Hi Fiat,
Tom Seeley says that the thirstiest honey bees he's ever seen are bees in the winter. Have a listen from 20.11 to 21.16 for his little story
The hive is very thirsty in winter, if it has brood and it cannot get drinking water outside.
Then hive kills larvae, if it does not get water during several days.
Bees cannot take water from snow.
 
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Bees cannot take water from snow.
We had snow here in winter once - about 2" .... local natives had a hissy fit trying to drive in it ... everything stopped - schools closed.. public transport ceased to function ..shops were stripped of anything canned or essentials - meanwhile, in Yorkshire, where there was 6"+ snow, life went on as normal ...
 

Erichalfbee 

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We had snow here in winter once - about 2" .... local natives had a hissy fit trying to drive in it ... everything stopped - schools closed.. public transport ceased to function ..shops were stripped of anything canned or essentials - meanwhile, in Yorkshire, where there was 6"+ snow, life went on as normal ...
Did your bees die of dehydration, though?
 
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Did your bees die of dehydration, though?
No ..they just skidded around on the landing board, looked a bit miffed and went back inside ... a few must have ventured out judging by the trail of bee poo across the snow ... Bee dehydration - another beekeeping myth I fear.
 

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