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Winter dehydration in insulated hives

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fiat500bee 

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That's fair enough of course, but only about 7 per cent of all those who have ever lived on earth are alive today. So much has already been done in the world of beekeeping, long before all the current beekeepers, experienced or inexperienced were even thought of, let alone became interested in bees. So much experience and research left by those before us to learn from.
Very good points, but as I said, I am also guilty of cherry-picking. ;)
 

derekm 

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So what does the collective think about this?

Work was done on this by Brother Adam and Mr Gale when people were wrapping their hives. They worked over several winters with groups of hives, and here is their report Brother Adam. PROTECTION DURING THE WINTER Although we now and again have to put up with exceptionally severe winters even here in the south-west, we do not provide our colonies with any additional protection. We know that cold, even severe cold, does not harm colonies that are in good health. Indeed, cold seems to have a decided beneficial effect on bees.
About sixty years ago Dr E. F. Philips and G. S. Demuth, who were at that time in charge of the USA experimental work on bees, advocated a special type of protective wintering case for the accommodation of four colonies. Four hives were set side by side in these cases, forming a cubical block, and enveloped in 4in. of packing under the hives, 6in. on the outer sides, and 8in. or more on top above the crown boards. The claims put forward for this form of wintering seemed to call for a practical test on our part. We accordingly constructed two of these wintering cases, and awaited the results full of high hope.
On the first examination in spring the eight hives were found to be bone-dry and without a trace of mould on any of the combs. So far all expectations were fulfilled, but a great disappointment awaited us. These colonies, without exception, failed to build up. The normal brood-rearing urge, manifested by the other colonies not thus protected, as well as the upsurge of energy and industry, was completely lacking. The colonies wintered in the makeshift hives with little or no special protection, made rapid strides in the spring build-up.
Notwithstanding these disappointing results we gave these winter cases a further trial the following winter, but with no better luck.
A few years later Mr A. W. Gale felt likewise compelled to give this form of wintering a trial. Notwithstanding the dissuasion on my part, he had forty cases made. We simultaneously put ours in use again. The trial was now conducted on a total of 168 colonies and in two divergent localities. The outcome proved absolutely identical to the tests made in the first instance. In short: this form of wintering did not only prove a complete failure, but in actual fact had a detrimental effect on the well-being of the colonies. It might well be assumed that in much colder parts of the world this form of protection would prove really satisfactory. This is seemingly not so, for in the course of time this form of wintering was gradually abandoned in the USA as well as in Canada.
Notwithstanding the abject outcome of these trials, we did not regret having made them, for they revealed important and far-reaching considerations of a kind diametrically at variance to the commonly accepted views and assumptions held on the value of winter protection. The results secured here in Devon as well as in Wiltshire palpably demonstrated that undue protection has a positive harmful effect and that cold — even severe cold — exerts a beneficial influence
on the well-being of a colony. As a matter of fact, bee-keepers on the Continent, where extra winter protection was until recently considered essential, have gradually come to the same conclusion as our findings made half a century ago. We have to admit, we are here up against physiological reactions and influences, of which we have little or no knowledge, but which have a decisive bearing on the seasonal development and well-being of a colony. Winter losses are not the direct result of exposure to low temperature, but are generally due to a lack of timely cleansing flights, unsatisfactory stores queenlessness, disease, etc.
A sunny aspect and shelter from prevailing winds are undoubtedly most desirable and beneficial, not only in winter but at all times of the year. Extra protection from cold may be of advantage in March and April, during the critical period of the build-up in spring. But strong, healthy colonies will manage perfectly well even in adverse climatic conditions. The honeybee is doubtless a creature of the sun, but one that does not need any pampering.
I have looked into the Brother Adam experiment in detail. The Canadian practice is/was insulation + top ventilation. I assume that brother Adam follwed that regime but its not documented. The amount of airflow though the top vent is dependent on the heat loss through the roof. Increasing heat loss reduces top vent airflow. The Canadian practice "works" because their low temperatures +insulation make their balance of heat loss and ventilation similar to the UK + matchsticks. Reducing heat loss by either increased insulation or reduced temperature difference e.g. using Canadian level insulation wih UK temperatures, causes increased airflow and extra stress on the bees.
 

MuswellMetro 

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Derick, you your answer is similar to what i was about to write, The trouble with a lot of american work is that often they have hives vented by a top entrance and you never know until you read the full document
 

MuswellMetro 

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In 1968 i had a holiday job at rothamsted driving the tractor for variuos departments including the Bee department, the predicessor of the NBU L Bailey had expiremented in the 1940's with methods of venting hives in winter by cracking the crown board rim once the bees were in cluster as a method of surviving winter without using Quilts on top of the hive, too be honest i never really took much interest in the bees then but i never remember bees in the roof of hives we moved, so were the crown board feed holes open? L Bailey never said that vented hives were the best way to keep bees just a method of keeping bees without using valuable wartime resources
 

Apple 

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Is it really matchsticks season already?
Where did that year of beewrangling go?
 

Hebeegeebee 

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So, a top vent is totally different to what most of us do with our hives so the argument that some will use saying that Bro Adam proved that insulation is not beneficial is not quite correct.
 

derekm 

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So, a top vent is totally different to what most of us do with our hives so the argument that some will use saying that Bro Adam proved that insulation is not beneficial is not quite correct.
The short answer is "yes" the long answer is a full Phd Dissertation in Heat Transfer and even that will be only only a partial answer.
 

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