Is your expansion successful?

Engaging a mode of expansion is how you keep ahead of mites and breed bees that can handle them. Get in the practice of staying ahead, and avoid the bad habit of always trying to catch up.
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Nordak
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Nordak » Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:59 pm

Oh well, slow and steady wins the race. :)


An extremely significant statement in relation to many aspects of TF beekeeping. Explosive growth can be just as detrimental to a hive as building too slowly. Optimal is somewhere inbetween by my observations. You don't want bees that are "all in" when equating it to stakes.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby moebees » Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:48 pm

Wrapping has been very ingrained in traditional beekeeping circles for a long time. This goes along with the idea that insulation is not needed and some even believe detrimental. Europe and Australia have accepted insulation and it will gradually change here too because it is the sensible thing to do.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

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SiWolKe
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby SiWolKe » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:00 pm

lharder wrote:Probably there are a number of things that can stimulate brooding in the winter and spring. Daylength, temperature, food stores, food coming in.

i'm guessing that good frugal bees shouldn't produce brood in the winter without food coming in even if it is quite warm. Eventually they should be stimulated by a combination of day length and available food stores in early spring in anticipation of spring flows. Not by winter warmth.


2015/16 the bees were stimulated by winter warmth and no brood brake was done. I have a pict of them coming in with pollen in december and the first pollen plants were visited in January.
Had I splitted heavily this could have been my best year but I lacked experience. So the mites used the advantage.

This winter brood brake was very long, winter was 5 months and now the first pollen is used.

I´m not harvesting, except the deadouts, so they went into winter with good stores. They used almost all and I donated some from the dead. This old pollen is not used but they moved the honey to the brood areas.

I have never used pollen patties and never will. If this starts breeding and a cold spell comes.... with all the mites they have, the clusters are small in spring and should be adapted to the food supply of nature which correlates more with temperatures.
Pollen patties IMHO, are maybe good to use in an emergency with queen breeding and bad weather if no pollen combs are around.
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Dustymunky
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Dustymunky » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:45 am

In a perfect world, it seems well insulated hives would best mimic bee's natural home (tree hollow). I lost my hives this winter to a week long below freezing spell. I plan on wrapping this upcoming winter with tar paper to give some free heat and wind break. Wrapping seems more practical for me and in the very wet area I live in (Oregon), I don't want to trap moisture. Interesting discussion if absorbed heat from black wrap would stimulate brood rearing. In my area, the days are short in winter and the angle of the sun is very low. I wonder how barometric pressure figures into the bees' decision to brood up?


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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby moebees » Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:18 am

I am very concerned about moisture too because I live near Chicago. I don't think most people know that Chicago is not only the windy city but the gloomy city.. I think we get less sunshine in the winter than Seattle. It is very damp and much colder than Portland.
Everyone is free to do what they like but tar paper is a moisture barrier that provides almost no insulation value and in a sunny area it contributes to much wider temperature fluctuations.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

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SiWolKe
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby SiWolKe » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:37 am

Dustymunky wrote:In a perfect world, it seems well insulated hives would best mimic bee's natural home (tree hollow). I lost my hives this winter to a week long below freezing spell. I plan on wrapping this upcoming winter with tar paper to give some free heat and wind break. Wrapping seems more practical for me and in the very wet area I live in (Oregon), I don't want to trap moisture. Interesting discussion if absorbed heat from black wrap would stimulate brood rearing. In my area, the days are short in winter and the angle of the sun is very low. I wonder how barometric pressure figures into the bees' decision to brood up?


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It seems to me bees freeze when isolated from stores having brood , Dusty, was this the case with yours?
I´m sorry about your loss. I had one hive which happens to freeze. The top box was full of honey they tried to go there but there were no empty cells to go in and cluster. They had strong bee number.

This is out of my correspondence with Erik Österlund in Sweden one week ago:
It’s snowing this morning. But the rest of the colonies made their after winter cleansing flight a couple of days ago.

My colonies have their winter cluster in all kind of different ways. Mostly they sit quite high up from the beginning of winter. They have some ventilation from the entrance of course, but also from the back corners of the bottom where there are a couple of 4 inch netting holes. No ventilation at the top, that is no air going through the hive with ventilation at the top.
More and more the bees are beginning closer to the bottom and moves upwards, especially when spring advances. I have had this winter some colonies sitting on three square shallow boxes (1,5 square dadant), not strong enough to actually have needed the space. They sat quite low down and left the upper box empty (full of food) not at all ”worrying” if it should be to cold having an empty box above. They have used very very little of stores and have now move more upward, to save warmth I guess now when brood rearing are starting.
Moving sideways is usually difficult if the bees aren’t many enough so they can warm up the space and move. It can be a risk to get stuck on empty frames, which also happens every year with one or a few colonies.


Our area is without much sun and very humid in winter. My young friend and co-worker in bavaria has a bee home with some 20 places inside. His survival rate is high, it´s very cold in bavaria but inside the house there is no wind and it´s dry.

It would be nice to know how the bees react with warmth at daytime. Getting warm by dark paper could mean breaking the cluster and being able to move. If this is does not pressure brood it would be a nice advantage.
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Dustymunky
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Dustymunky » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:57 pm

There wasn't any brood but there were stores not far away from cluster. Too cold to move to stores for too long. Lessons learned. New bees arrive in 14 days :)


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GregV
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby GregV » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:16 pm

moebees wrote:I am very concerned about moisture too because I live near Chicago. I don't think most people know that Chicago is not only the windy city but the gloomy city.. I think we get less sunshine in the winter than Seattle. It is very damp and much colder than Portland.
Everyone is free to do what they like but tar paper is a moisture barrier that provides almost no insulation value and in a sunny area it contributes to much wider temperature fluctuations.


Let me re-post some of my own arguments in the local beekeeping group (they got scoffed at even by the most TF-prone members - fyi).
Pretty much, I am an odd-ball and somewhat on a crazy side ("that GregV" from the email listing).
So, take it or leave it - below are my "rants" as they have been called.

R-value of those wraps is approaching zero.
Not much insulation going on to speak of freezing cold nights.
Worth yet - black insulation participates negatively in creating wild daily temperature swings (in combination with thin wooden walls under wraps, with R=1).
Really warm during the sunny March day; really cold during freezing March night.
Talking even more extra stress.

I never understood the value of black plastic wraps when combined with thin wood under them.


Even those "cozy" wraps don't have much R-value in them to speak of real insulation.
Wind break? Sure.
True insulation? Maybe the add R value of 1-2 overall.
They do contribute to the internal hive temperature swings, like about now.
How this can be a good thing?
We want stability, not swings.


All in all, those wraps are a fine management tool IF you want to stimulate your bees into thinking that spring is here and now.
With the understanding of the risks and willing to feed them.
Works fine for those who want it (get our nuc production going earlier, for example). .

IMO, wrapping is counterproductive IF you want to keep locally adapted bees that react to the outside as it is now (not as wraps tell them to do).


Added: IMO - a very loosely installed windbreak wrap of light color may have a value as wind-break; this way it allows moisture to escape from under it and yet does prevent wind getting into hive holes; at the same time it does not generate wild temperature swings in late winter/early spring. But I would rather build well insulated equipment up front and do not bother with any wrapping at all.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby moebees » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:32 pm

Hey GregV,

I must be an oddball too then. :D
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

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SiWolKe
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby SiWolKe » Sat Mar 25, 2017 8:50 am

Most beekeepers who have strong temperature swings are painting their boxes white to prevent this temperature changes as much as possible.

To compare with a bee tree:
The bee trees are mostly in shade in summer and without in winter because of the loss of leaves in forests.
The bees prefer leave trees to pines.
The bees prefer small entrance or propolize and close the openings like they need.
MB said they are more able to climate then, I think it´s the truth, in contrast to what people believe here.

So this is the same situation with a box painted white with small entrance. No matter what material, because of the propolis.

The only influence is the black tar paper. It emphasizes the swings and, by the way, is poisonous to the bees.
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:07 pm

Yes i think the tarpaper just gives the bees more days to shift and adjust. M. Palmer has very good success with wrapping so i don't really argue too much.

The presentation I heard about insulation with no upper entrance was a guy who lives in Smithers, BC. Zone 4b, lots of moisture compared to my area. Small lower entrance is all that is needed.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby lharder » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:14 pm

2 of my hives at home are under a walnut tree. Winter sun and summer shade. I think they like it.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:22 pm

My problem with most insulation is moisture. Of course insulating them is a good thing on nasty cold days, but when the moisture doesn't get out and the hive stays wet all winter, that is not good.

As far as the solar gain issue, it's not all one thing or the other. Sometimes that solar gain allows them to rearrange stores so they don't "cold starve" or it gives them a quick cleansing flight on a warm day that they might not have gotten, so it could save them. On the other hand, as has been pointed out, if there is too much solar gain too often it makes them more active than they should be for the actual climate. So it becomes more "how often" and "how much" that makes it work out well or not so well. I think we often think we are helping when we are not and this may be another instance of that.
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Ferdi
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Ferdi » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:54 pm

When discussing insulation and moisture, I think we should also talk about how ideal ventilation should be in hive during winter and summer. So far I have had holes on my upper lid to provide extra ventilation during winter and I have never had a moisture problem. But I'm switching to only bottom ventilation because I believe upper ventilation slows down spring development when the temperatures are not stable or drop significantly, especial at nights.

I do not have so much observation and experience about ventilation in a hive but that is what seems right to me right now. What are you doing?

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GregV
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:15 pm

OK, as I said I was going to do - videos with my comments about open floor ventilation (in a more appropriate topic about "floor ventilation"):
viewtopic.php?p=4840#p4840

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GregV
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:20 pm

Michael Bush wrote:My problem with most insulation is moisture..


I posted near here how the insulation and moisture can coexist (and create a more natural environment, in my view).
Basically, insulated and air/vapor proof top + ventilated lower part.
Several proof of concept videos included.

Added: basically, one must always think where they want to have the dew point to be taking place.

One go-to site is "buildingscience.com" where the dynamics of moisture and air are discussed thoroughly (applies to the hives just as to the human structures).

Quoting from there:
"Moisture usually moves from warm to cold (driven by the thermal gradient) and from more to less (driven by the concentration gradient). In cold climates, moisture from the interior flows towards the exterior by passing through the building enclosure. In hot climates, moisture from the exterior flows towards the cooled interior by passing through the building enclosure."
https://buildingscience.com/documents/d ... -buildings

Here are other relevant documents for those interested (they have more):
https://buildingscience.com/documents/p ... dings/view
https://buildingscience.com/sites/defau ... iburek.pdf
Last edited by GregV on Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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GregV
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:26 pm

Michael Bush wrote: Sometimes that solar gain allows them to rearrange stores so they don't "cold starve" or it gives them a quick cleansing flight on a warm day that they might not have gotten, so it could save them. On the other hand, as has been pointed out, if there is too much solar gain too often it makes them more active than they should be for the actual climate..


I thought about it and concluded - why bother.
A typical successful bee tree (or a cave) is well insulated and does not react much to "solar gain" due to both (1)insulation and (2)significant thermal mass that surrounds the colony. A typical bee tree will react to average and consistent external temperature changes, but not much to daily (or even hourly) temperature swings. These are the conditions that the bees evolved about for the last X millions of years.
With that, a good hive (for the bees) should replicate those conditions as well.

There are arguments that bees need no insulation.
Not so sure.
I feel bees can survive despite lacking insulation.
The question is - for how long?
Successful bee trees continued being occupied and re-occupied for many, many years in a row.

Indeed, a colony may get by one season on an open branch.
Here is a video of bees that wintered successfully totally exposed (Ukraine, zone 5 of USA, video taken on April 10, 2014). But that was a very well sheltered place in some dense woods and a very strong colony, as you can see. Also, they were hanging under a very heavy log meaning they do have a well insulated and air/vapor proof top while having totally ventilated sides and bottom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUJtFgweNDw

Still, I have much doubt a colony can survived on an open branch 5 years in a row in most temperate climates.

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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby SiWolKe » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:40 pm

My feeder sits on top the whole year through and insulation is on top of the feeder.
This space takes the humidity and vaporizes it through the insulation mat.

My bottoms are closed but since some air drifts through the slits between tray and floor their is some ventilation.

One of the things that seem to work, I have had no mold or wet bees even with a small cluster.
Some condensation water is in the box which is glued into the feeder when they start to breed. I can see if they already started without opening the hive.
They use this water for making beebread.

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Michael Bush
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Michael Bush » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:35 pm

> What are you doing?

I do only top ventilation. Moist air rises. Year around the problem for bees is moisture. Cooling, evaporating nectar, metabolism in winter, all create moisture that has to be disposed of. I don't want a chimney effect, just an outlet for moisture. Bees will handle the rest.
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Ferdi
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby Ferdi » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:20 pm

@Sibylle,
My setup was similar to yours and I can still keep my stronger hives in that way.

@Michael,
Top ventilation definitely prevents moisture, but in my area it might be a set-back for nucs or relatively weak colonies. My new setup almost the same in videos shared by @GregV. I just used greenhouse plastic to cover the top of hives. I'm yet to see how it will work out for me.

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SiWolKe
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby SiWolKe » Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:50 pm

lharder wrote:2 of my hives at home are under a walnut tree. Winter sun and summer shade. I think they like it.


I believe this a very good situation and even better with a windbreak one could build..
The acids from walnut tree leaves may be a boost to the bee´s health too, who knows. They are used in healing (humans).

This could be imitated in a small bee yard with planting. I moved one of my bee yards some 100m and now they are under fruit trees. Same situation, more shade in summer, more sun in winter and more windbreak. I will see.

@Ferdi
To boost breeding can be very dangerous in some areas where the temperatures are unpredictable in spring.
I believe with the winter situation in Michael`s locale this could be the case, too much brood too early...severe problems.
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GregV
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Re: Is your expansion successful?

Postby GregV » Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:55 pm

Ferdi wrote:Top ventilation definitely prevents moisture, but in my area it might be a set-back for nucs or relatively weak colonies...

While less important for strong colonies, for nucs every little bit if heat should be preserved for them and not allowed to escape.
For the nucs, I will for sure try the very tight and insulated tops (plastic + Styrofoam); they can ventilate through the bottom as they want and need.
Very important to have the plastic insulated as to prevent condensation over the cluster.
Some condensation along the walls/corners is fine and even beneficial - bees will use that water.


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