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Help! -mold and mildew

 
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:37 pm    Post subject: Help! -mold and mildew Reply with quote

After an unseasonably cold winter, I decided to check inside my hive for the first time in several months since we are experiencing a nice 50 degree day. I knew the bees were having trouble and that their numbers were small, but on days that hit 40 with sun, I had seen a few flying about so I could tell at least some survived. I also never took any honey last year, it being their first, and knew they had plenty.

Today when I opened their viewing window, I saw mold on some of the combs as far up as the fourth and there were moisture drops on the window. I opened the hive up and removed the very last bar, which was half filled with honey, and saw that it had a little mold along the sides of the comb. The bottom of the hive was littered with moldy bees and the false back, which I had inserted last fall because they had built the last combs crooked, was mildewed.

What should I do? Should I leave the false back off so that they have about 1/2" of ventilation, replace the roof and leave it like that as long as we stay above freezing? Should I help remove some of those bees and moldy combs? Suggestions GREATLY appreciated!
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, it's a sold floor. I think I'll just leave the false back off and place in a spacer that will leave a about an 1/8" opening for ventilation and remove all reducers to the front.

Since they have honey up front and this honey in back, could I possibly take a little or will they probably need it this spring?

Thanks
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taking honey would stress them too much this time of year. What do you want with moldy honey anyway...

The hive lacks ventilation and insulation. Is it a topbar hive? Leave a small gap for ventilation. But make sure the top gets insulated real quick. And the side walls, that would be good. Add insulation only on flying days with lots of sun.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Condensation is caused by the moist air inside the hive getting in contact whit the cold roof and sides.

You need to insulate the top and sides so the inner wall is closer to the inside temperature and the condensation will stop as well as improving ventillation to allow the moist air to slowly vent out. Its counter intuitive but a SMALL top vent will do the trick but make sure it away fromt eh cluster so the air has to move across to it so you don't get a direct chimney effect which would chill the hive. The air has to get out slowly.
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The honey isn't moldy, there's a tiny bit on mold on the bottom edge of the comb far away from the pristine honey.

I have had the hive well insulated on the top and the side that faces the wind and semi insulated on the other side. I thought the insulation was likely the problem, but I guess I'll put it all back on. At what temp should I remove it? (Though it doesn't seem that it's helped much given all of the mold.). There is even mold by the entrance where the air flow is good... So I'll leave the little crack up top (or should I drill a small hole out the back side?) and put the insulation back on.

Thanks!
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

elight23,

Feb is a rough month here on the west coast. This is when we loose the most hives. This is only my third year, but all of my club members, mentors and instructors say the same thing. Ventilate and insulate.

What happens is our days start to warm up. The cluster breaks, the queen starts laying, and the girls start bringing in nectar and pollen. They also start metabolizing honey. All of this adds moisture to the inside of the hive. Then the temps drop at night and the moisture condenses.

A lot of the framed hive folks around here put a wooden top feeder on and fill it with wood shavings or lavender stalks so the feeder acts like a quilt, but the excess moisture can escape through the slot.

Get the insulation over the top bars and down each side. How tight does your lid fit? Can you lift it slightly so the air can move around the insulation? Can you open the entrance holes so the air can move inside?

Ron


Last edited by Bugscouter on Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some very good advice already in regard to insulation and ventilation. Not always an easy balance to achieve, but necessary for a healthy hive interior.

On opening up and seeing mouldy bees, I am assuming these are dead on the floor of the hive box?
Is the mould common green mould, or very dark black looking mould? Are the walls/floor, underside of the bars mouldy as well?

Black could be a toxic mould, which grows on damp untreated timber with unfortunate ease in some cases.

I would be tempted to try and scoop out dead/mouldy bees on the floor to help rid the spores and a moisture source for the mould to grow on.

Behind your follower board, is there still space in the hive that is empty? Is this space covered in tight fitting top bars?
If so there is space there to drill some small bee-proof holes in the follower and add some dry moisture absorbing material like a Warre quilt to the empty area of the hive box.

Definitely try to add some ventilation as suggested for the cold moist air to vent rather than gather in the hive box.
Best of luck and hope your colony make it through to the Spring.
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My hive, the golden mean, was a gift and can be seen here: http://www.backyardhive.com/General/General/BackYardHive_Beekeeping_Shop/
I build a second as per the Barefoot Beekeeper, but was never able to catch my swarm, so it's empty.

My hive is completely filled with drawn out comb. I currently have the opening wide open, since I just removed the debris that I had placed there in order to increase airflow. I created about a 1/8" opening at the last bar and I have the wooden roof slightly askew so that air can flow out. My insulation on top of that is two large pillows side by side, covered with a fleece blanket. On top of that is a tarp. The wind facing side had the same set up and the window side just had blanket and tarp. I was afraid on the warm day we had yesterday (and today, 54) that the insulation would be too much. I put it back on today though. Should I get into the hive again tomorrow and add wood shavings to back of the hive to help absorb moisture? Or shavings on top of the bars or the wooden roof? I also have a bushel of dried lavender and alfalfa hay if they would be better than pillows and blankets...

The condensation on the window doesn't look heavy. The mold is mostly white on dead bees. There are not too many dead bees, just a covering of them on the hive floor, but not piles. There was some minor varroa I spotted on the hive floor this fall. I didn't treat, other than placing some thyme springs with the other debris that I used to reduce the opening. There is mildew on the false back on the side away from the hive entrance. There is mold, I think, on some of the combs, flat and blackish in color. Other places it's grayish. It does not seem to be on the bars themselves, more toward the bottom and a bit on the sides of the combs, not much if any mold on the wood. The mold that alerted me to its presents in the first place was on the bottom of the forth comb, as viewed through the window. It did not look friendly - it is possibly about a quarter in size and looks like bread mold with black spore stalks. I wanted to remove it, but when I even tapped that bar, the bees stated climbing on it so I didn't want to stress them or cool them down too much.

The bees were very active yesterday, but the numbers are small. I want to help them along. They seem to have plenty of honey, but I gave them a scoop of some powdered bee supplement that I bought on their landing board just barely inside the hive and about half has disappeared. In end of March or so we will probably have several blooms so pollen shouldn't be an issue until June when there is lull (depending on weather). It's just so damp and wet and will be until Late June. I wish my hive had a screened floor or better means of ventilation... At what temp should I remove some insulation? Any suggestion at all greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
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WileyHunter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 125
Location: Batesville, IN USA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would desiccant packs be harmful to put into a hive? I know they're considered food safe and packed with jerky in the US, not that that means a great deal...
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had thought of desiccant packs, but you then run the risk of being too dry and being unsure how well they would work I was wary to suggest them, but it is a possibility. However, I would not add them to this particular hive, only to one using a follower board and have the packs in the empty space behind the follower- not actually inside the working portion of the hive.

Not knowing enough of your local conditions or climate I cannot really offer serious advice in regard to when to remove insulation, or how much is too much/too little.
Sounds as though you have increased airflow for ventilation, that is a good thing. See how that goes for you and keep us updated.
It should be noted that whilst insulation stops heat escaping easily, it also helps stop excess heat from entering through the roof/walls on warmer days. So rather than trying to decide on what temperature to remove it I would be tempted to keep it on until Spring proper.
Constant regulated temperature is easier for the bees to cope with rather than warm during the day and very cold (water condensing moist internal air) during the night.

With the hive being full of comb and no space, it will be hard to remove dead bees from the floor of the hive. Unless you can devise some form of wire "rake" that will scrape the bottom from the entrance. If the base board was screw fixed and not glued, I would be tempted to unscrew it and dump the debris/dead bees on the floor and replace it after cleaning.

White vinegar can be used to clean mould from surfaces and should not harm bees. Wipe down, do not pour/flood in the hive. Smile But be aware, by doing so you are introducing more moisture to the equation.

Could it be the tarp wrap is not allowing the hive to "breathe"? No moisture being able to vent through the tarp and therefore leading to the moist interior. Perhaps you have been too kind and over insulated?
Again, only guessing from afar and not sure of your local conditions.

Hopefully the increased airflow/ventilation will help get the colony that remains through until warmer/drier times.


Last edited by J Smith on Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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WileyHunter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 125
Location: Batesville, IN USA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

J Smith wrote:

Could it be the tarp wrap is not allowing the hive to "breathe"? No moisture being able to vent through the tarp and therefore leading to the moist interior.


Hmmm... Has me thinking now, I wonder if using a bit of vapor barrier (like they use on exterior walls on buildings) would work better than the tarp? Won't fix current problem, but might keep it from happening again.
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do have desiccant packs, maybe I'll add just a few. I'm sure they will saturate quickly. Wester Wa is really a very damp place, it doesn't dry out until late June. It's a temperate rainforest. We have a nice dry July and August and then damp again. This winter has been very cold too.

The tarp is loosely laying over the hive, it certainly doesn't wrap it. It's only there to keep the blankets dry. There are areas of wood along the front, side and bottom that have full exposure to the air. I think there is air flow around the hive it's self. I'm hoping that the cracked bar with the wooden roof slight lifted will suffice. I think air can still move by to create some flow. The tarp was always like that, enough thought the top bar/roof was not.

Thanks!
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey elight,

At this point I'm hoping Bernard, or someone more experienced than me, gets back on and helps out, but I feel I need to explain.

Ignore the mold. The mold is not the problem. The "wet" is the problem. The mold is just a symptom. The girls are trying to maintain the inside of the hive at about 95F. They need to keep the queen and any brood warm. They get chilled if they get wet and that's how you loose a colony.

At this point I don't know what to tell you. I've looked at your weather report. Looks like several days of rain followed by snow. Its not a good idea to open the hive right now, you'll just let heat out and chill the colony. I'm afraid that crossing your fingers is about all you can do.

Don't add any desiccant packs. The girls will just tear the package open and get into the chemicals.

Sorry I can't give you any better news. I believe there are a couple of bee associations in your area. I'm sure you can find a mentor willing to come look and make suggestions.

Ron
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

elight23,

For some reason I could not open the link you posted until now. Now that I've seen the design another thought occures to me. Sometimes a landing board like that on can collect rain water and channel the water into the hive. Which direction is the hive oriented? The entrance should be turned so the entrance is pointed away from the wind.

Ron
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're doing a good jpb, Ron.

@elight: Any chance you taking and posting some pictures of the situation?
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 122
Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

elight23 wrote:
The tarp is loosely laying over the hive, it certainly doesn't wrap it. There are areas of wood along the front, side and bottom that have full


I reckon you should maybe build yourself a roof to replace the tarp if you can.

Not a very experienced beek, but I have seen myself how wood dries far slower under plastic, even loosely, than it would if the wind could wick the moisture away directly.

I've had a large log pile like that, moisture will just be trapped under the top third. Air will circulate there a bit, but not enough if there is any moisture left in the logs at all. Add warmer moister air constantly rising from the beehive, and your climate where it is very wet, and that top area probably never comes near to drying out.
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tbh,allnew
New Bee


Joined: 15 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: USA north east ks.

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:48 pm    Post subject: tarp wrap? Reply with quote

here in north ks. the words tarp wrap scares me., wrap your boat motor in plastic tarp and expect to do expensive repairs come spring, wrap your car and the paint will blister and rust under the blisters. better to make a rain cover or leanto from the tarp and never let it touch what you are trying to protect . I speak from experience some pretty bad.
olehunter
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I build the hive a nice peaked cedar roof last fall, but it doesn't cover the hive with the added insulation. However, I just acquired a narrow enough sheet of fiberglass batting that I will lay over the flat roof and then put the cedar roof on top of. I'll probably also stuff some hay or something on top of the fiberglass to fill up all of the space under the roof. The fiberglass is covered in thin grocery bag type plastic with tiny perforations for breathability. However, for the sides, I still only have pillows and blankets that I can place in garbage bags to keep dry. I hope this change will help if its not already too late.

Mush appreciation!
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 122
Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck with it. I hope they make it through to Spring.

Hopefully someone who knows about top bar hives will be able to tell you if the new setup you describe sounds about right.

I like the Warre quilt for the absorbency and insulation it provides, and I think some people do use them on tbh, but also just foam boards too like you describe.

Plastic coated fibreglass on the top and plastic bags on the sides still sounds a bit uncomfortably clammy to me considering you need to turn around your already too wet and mouldy hive environment.

I wonder if just stuffing the roof cavity with straw might be enough to get you through to Spring. In the long term that straw filled cavity would need ventilating like that, but it might be enough to draw up some of the dampness for now until you could work on a more permanent solution.
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, maybe I'll just place a sheet of straight fiberglass, and remove the thin plastic - plus hay. Seems like a period of trial and error, but I'll focus on trying to let the top breath as much as possible while still being insulated.

Thanks!
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J Smith
Foraging Bee


Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

elight,
If it were me I would forget any addition of plastic- wrap on the fibreglass batt, or garbage bags on the sides. Timber is porous and "breathes" plastic restricts this ability and you will trap moisture. It may be warm inside, but it will remain damp.
Again, if it were me I would turn the roof upside down, place the glass batting inside and staple tyvek building wrap paper on top of the batting. Tyvek is designed for this purpose and is breathable, that is exactly why it is used for building wrap instead of polythene sheeting. Your house- just like your hive, needs to breathe.
Tyvek paper could be used in place of your garbage bags outside as well.

A hardware/building supply store may be able to sell Tyvek off the roll by the yard to you? Or perhaps you know someone in construction?

If the top bars are bee proof and they cannot reach your roof cavity, there is no real need to have any additional material between the top bars and the fibreglass batting. Just lay it on top and place your roof over.

Best advice I can give from a long way away is to get some straw bales, stack each side of the hive until you reach a height maybe 6" over the roof. Take your tarp and stretch it over the bale stacks to form a roof ABOVE the hive and insulation. Or if possible, construct some kind of frame over the hive so the tarp is suspended above the insulation and it can breathe. Avoid all plastic bags or sheet in close contact with your insulation, in effect it is like cling-wrapping the hive.
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Garret
Golden Bee


Joined: 04 Apr 2009
Posts: 1681
Location: Canada, BC, Delta

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I knew the bees were having trouble and that their numbers were small


Quote:
I opened the hive up and removed the very last bar, which was half filled with honey, and saw that it had a little mold along the sides of the comb.


A small amount of mold at the back and well away from the cluster shouldn't be an issue.
Some of the mold issue could be due to cluster size in relation to cavity size. A small cluster in a larger cavity can allow condensation to form on the combs further away from the cluster where its cooler/colder. You may be worrying more then needed.
My opinion would be to not have a through draft caused by the 1/8" gap at the back
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Smile I have the peaked cedar shingle roof back on top of the flat roof and I have filled the spaces with fiberglass batting. I have the sides covered with fleece and I closed the gap at the top of the top bars. I think it looks very breathable - hopefully I am right. We are projected to have a cold and wet spring, not warming much until June. I hope they are wrong!
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

elight23, you know, you can send some of that moisture down here. I would be happy to take it off your hands. Wink

Good luck.

Ron
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elight23
Nurse Bee


Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 25
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 1:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to share that my hive is looking great - the numbers have exploded! So I feel I can safely say that they survived their first, and a very cold, winter - thanks to your support and advice. The window inside still shows that there is some gray mold, but the bees seem very healthy. Now I know how to approach next winter - Thanks!
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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ashcroftashby
New Bee


Joined: 09 Sep 2017
Posts: 1
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no idea about this, I think you can search online about bees and moldy combs, also you can ask about this someone else.
www[dot]moldneutralizers[dot]com
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