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Condensation problem?

 
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Houstonbees
Guard Bee


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 81
Location: Houston Tx, USA

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:15 am    Post subject: Condensation problem? Reply with quote

Has anyone seen this happen before? Past couple of days we've been in the low 70's , partly sunny, and the girls flying pollen in like crazy. Then we had a cold front pass thru yesterday late afternoon with a 40 degree temperature drop in less than half an hour. I checked the hive this evening and found maybe a dozen or so dead bees on the landing pad in the entrance way, but more importantly the entrance was WET. Water was slowly leaking out of the hive entrance on the bottom board. Definitely wasn't honey. Is this the result of the sudden temperature drop condensing out the humidity in the hive? Quilt appears to be ok, no mold seen, and no unusual smell noticed. Temperatures are expected to climb the rest of the week---upper 60's by day, lower 40's at night after we get through freezing temperatures tonight.
Any comments, ideas, thoughts, observations would be appreciated.
Thanks!
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worrywort
House Bee


Joined: 26 Dec 2009
Posts: 24
Location: UK, Kent, Gravesend

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:22 am    Post subject: condensation Reply with quote

Hello There.
dont panic this happens to me in the UK during the cold months.
try drilling a couple of 1/8" holes in each corner of the floor to allow the water to drain out. (with the floor off the hive).
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Happens here a lot this time of year. The girls start bringing nectar and trying to evaporate off the water, they metabolize honey, then the temperature drops at night and the vapor condenses.

Around here they ventilate and insulate. Sounds like you have a Warre so the top is insulated? Can you drive a small wedge in between the quilt and the top box to let some of the moist air out? I know you'll be letting some of the heat out, but if the water condenses and drips on the cluster they'll chill anyway.

The holes in the bottom will help let some air in as well. I know its the opposite of what you think but around here a screened bottom and ventilated top gives the hive a 30% better chance of surviving.

Ron
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a word of caution here concerning holes and gaps.

Holes allow robbers in, wasps, wax moths and ants. And in the US also hive beetles. So I'd be careful drilling holes or so.

1) You either change your floor and use a open mesh floor, so the condensation water doesn't pool on the floor.

2) Or you slightly tilt the hive forward, so water can run out of the entrance.

3) Or you add way more insulation on top, bottom and the sides of the hive.

4) Or you use a small top vent hole, best is with some hardware cloth/mesh to prevent nasty stuff go in.

From all I've tried so far I really like the added insulation best of all options. But that's me. You need a lot of insulation to make it work, though.

Bernhard
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bernhard,

What if Hustonbees made a frame out of 1x2, drill few small holes in one side and covered the holes with 10:1 hardware cloth? The frame could be placed between the quilt and the top box like a small spacer. Or would that be to much.

The framed hive beeks around here take a piece of 3/4 inch plywood cut to the same dimensions of the hive, but with a 4x2 inch notch cut out of one end and covered with screen. This is placed over the upper box and under the lid. It works great here, but something like that would interfere with the quilt on a Warre. I was thinking the spacer would be a compromise.

Most of the framed hives around here have screened bottoms and I've dropped the winter boards from my KTBHs.

Ron
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1055
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Bernhard.

One of the design features common to all framed hives that I have seen is that there is no empty space below the frames, which means that:

- water pools on the floor, making it hard for bees to enter and leave
- because the water cannot drain freely, it evaporates and effectively saturates the hive atmosphere

This makes the hive too damp altogether, making life hard for the bees and causing mould and probably incubating some extra bacteria.

The answer? space below the bees; something like the eco-floor to soak up excess moisture and provide habitat for beneficials; insulation; possibly a small amount of roof ventilation (although I am not keen on that).
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Houstonbees
Guard Bee


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 81
Location: Houston Tx, USA

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all of the info so far. I've got a Warre hive built to Warres' specs almost to the exact dimensions. So, think what I'll try first from all the suggestions is lift the hive( I built a hive lift), remove the bottom board and clean it as needed, and do an inspection. I need to do an inspection anyway to see how far the girls have built out the 3rd box. Then reset the hive on the bottom board and slightly tilt the hive to aid in draining out the water. That should help alleviate the panic (LOL, not really) and concern. I'll let you guys know what I find.
As a side thought, is this one time where a PAINTED bottom board would have aided in keeping the bottom of the hive clean and helped drain the excess water? I left the board unpainted thinking it would be coated in propolis anyway.
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is mostly for my education as I do not have any experience with a Warre. It seems like the quilt should be soaking up at least some of the moisture. I know houstonbees says the odors are normal, but is it wet? Phil, Bernhard, would changing out the material in the quilt help dry out the hive?
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugscouter wrote:
...would changing out the material in the quilt help dry out the hive?


It helps.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The condensation in your hive is typical of any saturated atmosphere that is suddenly cooled. Think of a foggy day, its because the air is saturated with water vapour and cooled below the dew point.

Now, in your hive the air is always humid from the water off the nectar. If this is suddenly cooled, as in your case, the water condenses and effectively creates a fog in your hive. As its contained the fog just stays there and saturates everything. Your quilt will help moderate small events but it sounds like your case is a bit sudden so the quilt is not fast enough. Ventillation is the answer. As you already have bottom entrances a SMALL top entrance would work to allow a gentle air flow, you don't want a wind tunnel, the bees work very hard to create their hive atmosphere so don't wreck this with large entrances. If you don't want the top entrance to be used as an entrance just staple some flywire over it to make it a vent. With the flywire base the bees can easily seal it or open it as they need to.
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