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Heat retention in brood box in vertical supered hives

 
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:31 pm    Post subject: Heat retention in brood box in vertical supered hives Reply with quote

After conversing with Bernhard in his thread "Living in a bee house" I have decided to start building a few Danish 12x10 hives. One deep brood box and shallow supers above.

After keeping bees in hTBHs for 3 seasons I came to like the heat retention when opening the hive. When opening a TBH the brood nest stays covered and bees hardly notice you are at the back Smile

Now Im venturing into the world of vertical hives since I have to find a way for my ladies to make enough honey for the 3 short month of nectar flow in our mono-crop agri environment. The biodiversity is pretty much gone here yet most Danes cant see that because they have other things to do and probably to watch their favorite show on the TV as a stress relief from their very stressful jobs. Anyway ...

What I dislike A LOT is the way vertical conventional hives must be opened to place a new super on during nectar flows. All heat dissipates at once and bees must invest huge energy to repair that. I would love to find a way to MINIMIZE this. I know its impossible to do so 100% but some reduction in heat loss must be possible even in supered hives.
Before you say "Warre Hive" please go back to Bernhards thread and re-read his replies on why he does not advice their use in my locality Smile

That said ... I was pondering and if some of you recollect I have build a few "Bee-friendly Super TBHs" last year and have tested them this year. They did not work that well at all for me. Out of 3 colonies only one colony went up into the super and have built 5 honey combs with Rape honey in them which had long crystallized and I could not use it so I gave it back to the bees in a crushed form (they did a great job in cleaning it up)



Note the slits at the front and at the back. I did not use any wax guides in the supers. I wanted to see if bees will choose to go up on their own accord and only one colony did so but didn't fill the entire box even though we had much Rape/canola around here.
This is the super with honey (note, they have made very streight combs without any guides);


I have got this idea from one conventional beekeeper who tried a TBH for 2 seasons and his colony made him 24kg of honey. He did use conventional supers with frames and foundation. I have got these photos from Erik Osterlund a samll cell beekeeper from Sweden so please do not copy these 3 photos without permisson, thanks;


Only two slits between top bars to go up


It is possible that this could have worked well in my top bar hives if I had wax guides or wax ladders to make the bees more interested to move up.

Any who, now that Im building a Danish 12x10 frame hive (with 8 foundationless freams) with one deep brood box and shallow supers on top I was pondering how to minimize heat loss when supering during nectar flows.
This is the brood box with queen excluder (I've got 4 of them from my father in law so I just might use them)

and the next photo shows my idea to cover the 6 frames in the middle which would cover most of the brood when supering above (I only placed a balck paper but would probably go with thin plywood or else;


What are your thoughts on this and did you try something similar?
I was also contemplating the use of plywood queen excluder as described on David Cushman's home page http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/excludertypes.html which encloses the brood nest and hence preserves much of the heat when supering.

When doing proper brood inspection this means nothing but only during supering or taking the supers for harvesting.

Thank you.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che,

One problem I can see with your supered HTB hive is the two small gaps for the bees to go through. I would imagine you would need much more room to encourage them to move up as in a Warre hive where there is a gap between each bar. Also, some checkerboarding would help as well.

I can see the same type of problem with your cover on your national hive. Better to leave them open and super on warm days and do it quickly. you will be surprised just how tough those little creatures are if you handle them efficiently. Also, the board will wreck your beespace and encourage brace comb which will make your job slower and more heat will be lost as a result.

Just some thoughts
Rob.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brace comb will most certainly not happen because the bees perceive that plywood as another floor. In my supered hives they have only braced the hind comb which was above the slit so they can climb up. The other combs where not attached to the bottom (combs in the super where not attached to the top bars beneath). They never build brace comb on the top bar hive floor either.

The small gaps worked very well for the beekeeper I mentioned above and showed his pictures. His bees collected 24 kg of honey climbing through those small slits. But he has frames with foundation in his supers and I had nothing but the wooden box, no wax guides or anything.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also to mention, that plywood heat retention sheet would be removed before winter kicks in together with the queen excluder of course so bees can brace the combs with the upper super left for their wintering.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2014 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like you have your answers already Che. Good luck.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I have been contemplating this since last year Smile so fair amount of thought went into it. I am more interested if someone actually did something like this or even if someone used the plywood queen excluder in this link or similar where the brood nest is mostly covered during supering.
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find myself mentioning the Anton Janscha hive yet again (pity he's not alive, I might have asked him for a small commission Smile ) ...

What Janscha did was to make both the upper and lower boxes as self-contained independent uniits, only connected to each other by access holes. Unfortunately, his design is poorly documented on the few online sites in which it is mentioned. His hives are still in existence of course, so if anyone feels like a visit to his homeland armed with a tape measure and notepad ...

But - from looking at historical diagrams, each of the 2 access holes can't be much more that 2 or 3 inches diameter. And no need to worry about beespaces etc., as each box has it's own top and bottom board.

I can't imagine much heat would be lost through such modestly-sized holes, surrounded as they are a comb array. You could try fitting some kind of slider closures to the holes of course, but I suspect that would only complicate things, and also squish a few bees in operation.

Colin
BBC
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Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you say slider board you mean to slide it in before adding new super on top and then slide it out again after the super and roof are back on right?

I was thinking about that too but dropped the idea because of the brace comb which would make sliding in the board difficult. And yes some bees might get squished in this process but not much if you kind of slide back and forth all the way to the end to push the bees away. This board would be above the queen excluder so no danger to the queen.

I must say that sliding board would be the perfect solution if there were no brace combs but that is impossible in such vertical hives.
The only alternative is to have a permanent board above the excluder which covers 6 frames so bees still can pass upwards from the sides which is a large gap from both sides of the brood nest.

I guess I will try this on one or two hives next year instead of trying on all hives as I did this year. Since it just might not work so better test with less.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do not forget, that the heat of the broodnest below the honey dome/supers dries the nectar into honey. You need ventilation and heat for the honey to ripe. So a good contact betwenn honey and brood is a good idea.

Using boards or any other barrier between broodnest and super might lead to very high moisture content of the honey. If you are aware of it, you might work around it. But be aware.
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zaunreiter
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking at the pictures shown with the paper cover and possibly plywood and such things, I would guess, the coverings do more harm to the heat retention as would a quick supering do. Smile

You possibly create more problems by solving a lesser problem.

Temperature measurings of my friends showed that supering, which is done in less than 10 seconds, had no significant effect on temperature in the broodnest. Since the wax is a most efficient heat storage, it buffers such things. The bees usually got back to the original temperature in half an hour. It does look different though, when inspecting each comb of the broodnest. The bees need one day or so, to bring back the temperature. So supering won't be much of a problem.
If the broodnest cools down the bees react by coming up to the top and filling the upper part of the comb gaps with their bodies. They cluster at the top of the combs, closing the cul-de-sacs. If you see this, you better close the hive and come back later.

To inspect a hive without harm you work quickly. I work hundred hives per day and need less than five minutes per hive for a full inspection. That is tolerated by the bees. I do not open the hive again before 7 days minimum. This way you do not overdo it. Inspect on warm days, if possible, and the bees do fine with it.

Keep a close contact between broodnest and honey supers. The honey must be warmed to ripe properly. Not only for drying the nectar, but also for fermenting processes. You see differences in enzymes in a properly ripened honey and honey, that has had too little warmth treatment by the bees.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Since the wax is a most efficient heat storage, it buffers such things.


So true, I totally ignored that aspect and yet I have observed my self each time I melt wax combs that the wax needs long time after melting to cool down Smile It keeps the warmth very long indeed. Thanks a bunch for mentioning this!

Ok, so no heat retention dividers of any kind. So it seems that frames are indeed a better option because one can work faster when inspecting the hive. Not so when top bar comb is attached to the sides of a vertical hive.
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zaunreiter
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here a picture that shows how bees start to come up and close down the combs with their own hairy bodies:



Yes, bees wax is one of the best heat storage substances that you find on earth. It really can store a lot of energy and warmth and only slowly gives it back to the environment. In apitherapy it is used for warmth treatments. Clothes coated in wax get warmed and you put this on your sore back or limbs for treatment.

I wouldn't say working frames are quicker than working fixed combs, because you work by the box with fixed combs while you work frame by frame in frame beekeeping. With topbars only the comb is exposed that you work, so you can take your time.

What some beekeepers do is, that they use a piece of cloth to cover the parts of the box that they do not work. They pull the cloth as they work through the frames. It is just a rag with a window in it.

Open up the hive, cover the hive with the rag and pull the first frame. Replace the frame and pull the window of the cloth a little further to expose the next frame. This way you have the same effect as with a TBH.

Some people add some drops of Eugenol (clove oil) to the rag, which drives the bees down when working the hive. The rag must be stored in a closed jar, so you do not need to add clove oil each time, but only two times per year. Some do not need any smoke any more because of this rag and oil trick.

I prefer smoke and quick working, but I need to work quickly anyway.
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imkeer
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Oct 2011
Posts: 203
Location: Belgium, Antwerpen, Schilde

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When adding a second super, is it best placed above the first or in between the broodnest and the first super? Why?

Luc P. (BE)
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
What some beekeepers do is, that they use a piece of cloth to cover the parts of the box that they do not work. They pull the cloth as they work through the frames. It is just a rag with a window in it.


I actually did this once on my friends vertical hive because those bees were on the aggressive side. We used no smoke only a rag and worked our way frame by frame while making sure the hive is covered at all times except when returning the frame and taking new one out for inspection.

We did this to avoid bees becoming aggressive, not because of heat retention but now i see it will do just that and I will be using that on my future vertical hives when inspecting the colony.

I have Bitter Almond Oil which bees dont like much. I think I can use that one in the rag.

Thanks a million for such good advice Bernhard!
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zaunreiter
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

imkeer wrote:
When adding a second super, is it best placed above the first or in between the broodnest and the first super? Why?


Hello Luc!

The best way is to add the new super right at the top of the hive. This is why:

1)
Right above the broodnest there is a critical zone that is very important for the bees. If you use an excluder and a properly sized broodnest, you will see empty combs right above the excluder. The bees clean the cells for the queen, so she can lay eggs into it (which she can't because of the excluder). Right above the empty cells you'll see a dome of pollen.

Now, if you can set the bees up like this, they think they are in an upward phase of Spring development and they grow really strong this way. Those empty cells do not get filled with honey, the bees marked them as brood cells, ready for the queen. If you move those cells up, they do not get filled, even if they far away from the broodnest. You disturb the bees senses of the right order of a honeybee nest. Also this leads to partially filled honey supers in opposition to fully filled honey supers. The difference can be half the weight!

2) Usually you super in advance, ahead of the bees' filling the supers. So if the supers are half full, you add another one. (Again, this is supering, not nadiring.) If you move the partially filled super up to the top, you remove the warmth of the broodnest from those partially fermented honey. This leads to higher moisture in the honey and it is more possible to become spoiled. So keep the honey close to the broodnest. Let the bees warm it. Once the honey gets capped, there are few bees on it and the bees let through the warmth and populate the top of the hive. So in short, you get drier honey with supering at the top only.

3) The broodnest is the honey pump. A compact broodnest with lots of warmth really pumps the honey up into the supers. If you super at the top only, you keep the upward direction of honey intact. So the way is up, up, up. The bees better draw comb in the supers this way and they better fill it, in my experience.

There is one exception: the Carnica bee (maybee other bee races, too) tends to store honey very close at the broodnest. So rather than filling the cells up in the supers, they like to store it within the broodnest, once the close-by honey combs are filled up. Leads to backfilling of the broodnest and swarming. Hence the swarming tendency of Carnica bees.

By adding two empty but drawn combs in the center of the new super, you can get those bee strains up into the supers, too. To a certain extend. Only when the flow is closing you should add a new shallow super between broodnest and capped honey supers. With Carnicas that is.
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imkeer
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Oct 2011
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Location: Belgium, Antwerpen, Schilde

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vielen Dank !
Thank you Bernhard for the very complete answer ! (as usual)
I thought there's a connection with the retention of heat in the broodnest. That's why I posted my question here...

Most of my colonies are locally adapted bees that were pure carnica about 30 years ago. They have developed since then; they are remarkably bigger than carnica's normally are (more the size of "belgian brown bees") and it's clear they have some buckfast also. (Colorwise)
I have a few carnica colonies and some buckfast also. I'm quite happy with this mixture.
I suppose it won't harm to put (2 or more) drawn combs in the center of all the supers...

Luc P. (BE)
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BBC
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Joined: 11 Jul 2012
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Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
When you say slider board you mean to slide it in before adding new super on top and then slide it out again after the super and roof are back on right?


Yes.

Quote:
I must say that sliding board would be the perfect solution if there were no brace combs but that is impossible in such vertical hives.


Really ? Smile

All the crown-boards of my full-sized hives have been drilled with 50mm holes to take overhead inverted jar feeders. Now a lot of people fit fine wire gauze over the hole, and place the feeder jar on top of that - but I find that this encourages dripping, so I leave the hole completely open, and place the inverted jar directly over it.

To replace the jar, I gently slide a piece of thin, fairly rigid yet flexible plastic (old-style X-ray film, 2 litre ice-cream carton tops - that kind of thing) between the jar and crown board, and place a small weight on top of it before re-filling the jar with syrup. Then reverse the process, finally sliding the plastic sheet out. I feed little but often, and perform this procedure on many hives each night. Eventually there is inevitably some propolis build-up which makes sliding the plastic sheet difficult, and which then needs scraping away - say, after 6 weeks or so.

This was the kind of thing I had in mind. If the access holes were made towards the edge of the super, then a sheet of suitable plastic could be inserted between the boxes before the super was slid away to one side.

If you do play with this idea - don't forget to place a weight on top of the plastic asap, else the bees will lift it up and escape !

'best
Colin
BBC
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