Preventing Moisture During The Winter

Winter cold temperature is usually not a problem for bees, as their muscles will generate heat and keep the cluster warm. The warm moist air produced by the bees trapped in the hive, however, is a problem. If allowed to condense, the warm moist air becomes a cold rain of water down onto the cluster, which will quickly become the cause of winter losses.

One common trick to reducing moisture in the hive is to place a popsicle stick or paint stirring stick on top of the inner cover towards the front of the hive so that the telescoping cover is propped up in the front.

This allows the warm moist air inside the hive a way out and should any build up and condense under the cover, because its raised higher in the front and lower in the back, any condensation would roll to the back of the cover and drip out behind the hive.

I happen to have a few beer bottle tops laying around, and liked the idea of gently pressing their rigid edge down into the wood causing them not to move, so I used them instead.

Another trick that's used to reduce moisture in the hive is to take 1/2 inch (or 3/4 inch) rigid insulation foam board and insulate the inner cover. The idea is that by insulating the inner cover, and preventing the cold winter air getting to the inner cover, warm air will not condense on the bottom side of it and rain down on the bees.

Hive Ventilation

Most hardware stores sell this rigid foam in 4'x8' sections, most for as little as $13 a sheet. Take your inner cover and turn it flat side down and cut a piece of foam to fit inside the rim and press it down against the inner cover hole.

Then using a saw, Dremel tool or router, cut an approx 3/8th inch deep track that leads from the inner cover hole to the outside edge of the inner cover where the vent hole is as shown below.

The track cut in the foam, lined up with the inner cover hole and edge vent hole allows warm moist air to escape when the foam is laid into place.

To double check my handy work, I lay the foam down into place, and make sure the holes line up and provide an air escape.

You can see the setup in place on top of the hive below.

I then placed the bottle caps into place to keep the outer cover elevated, and added the outer telescoping cover, and with that, they're tucked into bed for the winter.

Comments For This Post: (8) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Holly says...
Date:   November 15, 2011, 2:20 pm

Very interesting---I have never heard of using foam insulation.  I wedge a piece of wood 1/2 inch thick underneath my hives in the back so the entire hive is tilted forward so the moister drains to the the front. 

I have also heard of filling an empty super with leaves, sawdust, and other moisture absorbing things.  The inner cover hole is covered with a screen so the bees can't crawl up into the leaves and remove them.  This method is more popular in snowy areas.

Mortimer Bondurant says...
Date:   June 6, 2012, 11:59 am

Now that you've reviewed the Bee Smart insulated cover and like it, will you continue to use this insulated inner cover with the Bee Smart outer?  Thanks.


Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   June 6, 2012, 12:58 pm

Great question Mort,

Personally, (every beekeeper has his or her own opinions) I don't see a need for extra insulation on hives equipped with a Bee Smart insulated cover. The Bee Smart covers are insulated with dead air space within the internal composition of the cover itself, whereas typical wood cover do not have any dead air space, as the cover is made of solid wood.

I currently only have one of the Bee Smart covers, so I'll continue to use the foam board insulation on my remaining hives with classic wood telescoping covers. The foam board is cheap, easy and effective at keeping in warmth and yet allowing moisture to escape during winters.

On a side note: I've tried to acquire a Bee Smart Hive Body to review on the blog also, sort of a "complete Bee Smart hive review" but am unsuccessful in persuading the manufacturer to send me one so far. 



Mortimer Bondurant says...
Date:   July 4, 2012, 9:08 pm

So, to prepare for winter, I ordered 3 of the Bee Smart covers which came with no promotional or explanatory or guidatory (is that even a word?) material whatsoever and I put them on in May.  In July one blew off of a hive.  They are very light weight.  Good thing I figured this out in July.  They need a heavy brick on top to tie me kangaroo down, mate.


Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   July 5, 2012, 10:03 am

Yikes - blown off covers is never a good surprise! Hopefully your July has been like ours so far - dry - and no rain got into the hive while the cover was off.

I'll contact the manufacturer to inquire about promotional/instructional materials not  being in the packaging. When they sent out a cover to me for review, it too did not contain any promotional/instructional materials.

troy says...
Date:   September 20, 2012, 6:37 pm

hello my name is troy, happend to see one of your video on u-tube showing your mouse gard did you make it yourself or did you get it from a bee supplier that is the same kind i would like to have but cannot find a supplier that sales them that way if you made them what did you use stanless steel or alumninum and what gage medal . thanks troy

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   September 23, 2012, 10:21 pm

Hi Troy!

I made my own wooden mouse guards to match the size/dimensions of what the manufacturers sell.

The ones in the video are actually perforated angle track, the kind used to hang garage doors with.

Some of the heavy gauge tracks have round holes, but the thinner track, sometimes used to hang the garage door motor has the elongated holes.

troy says...
Date:   September 25, 2012, 12:50 pm

just wanted to say thanks for the info, i will use your tips to make my own troy

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