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Condensation and varroa! Missing link to survivalists
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J Smith
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Joined: 13 Jan 2014
Posts: 169
Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Further condensing hive considerations Reply with quote

Broadwell wrote:


Would pine resin be a better (or lesser) alternative to shellac? I think it's cheaper to buy than shellac flakes.


As a tier of fishing flies, I often make "tying wax" from pine resin, bees wax and olive oil.
There is no reason a similar timber finish could not be made in the same kind of way to use as a sealer for the interior of hives. It uses natural products and will reduce the stickiness of an all resin coating.
Bow rosin is a refined pine resin and available at most musical instrument sales stores.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Worth experimenting with it for sure. Shellac is not that expensive, though - 500g for about £20 (about $30) which (adding the cost of the alcohol) will make 2 litres of varnish - goes a long way.
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Broadwell
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Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Further condensing hive considerations Reply with quote

biobee wrote:

I think Bernhard has already tried this - might be worth a search. I don't see why not, but it may set rather sticky...


Yep, it was his post that got me looking to see if you can buy it so I could try it myself. Someone sells it on ebay for £13/kg.

The result is a bit sticky, but I don't know if it would be so for the bees...? I also didn't mix in any beeswax when I tried it.
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J Smith
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Location: New Zealand, South Island, Southland, Riversdale.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beeswax and oil will reduce the tackiness of the resin. Alternately- increase the resin ratio and the "wax" becomes tackier.
2 parts rosin
1 part beeswax
touch of oil (aprox 1/8th by volume)

Is the formula I use for tying wax, but I am looking for a tacky, semi pliable wax paste/block, rather than a paintable or rubbed in timber finish.
You can experiment with the ratios. If too much oil is used for a start, add small amounts of rosin and wax to get the consistency required.

Use specific pans for heating the materials to blend and preferably not in the kitchen. Heated pine resin sure does smell strong!
Overheating will darken the resulting mixture to be more like cobblers wax. Colour will not worry if making for interior bee hive coating, but the more you heat (burn) pine resin...... the stronger more acrid the smell!

Bow rosin is about the most expensive way to buy refined pine resin, gymnastics rosin is a lot cheaper...... if you can find it for sale. Wink
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CharlieBnoobee
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Location: Virginia,USA; S. Appalachians;USDA zn. 6a

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Biobee wrote
Quote:
I'm not sure that you can dismiss the thermal insulation properties of propolis quite so readily - didn't Clarke calculate that this was about 20x that of beeswax?

At the time Clarke wrote his treatise I don't believe any means had been developed to measure the insulating values, "R factors", of various substances. I made my assertion based on the simple fact that, all other variables being equal, a material's insulating effect varies directly with its thickness. It's a linear function, a cold fact of nature, so to speak. Dry spruce might have half the insulating value as, for example, an equal thickness of propolis (which I doubt since propolis is probably denser); nevertheless, a 2 cm. thick spruce hive wall will yield 20X the insulation value of a .5mm propolis layer glopped on it. And a half mm of any normal coating would have to be virtually troweled on and take about a decade or so to dry properly.
That aside, I really like the idea of shellac for its practicality. Available everywhere, relatively inexpensive, and quite easy to apply. Especially with an air sprayer whereby its fast drying characteristic becomes an advantage rather than posing a difficulty.

Sue (or do you prefer Susan?)
Quote:
Okay, Charlie, photos pleeeeeeeeeease! A three-foot sump?? Filled with what? I'm loving the image of this.

Patience, patience. The molds for the papercrete are finished, now I'm getting the recipe ingredients (cement, sand, cellulose, polypropylene fiber, and accelerator) worked out. And I've also started milling frame parts. Fabricating 72 half-frames takes a good deal of milling and assembly. Not to mention figuring out the tooling to make it all happen.
Because I've acquired a fondness for happy family life, regular meals and sleeping indoors, there's also business matters to attend to, including an unavoidable 3 week trip to Houston falling smack in the middle of when I'd much, much rather be building hive boxes. My goal is to have 12 boxes built by the end of April. Eight will be set up as bait hives, (spread out over several miles) and four will go on a stand as the much hoped-for beginning of a four hive "tower". Once it's set up the photos will be taken and duly posted. Meanwhile, here's some sketchy grist for your imagery mill: Four hives each consisting of five boxes stacked 80" high, and contained by an open frame (which will also serve as the gantry (frame) of a hoist). The hives sit on an enclosure serving as a sump as well as the foundation of the tower/stand; it's not filled with anything other than a few inches of mulch on the bottom. With a vapor "redirecting" ceiling on top of each hive and a common roof on top of that, the whole arrangement comes to about 10 ft.
Bernhard is quite correct in advising you to not experiment until you've got some experience with a proven hive design. Quite wise, quite prudent neither of which I am, alas. I can hear Phil and Bernhard all the way across the Atlantic having a good laugh at this plan of mine. What can I say but, Enjoy the Moment.
Finally, you wonder:
Quote:
Is varnishing the inside of the hive to give a hand to get the bees started? Is there a reason not to let them do this on their own with their propolis?
A very good question IMHO; I alluded to the same thing in my post above. Wish some of the experienced beeks would address the matter.

Last edited by CharlieBnoobee on Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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Che Guebuddha
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Joined: 31 Jan 2012
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Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Is varnishing the inside of the hive to give a hand to get the bees started? Is there a reason not to let them do this on their own with their propolis?


Im not one of experience but we all harp here about how important it is for the colony to have total control over their inner organism (the cavity) Im sure if the colony needs entirely propolised cavity they will do so and if not ...
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WileyHunter
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Joined: 13 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
Any offers for a suitable recipe for a propolis/resin based varnish? Anyone managed to crack Stradivarius' recipe?


Quote:
To begin with, the elemental compositions of the varnishes from four of five Stradivarius showed a high lead content. This is unambiguous evidence for an oil varnish, since varnishes based on linseed or walnut oil have a very long drying time, which is attenuated by addition of a siccative (drying) agent. The preferred agent is litharge (PbO), since in addition to its drying function it is also an esteemed pigment.


I'll steer clear of his original recipe if this is true...
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imkeer
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Location: Belgium, Antwerpen, Schilde

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cobalt is another siccative for oil paint and varnish. I wouldn't use that either...
Without siccative it will have to dry a long time. That's not really a problem, is it?

Luc P. (BE)
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biobee
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CharlieBnoobee wrote:
I can hear Phil and Bernhard all the way across the Atlantic having a good laugh at this plan of mine. What can I say but, Enjoy the Moment.


Far from it, Charlie - I am impressed by the sheer audacity of your project! I really look forward to reading/seeing your results.

CharlieBnoobee wrote:

Finally, you wonder:
Quote:
Is varnishing the inside of the hive to give a hand to get the bees started? Is there a reason not to let them do this on their own with their propolis?
A very good question IMHO; I alluded to the same thing in my post above. Wish some of the experienced beeks would address the matter.


The pragmatic answer:

1. It's quick, cheap and easy to do, and if it helps at all, then why not?
2. It will mask the 'new wood' scent that bees seem to dislike, and so may reduce absconding from newly-built hives.
3. It saves the bees work, so freeing them up for foraging.
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Che Guebuddha
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Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do bees dislike new wood scent? My 2012 swarm got an empty new wood hive and they are still in it this year.

I will never varnish the inside of my hives. Im sure bees can figure that one out.
It is good to recognize a bored ego trying to solve problems even where there are no problems.

Did anyone see Sam Comforts top bar hives? They are not even varnished from outside and the carpentry skills of his seem very much leaving several entrances in form of gaps in planks. His colonies seem to be doing great treatment free.

When my mind gets into too much problem solving I say to it "Keep It Simple Stupid" (KISS) Smile
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biobee
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been a number of reports over the years of bees absconding from new hives, and almost none of bees absconding from previously occupied hives.

From this I deduce that bees don't much care for 'new wood'.

There is also evidence that bees like scorched wood, which suggests that either (a) they prefer the smell of burning to the smell of sap, or (b) that scorched wood has different properties which are advantageous in some way.

The Japanese routinely scorch their hive boxes inside and out, which is an odd thing to do unless is has a clear purpose.

I think it was Bernhard who pointed out that scorched wood has similar properties to varnished wood in terms of making it more waterproof, so either scorching or varnishing would seem to be appropriate treatments.
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes scorched wood is a bit more rot resistent. Its a common practice here to scorche fence poles before hammering them into the ground.
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I have seen, bees really dislike fresh wood. They feel home in old wood and especially if bees have been in there for a while. You can see this in swarm traps. The older the better.
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in the process of making my new ware hive for the coming season to replace the half-arsed plywood one I lashed up in a hurry last season. To that effect, i have been reading this thread and have decided it might be a good idea to varnish the inside of the hive walls with some kind of natural resin. I have looked up the prices and rosin is a lot cheaper than shellac on Ebay. However, if anyone has experience of rosin, I would be grateful if they could say how sticky the finish is when "dry". I am expecting I could dissolve the rosin flakes/powder in methylated spirits and so have a purely spirit based varnish.

Or, is rosin always going to leave a sticky finish and so shellac is best?

Any advice gratefully received.
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something tells me that bees will anyway apply a thin layer of propolis on top of the varnish inside the hive. I see propolis on my hive windows. Glass is perfect at catching condensed water yet bees still apply propolis to it.

Im sure they need propolis for more reasons than just creating a condensation suface. If this is the case Phil then we arent saving their time "lost" on propolis collection.

Bernhard wrote a calculation recently on how much water bees evaporate during one season. Huge ammounts! If we are to save their time so they can collect nectar instead then instead of creating condensation surface we can simply drill a top entrance so the warm moist air can leave the hive without the use of many ventilator bees. They sure dont use all that water evaporated from honey production and its easier for bees to let the warm moist air get out the hive than have it condense and then take it out of the hive.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The thing you are missing is conservation of energy.

By condensing water inside the hive, it's stored energy in the form of heat is recycled, which saves the bees having to replace it. All that warm air leaking from your top entrance is wasted energy.
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Che Guebuddha
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If that is true, if that is what bees actually do (conserve heat via condensation) and that top entrance is wasting it then why do I observe ventilator bees on the top (end) entrance working their but off during nectar flow Smile They obviously dont want all that huge ammount of condensing taking place within a hive otherwise they would drown Smile

And if your theory about top entrance wasting heat is true why did my 6 colonies survive the winter (2 of them small colonies)?
All Im saying is that there could be a possibility that bees tend to control only the atmosphere in between the combs and not the entire hive body (space between combs and walls). They can easily lock the space and open it quickly with drone/worker bodies as needed.

This shouldnt be a discussion about top entrance, but about the importance of heat conservation in the entire hive body vs cluster/brood body.

Which one do bees heat; the entire hive cavity or just the cluster/brood area which is sandwiched between combs creating a colony body within a hive body?

Lets also be reminded that many skep beeks have top entrance without issues.

I hope Im not boring you with this Smile if so I will retire.
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find top entrances anti-natural and against all of my experience with natural beekeeping. Just to say it crystall-clear.

It is completely turning over the hive's climate and the bees ability to control it. I am not saying a top vent (not entrance!) is helpful at times, but most of the time it is destroying the natural hive nest scent and the way of air flow in the hive.

Che Guebuddha wrote:
And if your theory about top entrance wasting heat is true why did my 6 colonies survive the winter (2 of them small colonies)?


If you have a top entrance at one of the ends of the TBH, so the combs are warm way, the position of the entrance is not as important. In a horizontal hive it doesn't matter much where the entrance is. Still it is a pain in the a$$ for the bees to carry out their dead and the debris all the way up to and out of the entrance. Do you remember yourself opening the back of the hive and the bees readily taking the chance to drag out all the dead drones? Same with top entrances. Once you open up the bottom entrance in an established hive it is used immediately to clean up the floor.

Che Guebuddha wrote:
only the atmosphere in between the combs and not the entire hive body (space between combs and walls).


It is not untrue, it is true that they can and do close the space between comb and making it a special atmossphere. But what do you think the bees work all the walls for, covering it in propolis. Why do you think they reduce the entrances to one entrance only and reduce that one with propolis? The inner hive climate is crucial - especially when it is not winter. In winter the cluster will survive a lot, even rain with a blown off roof. But in summer this is completely different. With brood present it is crucial for the bees to control the hive climate.

A lot of energy is wasted by doing stuff like open mesh floors and top entrances. Try to make small mini colonies, put them in a small hive with a solid floor and bottom entrance. And another one into a huge hive with open mesh floor or top entrance. Watch the differences.

Che Guebuddha wrote:
Lets also be reminded that many skep beeks have top entrance without issues.


Only the Luneburg skeps in the Luneburg heathlands have had top entrances. All other skeps in all other regions of Germany had bottom entrances! Because the heathland beekeepers tried to produce swarms. The reason why they used top entrances is not known today, for certain, but most probably it eases the use of the swarm catching net. I posted some pictures of the net. Fact is, that most skeps had bottom entrances. Most of them standing on a wooden board, the board having a groove that served as an entrance.

All in all I cannot find anything good about top entrances. Top vents - ok - but only at times. And only for ventilation when it is needed. It is a bad replacement for thick insulation.
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WileyHunter
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che wrote:

Im sure they need propolis for more reasons than just creating a condensation suface. If this is the case Phil then we arent saving their time "lost" on propolis collection.


But who says they NEED us to "save their time"? What if they NEED to collect propolis, as part of their duties within the colony? Take my kids for example... I'm certain that some of the chores that my wife and I require our kids to do can be construed as less important to outsiders looking in. And for heavens sake, they have these wonderful automatic dishwashers that would save them lots of time, right? Well maybe Wiley should get one for his kids so they can stop wasting that valuable time. But see, it's not about the time, as my kids still have plenty of time to clown around every day, it's about them learning responsibility. It's a part of the process of them growing up and becoming prepared for life on their own. We can easily imagine just some of the damage done if someone came in and overrode our decision, my kids would value clean dishes less and could easily be lazy slobs Rolling Eyes . What we don't know, is what effect are we having when we try to simplify the bees jobs. Some have already started to question this, by stopping the use of foundation. Why not carry the "let the bees, be bees" to the collection of propolis and its use in the hive?
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pargyle
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well ... all I did was put some hive scrapings (mixture of propolis, bits of wax and wood + any other debris) into a litre jar and then filled it up with methylated spirits. Left it about a week ... shaking it up daily .. then I used the resulting solution to paint the inside of my hive. Worked a treat ... needs a good couple of coats but it dries within minutres and can be overcoated. Smells just like the real thing ... and leaves a surface that is slightly glossy and sealed.

Bees seem to like it ...
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WileyHunter wrote:
But who says they NEED us to "save their time"?


Certainly true. Do they really need our help? Not always. But does it really harm? One observation made by Prof. Seeley (and I can second that) is, that a swarm, freshly moved into a fresh hollow tree, does not do any propolis work during the first year. Only in the second year the colony does add propolis. You can see this yourself: compare a new hive over the years. In the first year there is only little propolis to be found. Second year and the years after the propolis can get out of control. I find this especially in fixed comb hives, there usually can find more propolis.

One also can observe, that bees as swarms prefer to move into used hives, with propolis varnished walls. Put a fresh wood hive next to it, they'll ignore it and prefer the varnished hive. I reckon by removing all the dead trees out of the woods (in Europe that is at least), we simply remove the possibility to observe bee trees over a time. We have bee trees nearby and swarms moving into those trees year after year. Those trees are like bee magnets. I think the buildup of propolis is pioneering work, for the first settlers. All other swarms moving in already have a propolis varnished home to move in. So by helping them establishing a fresh new hive, we are actually copying nature. In nature swarms do not move into fresh hives year after year, but in already prepared hives.
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WileyHunter wrote:
.... Why not carry the "let the bees, be bees" to the collection of propolis and its use in the hive?
I do have an instinctive sympathy for this view. However, I don't see an initial resinous varnish on the inside of the hive walls as veering away from that philosophy so long as it is only an initial application. That is to say, a man-made hive is an artificial environment. Anything that can be done, therefore, to mimic a natural hive is a good thing. From what I have read on this thread and elsewhere, an initial coat of shellac or similar simply gives the bees an initial boost in terms of humidity control that they would otherwise have to make for themselves over time. It may well be that propolis serves other purposes in addition to humidity control and so the bees are still motivated to coat the inner hive walls with it even if those walls are shellacked. From what I have read, proplois has all kinds of anti microbial/antiseptic properties. In which case, fine. The varnish provides a quick boost to their humidity control and they can then set about propolising for all of the other additional benefits.

In other words, varnishing the inner walls appears to have no cost and the likelihood of real benefit. Plus it would not appear to interfere with the bees' tendency to propllse in any event.

That sounds like win-win to me.


Last edited by stevecook172001 on Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zaunreiter wrote:
....So by helping them establishing a fresh new hive, we are actually copying nature. In nature swarms do not move into fresh hives year after year, but in already prepared hives.
Exactly so.
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WileyHunter
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve - I'm not opposed to the use of a thin coat inside the hive (and do recognize the attractant value), but elsewhere on this thread/forum, someone made a statement suggesting a buildup of same concoction so the bees wouldn't have to. There is such thing as too much of a good thing though, and when we start thinking along the lines of "I'll do this, so they won't have to" i believe we are wading into a murky pool that could put us in the same waters as the uncaring mass-producing honey pumpers...
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Bernhard, as I nearly always do Wink

Always look at problems from first principles, rather than from some theory you have read somewhere. Our reference point is always natural bee behaviour: what do we see bees doing in their natural state?

If we see them do behaviour X, we don't need to know the 'meaning' for behaviour X, or the evolutionary reason for behaviour X - although this may be interesting enough - we just need to be willing to accept that this is what bees prefer to do and we may never know the reason.

Everything else is theory.
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B kind
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Location: Co.Wicklow, Ireland

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
They sure dont use all that water evaporated from honey production and its easier for bees to let the warm moist air get out the hive than have it condense and then take it out of the hive.


When I read this my first thought was, "well maybe they like to drink distilled water imbued with propolis?"

Kim
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

B kind wrote:


When I read this my first thought was, "well maybe they like to drink distilled water imbued with propolis?"



That is indeed a distinct possibility.
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stevecook172001
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

just got my shellac in the post. Will be thinning with meths and applying in the next few days.

Purple meths is okay to use, right?
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peopleshive
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve,

I must admit I don't like putting non-food approved substances into hives. Not sure what the dye in meths is. (One rule of thumb (from David Heaf, I think) is: "If you wouldn't put it in your mouth, then don't put it in the hive...")

My method for populating new hives is to allow swarms to move in directly. I set up Warré or Japanese hives in situ as bait hives first. As well as using some old brood comb as bait I coat the inside of the boxes with propolis dissolved in hot surgical grade ethanol. Not sure I'd recommend this procedure to anyone as hot flammable solvents are more than a little hazardous, but it certainly works!

Regards,

Andy
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CharlieBnoobee
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil, with his usual sagacity wrote:

Quote:
The pragmatic answer:

1. It's quick, cheap and easy to do, and if it helps at all, then why not?
2. It will mask the 'new wood' scent that bees seem to dislike, and so may reduce absconding from newly-built hives.
3. It saves the bees work, so freeing them up for foraging.


This answer I like—about as assailable and squshy as the Rock of Gibralter. Now, combine this with Pargyle's recipe...

Quote:
Well ... all I did was put some hive scrapings (mixture of propolis, bits of wax and wood + any other debris) into a litre jar and then filled it up with methylated spirits. Left it about a week ... shaking it up daily .. then I used the resulting solution to paint the inside of my hive. Worked a treat ... needs a good couple of coats but it dries within minutres and can be overcoated.


and we have the makings of an Ideal Hive Coating. If there's a concern about nasty trace residues from the methylated spirits (in Yankish aka denatured alcohol?), then the initial steeping could be done with some cheap vodka or equivalent. Mix some of this "tea" with shellac thinned with d.a./'meths' for the first one or two coats (preferably sprayed on) followed by a final coat using the cheap booze for thinner. This should isolate any potentially harmful residues.
Now if I can just figure out what exactly "worked a treat" means. Most likely it's something positive but we can never be too sure about Brit-speak.

Che— re top entry/ventilation.
My only question is WHY?? Why deviate from the qualities and features of a natural large tree cavity any more than necessary for practicality's sake? Granted, "necessary for practicality's sake" can encompass a relatively large range of embodiments, but if there's no compelling need to make the deviation, then why bother?

Right from the git-go, this whole glorious, lumbering thread has been dealing with the various, mostly advantageous, aspects of helping/allowing bees to use condensation rather than ventilation for the removal of water from nectar. It seems this is the Natural Way of Things so why swim against the current? You might cite your successful colonies and their overwintering abilities, but with a gazillion different variables playing into that outcome, how can you possibly know if these successes are because of or in spite of your entry and ventilation placement?

Charlie

P.S. I do admire your tenacity, particularly in the way you hang in there in a language not your own. I would sooner have my thumbnails slowly drawn! Ditto for Bernhard
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