Since 50% of honey bee colonies in America died between April 2022 and April 2023, one must ask if bee hives had automatically controlled heating, how many colonies would have died during that same period? Of course, the question is rhetorical, but the intent is to draw attention to the fact that ¾” pine boxes have an R-Value of just about nothing. Zero, zip. They only shield the bees against wind, snow, sun and rain, and don’t do that very well. And, they condense and absorb moisture, turning the hive into a conductor of heat; not an insulator.
In the image above, there are elements of heating, air conditioning, humidity control and ventilation, all inside an upscale home owned by a man with high net worth, who understood that he needed and wanted perfect indoor climate conditions, and he paid me $200,000 to make sure that was realized. And it was. There should be no questioning why honey bees would build homes in human homes with indoor climate control mechanics. It really is a no-brainer, even to the bees.
There are certain products that claim to keep bees ‘cozy’ in winter, but these are nothing but conductors for cash from your wallet to theirs. Their stated R-value is questionable, since insulation thickness is moot with a loose fit. And how can the heat from the sun penetrate the wrap and enter the hive if the insulation is blocking it? Insulation works in all directions, right? What about black tar paper? Zero R-value. And they only attract heat from the sun when the sun is actually not hidden by night or clouds. Wind breaks, burlap, all are virtually useless since the ‘modern’ bee hive is not designed to protect bee colonies from weather, including temperature extremes; they are designed to easily be robbed of the bees’ honey stores – their winter food! Think about that for more than a minute.
If human homes were designed and constructed like bee hives, the earth’s population might be a few hundred thousand, but mankind has figured out how to house and protect itself. It is no surprise that honey bees love human homes. Is the solution to protecting honey bees from weather not blaringly obvious? Incredibly, beekeepers work hard at preventing honey bees from living in near-perfect shelters – walls, floors, ceilings, chimneys, etc. of human homes, since fear of bees and theft of their stores is paramount to beekeepers and non-keepers of bees alike.
Wake up, beekeepers! Abandon the absurd modern beehive designs already, that is, if you want healthy honey bee colonies. This is exactly what I’ve done. I’ve created the Fortress Beehive, but I am no dummy. Everyone knows that most keepers of bees are not doing it to protect their colony in any meaningful way, really. No, their priority is the honey, pollen and propolis, and the easiest way to capture these resources is with a Langstroth hive with removable frames this IS the priority, is it not? Thus, my Fortress Beehive intelligently retains the ubiquitous 10-frame Langstroth boxes, and protects them against all manner of weather conditions and common attacks by petulance, bears and humans’ actions and inactions.
The Current Mindset on Heating a Beehive
I believe that if all beekeepers were polled to determine the number who believed a bee hive should be heated, we would find that the majority would say no. Let’s examine this speculation.
Why most beekeepers, I believe (which is different than, I know), would vote to not heat a bee hive and its resident colony inside, is because they may know that the colony might eat all of their food before winter is over, and they would not be able to defecate since it would be too cold outside to do so, which could, obviously lead to another set of problems beyond warmth. This is all true, of course. It, too, is true that keepers of bees should not take too much of their natural food, but they still do, and replace it with white sugar. Did you know that some large beekeeping suppliers also own sugar companies? This is dangerous for honey bees, now and in the future and is an outright attack on them. Think of how it would be if humans’ food was taken from, them and they were forced to only eat Spam. 50% of humans would likely die off each year, too.
The Fortress Beehive is heated for three reasons:
- Low temperature limit.
- High temperature limit.
- Condensation control.
I live between Squam Lake and the White Mountain National Forest, in New Hampshire USA. In winter, the temperature can reach twenty-five degrees below zero. If you don’t have a tight beehive, or your colony is weak and of small population, it will not last over winter in this climate. No way! Meeting a low temperature limit, such as forty-degrees Fahrenheit inside a bee hive ensures that the colony won’t freeze.
There are many reasons why a colony might be small going into winter, but this is the subject of another area of study. This article is concerned with, primarily, temperature control and, secondarily, humidity control.
Further, heating a colony in early spring gives it a head start, and can produce conditions that make for a large colony going into forage season. I know this to be true, I’ve applied this practice to my own colonies to prove my theory.
Also, a colony might be small due to a defective laying queen, or, an ant or hive beetle infestation that robs the colony of its production, and the queen just can’t lay enough to overcome the assault. Maintaining 95-degrees creates a condition so that the foraging bees can leave the hive and bring back essentials without concern for the brood failing to properly develop from lack of heat. This too I have done with the Fortress Beehive, and my colony in this experiment rebounded in numbers relative to the forage season calendar.
Of course, over-heating a hive in winter will activate a mite colony and expand its attack on the bees, which is why the Fortress Beehive kills mites with heat – thermo-hygro therapy to be exact. Keeping a mite population in check, year-round is critical to protecting a bee colony. So-called experts will tell you that thermo-therapy is not commercially viable, and some of these people take advertising money from those who sell and advocate the use of toxic chemicals to keep mites at bay. We know how well that is working, as mites become more and more resistant to chemical treatments; just as humans are becoming more resistant to medicinal chemicals, this can’t be denied. I contend thermo-hygro therapy has not been perfected before now, since doing so would upset the revenue stream that purveyors of chemical treatments make by selling poisons to combat varroa mites, which is an impending doom-loop. This is not unlike the FDA disallowing alternate treatments for diseases that are mostly treated with poisons at obscene profits for the pharma-chemical companies – see this. The Fortress Beehive allows complete flexibility so beekeepers can dial in precise temperature and humidity to maximize the kill-rate of mites, without chemicals and without killing their bees to know if they have mites, and if the ‘treatment’ worked.
No bee hive would be ready for winter without effective insulation, which is why I have designed the best hive insulation system that I call The Fortress Beehive Jacket with an R-value of 20! I’m creating a Hive Jacket for Langstroth hives as well. Stay tuned for this hive insulation breakthrough, coming in Fall of 2023.
Let’s wrap up this discussion, but first, we need to discuss the relationship between temperature and humidity. As temperature rises, the surrounding air can hold more water content in the form of vapor, that is, until the dewpoint reaches a level that the atmosphere at that temperature can’t hold any more water and it turns into fog or rain. That’s the simple explanation – to learn more, search “dewpoint” online.
The other way that water vapor is turned into liquid is when it comes into contact with a colder surface, like the inside of a bee hive, especially, the inner cover. Heat rises (only because denser, colder air falls and displaces it upward) inside a bee hive and when it reaches the relatively colder inside surface of the inner cover, it condenses there and, if the relative humidity inside the hive is high enough, it will turn to liquid and drip down on the hive contents, including bees, below. The Fortress Beehive is designed to purposely wring the water vapor out of the air when it comes into contact with the colder Roof, which is pitched at an angle of 22.5-degrees. This downward slope causes the condensation to drain down the inside of the roof and out the Condensation Drain slot, so it doesn’t fall back down on the bees and their stores.
In summer, excess heat and relative humidity inside the Fortress Beehive is evacuated from the hive to the outdoors with a 5-watt solar-powered fan, which helps keep the bees’ home dry inside and helps increase honey production by assisting evaporation rate.
To wrap up (pun not intended), all bee hives should be designed and constructed of materials that allow for the maintenance of survivable temperatures inside a bee hive. This means that they should be heated to a low limit in cold seasons and a high limit that approaches brood-rearing temperature, and that can reach a high limit for a duration that kills varroa, but not bees or brood. The Fortress Beehive does exactly these things, and a whole lot more, especially with its patent-pending Hive Insulation Jacket.
Call us: 800-598-5949 @RealBeeFortress