Bees Benefit from RED Tool

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It’s getting cold in the Sandhills of Nebraska, so Ed Dekleva, a civil engineer, is becoming concerned about the conditions inside his beehives. 

Ed informed RED that he has been using our Infrared R-Value tool for determining . . . “the likelihood of condensation developing on the inside covers of my beehives, given various combinations of insulation and temperatures.” We were delighted to hear that one of our building science tools is being used for apiary (bee) science.

Ed says: “Bees can tolerate cold fairly well. They cluster tightly and vibrate their wings, thus generating heat through friction. The center of the cluster can be 90, keeping the queen nice and warm. Through respiration, the bees produce moisture as well. Although they can tolerate cold, they don’t do well with a cold rain inside the hive. Thus, keeping condensation to a minimum is a must.”

In the RED Infrared R-Value tool at the right, we are assuming the top of the beehive is insulated with one inch of extruded polystyrene, with an R-value equal to 5.0. The exterior surface is assumed to be 10℉ and the beehive inside air temperature is assumed to be 80℉. This results in an interior surface temperature of the top equal to 72.4℉. Other insulation options can be used to determine the Interior surface temperature. For this example, if the dew point temperature inside the beehive is kept below 72.4℉, condensation will not form on the inside surface of the hive top.

Ed is currently experimenting with different insulation materials and measuring the temperature and relative humidity inside his beehives in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of condensation on interior surfaces. He figures this will keep his bees happier and extend their lives.

He has determined the maximum dew point temperature for the last month (mid-December through mid-January) inside his hives is around 62℉ and the average hive temperature is 50℉ (average outdoor temperature of 25℉). Ed has hives of both Carniolan and Italian bees; it turns out the interior temperature and the dew point are different for each species. It seems that apiary science is at least as complex as building science.

We knew that our Infrared R-Value tool is used by many of you, but until Ed contacted us, we didn’t know it was benefiting bees. Thanks for letting us know, Ed. Anything done to help the bees is good for the earth.

Rick Karg

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