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Tweaking my moisture quilts

Of all the changes I made to my hives over the years, nothing has helped more than the moisture quilts. I’ve used quilts for five years now, and on average, I went from overwintering 50-60 percent of my hives, to overwintering 80-100 percent.

Many people have criticized my design. Most of those who criticized said my wood chips were not deep enough to be effective. Mine are only two inches deep, and in the beginning I, too, thought they should have been deeper. But the fact remains that my survival rate shot up and, in any case, the moisture collects in only the top one-quarter to one-half inch. I’ve never found the moisture to go deeper than that, even in very large triple-deep hives.

However, all beekeeping is local and my winters are not that cold, just wet. My quilts are designed primarily to capture moisture, but if you are also using them for insulation, there is no reason not to go deeper . . . four inches, six inches, it really doesn’t matter.

The other common criticism was the use of canvas to hold the chips. They said it wouldn’t last a season. I elected to use canvas after I read that Warré beekeepers use burlap. Canvas was easier for me to get, so I used that. I figured I could rip it off and replace it every year.

As it turned out, most quilts lasted three years before I changed the canvas. I didn’t see this as a big problem, but nevertheless, this year I replaced the canvas with #8 hardware cloth. Why #8? Simply because I had a roll of it on hand.

The thing I didn’t want was wood crumbs raining down between the frames. I figured the bees have enough to do without cleaning up sawdust, so I cut a piece of cotton fabric to fit just above the hardware cloth. With the fabric in place, I poured the wood chips on top.

So far, I like what I see. No chips are falling into the hive, the moisture is collecting in the surface layers, and so far I’m still at 100% of my hives.

As before, I keep a feeder rim just below the quilt. If I want to feed, I simply raise the quilt on one end, slide in the sugar, and close it back down. It only takes a few seconds, which allows me to do it on a cold and rainy day, if necessary.

As I mentioned previously, I now aim for simplicity at every step. If the chore is simple and easy, I am much more likely to get it done on time . . . and that is the important part for me.

Meanwhile, other beekeepers in other climates have made all kinds of ingenious variations on the moisture quilt, often with awesome woodworking to match. I will soon share photos of some of the designs . . . and in the meantime, the comb honey series will continue.

Filling-quilts
I stapled hardware cloth to the bottom, placed a piece of cotton fabric inside, and then filled the quilts with wood chips.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

Norma Zell
Reply

Thanks for the update! Finished a quilt frame but hadn’t stapled the cloth on. I have some #8, so you’ve saved me from taking off the cloth. I’ll put the #8 on then cut some cloth to fit. My husband had suggested just stapling some hardware cloth on it, but my dense brain didn’t think about then putting cloth on the wire. Duh.

Frank Thomas
Reply

Thanks for sharing Rusty. I fashioned my quilts after reading one of your other posts about them. Which by the way was the first blog of yours I read after being linked to it from Beesource.com. By the way, honeybeesuite is now my first online stop for bee education and fun reading.

For my quilts I used black aluminum window screen stapled to the bottom. Because of my Michigan winters I made mine 3.5 inches tall with three 1″ screened ventilation holes on each of 2 opposites sides. I added 3″ of cedar shavings to it leaving a .5 inch of dead space and the side vents cleared away to breath.

Rusty
Reply

Frank,

I’m glad to have you here! Aluminum window screen is another good idea for quilts. I keep learning.

zen
Reply

Look forward to seeing other designs. Thanks for the post.

Brad Raspet
Reply

Very Nice! Those of us in Western Washington know how important it is to assist our bees with ventilation to counter excessive moisture. I use thin shims between inner covers and my telescoping lids with a small fold of burlap over the inner cover hole. It’s very simple way to help… burlap wicks the moisture away from raining back down on the cluster. I should point out that I also have an upper entrance on all my hives to increase ventilation.

Rusty
Reply

Brad,

More good ideas. This is what I like to see: if you understand the principles, the ways to implement them are endless. Thanks!

Tom
Reply

Hi Rusty,

I have quilts on Langs and Warre hives and built them exactly like you. Hardware cloth with cotton over and chips above that. Even though it gets cold here in Central WA, the depth of chips doesn’t seem to matter.

Rusty
Reply

Tom,

That’s so interesting that we came up with the same method. Kinda cool.

Gretchen
Reply

The hardware cloth I have on hand is galvanized. Is that a problem for this design, or should I track down some stainless steel?

Rusty
Reply

Gretchen,

Mine is galvanized. Galvanized won’t last as long as stainless, but it should last at least five years or so.

Frank
Reply

Great idea….do you prefer any special wood chip? Are they the wood chips you’d buy at a pet store? Do you think it matters if they are cedar chips or not? I’ve been using shredded paper but this makes more sense.
I’m that “knowledgable” 2-3 year old beekeeper you’ve written about….still learning, still loving it.
Thank you for sharing,
Frank

Rusty
Reply

Hi Frank,

I use wood chips from the feed store, animal bedding. Cedar makes no difference, cedar beehives are quite popular in some parts of the country.

Good to know you are one of those. Now I know where to look in case I need help!

John T
Reply

When do you put the quilt on and take them off? Do you use an inner cover or just the telescoping top?

Rusty
Reply

John,

Everyone seems to do it differently. Usually, I put them on at the end of October and take them off at the end of March, but it depends on the weather. I do not use an inner cover, just a telescoping cover over the quilt. But you could use an inner cover if you wanted to.

Lindy
Reply

Using your idea, I made my quilt boxes from shallow boxes. Made a ‘frame’ using 1 x strips with window screening stapled to both sides. The frame was recessed 1″ from the bottom of the box for the feeding space. In sw CT I am not finding a lot of moisture collecting on the chips. I’ve learned so much from your blog, Rusty. Thanks.

Rusty
Reply

Lindy,

That’s a clever way to combine the feeder and quilt. I like it.

Tim
Reply

Thanks so much! I’m a visual learner, and seeing is the key. What a great idea! I’ve read about this in the Warre materials, but your way to do it is perfect. Simple is often so hard to do…. I’ll be making up some frames with hardware cloth tacked on right away. My late winter/early springs are cold and wet here. That’s when I seem to lose my bees. Come the next nice warm day, I’ll be ready to pop the covers and put on these quilt boxes. Keep up the good work! Love your posts.

Phillip
Reply

I converted what I call ventilator rims into moisture quilts, but I have a couple holes in the back as well as the sides. Does anyone know if that would make any difference? Would a holes on in the back mess up the air flow? Do matching holes only on sides create a more directional, better air flow?

Rusty
Reply

Phillip,

More holes will increase the amount of ventilation. As long as you aren’t getting blowing rain in the holes, and as long as the insulation is thick enough for your climate, I don’t see a problem.

WesternWilson
Reply

I wonder, Rusty, if the use of quilt boxes explains some of the wide variation in overwintering statistics in my bee club…losses ranged from 0% to 90% last winter. This year I hope we compare not only numbers, but poll the membership for why they think their hives went down, and what overwintering techniques they used.

Rusty
Reply

That would be interesting info. Do you use quilts?

Sean
Reply

I use a similar top quilt here in the uk (autumn very wet then cold) but with no side vents. I use a breathable membrane used under roof slates in the construction trade on the top and bottom of the box. I still use wood shavings, the membrane lets moisture out but no water back through. Seems to work well.

Rusty
Reply

Another really good idea, Sean. Thank you. Does anyone know what that material is called?

matthew
Reply

Nice info. I think these are essential! I’m in Western Washington and use 2-1/2″ of cedar shavings in a 4-1/2″ box with a fully-vented air space above the shavings (so moisture can really wick out). Plus I use filter fabric, the sort you put over weeds (and I think it is fiberglass) as I found it was tougher, didn’t sag over the frames when I loaded it, didn’t sift shavings down into the hive, breathes great, and now my bees have totally moved up on to the undersurface of the fabric and seem to like it (dry and warm, I assume).

I also installed the fabric inset, not flush with the bottom, so the fabric doesn’t just sit on top of the frames below. My hives are totally dry inside, after years of having to find them dripping in the interior. Wish I had done this when I started! (My friend, who knew the Aebi’s in Santa Cruz, says they use to do use cedar shavings as well).

David Williams
Reply

My quilt boxes are about like yours. I leave mine on year round. I think it helps
insulate from the hot summer sun.

Mark Luterra
Reply

I don’t use a cloth and have noticed the bees hauling out a few smaller wood chips. Not many get through with the size of cedar shavings I use, but I might add a cloth liner in future years.

One unexpected benefit of the quilts is that it gives me a noninvasive way to compare hive populations in the winter.

No moist chips on top: Cluster is small. Food should be adequate (all of my hives go into winter with at least 80 lbs of honey) but higher risk of deadout.

Moist chips across 1/3 to 1/2 of quilt: Cluster is a good size for winter.

Moist chips across entire top of quilt: Cluster is very large, bees must have some Italian blood. Need to keep an eye on food stores heading into spring.

Rusty
Reply

Hey Mark,

Indeed, that’s a great way to keep tabs on your colony strength. Before quilts, moisture inside the lid really annoyed me; now lack of moisture on a quilt freaks me out.

Nick
Reply

If you search any of the big box stores or just on line, the search for ‘breathable roofing membrane’ will get hits. Look at the application for those search results for ‘roofing’ applications. You could also try ‘breathable roofing membrane’ as your search phrase. As odd as it sounds, the manufacturers seem to call it thus. There are some variations, the best I’ve found so far would be a ‘waterproof, breathable roofing membrane’ such as, http://www.kingspaninsulation.co.uk/getattachment/dcc48e8c-6ccb-4ebf-bddd-d35b87af0b48/nilvent-Breathable-Membrane.aspx

Sadly, the roofing industry in the US hasn’t taken up nifty terms for stuff as have beekeepers. I offer ‘Ekes’ as such a beekeeping term. Loves that one, I do. On the other side of the pond, ‘Sarking’ is apparently the generic term. Don’t you think ‘Waterproof, breathable sarking’ has a much more mystical ring to it? 🙂

While perusing the roofing goodies, take a look at ridge venting fabric. Essentially a porus mat, typically looks like heavy duty scotchbrite pads and is available in rolls. Should make a nice breathable membrane perhaps?

Nick
Kent WA

Hafiz
Reply

Hi Rusty – My question vanished, so posting again. I built the frame form the quilt and went to Target got the pine shavings they sell for pet bedding. Is that appropriate for bees in the moisture quilt? They smell very strong pine and I am concerned it might be too much for the bees. The label says its all natural and can be put to compost pile after pet use.

I thought of airing it out for a few days, but then it would pick up moisture and would be of no use to the bees, I would think (?)

Please advise : )

Thanks!
Hafiz

Rusty
Reply

Hafiz,

It’s fine. Bees live in all different types of trees which, I’m sure, smell like wood. Funny thing about that.

Phillip
Reply

A quick update on the moisture quilts I installed on five of my six Langstroth hives in a cold, windy, foggy and wet environment: So far so good. The wood chips in one of the hives are a slightly damp, but all the bees seem to be dry inside, dryer than they were back in December when they were virtually soaked.

I was concerned that some extreme cold and wind that persisted for about two weeks (-25°C / -13°F was not uncommon) would freeze the bees, especially since I removed the hard insulation above the top cover in favour of the moisture quilts. But the bees seem fine.

Pretty cool.

Rusty
Reply

Phillip,

That is good news . . . another quilter among us.

Clinton
Reply

The moisture quilt looks like a fantastic idea. I live in the upper Midwest where this winter we had overnight lows as low as -25ºF / -32ºC and multiple days where the high temperature never reached 0ºF / -18ºC.

Here the “standard” overwintering practice for Langstroths are putting the inner cover over the top hive body, then one or two boards of Bildrite fibre sheathing used as moisture absorbing boards.

Also recommended to leave a vent hole open on the top deep along with the entrance reducer having the small setting open down on the bottom.

However, using the inner cover in this manner only leaves that small hole hole in the inner cover available to pass moisture laden vapor through to the moisture board above the inner cover.

A few questions for anybody who cares to answer. Rusty, I used to live in Seattle, so have a decent idea about the winter conditions west of the Cascades, but if anybody else comments, it would be helpful to know your general region/location so I have an idead of your climate.

1) What did you do for moisture absorption before the quilt?
2) Has your over-wintering success continued for multiple years?
3) Have you noticed a decrease in food consumption over the winters since using quilts?
4) How many vent holes are you leaving open in your hive bodies for bees to take cleansing flights? (and specifically where are these holes located?)
5) Do your hives use solid bodies?
6) How are you wrapping the hives? Have you thought about increasing the wrap?

I saw on a Calgary beekeeping site where they use Reflectix(TM) insulation as part of their over-winter wrapping.

I’d like to cut down on moisture risk to the hive and also cut down on honey (fuel) required to keep the hive warm. I know that quite a number of beeks around here lost hives because their food stores ran out. Making the hive environment more efficient would be a nice way to go.

Sorry about combining ‘wrapping’ with ‘quilting’ but oh well… it’s all towards the same goal. :))

Thank you!

Rusty
Reply

Clinton,

1. I used rags to dry the underside of the lid and the top bars about twice a week.
2. Yes. I don’t really worry about overwintering with my setup.
3. No.
4. Zero holes in my hive bodies. The main entrance has one hole about one-inch by 3/8-inch throughout the winter.
5. Yes.
6. I do not wrap my hives, nor do I plan to. Although I’m on the 47th parallel I’m in a hardiness zone 8.

Clinton
Reply

Thank you for the fast reply.

I looked at my number 5 question again and realized it was late when I wrote it and it made no sense. What I meant to ask was:

5) Do your hives use solid bottoms? :))) (vs. screened or open bottoms)

🙂 haha!

Regarding question #1, you did not have anything inside the hive for active moisture absorption. Instead were relying on re-active wiping the moisture away after it developed.

The only reason I ask is because since we are already using the moisture boards *above* the inner cover, we have a certain level of moisture absorption and insulation already.

And the biggest thing is the climate here (very cold and drier winter air) is totally different. So I understand it’s not comparing ‘apples to apples’ 🙂

An interesting point is you use a single entrance into the hive plus the ventilation above the quilt. I like this approach.

Those upper vents would allow the cool new air to filter through the wood chips and take on some of the heat of the exiting air.

Not only would this condense out excess moisture into the chips, but the blanket would function like an air-to-air heat exchanger… not all the heat from the hive would escape while still providing fresh oxygen laden air.

Overwintering is a big deal here… Hardiness Zone 4B and I hear of a lot of hives starving out because beeks did not providing enough fuel (food) to run the furnace (bees).

I think there is clearly a solid role for a modified quilt in this area.

Rusty
Reply

Yes, I have screened bottom boards. If it stays cold for an extended period, I slide in the drawers, but generally I leave them open. I should also mention that I occasionally sweep out dead bees that may block the lower entrance. I just pull out the reducer, run a long stick in there to sweep out the dead, and then close it back up.

Brad Raspet
Reply

Just a little to add… I successfully wintered 23 out of 24 hives in 7 yards (so far – knock on wood) this last winter in my 3rd year of beekeeping in very wet western Washington (Skagit County lowland and foothills). I believe you must have upper entrances in your inner covers front edge to allow for ventilation and access (if lower entrance becomes blocked). I do shim my telescoping lids up just a little bit and put a fold of burlap to act as a moisture wick over the center hole in the inner cover. This seems to help keep condensation from dripping back down on the cluster. I pull out my screen bottom board inserts, remove my entrance reducers and mouse guards in the middle of March. I have a moisture barrier on ground beneath the hive stands also. I have thought about using the moisture absorbing box method, but have yet to make the leap… :^) I don’t wrap or insulate my hives, as that seems to increase the moisture in the hive?

Aaron
Reply

Hi Brad,

QQ here: do you (or anyone else) do anything special to get rid of the kerosene-like smell of the burlap? Mine stinks quite a bit and I am concerned it may off-gas bad fumes. I read online that this is normal for burlap, so maybe it’s a non-issue. I’m using it to line my quilt boxes.

Thanks,

-AA

matthew

Tyvek is not a vapor barrier and might work fine (I’m an architect and builder). It’s an air barrier, and water barrier in liquid form, but it breathes vapor, which is what you want. It’s designed to breath so that houses do not entrap moisture, which is why a similar material is used underneath mattresses (I think this is where Tyvek was originally used).

I think it is worth a try (I might).

I am successfully using a fabric that is used to cover weeds; it breathes great, has no odor, and is relatively stiff so does not sag onto the top frames. It seems to be made out of a fiberglass like material, which entangled a few legs of a few bees, but very few. I also use cedar shavings rather than pine or other, from a feed store, which are cheap, possibly have some positive smell (in my area of the PNW we sometimes find wild hives (of those that remain) favoring red cedar trees), and are also great smoker fuel when needed.

The pine is too fine and dusty, and seeps through the fabric. I also found that window screening works, but has to be supported with some bracing, as it sags.

I believe totally in these for my area, which has a lot of rain and moisture. I had zero losses out of 15 hives last year, which is very unusual, and I think much to do with a healthier internal environment.

Rusty

Matthew,

Interesting about the vapor vs liquid form of water. I used to work for a water treatment company and one of my jobs was to crawl under people’s houses and map the water piping. We always wore Tyvek suits because of the puddles of water (and other liquid matter?) in those spaces. Dead things too, and cat pee. Anyway, Tyvek kept it all out. But as you say, it was liquid not vapor.

As for supporting material, I like the hardware cloth the best (#8) although it does allow cedar particles to drop through.

Brad Raspet

How odd? I always get my burlap from the big coffee roasting distributors (for free) – food grade burlap never been treated. I have never had any smells come from the burlap I use in my smoker to work the bees.

Rusty

I have to agree. I’ve used burlap potato sacks and never smelled anything.

Clifford
Reply

I have got to try this quilt system. I am new this year and have never lost a colony of bees so I have a reputation to maintain. First, Rusty, you asked if anyone knew what Sean was using near the top portion of this thread. Would that be like Tyvek? That is a trademark name so there are several brands out but that is the common brand in Oklahoma. I was sitting in our beekeepers meeting last evening and the president of our chapter was touting the use of quilts and how he built his. It occurred to me that this is like the insulation in the walls and ceilings of our homes. The vapor barrier is always on the heated side of the wall. I think your canvas does this. Some insulations comes without the vapor barrier so it doesn’t matter as much (screen). Just sitting there picturing this in my mind. I don’t like the idea of making holes in the sides of my boxes. We get blowing rains where I live. Why can’t we lift the telescoping cover and let it vent like a screened cover? Nothing can get in if I have this pictured correctly. As for the chips, you are correct about bees living in trees and they all smell like wood. Some different that others. I think the cedar chips are readily available because we use them with our dogs and cats to keep fleas off them. I plan to use the pine chips from my woodworking shop. I would caution anyone about walnut shavings. I read on another thread that it probably wouldn’t matter but I have a reputation to maintain. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

Rusty
Reply

Clifford,

You don’t want the fabric in the bottom of your quilt to act like a vapor barrier. Quite the opposite: you want the moisture-laden air to pass through the fabric so it can be absorbed by the chips and/or leave through the ventilation ports.

Clifford
Reply

I agree that it can’t be water tight. It has to breath. All barriers used on insulation has to breath. I am not sure that Tyvek is water tight. I am just trying to decide what Sean used. It sounds much like Gortex although that would be far too expensive. Gortex will allow moisture to pass through it as a vapor but not as a liquid. The body heat from your foot or wherever you have it heats the moisture so it can pass through. I will check this.

Clifford
Reply

“The unique ability to resist air and water penetration, while allowing
moisture vapor to pass through makes DuPont Tyvek® extremely popular
for providing protection, comfort and energy efficiency when used
in residential and commercial construction.” This is the claim on their website. I believe it will allow the moisture from the bees to pass through while warm then the moisture will condense under the upper cover and fall into the wood chips. Canvas will also repel water. As a child I watched the irrigation system in Arizona use it as temporary dams to contain water in a ditch. For the record I plan to use window screen wire and place a cotton cloth on it them my wood chips. I think this is a sound idea and I am glad you have tested it for us.

Rusty
Reply

Matthew and Clifford,

I consulted with an engineer on the Tyvek question. His thought is basically the same as mine, that Tyvek is not a good material for moisture quilts. And here’s why:

Yes, Tyvek is allows water vapor to pass. However, the moisture load inside a healthy beehive is too great for the surface area of a moisture quilt. The bees’ respiration will overwhelm the tiny amount of Tyvek. At first, the vapor will pass through slowly. But as the amount of moisture in the hive air increases, or the temperature outside decreases, some of that moisture will condense on the underside of the Tyvek. Once a thin layer of liquid water covers the surface, it will no longer allow water vapor to pass through. In time, the accumulated moisture will rain down on the colony.

He gives as an example the discomfort of wearing a Tyvek suit. If you wear one for long, you will sweat profusely. This is because the amount of water vapor you are producing cannot diffuse through the Tyvek fast enough. You get hotter and hotter because there is no evaporative cooling: moisture cannot evaporate from your skin because the air inside your suit is already saturated. It is saturated because vapor diffusion through Tyvek is a slow process.

This slow process works wonders for certain applications where the moisture loads are not huge, but where a slow and steady process does the trick. That is why it is perfect for wrapping houses.

If you decide to try it anyway, keep a close eye on your colony. In my own humble opinion, the Tyvek will defeat the entire purpose of a moisture quilt.

matthew
Reply

Yes- that sounds to me like good reasoning on Tyvek, and I could see it being overwhelmed by the vapor load. I am happy with the material I am using (woven weed covering) so I will stick with that- but might try an experiment with Tyvek just to confirm- its always worth experimenting (unless your engineer has actually tried it). Thanks for checking!

Rusty
Reply

Matthew,

No, he hasn’t tried. Be sure to report back if you give it a go.

Clifford
Reply

I haven’t used Tyvek and I don’t plan to use it. It just sounds like the product Sean said they used under roofing tiles in Great Britain (I think that was his location). I plan to use #8 wire and a light cotton fabric. I might try something like the paint drops someone else mentioned. I see the need for the moisture laden air to go up through the wood chips so it can condense on the under side of the cold cover then vent to the outdoors. As a part time home inspector I know the need for venting or exhausting to the outdoors. Thanks for checking on Tyvek since I even mentioned it. Might have saved the life of a bee out there.

Phillip
Reply

Hey Rusty,

I recall you mentioning that you don’t bother with upper entrances after you install a moisture quilt. But do you think carbon dioxide build up could be a problem if the bottom entrance gets blocked by snow? Have you had any problems so far?

I ask because one of my hives with the same configuration is likely buried in snow and I doubt I’ll have a chance to dig it out any time soon. I’m not too worried, but I’m wondering…

Rusty
Reply

Hi Phillip,

I figure that the CO2 will leave through the ventilation ports in the quilt, but that is assuming I have an air supply coming in through the lower entrance, the screened bottom board, or gnarly spaces between the boxes. But if all those entrances are sealed with snow, then it seems that both CO2 and moisture would build up inside the hive.

I don’t know how sensitive insects are to CO2 concentrations, either. Can they withstand more than humans? I’m clueless.

Also would a top entrance help, or would the air circulate in through the top entrance and out through the quilt vents without airing out the brood boxes? My guess is it would help to some degree, but enough? I don’t know.

You’ve got me on this one. It’s a really good question, but I’m sure many colonies have been buried in snow and lived to tell about it. Let me know what you decide.

Phillip
Reply

I decided to leave the buried hive alone. Icy roads, freezing rain and the 10-foot-high snow drifts I would have had to climb through made that an easy call. If all the entrances to the hive were buried, it was probably for about 3 days. We’ve had enough rain to wash most of the deep snow away. I’ll be checking for survivors in about 24 hours.

Sara
Reply

Checked about Tyvek with the civil engineer in the house. He pointed out there are different types and that they have different qualities. But he would, from personal experience, not recommend them given how sweaty he finds the Tyvek suits he wears for hazmat ; -D

terry simonson
Reply

hi rusty. can I put my moisture quilt ( no. 8 hardware cloth) without shavings in top of my empty deep that has a feeder in it for ventilation? its for a package I installed a week ago . thanks . great site !!!

Rusty
Reply

Terry,

Yes. I use them like that all the time.

Kim
Reply

Does the hardware cloth stapled to the bottom of the quilt prevent a tight seal between the quilt box and the box below it?

Rusty
Reply

Kim,

I have the hardware cloth sandwiched between wooden slats so it doesn’t snag on things. I’m sure some air gets through, but not nearly as much as goes through the ventilation ports an inch above it.

Linda
Reply

Rusty

I am a new bee owner as of this year. I have 2 hives and would very much like to see both of them make it through the winter. One of the things I have to help them along is a moisture quilt that I put white shavings in that I also use in my horse stalls. My questions are, do you use your moisture quilt during the summer? If so, do you use it with or without the shavings? Upside down or put on like you normally would? Right now I have mine upside down without shavings using it for ventilation. Hope that’s a good move. Thanks Linda

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

Yes, I sometimes use my empty moisture quilts in place of screened inner covers. I put them on the regular way (but empty) so the bees can’t build burr comb above the frames.

Linda
Reply

Hi Rusty

Another question. When you use your moisture quilts in the winter do you put your inner cover over or under the quilt. Or not use one at all. I’m thinking the inner cover would gather moisture on it if under the quilt but not sure if it would be necessary on the top. If you don’t use the inner cover at all, would you put a small spacer rim with a small entrance hole in it between the moisture quilt and the top super? Thanks for all your help. Linda

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

I do not use an inner cover in winter. I also do not use an upper entrance in winter. I put a feeder rim between the top brood box and the moisture quilt.

Linda
Reply

Rusty

A couple more questions. If you put your moisture quilt on during the summer, minus the shavings, do you use an inner cover? If so is it above or below the quilt box? Also what size is your feeder rim? I purchased 3 inch wood to make one. However, turns out the wood actually measures to 2 1/2 in. Would that be high enough?

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

1. I do not use an inner cover with the summer moisture quilt because it serves no purpose, but it wouldn’t cause a problem if you did. Just in the way.
2. If you do use it, put it above the quilt box, otherwise it will block the airflow.
3. My feeder rims are a little shy of three inches deep.
4. The rims only need to be deep enough to slide in hard candy, fondant, or pollen patties. Two-and-a-half inches should be fine.

Phillip
Reply

Here’s a short video clip I posted on Twitter that shows how I use my empty moisture quilts during the peak of summer. I think you’ll like it.

https://twitter.com/MudSongsBeek/status/757625305540493312

My moisture quilts are 3-4 inches deep. I use window screen instead of canvas. And I have a rim (or shim or spacer) screwed into the bottom of so the screen isn’t laying completely flat on the top bars. Those are my little tweaks.

I love my moisture quilts.

Rusty
Reply

Phillip,

It a slick idea. It serves the same purpose as a screened inner cover but it’s already made!

Linda
Reply

Would it be ok to use a 1 1/2 in spacer rim instead of a one inch?

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

Sorry, you lost me. Where? Which spacer rim?

Linda
Reply

Haha sorry Rusty I guess I was thinking but not writing it all down.
In the Mudsongs video that you shared, I believe there is a spacer rim attached to the bottom of the moisture quilt to keep the screen from sagging on the bees. I think it is a 1 inch spacer but am curious if a 1 1/2 might be too wide because of the space that bees like to have. I just happen to have a 1 1/2 in. Thanks Linda

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

The 1.5-inch rim will work, but the larger the space up there the greater the chance of the bees building burr comb. You may find you have to remove it periodically. Even one inch is great enough to get some burr comb, so don’t be surprised to see some in either case.

Linda
Reply

Hmm, not sure if you got my last e-mail or not. I explained what I meant by my last comment on the spacer rim. Did you get it? My computer was acting strange. Linda

Rusty
Reply

Hi Linda,

I got it but I don’t answer questions 24/7, just a few hours each day.

Linda
Reply

Hi Rusty

I can see you get many questions and it takes time and energy to answer as many as you do. I for one, and I am sure many others, greatly appreciate all the help and information you give us. I know you check content before posting so I will share this with you. It’s a small world. My partner…and your husband know each other. Your husband dropped off one of your cards…the other day. Long story short, I was talking about your website to [my boyfriend] and he hands me your card. Take care, and again, thanks for all your help . This bee business can be overwhelming sometimes. linda

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

That is so funny. Yup, my husband has been hauling off my cards lately. I will contact you via email.

Jonathan
Reply

Can consider getting aluminum screen wire (sometimes called New York wire). Vastly cheaper than hardware cloth. It isn’t welded at the seams, so isn’t as durable, but isn’t going to be facing heavy scraping or exterior use.

I’ve used it for bottom boards, but would be perfect use in this case.

3’x25′ at Lowes for only $22 right now, but you can find it at most hardware shops. Some have it in narrower widths as well. I’d avoid the fiberglass screen. Don’t want them gnawing on that.

http://www.lowes.com/pd/New-York-Wire-36-in-x-25-ft-Bright-Aluminum-Screen-Wire/3101515

Jonathan
Reply

Rusty, made me laugh, so you got me to break my habit 🙂

Thanks for the info on the quilt boxes.

Linda
Reply

I have an inner cover as well as a moisture quilt and a telescoping cover. My moisture quilt has 3 screened 1 inch holes in the sides. Will the moisture quilt be enough insulation for the top or should I insulate the telescoping cover some how. If so any suggestions?

Rusty
Reply

Linda,

In this area, I don’t think you need more insulation that what the moisture quilt provides. I use just a quilt and a telescoping cover without an inner cover. But if you feel like you want more, you can always cut a piece of insulating board (something like Homesote) and fit it into the telescoping cover.

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