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Author Topic: Plastic foundation  (Read 1172 times)

Offline cao

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Plastic foundation
« on: April 24, 2018, 10:33:30 pm »
I was thinking(can be dangerous at times :wink:) about winter clusters this winter/early spring when I was cleaning up a deadout.  I was thinking about how they keep warm, the transfer of heat, insulation and ventilation.  It got me thinking about if plastic foundation in the middle of a winter cluster is a hinderance to them.  Will the heat transfer from one side of the frame to the other or will the plastic prevent some of this?  I was wondering if there was any research on this topic.

Offline Robo

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2018, 11:13:29 pm »
I think plastic foundation is the least of your worries if you are using wooden Langstroth hive with upper ventilation.

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Offline moebees

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2018, 01:03:03 am »
I was thinking(can be dangerous at times :wink:) about winter clusters this winter/early spring when I was cleaning up a deadout.  I was thinking about how they keep warm, the transfer of heat, insulation and ventilation.  It got me thinking about if plastic foundation in the middle of a winter cluster is a hinderance to them.  Will the heat transfer from one side of the frame to the other or will the plastic prevent some of this?  I was wondering if there was any research on this topic.

I don't know about research but I agree with your thinking.  I would guess that the heat transfer would be far less than natural comb.  But that doesn't mean you cannot winter on plastic foundation. 
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Offline beepro

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2018, 05:22:20 am »
Let's say that you have a very healthy colony going into winter without the
mites.  During the winter time they will form a cluster around these plastic frames.  With a
healthy winter bee population they will heat the hive cluster to 94F internally.    At this temp even
the plastic frames will be warm enough for them to get through the cold of winter.   Winter bee population is
very important for them to get through.  I have use both the plastic and wax frames without any issue to overwinter them.  What matter most are
the winter bees.  If the plastic frames do not work then beekeepers many years before us already complaint about this issue.   So far they have not!

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2018, 09:08:07 am »
Will the heat transfer from one side of the frame to the other or will the plastic prevent some of this?
There is no heat transfer.  For all practical purposes bees will be clustered on both sides of the comb and the temperature will be nearly the same.  If plastic, or wax for that matter were conductive it would pull heat out of the cluster to the unwarmed parts of the frame.  Being non conductive is actually good.
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Offline moebees

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2018, 01:24:48 pm »
Will the heat transfer from one side of the frame to the other or will the plastic prevent some of this?
There is no heat transfer.  For all practical purposes bees will be clustered on both sides of the comb and the temperature will be nearly the same.  If plastic, or wax for that matter were conductive it would pull heat out of the cluster to the unwarmed parts of the frame.  Being non conductive is actually good.

According to this reasoning you don't want the heat from the bees on each side of the frame to penetrate the center.  In other words they would be thermally isolated from each other and unable to share heat.  I don't think that is what you want at all.
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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2018, 01:49:54 pm »
You do not understand heat transfer.  Two bodies at the same temperature do not share heat.  There is no heat transfer.  What happens is the area that is exposed to a lower temperature is decreased.  An analogy would be your dining room and living room that have an adjoining wall and kept at the same temperature.  There is no heat transfer between the two rooms however being joined together they each have one less wall exposed to the outside temperatures.  That decreases heat loss.
There are thousands of bees in a winter cluster.  Relatively few bees produce heat in the cluster.  The majority of the bees are just enjoying the fact that they have no exposed surface to a cold environment.  If they did not cluster each bee in the hive would be 100% exposed to the outside temperature and they all would freeze in cold weather.  This is exactly what happens when a hive dwindles below critical mass.  No amount of insulation will save them.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2018, 05:08:43 pm »
I guess if by "share heat" you mean that they are not losing heat on the side they are sharing, then they are "sharing heat" but as Brian points out, they are not really sharing it, if they are the same temperature.  Insulation between them works just as well as no insulation when they are both generating the same temperature.
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Offline moebees

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2018, 10:08:22 pm »
Acebird and MB.  You are both talking about an imaginary static closed system. Not a dynamic open system.
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Offline cao

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2018, 12:25:00 am »
I think plastic foundation is the least of your worries if you are using wooden Langstroth hive with upper ventilation.
Just FYI I only have reduced bottom entrances.  I do add a piece of styrofoam insultation between inner and outer covers.  That has solved any condensation issues that I had in the past. 

What matter most are the winter bees.  If the plastic frames do not work then beekeepers many years before us already complaint about this issue.   So far they have not!

I understand that a strong hive can overcome many of the obstacles we put in front of it.  It is the marginal ones that I was wondering if the extra thickness of the plastic would be a problem.  If it is a problem then it could be that the beekeepers just don't know about it.  That could explain some of the winter losses if it is true.

You do not understand heat transfer.  Two bodies at the same temperature do not share heat.  There is no heat transfer.  What happens is the area that is exposed to a lower temperature is decreased.  An analogy would be your dining room and living room that have an adjoining wall and kept at the same temperature.  There is no heat transfer between the two rooms however being joined together they each have one less wall exposed to the outside temperatures.  That decreases heat loss.

Wouldn't it take more heat to keep the living and dining room the same temperature if the wall was 5 ft thick?  You do have to keep the wall warm.  The "wall" in the cluster may not seem thick to a human but to a bee?

Insulation between them works just as well as no insulation when they are both generating the same temperature.

If the cluster is typically in the shape in a ball, then each side of these "walls" that run through it around the edges are not at the same temperature.

I don't know have any answers, just questions.




Offline beepro

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2018, 02:17:37 am »
I do not know what you mean by a "marginal" hive.   What is marginal to you might be a standard for us here in a
mild winter environment.   Have you ever try to overwinter 3 frame of bees before?   Over here I can do it with 3 frames if
the winter is warm enough.  In the snow country it will be a very slim change for them to survive. 

What I'm describing is a standard decent size cluster, whatever that is in your area, to overwinter them.  Then the plastic frames
will not affect them that much.  In the end it does not matter when you have a decent winter bee population.  The marginal ones even
when they have the wax frames then they may not of survive because not enough winter bees to cover the frames enabling them to
generate the needed heat to keep warm in the cold of winter.   I tried to supply supplement 100 watt heat last winter on a dwindling hive.  But
they did not make it, though they manage to keep the queen alive until early Spring.   I had to give her up in exchange (lied to) for some bees that she would of
die anyway without the bees to tend to her needs.   There are experiment done with 5 frame nuc hives that can overwinter in the snow country.  Some will supply a small amount of heat to keep them from freezing.

Offline little john

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 05:06:24 am »
Acebird and MB.  You are both talking about an imaginary static closed system. Not a dynamic open system.

Exactly - there may well be no net transfer of heat taking place at a particular moment in time - but there is the potential for it.  Thermal conduction is an important factor.

Staying with the analogy of two rooms inside a house - there may well be no net heat transfer taking place when both rooms are at the same temperature - but open the windows in one room, and heat transfer will then most certainly take place.  So - the thermal characteristics of the wall which separates the two rooms then becomes important.

Do bear in mind that clusters aren't static - they move around.
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Online Acebird

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 08:41:28 am »
Thermal conduction is an important factor.
It sure is.  When aluminum frames were tried the colonies died.  Wax is not a conductor of heat.  The difference between wax and plastic is pittance.  The advantage of wax is that it is thinner.
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Offline little john

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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2018, 09:43:19 am »
Thermal conduction is an important factor.
It sure is.  When aluminum frames were tried the colonies died.  Wax is not a conductor of heat.  The difference between wax and plastic is pittance.  The advantage of wax is that it is thinner.

"Not a conductor" is too strong a statement.  Beeswax is a poor conductor of heat.  If it didn't conduct heat at all, it would never melt ... and so be used to line furnaces with.  :grin:
Aluminium is, as you say, an extremely good conductor - second only to copper.

There is however, another issue here - and that is thermal capacity/ heat capacity.  Materials which are poor conductors and yet are relatively dense, will hold heat well - and thus act as 'storage radiators', which would then serve to buffer sudden changes in temperature.  I'd suggest that wax is far better suited for this job than many lighter materials.
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Re: Plastic foundation
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2018, 05:52:52 pm »
I'd suggest that wax is far better suited for this job than many lighter materials.
I prefer wax myself even though it may contain pesticides.  The thing is there are quite a few beekeepers using plastic foundation and being successful.  So that puts it in the "good enough" category.
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