Theory of Torben Schiffer on the propolis of bees

No Goretex effect

Do bees put holes in the propolis layer on purpose to achieve the effect of functional clothing?

Torben Schiffer says so. He presents in the name of HOBOS electron microscopic images of holes in the propolis layer online among a theory of their formation and effect. It is stated that bees create these holes on purpose to ensure the removal of moisture by water vapor diffusion. Supposedly, they achieve an effect such as that of functional clothing (like Gore-Tex) by this means that allows water vapor diffusion but prevents the permeability to water in its liquid form. Several questions arise from the article. Continue reading “Theory of Torben Schiffer on the propolis of bees”

Effect of high humidity in the beehive on the water content of honey

test specimens

A balance is established between the water content of the honey and the surrounding air humidity. The balancing moisture content of honey at a relative humidity of 55% is about 17.5%. At a relative humidity of 80%, honey has a water content of over 30% (source: The hygroscopic properties of different dilutions of Honey, Doull & Mew 1977).

The wax capping of the honey cells slows down the speed of these water transports, but does not prevent diffusion. The wax layer is so thin that the resistance of this cap to water vapour diffusion is just as high as that of a 3.3 cm thick layer of air. The experimental setup for determining the diffusion density is explained below. Continue reading “Effect of high humidity in the beehive on the water content of honey”

Effect of outer thermal insulation on moisture in the beehive


The evolution of honeybees has taken place over many millions of years in tree hollows with a respectable thermal insulation of the surrounding wood. It is to be expected that they have adjusted perfectly to this climate inside the tree caves, which is much influenced by the thermal insulation. Only in modern beekeeping did they have to forgo the advantages of such thermal insulation. Continue reading “Effect of outer thermal insulation on moisture in the beehive”

Bee hive Gruibert


The instructions for a new hive are now available under hive building: The Gruibert hive. The idea was born together with Gabi and Norbert Dorn. The goal was a hive with the following characteristics:

  • Thermal insulation comparable to tree caves inhabited by bees
  • Entrance tunnel and volume of the brood chamber comparable to tree caves inhabited by bees
  • Operation with top beams
  • Geometry based on tree caves inhabited by bees higher than wide
  • Inserting of a common frame size possible
  • Access to the brood chamber from above and below possible
  • Hanging in the tree
  • Varroa screen board
  • Hive can be reconstructed with simple means and without special previous knowledge

Continue reading “Bee hive Gruibert”

Tom´s Tree

Toms Tree

In the fall of 2017, I made Thomas Seeley an offer he couldn’t possibly refuse. I offered him 10 of my just finished Beeloggers to use in the Arnot Forest in the natural tree caves he knows. I wrote him an e-mail with all the information about the data loggers and offered to climb into the trees with him. Thomas Seeley answered quickly and firmly: Unfortunately no time. Continue reading “Tom´s Tree”

The diffusion lid works!

Average temperature difference

In December 2017 I took measurements on a beehive with a Diffusion-lid for 2 weeks to get an overview of the average temperature belTemperature under the Diffusion Lidow the lid. For this purpose, 7 temperature sensors were installed as shown. The values given are the average temperature difference between the sensor and the outdoor temperature. The average temperature difference to the outside air is 5.5°C in the 2 weeks considered (the average outside temperature in the period was 0.4°C). The temperature difference is much smaller than expected, especially since the hive is provided with an additional external insulation, a closed floor and only 3 small entrances. But the bees do not heat the hive, but only their bee cluster :-).
Because of this rather small temperature difference, I had some doubts if I was right with my theories…

Continue reading “The diffusion lid works!”

Thermal insulation of honeycombs

When considering the thermal insulation of bee hives, we also have to consider the honeycomb construction with its air layers in between. These layers themselves act as thermal insulation. The more honeycombs between the bee cluster and the side wall, the higher the insulation. I.e. with regard to the side thermal insulation, the broad constructions of the modern hives are quite helpful. Continue reading “Thermal insulation of honeycombs”

Straw bee hive with frames

apiary of the abbey beekeeping

Almost 100 years ago, straw hives with frames were already used for beekeeping. The hive has a wooden bottom, the entrance hole is only a small slit, the side walls are made of straw and the lid is a double-walled wooden construction with straw filling. In these hives there were no problems with mould and condensation, although the lid construction is not highly vapour permeable. The construction demonstrates that humidity can also be carried away through the side walls by diffusion. Further information under Diffusion and D-cover.