How to make a screened inner cover

Screened inner covers can give your hive a lot of good ventilation. They are used in place of regular inner covers and are designed the hold the telescoping cover up on two ends (or two sides) so that air can flow from the hive and out from under the telescoping cover. The screen is tacked down with narrow strips of wood that are just thick enough to provide some bee space between the top bars and the screen.

You can buy screened inner covers from some of the bee supply houses, but they are also easy to make. I bought long pieces of standard 1 x 2-inch lumber, and used the 2-inch dimension to provide the height necessary to elevate the cover, and I used the 1-inch dimension for the front and back.

The way I cut my pieces, the ventilation air goes out the front and back of the hive. You can also reverse the pieces so the ventilation air goes out the sides, the way the commercial ones do. Either way works, although you will get more air flow if the air goes out the sides, which are longer than the width. However, if your hives are close together, having the air go out the front and back may be best.

These are the steps I used:

  1. First I cut all the wood to the proper length. I had help cutting the strips, which were ripped from a standard 1 x 4.
  2. Then I cut out a notch on each end of the long pieces where the corners will join together.
  3. I used a square to assure right angles, then I pre-drilled the holes with a countersink, so the screws could be recessed.
  4. If you are going to paint, this is an easy time to do it, but painting is not necessary.
  5. I cut a piece of #8 hardware cloth to size, stapled it in place, and then stapled the wooden slats over the edge. The cloth needs to be stretched tight to limit the amount of sag in the center. The wooden slats give you a nice clean edge and they also provide bee space.
  6. When you install the cover, remember that the screen side goes down.
  7. Center your telescoping cover over the screen so there is room for air to travel out each end (or side).

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

Ted Matthews
Reply

Thank You Rusty for your e-mails and your hard work. I enjoy your writings very much, Ted

Robert
Reply

Please excuse my ignorance, but what is a telescoping cover?

Robert
Reply

Well I did the sensible thing second instead of first. I searched it on your site and found a very nice explanation. Of course now you have to read two comments but at least your reply will not have to be as long.

Thanks

Rusty
Reply

Or maybe I won’t reply at all!

Jerry Titus
Reply

Hi! Thanks for the great post. A couple of questions if you have the time:

How has this worked out for you?
How many seasons have used it?
Any observations on yield? Behavior?
Do the bees attempt to propolise it?

Thanks and regards.

jt

Rusty
Reply

Jerry,

I’ve been using screened inner covers for five or six years. I would never again keep bees without them. Both honey production and brood production seem to improve with better ventilation. Propolis has never been a problem; sometimes there is a bit of burr comb which can be removed with a heat gun or air compressor.

Robert
Reply

How high should the inner cover actually “lift” the outer cover? Should I be able to see a gap in it?
Thanks

Rusty
Reply

Mine lifts about 3/4 of an inch. You can see from the photos in this post.

Rusty
Reply

Robert,

Mine lifts about 3/4 of an inch. You can see from the photos in this post.

Robert
Reply

Well, I have an, err, “custom” telescoping cover. I was just wondering if there should be a visible gap on the underside of the tip cover. Thanks.

Rusty
Reply

Sorry, Robert, I don’t understand what you are asking. I confess to being dense at times . . .

Robert
Reply

I am pretty sure it’s my communication skills lol Thanks for your patience.
Ok let’s see. I bought hives from the Mann-Lake distributor. They came with a top that was flush on the sides. I decided I wanted a telescoping cover, so I added sides to it.
My question is, for a screened inner cover to be effective, does it have to raise the telescoping cover to the point that there is a gap between the bottom of the telescoping cover and the vent sides of the inner cover. I will try to email you a picture to see if that helps.

Rusty
Reply

Robert,

Screened inner covers are usually shimmed on two sides to hold the telescoping cover far enough away so that air can flow over the other two side. If air can’t flow, then it can’t ventilate. The openings can be under the overhang of the telescoping cover as long as air can move freely from the inside of the hive to the outside.

Trent
Reply

Great post. I’m in E. WA and am concerned about next week’s weather as we’re supposed to be over 100. One question…where in the world do you find #8 wire cloth? That stuff seems to be as scarce as hen’s teeth, but everyone seems to have it for beekeeping projects. I can’t find it.

Rusty
Reply

Trent,

So weird. I haven’t been in eastern Washington in ages, but I’m heading out there next week to meet with some bee people at WSU in Prosser. Perfect timing for the heat wave of the decade. You can buy #8 hardware cloth (1/8th-inch squares) from Amazon.com.

In a pinch (in case you can’t get it before the heat wave) you can use regular insect screening from your Home Depot or whatever. It will keep your bees cool, but it won’t last like hardware cloth.

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