I hear lots of controversy over screened inner covers. Some people (like me) think they are the best thing since sliced bread, while others think they are a grotesque perversion that will breed mites and freeze bees. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Screened inner covers are simply a management tool that can be used at the beekeeper’s discretion. No one is saying you must use them—they are simply an option.
As I’ve said so many times in the past, there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for beekeeping. Every colony is different, as is the local climate, and the individual beekeeper. Even in your own apiary, two side-by-side colonies probably have separate issues that could benefit from different management strategies. I have little patience for those who use the words “always” and “never” when discussing honey bees.
That said, I will begin by saying always analyze your individual situation and never listen to beekeeping dogma. So there!
Man-made systems are not natural systems
People who keep bees in man-made hives often write and say, “Do nothing that doesn’t happen in nature!” Lo! The irony. Once you decide to keep bees in a man-made structure you have already departed from what happens in nature. You can try to emulate natural systems, but you need to remember that the characteristics of a man-made hive are very different from, say, a tree cavity. You can’t put bees in a man-made structure and think all other factors will remain constant.
Recently, a reader mentioned that he keeps bees in top-bar hives, he never uses screened covers, and his bees are thriving. When I began thinking about it, I realized I use screened inner covers on all my Langstroths, but not my top-bar hive. But guess what? All my colonies are thriving, too. So what does it all mean? Not much, except that a screened inner cover is a choice. It’s not the be-all and end-all of beekeeping.
I’ve never actually seen a top-bar hive or a long hive with a screened inner cover. There may be several reasons for this, including the configuration of those hives: the shape could make an inner cover awkward.
But beyond that, one layer of frames spread along the length of a long hive can probably shed heat and moisture easier than a vertical stack of frames above frames. On the other hand, a taller stack has more of a chimney effect that can draw air through the hive and out the top. The variables are endless.
Bees in trees
Bees in trees are a different subject. Those bees are better insulated and the material inside a tree cavity is more efficient at absorbing moisture—much more so than a piece of milled lumber no matter how it’s configured.
Even more to the point, tree colonies tend to be smaller and swarm more often. The size of a colony—the number of respiring bee bodies—is directly proportional to how much heat and moisture are produced. You can’t expect a colony of 50,000 bees in a man-made hive to have the same problems as a colony of 20,000 bees in a tree.
Needs vary with your location
My original reason for using screened inner covers derived from my climate. I live in western Washington or, as I call it, “the mold and mildew capital of the New World.” For those not familiar, you can visualize it like this: rain for nine months followed by three months of drought. Repeat once every year. I do whatever it takes to keep excess moisture out of my hives, and that includes screened inner covers and winter moisture quilts.
Not only did my overwintering success increase with these measures, so did my honey production. I often overwinter one hundred percent of my colonies, and that works for me.
Options and rules are different
What works for you will depend on your bees, your climate, and your management style. It was never the purpose of this website to tell you how to keep bees, but only to suggest options, or as I call them “try-its.” You have a problem and your bees are not thriving? The best I can do is offer some options and tell you why they may (or may not) work. To me, the why is the important part. There needs to be a logical reason for doing or not doing—a rumor or wive’s tale won’t cut it.
But an open mind is a valuable asset. Another reader this week, Stosh Kowalski, was searching for a way to vent the top of his hive. At the time he wrote he was propping the lid open during the day and closing it at night. Apparently, he hadn’t heard of a screened inner cover, but when I suggested it, he jumped on the idea. Except, within moments, he completely redesigned it. At first I thought, “Why the heck does he want to feed through it?” But then I realized he had his reasons and, within a few hours, he produced a screened inner cover that met all his needs.
A screened inner cover with feeding port
Here is a photo of the new inner cover by Stosh Kowalski. He writes:
Attached is the inner cover design I threw together last night. The platform the feeder rests on is oak (so it won’t flex downward and decrease the bee space); the rest is just pine. The bees seem to be very happy with it (or at least not unhappy with it). A top box goes on over this to enclose the feeder, and then the roof.
The bacon-looking thing you can see under the screen is a brace I had under the solid inner cover to keep it from sagging under the weight of the feeder. The bees have glued it down pretty well, so I just left it until the next hive inspection to deal with.
So what does the new inner cover mean to me? It means I know of another option, a variation on the screened inner cover that I hadn’t considered before. Will I use it? Probably not, but that’s not the point. The point is we can learn so much more more by accepting—or at least examining—new ideas. Immediate rejection, or rejection without evaluation, just limits your choices.
Honey Bee Suite
I kind of get a laugh from people who claim to be trying to emulate “natural conditions” in their hives. Mainly because I got on a kick of watching bee removals on YouTube. The most amusing ones being from “JP the beeman”.
It quickly became clear to me that bees are very opportunistic and will settle in almost anywhere. Here in the south, a favorite place is under house trailers. I’ve seen one guy remove 3 colonies from the same trailer, at the same time. And two seperate colonies from an old couch on someones back porch. I’ve become pretty convinced that there’s very little in the way of natural conditions for bees.
I used screened inner covers on 3 of my hives. This year beginning in April. Two of them were on crowded hives that I wanted to get more ventilation into as we were getting a LOT of rain. They seemed to work fine and the bees in those 2 hives capped the honey maybe 2 weeks earlier than they did last year. Could have helped. The 3rd use was on a swarm I caught in May. They have built up into 4 mediums and are still going. They puzzle me a little because they crawl all over both sides of the screen and seem to hang out on top of the screen. But maybe they do that on my regular inner covers and I just never noticed. I certainly can’t say that the success of these 2 hives is due to the screens, but it obviously didn’t hurt. All beekeeping is always local (how is that for being dogmatic).
I occasionally see bees congregate on top of the inner cover, but they go in at night. I hasn’t seemed to cause a problem, so I ignore it.
How can I buy this glass cover for hive, please?
Like you I have over-wintered 100% for the last three winters. I credit you and HBS for my success. We live just west of Philadelphia and experience all the seasons. The winters can and have been bitter at times dipping into the teens for a night or two at a time. Not as cold as some places but cold enough that our girls generate a great deal of moisture. We have two hives that are very healthy that easily have populations around 50k to 60k into December and January. There is no doubt in my mind that you must provide a means to absorb it and provide a path for it to be evacuated. With that said, I limit the use of my screened inner covers starting when the temperatures reach 50°. This year it was early April. I’ll be replacing them with the solid inner covers that have their oval openings screened over. I do that at the end of August when I start 5 weeks of mite treatments. The inner covers include the short lengths of popsicle stick stapled to the inner borders to raise the cover slightly and provide added space for moisture evacuation. I add a panel of homasote board on top of the inner covers in mid November along with my other insulation measures. I checked my “bee diary” and I have followed this timeline and process for the past three years.
Great article Rusty! (as usual) I really enjoy your no nonsense straight forward approach and I too am a fan of screened inner covers and can’t put my finger on the exact reason why?? It appears that my hives seem to be cooler and drier and calmer. Here in western Montana, I don’t have near the humidity that you deal with. BUT, in the spring we get the moisture that didn’t dump on you and the screened inner covers help keep the mold from getting a foothold. Bottom line, thank you for helping us explain why we do certain things with our “girls”. One of my neighbors is an old fashioned beekeeper and he thinks I’m crazy, but with you as my support system, I don’t feel so alone. Ha….. :0)
I am a new bee and have found your blog most helpful. So thank you very much
One question. I made the screened inner cover but could not find 1/8 in screen locally so I had to use 1/4 in. Am I asking for problems?
Quarter-inch screen will not keep out robbing bees, wasps, yellowjackets, wax moths, or many other predators. You really need to go down to 1/8, especially once you get into a nectar dearth. This post might help: What size hardware cloth is best for bee hives.
I, too, love screened inner covers and that feed inner cover is a great idea! Just great!!! I use the screened inner cover for some of my more defensive hive inspections. I’ll take a few of them, put down the lid, inner cover, then put the screened cover on, stack the supers and maybe a brood box, then put another screened inner cover over that, and viola, it keeps them defensive bees inside while I work on the brood box, then I can just take box by box and stack back as I inspect them. Works great and keeps all them bees inside while I do my work. They are great in times like this year, where it’s so humid and hot the bees don’t have to beard they can just stay in the hive. I also use the screened vented top which permits airflow out the sides of the lid instead of holding it inside the hive and letting it try to seep out the inner cover vent which is way too small and the lid covers that vent anyway, so what’s the use of it? ha ha! Great post … love them screened inner covers, they have so many uses!
You sound a lot like me. I’m always finding additional uses for screened inner covers. Sometimes, when opening a hive, I have several on hand to cover the open boxes and keep the bees inside.
Rusty. I build bee hives for customers. One version is a horizontal Lang with screened covers. If you are curious let me know and I will email you a pic. Personally I run standard Langs here in Maryland.
Yes! Email a photo. I would love to see it: email@example.com
I have several horizontal deep hives that can accept Lang deep frames, top bars, or a combination. When I put Lang frames in them I use a piece of fiberglass window screen right on top of the frames as an inner cover. The bees will seal it up with propolis in some places and keep it open in others for ventilation. Sometimes they stick it down tight against the frames and other times they push it up to make a bee space above the frames.
The nice thing about using a flexible piece of window screen instead of a rigid frame is that you can uncover just a few frames at a time by rolling the cover up. I often start at the back of the hive and just uncover the honey storage area during a flow. Shifting the honey back a bit and adding an empty frame at the edge of the broodnest is the only manipulation I do for most of the time. The bees don’t mind the disruption of the honey storage too much and I can avoid disturbing the core of the broodnest entirely.
Hello from beautiful Castleton Vt. In reference to the screened inner cover, I am a little confused as to how it works and why? Are you not limiting the ventilation still to the little slot in the cover? With the telescopic cover on top where is it vented?
I make up ventilation collars, about 3 inch wood, the size of the hive, with several 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch holes drilled and covered with #8 hardware cloth. Depending on the depth of the collars I drill holes toward the bottom edge so when placed the tele. cover does not cover the holes. I only use these in the summer. The inner cover is still used so the center hole is the outlet for heat and moisture, but then the holes in the collar take over. Bees are much happier, less bearding etc.
Maybe looking at the pictures would help: How to make a screened inner cover. In the last photo you can see that the side pieces hold the telescoping cover away from the screen and air can exit from under the cover at the front and the back. No standard inner cover is used with these.
Another advantage of a screened inner cover is the ability to do a quick visual inspection of the brood nest without disturbing the bees. Just pop the outer cover off and take a quick look see. No bees flying in your face. Probably especially good for a “hot” colony.
I agree. If I have to go into the lower brood box, I often leave the screened inner cover on the top box and move the whole thing at once. It can really cut down on the commotion.
Love your post.
I tried a screened inner cover once. The bees propolized it so heavily that they in effect, turned it into a solid inner cover. They get to say what kind of house they want to live in so I left well enough alone.
As an aside, it has been hot, humid and rainy here for the last week. I think all of my hives have decided that the great outdoors is where they would rather be; hives have bearded in the past, but nothing like this.
Yes, I have one do that now and again, propolize till no air goes through. I just hit it with a heat gun and put it back, or sometimes I just leave it as you did.
Another way to keep excess winter moisture out of hives. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ukrainian-beehive-bjilnyk#/
My bees are like Sharon’s, if they can’t crawl through they propolize. I have quilt boxes on all my Langstroths, they have canvas below hardware cloth and several 13/16 (wine cork) screened vent holes. In winter I use chicken bedding and most of the year there is nothing in that space. The bees propolize very little this way. Oh yeah, I also have vented gable roofs. West central Arkansas, zone 7b.
Thank you so much Rusty; I just ordered a roll via Amazon.
Rusty. On a different subject you might tell your readers to check their spare boxes for wax moths. I looked into a couple brood boxes I’d just put new wax in a month ago. Had them ready for swarms. The wax moths had devistated them in that short time. What a mess! Any thoughts on how to prevent this? Moth balls work I guess. I forgot to put them in.
That’s too bad. Wax moths are looking for bee cocoons, debris, and pollen and they often leave clean wax alone—often but not always. In any case, make sure light gets into stored equipment by stacking it crisscross. Wax moths won’t lay eggs where there is light. I would never use moth balls in bee equipment, but if you do, make sure it gets aired out completely before use.
Rusty. Thank you. Good info. This was clean new foundation so I thought no problem. I’ll try leaving them open. Mike
I have used screened covers for a few years now and like the results. Recently, I have switched to an fine mesh and find that this does a really good job at frustrating the ants. When I open the outer cover I often see ants trying unsuccessfully to get into the hive. Something to consider.
A completely unrelated question.
I’m a brand new first year beek. I have 2 colonies in 5 foot top bar hives of my own design. I installed a package in each hive on April 30 2017. They have been doing very well up to now. My last full inspection was on July 8. Both hives bursting with bees. Due to weather here in Alberta … lots of wind on days that I wanted to inspect… I haven’t opened them since than. I had checked thru the viewing windows to make sure they weren’t running out of room. About 4 days ago in hive #2, the last 2-3 bars of comb had virtually no bees on them.
Yesterday when I opened that hive up, there were noticeably less bees. I have a horrible time seeing eggs but could see no larvae at all. Some capped brood but not much. BUT there were 9 empty queen cups all on the edges of the comb. I’m sure #2 is queenless now.
So did #2 swarm? Am I waiting for a virgin to come home? If so how long should it be before I start seeing eggs (ya right :-)) and larvae?
Start by reading this post: “Your beekeeping year is about to change.” In the northern hemisphere bee colonies are in the contraction phase which means they are getting smaller. It would be most unusual to have more bees now than you did a month ago. The brood nest gets filled with honey, the queen lays fewer eggs, drones get thrown out. The colony must get smaller before winter.
Queen cups, especially empty ones, don’t really mean anything. Some bees build them and take them down throughout the season just in case they need them. Other bees don’t do it so much. On the other hand, a supersedure or queen replacement may be underway. I can’t tell from here.
What I would do is put a frame containing eggs from your other hive into this one. If they make queen cells from it, you are waiting on a queen. If they care for the brood without making queen cells, you most likely have a queen who is just “resting.” Once you put in a frame of eggs, you should know in a day or two if they are trying to raise a queen.
Thank you! I had read that post already … slowly working my way thru all of your blog. I hadn’t considered that would be so drastic especially compared to the other hive. It’s still bursting at the seams.
Arg…now I have to try to see both the queen and eggs! 🙂
The queen cups are open on the bottom…doesn’t that indicate that they have already emerged?
Thanks so much for your blog. My wife figures I spend way to much time on it.
You can’t be sure that there is not another problem, but I always like to look at the most logical explanation first. As for comparison, all colonies are different, just like kids or dogs are different. They won’t respond the same way.
Open at the bottom: It depends on whether you are seeing queen cups or queen cells. They are different. Queen cups are sort of roundish and definitely open at the bottom. They are essentially preliminary queen cells, the beginning of queen cells that may or may not get used. Queen cells are peanut shaped. About three times as long as a queen cup. A queen cell with a perfectly round disk cut from the bottom once held a virgin queen. A cell with a hole in the side was attacked by another queen and the occupant killed.
Tell your wife it could be worse. Her husband could spend all his time talking on a ham radio.
Sorry Rusty if this is a double post. I’m having issues with my phone.
I had read that post of yours…actually been reading my way thru your whole blog for the last 4 months or so. Been trying to absorb as much info as possible. Really appreciate your site. I just wasn’t aware that the ‘die off’ would be so quickly drastic, especially compared to the other colony. It’s still bursting at the seams with bees as well as lots of capped brood and larvae. Didn’t see any eggs but that’s always a struggle for me. Also the queen cups/cells were all open on the bottom which I thought was an indicator that the queen had already emerged. Am I completely wrong? (Wouldn’t be the first time … or the last :^) )
I wasn’t planning on any honey this year but due to some cross and burr comb I just crushed and strained enough to fill a pint. You’d think I was 12 not 47 by the silly grin that doesn’t leave my face! These bees never cease to amaze me.
Thanks again Mrs. Rusty
Mmm. I love cross comb and burr comb honey, still in the comb of course.
Yes, when queen cells are open at the bottom it means the emerging queen opened them herself.
I’m going to check the hives again tomorrow weather permitting. But from what I remember all of them were 3/4 – 1 inch long and peanut shaped. The openings that I looked closely at were all on the bottom and had a darker edge around the hole. Thot it was interesting that all the cells were on the same (west) side of the combs.
My queens weren’t marked so I’ve had quite the time seeing them once the bees really got going well. That’s why I was a little reluctant to move a bar of eggs over. Have to make sure she isn’t on it.
Although you don’t have a lot of “top bar” specific instruction your site has still been the most helpful one I’ve read. After all its still beekeeping no matter the box shape. Thank you for your common sense approach. I’ll let you know what happens.
When moving the eggs, you can always shake off all the bees first. No bees on the frame means no queen. (Although shaking can be hard on the larvae.)
I should probably write more about top-bar beekeeping, but basically I do the same things with my top-bar hive as I do with my Langs. I can think of a few exceptions, but not many. I find the top-bar hive easy to care for when compared to the Langs.
Rusty. Just letting you know how I appreciate your info and blog from an “older beekeeper’s” perspective. I’ve been “providing ” housing for bees for over 40 years. I’m still “learning” reading your and many readers input. Many of your younger readers don’t realize how helpful you are. In my start up days when we needed advice and assistance we went to the library to read any of the few books on the subject. Or tried to find another helpful beekeeper near or far to help. My first 3 lb package of bees came from a Sears catalog and US mail! Help was hard to find. Now you just ask a question on a strange object on your desk and it appears on the screen! Anyway thx very much. I do have one question tho that has plagued me over the years and to keep it short – it’s how to know when to add a super. Yes I know watch for capping-on the comb but if I add too early or too many I get the typical chimney and only a little honey on each frame. If I don’t add and let them fill their two brood boxes and a super or two ( I always think the ist super is theirs – the second mine) then maybe I’m leaving them overcrowded and now almost August they quit working. Maybe I’ve missed it but looking through your index I can’t find what I’m looking for. Again thanks for taking your time providing help to young and “older”. Mike
Thank you for the nice compliment. I don’t know if this is the “right” answer or not, but it’s what I do. Whether it’s the brood nest or the supers, I wait for bees to be completely working 8 frames, then I add the next box. Even then, sometimes they ignore the two outer frames, but I feel it’s a compromise between not enough space and two much. I’ve been doing this a number of years now, and I don’t see any reason to change. Of course, if you use only 9 frames or if you have 8-frame equipment, just wait until all but the outside two are bustling with activity and then add a brood box or super.
Rusty. Thx. When you say ” completely working” do you mean capped or just bees covering all frames? I’m going to check mine today. I do use 9 frames in my supers. Do you ever get only partially filled and or not capped frames? Now what to do with them? I often put them back over an escape board early winter. Happy beein. ! Mike
By working I mean cleaning, polishing, building comb, depositing nectar, etc. Usually they all happen at once. In any case, lots of bees should be covering the frames and those bees should be busy doing something.
Partially filled combs are common. If you extract, the rule of thumb is no more than 10% uncapped should be used. Or to be on the safe side, use a refractometer. IF you have lots of uncapped, you can use it for winter feed. Or you can try to shake it out before extracting. If it won’t shake out of inverted frames, it is probably dry enough.
Thank you Thank you !!!! M
I checked the cells/cups closer this time and a couple had been opened from the side so I’m hoping that indicates that a successful queen took out her rivals. Just in case I did move a comb over that had capped brood, open larvae and I’m hoping some eggs…those suckers are so hard for me to see! I’ll look for cells to form next time I check. REALLY hoping they already re-queened by themselves.
They are nicely backfilling now so hoping they get their winter stores put up.
Thanks again Rusty!
I just love your blog and your suggestion of the screened inner covers. We will certainly try it for that most obvious purpose and for doing inspections to keep everyone at home and in place.
Thank you so much for your info.
Another question or thought: the ventilation box that we used in the winter; couldn’t it be used as an extra measure of ventilation in the summer too? Screen over the vent holes in the sides and let them have that space for air circulation.
Would it work?
Of course. That’s how I use mine. The vent holes are already screened. All I have to do is dump out the wood shavings in summer, then add fresh ones in winter.
Commenting on differences in location requiring differences in management: This year I’ve had six hives with colonies. They are all in the same area, separated by a few feet. Two are directly under an English walnut (plenty of shade), two are in direct sun, and two are in between (part shade). The ones in full sun are the only ones that have severe bearding in high heat, so I gave them each an entrance at the other end too (Top bar hives-replaced a bar with a couple shims to leave a bee height opening.). No more bearding!
Though even between those two colonies, there are differences. One leaves the end entrance open no problem. The other tries to propolis it closed unless I make the slit just a little larger. That colony is also a little hotter (in temperament), but boy do they produce the honey!
Hey Rusty I was back in the hive doing an inspection. Working from the back to the front – honey to brood. Got to the seventh one and low and behold there’s capped brood and upon further inspection there was larvae. Right on to the front of the hive. Woo Hoo! I’m thinking my queen made it home and is laying a way nicer brood pattern than the package queen. I’m no bee whisperer but even the bees seem to be more settled than they were when they appeared queenless. Thanks for all the help this blog provides to noobs like me.
Glad to hear it’s working out.
As with anything YMMV, so to speak.
I had been using screened inner covers on both my hives and a SBB (solid? screened?) too. When I went into the hive in winter (in San Francisco for context) to assess loss by varroa, I was surprised to see signs of mold and excessive moisture build-up. The only thing I could surmise was that despite the inner screen cover – moisture still accumulated on the inside of the outer cover and dripped down through the screen onto the hive.
This year I think I will be adding a Vivaldi Board to my hives, instead. Just a thought, dunno if I am right or not – just trying to make the best guess I can.
All my moisture problems disappeared never to be seen again when I began using moisture quilts.
I love the idea of the feeder and the screened cover! It is HOT and humid here in SE Ga and I am a new beek and have solid bottoms in my hives (that’s what the hive kit came with) so need to change some things up to provide more ventilation. Thanks for all the ideas!
Rusty, would you think the moisture quilts would be helpful in SE GA? I’ve not heard of anybody using them, but when I mentioned slatted racks at the last club meeting nobody knew what they were and a few people there run 200* hives. I don’t plan on keeping more than maybe 10 hives at most. I have 3 now and started with the bees May 1st so have a LOT to learn.
I think moisture quilts would be useful any time you open your winter hive and find condensation dripping down onto the frames.
Thanks Rusty! I can’t imagine they’d hurt anything and perhaps could prevent any problems that I might not be aware of until too late.
Hi Rusty. I’m wondering if you have compared summer hive temp’s with hives in the same yard, some having screened inner covers and others moisture quilts? I only have a few hives and just read about the screened inner covers, so haven’t had a chance to experiment yet. However, I am leaving moisture quilts (with wood chips) on 2 of my hives all summer to see what happens. So far so good. My reasoning is this, while the screened inner covers would certainly allow more airflow, the moisture quilts with the wood chips would offer much better insulation against the sun’s heat beating down on the cover. It gets pretty hot and humid here in the Baltimore summers. Just curious if you had compared. Note, I do have a small top entrance for some extra airflow with the moisture quilt in place.
No. I haven’t done temperature comparisons. I just know I find the quilts are in my way during the height of the season and I don’t want them there. With the screened inner cover, I can take off the lid and look down into the hive without ever disturbing the bees. I do this frequently as supers are being filled to see where they are in the process. I don’t have a lot of sun exposure in my apiary for most of the year.
I have a question about using screened inner covers with migratory tops. My screened inner covers have an open slot down each long side when placed with the slot down or a closed position when he slot is facing up (open for the bees, or closed for the bees, ventilation is open in either position).
Which is the correct position to use the screened inner covers, slot up or slot down?
With the open slot down the bees have access and seem to be able to control the amount of ventilation by positioning themselves along the slot at night to physically block and close it. Downside is that the slot provides a rather large upper entrance on both long sides to defend against robbing.
With the open slot up, the bees don’t have access to the slot (they are blocked by the screen) so they can’t control the amount of ventilation by physically placing themselves along the slot, but the upside is that there isn’t access for robbers.
Any insight appreciated
I’m not at all sure what you are asking. Normally, screened inner covers have two shims that hold the lid (or migratory cover) away from the screen. If the lid rested directly on the screen, no air would go through the screen. So the screen lays flat against the brood box, and the two shim face up to suspend the lid. If it was reversed, predators could just fly in the the top of the hive and you don’t want that.
There is a picture of the screened inner cover with the slots down both long sides. With the slots up I would call that closed, with the slots down I would call that open for the bees. In either directions it is open for ventilation.
Does that make sense
It makes sense but why would you want to leave a hive open like that for robbers and wasps? Sounds risky to me.
Here’s a follow-up on my experiment with leaving moisture quilts on 2 of my hives for the summer. My quilts were made up of 1/2″ hardware cloth on the bottom that was covered by a layer of cotton material (from an old t-shirt), with 2″ of pine shavings. For a while everything seemed to work ok but then the bees started to chew holes on the cotton cloth, something that they haven’t done during the winter. So I removed the quilts. Using a smaller mesh screen instead of the hardware cloth would stop this. However, my next summer trial is to try your method of dumping out the wood chips, put a small mesh screen in place of the cotton cloth and use it as a screened inner cover. In the summer do you use a an upper entrance right below your screened inner cover?
In summer, I have holes (upper entrances) drilled in my honey supers, so I skip the entrance below the screened inner cover.
Hello, great website and so much information! I have a Langstroth hive and I’m new to beekeeping. I’m curious about the screened cover, someone mentioned something about using the solid vs screened at certain times of the year. I live in Oregon and like you, it rains a lot here! Is the screen better used during the wet season and the solid during the winter when it’s super cold or do I have it backwards?! And what about when it’s dry and close to 100’? Oh my, so much to learn! Haha Thank you for any feedback and support. I’m so excited for the beekeeping journey, but there’s so much to learn in the process.
You have it right. The screened cover provides ventilation in the summer, while the solid one provide some insulation in winter.
Thank you Rusty for sharing all this great information! I’m a first-year beekeeper in central NC and went from 2 to 9 hives this summer (splits and catching swarms).
I was sitting here, firing my woodkiln and pondering quilt boxes and screened inner covers (building and inventing specialized hardware is one of the things I love about beekeeping) and I had come up with the feeder/screened inner cover just like Stosh.
Thought I better google it and – so great to see that I’m not crazy:) other people have already done it!
Thank you for a great resource for us newbees:)
Do you think an inner cover without a hole will harm the bees?
Can I use a piece of plywood without having any hole on it?