April 16

Lesson 04 – Inner and Outer Covers

LESSON 4: Hive Components: Lesson Four: Inner & Outer Covers

 Today, we continue becoming familiar with the actual beehive box. It is important to know and to understand how the wooden ware fits together. In previous lessons, we started at the bottom and worked our way up the hive. Now we are ready to take a look at the two most top pieces, the inner cover and the top cover.

It might seem unusual to have two covers on a hive, the inner cover and the top cover. This is the common configuration, to place an inner cover on the top super, then place the top cover on top of the inner cover. Why? Good question. Here’s the inner cover that we are NOT using.  I will explain later.
Before I answer that question, let me say it is not essential, at least not in my opinion to use an inner cover. I believe it is good, and can certainly aid the bees at times, to use an inner cover, but it is not always necessary. It is suggested that an inner cover, with an oval shaped hole in the middle, provides a dead air space between the top of the hive and the outside world. Many claim this insulates the hive from the heat or cold. Others claim that the inner cover is to keep the top cover from sticking to the frames.

There are notches in the inner cover rim, allowing the bees to have a top entrance or exit if they so choose and to increase ventilation.

Inner covers with notches make it difficult to seal the top of the hive in the event it becomes necessary, like when you want to seal your hive to move them, or keep them in when farmers spray chemicals or when other hives may try to rob the hive.

So, to add ventilation, we are using a full open screen top cover which greatly increases ventilation for our hive.  I started using these two years ago on recommendation of Shelly, my Master Bee Keeper mentor and we have both enjoyed success as a result.

Migratory lids are often used by pollinators because it allows hives to be easily stacked.  Migratory lids don’t keep out the elements the way an inner cover and top cover do. Notice two of  hives side by side. The white one on the left has an inner cover and a telescoping top cover. The green hive on the right simply has no inner cover, but a migratory lid that has an added a piece of metal.  We will be using the better, telescoping top cover.
Finally, the top cover. It is often called a telescoping top cover because it hangs over the hive body. Most telescoping top covers hang over between 1-2 inches. ALWAYS PLACE SOMETHING ON TOP OF THE HIVE TO KEEP THE LID DOWN.  Hives can be lost because of strong winds and you did not have a brick or rock on the top and the lid blew off and the storm drenched the hive.  NOT GOOD!
Tops do not have to have metal, but it does protect the wood from the weather. It is very important to allow for some ventilation at the top of the hive in the winter. Without some top ventilation, condensation can develop on the inside of the top of the hive, and drip cold water down onto the winter cluster of bees. (This is another reason we will use our inner screen cover for the winter as well)  This can cause the bees to die, not from the cold, but from being cold and wet. A little ventilation at the top can help the condensation to evaporate.