Some Inner Cover IdeasI build my inner covers with three purposes in mind. They are:
1. Winter time inner cover
2. Spring-Summer inner cover
3. Main hive entrance.
If you are a bit handy with a table saw and power tools, you should have no problem building these for a fraction of the retail cost. I think these cost me about 45 cents to make with the bulk of the materials that I collected from construction sites - destined to go to the landfill. It is nice to be able to re-purpose things like this, plus it saves you money. Everyone likes that!
Let's discuss the Winter Time inner cover first. In the late winter – as the bees begin to break cluster – I want them to be able to move across the top bars of the frames to get to the surplus honey that I left them back in the previous year. By providing some extra 'head room' the bee's heat pools there and allows for easy movement across the frames. Also, I place some sugar and a pollen patty in the space as an emergency ration. There is a small 3/8th inch hole for hive ventilation as well.
For Spring, I simply turn the inner cover over to a much shorter 'head room'. This prevents the bees from building burr comb in the that void. They do a little bit of this from time to time, but with a shorter ceiling they don't do this as much.
The Spring side has the main entrance hole which is adjustable. I have found this to be very important. In the early spring, I narrow this entrance to prevent heat loss. As the days get warmer and the population begins to expand, I will open this entrance more. However, in the late summer/early fall we have trouble with Yellow Jackets. I will close this down a bit to help the bees defend their homes from these marauders.
I will post more details on my inner covers tomorrow. Stay tuned !