A 3-Hole Punch for Beehives

My favourite hive component beyond a moisture quilt or ventilation rim is a rim with a hole in it. In the winter, the rim makes room for emergency food such as sugar cakes or pollen patties and provides an upper entrance for the bees.

In the summer time, the rim provides the bees a place to cool off when the hive is humid or congested, sort of like bearding but inside, and similar to the function of a slatted rack, except it’s on the top of the hive instead of the bottom. Some of the bees, usually young bees that haven’t foraged yet (I’m guessing), will cluster underneath the inner cover and — because of the rim — will have 2 or 3 inches of space to just sort of hang there. It allows them to get out of the way of the foragers. It unclogs the frames and allows for better ventilation and regulation of the brood nest temperature too. All good stuff. And all due to a wonderful thing called a rim.

Some rims only have one hole as an upper entrance. But I like them with three holes. Watch this video and listen to me rambling on for 8 minutes as I explain something that probably could have taken 10 seconds.

I could talk about nothing all day long. It’s not an endearing quality, but I find the longer I ramble, the more likely I am to stumble onto a creative and innovative idea. It also makes my answers to simple questions 20 times longer than they need to be. It’s why when people ask me questions, my answers are rarely summed up in a single sentence. (I also tend to repeat myself if you haven’t noticed.) But once in a while I strike gold, so it’s worth it.

Not that three holes in a rim instead of one is a golden idea, but it’s not too bad.

Comments from social media along with my responses:

Comment: Seems to me that during the honey flow the bees would fill that rim with comb and honey. You will get comb honey and quite a mess.

Response: Yes, that could happen, absolutely. This set up probably wouldn’t work on a commercial scale, but for backyard beekeepers who can check on their small number of hives every day (like me), it works like this: If I see the bees building burr comb to fill in the space, I give them blank frames or another super to work on instead. Then they don’t make a mess. I’ve been doing this for about 3 years now and it’s worked out well (so far). Here’s an example of some burr comb the bees made after I forgot to check on them:

What impresses me the most (quoting from my blog here) is how on hot and humid days the bees will cluster underneath the inner cover and, because of the rim, will have two or three inches of space to just sort of hang there. It unclogs the frames and allows for better ventilation and regulation of the brood nest temperature.

That’s how I’m reading it, anyway. It seems to function sort of like a slatted rack but on top instead of the bottom. If I didn’t check on them, though, the bees would absolutely fill it in with messy comb.

Comment: In reference to the inner cover, you say “summer position.” I run the shim the opposite way in the summer, with the hole down. The bees come right in to access the supers as an upper entrance. In winter, I flip the shim so the hole is up top against the Styrofoam to let moist air out. The three hole entrance is a neat idea on a strong strong hive.

Response: I call it the summer position mainly because that’s what I was taught when I first began beekeeping, so I refer to it that way for other people who were taught the same way as me. But most of the time, summer and winter, I keep it open so the bees have direct access to the hive. I should refer to it as the open and closed position for now on. In fact, I will.

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