Improving Ventilation with The Mud Songs Ventilation Rim™

I’ve since converted all of my fabulously patented ventilation rims into moisture quilts. See the updates at the end for more details. And of course I’m joking about the trademark… and the patent.

I made some improvements to the design of my ventilation rim (a.k.a. a ventilation eke, a.k.a. vent box, a.k.a. a whole bunch of different names). It’s still cheap and easy to make and should do a fine job (I hope) at improving the ventilation of any Langstroth hive. First, I cut four pieces of wood for the front, back and sides of the rim. Here’s a shot of the side pieces:

Side pieces for the ventilation rim.

Here’s a shot of the front and back pieces:

The front and back pieces for a ventilation rim.

Note that all the measurements are written on the wood — in both Metric and Imperial. The red line on the wood indicates how far the telescoping top cover will hang down over the rim. The ventilation holes are subsequently drilled below that line. I happen to have a 1.5-inch drill bit, but 2-inch-wide holes would probably work too; even 1-inch-wide holes. Notice that the holes are drilled at an angle to minimize the chances of sideways rain from getting in. Here’s a straight on close up of one of the holes that sort of illustrates the angle of the hole (the hole from the outside is angled up so rain is less likely to drip down into the hive; at least that was my thinking when I nearly tore a finger off while trying to drill into the wood at an angle):

Close up to show how the hole angles downwards to minimize water getting inside,

(UPDATE: Holes drilled straight in are fine for the carpentry ill-inclined. It’s not as good but it’s not a deal breaker.) Behind each hole, I stapled on some screen or mesh. I don’t know the size of the holes in the screen. I assume it doesn’t matter as long as wind can blow through and predatary insects like wasps can’t get in.

The insides of the ventilator rim with screens stapled over the holes.

So I took those pieces of wood and stuck them together with 2-inch-long brass screws, pre-drilling the holes first with a thin drill bit. I could have probably used a hammer and nails instead, if I knew how to swing a hammer. Note that the front and back pieces go between the side pieces.

The finished ventilation rim.

Also note that the front of the rim doesn’t have any holes drilled in it.

The finished ventilation rim from another angle.

That’s because sometimes bees returning to the hive get confused and will try to enter the hive through whatever hole they can find. But when the hole has a screen on the other side, they can’t always figure out what to do next, and they just sit there trying to get in until they die. At the very least, it’s waste of time for the bees when they get confused by a hole that doesn’t lead into the hive. That’s why I don’t drill holes in the front.

I don’t remember the cost of the lumber, but it wasn’t much, maybe $10 tops. The brass screws were cheap, too, because I bought them from a wholesaler. I didn’t use any fancy tools to make the rim. A hand-held jig saw, a power drill (which can also double as a power screw driver), and a cheap power screw driver. I didn’t use carpenter’s glue, though I probably should have. Then there’s the screen which cost about $5 for a 20-foot roll, something like that. I used a deep super to figure out the dimensions. I used the super as a workbench, too, for the drilling and the sawing. I didn’t use a T-square or anything like that to ensure right-angles. It might be a little rough around the edges, but as far as I can tell, the rim works. One aspect of the design I was careful about was making sure it was flat on the bottom. If one side happened to be even a fraction of an inch higher than the other sides, it could leave enough space for rain to seep in. I can’t think of anything else to say about it. Hopefully I’m not overlooking some glaring flaw in the design. Here’s the rim ventilating away on one our nucs.

The ventilator rim installed on a nuc (August 9, 2011).

Placed on top of the inner cover, the holes in the rim should provide adequate ventilation in the summer to reduce moisture in the hive, thus accelerating the honey curing process when honey supers are installed. The added ventilation also makes it easier for the bees to regulate the temperature of the hive for brood rearing. The rim is high enough so that the lip of the telescoping top cover doesn’t block the holes, and the holes are angled down so rain is less likely to get in. I’m still new at this beekeeping game, but it looks like a well designed ventilation aid to me.

November 2018 Comment: My design of this ventilation rim was a stroke of genius. How did I manage to come up with something so useful so early in the game? I use these rims, or a variation of them, on all of my hives throughout the year. In the summer, I use them as ventilation aids and they work beautifully. The bees in most of my hives don’t have to waste their energy fanning outside the hive entrance to cure honey, because the ventilation rims are already doing the job for them. In the winter, I convert the ventilation rims to moisture quilts and they keep my bees warm and dry all winter long. I know ventilation boxes derived from the D.E. Hive follow the same concept and are probably more convenient because you just put them on and you’re done for the whole year, but I nevertheless marvel at my brain’s ability to work this out in the absence of any real life experience or knowledge of such a device. Way to go brain!

P.S.: Check out this comment from Rusty Burlew for a detailed explanation of hive ventilation (reproduced in a full post on her website: Physics for beekeepers: How does ventilation increase honey production?).

January 15th, 2014: This ventilation rim can be converted into a winter moisture quilt by stapling fabric or a mesh screen across the bottom. See what I’m talking about at Honey Bee Suite.

April 8th, 2014: I have to remember to paint the outside of any rims. Moisture in the form of wind-driven rain or fog will easily seep into the hive if the rims aren’t painted.

5 thoughts on “Improving Ventilation with The Mud Songs Ventilation Rim™

  1. Hi, i am new to this business of bees. i have 2 hives. our weather here in ohio has been nasty in the 90’s to 100 degrees. im glad i found your article. today my son and i ripped 2, 2.5 inch “rims” out of an old super. we then drilled holes and put screen in just like you guys. thanks for posting your article. im interested to see if it reduces the amount of bees swarming on the exterior of the hive on these super hot days. at what temp will you take your rims back off? respectfully joe

  2. Hey Joe, your comment got lost in the shuffle. My late response: I don’t know what temperature the rims come off. I removed them after I removed and harvested the last honey for the year.

  3. Using scrap wood, I made a 3 inch long by 1/2 inch X 3/4 inch spacer that I lay on top of the front end of the inner cover. In spring the 1/2 inch side is facing upward and in hot summer weather the 3/4 inch is facing upward. A weight on the top cover prevents the cover from blowing off in strong winds. Also I use a screened bottom board. I live in central Alabama and leave the screened bottom and the spacer year round. This year we had exceptionally cold weather one night down to 5 degrees. (Usually coldest weather is in low teens). Of 15 hives, I lost one that turned out to be queenless.

  4. Jim — Sorry for the late reply. I was away for a few days.

    Nope, there’s no downside to stapling screen to the bottom. That’s how I convert them to moisture quilts.

    However, with the screen, to use them as ventilation rims, it’s easier if you put a rim or even an empty super underneath to give the bees a few inches to crawl around. Otherwise, the easily get stuck under the screen by crawling through the hole in the inner cover.

Comments are closed.