I’m in love with all the ventilation aids I’ve added to my hives lately. Judging only from preliminary observations, I’d say the screened bottom board is #1 on my Gotta Have ‘Em list. The ventilation rim ain’t too shabby either. But the one I love the most, purely for the This Is So Cool factor, is the screened inner cover. It provides a handy view of the hive that doesn’t require tearing the hive apart or wearing any protective clothing. Check it out:
This is just a prototype. Screen with a wider mesh might be more ideal, but still… I’ve watched the bees quickly fill this honey super since I added the screened inner cover not too long ago, and it’s great to be able to just pull the top off the hive and look down through the screen and observe what’s going on without disturbing the bees. This is exactly the kind of thing many first time beekeepers would love, because you know they’re looking for any excuse to poke around inside the hive to see what’s happening. And it’s good for the bees, so why not?
I don’t see harm in any of these ventilation aids for my hives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at least during the peak of summer. I’m not sure I’ll stick with them over the winter months, though.
February 2019 Postscript: I don’t use screened inner covers anymore, but I do remove the regular inner covers from my hives sometimes when it’s really hot, placing an empty moisture quilt on top, which is basically the same thing. Full-on ventilation with a view of the bees through the screen. I don’t do that when it’s cold at night, though.
LOVE the screened inner cover. What a super cool idea. Turns a hive into an observation hive, except that instead of being detrimental to the bees (most observation hives I’ve seen die off every year), it’s actually super helpful for them. Super cool, Phillip.
Yup, it’s pretty cool. Rusty mentioned that she uses a ventilated inner cover on her hives, but I couldn’t visualize exactly how hers worked, so I just took a shot at making one myself, and by dumb luck, it works (so far anyway). Like I mentioned in the post, it would be easier to see the bees through the screen if I’d used a standard 1/8th hardware cloth, but whenever I’ve asked for hardware cloth in the hardware stores around here, no one knows what I’m talking about. I don’t think it exists around here.
At any rate, what I’ve built is really just a screened eke, a rim I can use over the winter to make space for candy cakes under the inner cover. I just need to flip it so the screen is on top instead and I’ve got myself good ole fashioned wintertime eke.
It could be coincidence because we’ve had some great weather in the past week or so, but since I added the screened inner cover, the frames in the honey super have become packed with bees. I love it. And I can watch the bees’ progress every day without disturbing them. Very cool.
screen inner cover and bottom boards are great for summer but they’re lousy in winter i just use reg. inner cover and solid bottom board i don’t no what the weather’s like there in winter but here in u.s.a in West Virginia summers are wet and very hot and winters can be very very cold you never no just my opinion i no they never work for me in winter
I don’t use screened inner covers at all anymore. I sometimes use moisture quilts, but that’s about it. The screened bottom boards have been okay, but overall, with adequate ventilation up top, screened bottom boards aren’t really necessary where I live at any time of the year.