I was just wondering what people like to use out there as a top cover / hive lid
Telesopic cover or the Migratory type.??
I was just wondering what people like to use out there as a top cover / hive lid
Telesopic cover or the Migratory type.??
I've used all kinds of things from formica covered sink cut out (out of the dumpster at a building site) to the ventilated tops from www.beeworks.com. I often build my own covers of various kinds. Here's what I think of each:
Typical Migratory cover:
These are usually not a very tight fit on the top and are prone to blow off until the bees stick them down. If you haven't worked them lately they stay on, but if you worked them and shortly after a wind storm comes in they will blow off. Of course the solution is bricks or concrete blocks or rocks, but these are heavy to lift off. They are cheap. They are not ventilated. On a large hive in the heat of summer they get too hot inside. In the winter there is too much condensation because of the lack of ventilation. I like them pretty well on a hive that is only one or two boxes high and just getting started. They are handy for a swarm because you don't have to mess with the inner cover, but they can slide off. Depending on the shipping to you, Western Bee seems to have the best prices on these.
Telescopic cover with inner cover:
I don't like the inner covers with the top entrances. I don't like them, mostly because I can't reliably open and close them. If you push the telescopic back it will block it, but this is too easy to forget. I have lost a lot of bees to drowning when I put the inner cover on top of a hive top feeder thinking, that it was as good a place to leave it as any, and then had thousands of bees go in the top and drown in the feeder, not to mention the robbing that followed. It's nice to be able to open a top entrance if and when you want one, but I don't like one that is just there. A few inner covers are still available without the notch. I also don't like inner covers with masonite. They warp when they get wet. So a plywood inner cover without a notch and a telescopic on top, I like ok. It's still not enough ventilation and the telescopics, for reasons known only to the manufacturers, are always way too big and blow off too easily. Also, since they are on top of the inner cover the bees don't glue them down. A plus for opening the hive. A minus in a wind storm. Again a concrete block will stop this, but who wants to lift a concrete block seven feet in the air on a booming hive? I'm not certain but I only seem to be able to find the plywood inner covers without the top entrances at Walter T. Kelly.
Variations of this are the sink cut out scrap plywood, 3/4" plywood, a flat cover made of cedar shingles and a piece of roll roofing. Still no ventilation and Still blow off easily. If you can pick up the scraps at a job site, the price is wonderful.
Modified Migratory cover:
My version of a migratory cover, is cut from 3/4" exterior plywood that is 21 3/8" long and 16 1/4" wide. I take two 16 1/4" 1x2's and screw them under the lip of the plywood at both ends snug with the box. This means you have to push down hard to get the lid to go on, but it also means it does not slide around or blow off. It is still not ventilated. I like these for capturing swarms and starting hives, but not much for a booming productive hive.
I take an inner cover and cut a couple of more holes in it. I have a hole saw drill bit the same size as a regular mason jar lid (or a boardman feeder) and if often put two holes this size in the inner cover and then cover all the holes with #7 or #8 hardware cloth on the bottom side. This provides ventilation and if I want to use a jar for a feeder or waterer I can put them in the holes. On top of this I put a "vent box". This is either an old super (shallow or medium) with holes in the sides covered with hardware cloth, or just a box made from 1 x 6 or 1 x 8 with the same kind of holes. On top of this you can nail on a plywood lid or you can use old covers, migratory or telescopic. Now the hot moist air goes up through the screened holes in the inner cover and out the holes in the side of the vent box. This requires a block or bricks to keep it on, because it will blow off in a wind. If you want a Cadillac of this, you can buy a kit from www.beeworks. It has two vent boxes that allow you to adjust the ventilation between winter and summer and has an inner cover with a closable top entrance. I have quite a few of the kits and like them alot.
Tight telescopic cover:
If you make your own telescopic cover with 3/4" exterior plywood and make it snug around the edges, it will not blow off as easily. The 3/4" ply is heavy and the tight fit keeps it from blowing off. These are also nice for hiving swarms becuase they won't slide around and they don't easily blow off.
I don't think I've found the perfect cover yet. I have been tempted to build one that has the inner cover, vent box and cover all together in one peice, but then you couldn't feed with it. But it also would get glued down good and not blow off so eaisily.
The perfect cover would be light, but still won't blow off, provide ventilation, provide a place to feed, be easy to take on and off and be cheap to buy. I haven't seen it yet.
Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping
I have never used anything but migratory covers.But there are all kinds of things wrong with them.They warp and twist.They allow wind driven rain in.They are too hot in summer(I pull the top super back about 3/4 inch in hot weather to help the bees ventilate).The plus side is they are cheap to make.They allow tight stacking of hives for moving which means you must use them if you do much moving.You can bore a hole in the top and feed right through the cover.And if they warp in the right way they improve ventilation!
When mine warp it just makes a large top entrance (and ventilation).
versotile beehive cover - they ship the cover all; over the globe. Hope others find it useful, it's been featured in several British beekeeping magazines.
I built an innercover, vent box combo for just the reasons Michael pointed out. It is unfortunately not cehap though and needs a bit of redesign yet. I made 12 or 14 of them at the time, but had a bit of feature creap on them and you still need a lid for them.
The link shows one before it was wax dipped and had the holes drilled in the inner cover portion.
I made the inner cover reversible so that I could place pollen patties under it more easily. The bees (as I feared) just propolized it down in place.
could have been an inch or two taller for different sized jars
I left too much bee space under the inner cover, occasionally I had burr comb issues.
Still need a lid, and they take a while to build
Vented well, cut down bearding etc.
adjustable entrance was nice, and with triangle wedges they didn't get stuck down too bad, though it was a little annoying that they didn't come off with the cover most of the time
easy to feed in
If I make more I probably won't make them reversible, since they aren't anyway after long use.
Better bee space
We'll see what happens, I'm too busy building a horizontal hive with a hinged top to mess with my vented covers right now. Currently I wouldn't reccomend them without modification.
I use the crappiest 1/2" flat plywood exactly the size of the box. It leaks, it has gaps, the bees love it. The worse it gets, the better the bees seem to do.
I have both. Like them for their own specific need.
If ventillation is an issue use an inner cover then a migratory cover. Same principle as a telescopic cover with an inner cover right?
I use a screened inner cover. It provides ventilation and when there is a feeder on the hive, I pour the sugar water right through the screen. It does a rough filtering job as well as keeping the bees from going into the feeder.
I use the Honey Run Apiaries "All Season Inner Cover," plus a standard telescoping outer cover.
The HR All Season Inner Cover provides good ventilation in the Summer and good insulation in the Winter. Plus, it has an upper entrance, which gives good moisture control in the Winter and another point of access for the bees in the Summer when the population is big.
My only complaint is that the quality of construction is not all that great.
(6th year, 10 hives, Zone 5b, 5506')
In 20 years using flat plywood migratory tops, I haven't had a single one blow off unless the hive itself turned over. I don't weight mine down at all. I prop the corner for ventilation. We have a number of 60+ mph thunderstorms in any spring/summer. In winter we get 50+ mph blue northers. I don't think blowing off is an issue for flat tops. Tops with edging become airfoils. Airfoils create lift.
That's been my experience as well. Since I've gone to covers the size of the box with nothing hanging over the edges I don't have trouble with them blowing off. I usually keep a brick on them, but if I forget they usually stay on anyway. I was putting concrete blocks on the telescopic covers to keep them on...
Most of my covers are migratories some 3/4 plywood, some 3/4 cypress or pine board with a hole cut in the top for a mason jar feeder. But I never pass up one of those cheap corrugated plastic political signs, I don't like them for covers in cold weather due to condensation but during split and swarm season they make great covers and bottoms when you're running short on equipment. I have a couple hives with old stop or yield signs on top too. Waste not want not.
I'm new so I may not know any better, but I'm surprised nobody mentioned the plastic cover. I got my hive as a kit from Kelly and it came with a white plastic cover. This is a dense plastic that is pretty heavy (no winds were able to blow it off this year yet) and it also has a few notches underneath for some ventilation (the inner cover I got didn't have a notch). I heard it had an insulation value, but I don't know for sure. Working fine so far and even had an advantage when I noticed that the inner cover over the top feeder would trap a lot of condensation (causing mold to start on the wood) - I just left off the inner cover and the condensation just rolled off the plastic cover (no more mold). Am i missing something bad about these?
We tossed out the plastic covers from Kelley a couple years ago. Terrible condensation problems, and the water runs down to the ridge on the side of the cover and drips onto the inner cover. Wet inner covers all the time.
Worse, when they get a few years on them, they start to laminate and crack, and rainwater runs right through.
I've been making my own inner and outer covers for a while now. Inners are about an inch tall, maybe more since they are scrap with a dado cut to fit 1/2 plywood. Standard bee escape hole, more or less since i cut them free-hand with a router, I just want the hole. Notch in the wide side of the rim 3/8" deep and an inch or so long. I leave a 1/8" tall rim on the "flat" side.
Outer covers are 2 7/8" tall, again dadoed to take a 1/2" or 3/4" piece of plywood with a 1/8" rim on top. I pad the top well with newspapers and fit aluminum flashing over the top. They are just about 1/2" wider than the boxes and about an inch and a half longer, inside dimension, so I don't have any trouble with them being blown off, at least not yet. The bees glued them down last year, even outer covers on Kelley hives. Must have figured on a bad winter, some of them are still stuck pretty good.
I believe this is the best arrangement here, as we get plenty of damp, dreary weather in the fall and early spring. The two layers of 1/2" plywood absorb any extra moisture so there are no drips, and provide enough insulation along with the mostly closed air space to keep the hives warm and dry all winter. Never had a moisture problem with them on, no water collecting on the inner cover like the Kelley plastic ones either.
And the bees like all that space above the inner cover, they are up there drying honey all the time.
They are very prone to warping.
They all have their flaws and charms. If expense and extra equipment is not an issue then I prefer a telescoping / inner cover combo with a hole and build up so that I can feed using either a bucket or jar on top of the hive. Since expense and extra equipment are issues I mostly use migratory covers with the same feeder arrangement. Either way I cover them with metal.