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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Question Burlap for Inner Covers?

    I have been using those plastic feed bags for inner covers, but I'm short on those and have a bunch of nice burlap coffee sacks. I also don't love the way the plastic stuff gets 'stringy' and you end up contributing plastic shreds to the yard. If I could use burlap, any that get too shaggy can go right into the smoker.

    Has anyone tried burlap for an inner cover, or would the bees chew it up? Or perhaps there's another reason not to use it.

    I've also thought about using canvass, so any thoughts on that could help too...

    Thanks,

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    burlap is alot better than plastic,
    you will love burlap
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lake County, Indiana
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    I've seen it done on nucs. My only thought is that if any part remains outside the hive it may wick moisture (rain) into the hive. But I'm not sure about that, just a thought.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,172

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Ian, just wondering why you like burlap? I haven't experienced the "stringy" problem that Adam describes and, other than combatting that, I wondered what advantages burlap offers?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,252

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Burlap gets propolized to the top bars and shreds when you pull the bag. You'll be picking burlap threads forever.

    As for plastic feed bags getting shreddy...it's the sun. Fold or cut the bag so it doesn't stick out too far from under the cover.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    when I used inner covers, mine were wooden,
    at times when I needed a seal on top, I would use plastic or burlap, which ever I had available
    I much preferred the burlap
    It head a better seal, and it did not blow all over the place while working the hive

    I never had it on long enough to have it propolize, so I imagine that my be a draw back,
    Adrian, the plastic Adam was referring to would shred likely because it is lighter duty plastic
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
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    1,015

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Where do you get the burlap bags? I used them in my smoker years ago, but are not available in my area (I'm still looking, ebay is expensive).
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Loup City, NE
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Adam, You can purchase woven burlap at a fabric store. Cut into pieces to fit top bars and leave a
    2" space in front for the bees to come up and feed on cremed honey or fondant. Use a rim not an inner
    cover and the bees can take flight if necessary. Put burlap on in early fall and it will peel off in early
    spring even though they propolise it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
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    2,240

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Any burlap coffee bag (in the last 10 years) to my knowledge has been treated with an insecticide .
    Bad for the bees to put in smoker? I don't know.
    Good Luck, Mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Warres use burlap with no troubles. If you use burlap I would suggest using the flour paste that Warre did. It reduces the chewing that bees will inevitably do.

    http://www.dheaf.plus.com/warrebeeke...ng_hessian.htm

    I will second what some have said about wicking moisture. You just need to make sure that you have a telescoping cover. If rain hits it, you will be in trouble. Otherwise the wicking thing really isn't an issue.

    I used burlap for a good solid year and didn't have any issues with strings everywhere. Then again I used the flour paste which hardens it up a bit.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Keene, NH
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Mike, do you have a link to an information source about burlap coffee bean sacks being treated with insecticides? Do all coffee growing regions of the world put green beans into treated sacks?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
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    2,240

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Just the ones imported into the USA.
    There are even regulations now requiring treatment of wood pallets and cardboard containers/skids that carry imported goods
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Quote Originally Posted by mike haney View Post
    Any burlap coffee bag (in the last 10 years) to my knowledge has been treated with an insecticide .
    Bad for the bees to put in smoker? I don't know.
    Good Luck, Mike
    We have a large organic/fair trade coffee roaster near here, and they throw out a large amount of coffee sacs, which they say even the dyes in the printing are non-toxic, vegetable dyes and they have no insecticides. I've used the burlap in the smoker all season, and it seemed good. Never got the bees too upset - didn't seem to harm anything. Smelled fine too.

    I find that the plastic feed bags are fine, but I don't have any more and haven't got a source for more. I'm sure I could find them if I try though. It's just that I have the burlap on hand and like the "natural" quality of the fabric.

    The plastic feed bags are shredding because they've been cut to fit. I don't expose them to the sun. The cut edges fray easily. Now, I believe there are different weights of the stuff, and a heavier weight may not be as bad. I find this stuff to be too light, and it blows around when you take it off, so you have to weigh it down with something when removed. I found one way to help with fraying is to burn the edges so that they are sealed a bit.

    The burlap I have is dense, and heavy - not the kind you get at garden supply. You can't see through this stuff. It may fray, as Mike Palmer suggests, so perhaps it would need to be stitched - and that would be a pain.

    Adam

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Keene, NH
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    35

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Mike H,
    Please post if you find any of these regulations as I cannot find evidence to support your claim in the US import regulations or from the EPA... I am curious about this as I use coffee bean sack burlap in my smoker.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
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    5,784

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Adam, you will switch all over to burlap when you try it,
    nothing more annoying than plastic covers blowing in the wind
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    What's the burlap like that you've used, Ian? Is it especially heavy, or just the typical garden store type?

    Adam

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA
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    416

    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    The plastic feed bags are shredding because they've been cut to fit. I don't expose them to the sun. The cut edges fray easily. Now, I believe there are different weights of the stuff, and a heavier weight may not be as bad. I find this stuff to be too light, and it blows around when you take it off, so you have to weigh it down with something when removed.
    I got a bunch of the plastic feed bags from our local feed and seed to use for inner liners on nucs and even some 10 frame hives. They also were too light and frayed all over the place. Since then I've been using old tarps cut to the exact size of the box. They work great and I have plenty of them that are worn out from our construction projects. Some are the typical blue tarps and some are heavier silver/brown. I've thought about using them instead of inner covers on all the 10 frame hives, but I like an upper hole for ventilation in winter and summer.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    What's the burlap like that you've used, Ian? Is it especially heavy, or just the typical garden store type?

    Adam
    I call them potato sacks, we are in the heart of potato country
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I call them potato sacks, we are in the heart of potato country
    Yeah, I know them. We used to get our potatoes in Alberta in those. Probably came from your area. They are pretty rugged, and heavier than the garden store type. The thing is that I feel that the burlap would allow a little air flow and that could be good. We'll see. I'll give 'em a try.

    Thanks all,

    Adam

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Default Re: Burlap for Inner Covers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    The thing is that I feel that the burlap would allow a little air flow

    Thanks all,

    Adam
    I agree
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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