Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder
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  1. #1

    Default Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    I just recently received a used beehive from a neighbor and I've spent the last few days sterilizing the inside of the 2 boxes. What I'm not clear on with this beehive is whether I need an inner cover or a queen excluder. The beehive given to me has 2 boxes with frames in each box with nothing separating the 2 boxes. I've decided to remove the frames and probably start with new ones (to avoid potentially introducing a disease to the new hive I'll be receiving shortly).

    What confuses me is watching different YouTube videos with different setups. On this video, they show how to introduce a new hive and after adding the bees into the hive, they add an inner cover (I've added a time stamp to the video to show where they do this):

    https://youtu.be/njd40kPWY84?t=328

    Then in other videos, I've seen individuals use a beehive queen excluder to separate the 2 boxes. Here's my assumption (and please correct me if I'm wrong):

    • When I get the bees that are being shipped to me, add them into the first box (along with their sugar water) and put the inner cover on top of them with the hole in the middle and put the small box (containing the queen) in between the frames with the hole at the end of the small box the queen ships in pointing into this hole in the middle of the inner cover? (see link to video I posted above with that example)
    • Only use 1 box when introducing the bees. Do not set the 2nd box on top of them until later
    • Use the queen excluder when I decide to add a box on top of the first box later?


    What I'm a little confused about is why in the video they added the inner cover (with the hole in the middle) on top of the first box. Why not just add the roof on top of the first box? I'm assuming this is so the queen has room to get out of the little box she ships in? Just not clear on this part.

    The beehive I received doesn't have the inner cover which is a project I'll work on creating today.

    Again, any insight, clarification, or just pointing me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Inner covers are used with telescoping covers so the bees don't stick the cover down which is hard to pry off since the overlapping edges make it hard to pry on. If you don't have a telescoping cover, inner covers aren't really necessary. You don't need a queen excluder either. Provide room to the bees a little bit before they need it.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Quote Originally Posted by cityprepping View Post
    What I'm a little confused about is why in the video they added the inner cover (with the hole in the middle) on top of the first box. Why not just add the roof on top of the first box?
    Because bees are very particular about the structures which exist at the top of their hive, and will glue together (with propolis) any structures which have a crack between them - such as the inner cover and the top of the box walls. Then, when conducting an inspection - the first thing to be done is to break open that propolis seal.

    In that video a telescopic roof is being placed over the inner cover. Now should that cover be placed directly on top of the box - it would be propolised to the top of the box instead - but - being telescopic, the sides of the roof will obstruct access to the crack into which a tool must be inserted to break the propolis seal - so that roof would then be glued-on for good ! Hence the need for an inner cover if you're using telescopic roofs.

    If you're using a plain 'migratory' cover, then this problem doesn't occur.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Additionally, many inner covers have a notch in the rim on one side at one end. If you put the inner cover in with the notch down and at the front of the hive you give the bees an upper entrance. The upper entrance can be closed by pulling the telescoping cover backwards so that the rim of the cover blocks the notch in the inner cover, and it can be opened by pushing the telescoping cover forward so that it doesn't block the notch. The inside length of a telescoping cover is 3/8" of an inch, or one bee space, longer for this reason. That feature is why the cover is called a telescoping cover. During a flow you open the notch so foragers can bypass the brood nest. During the dearth you close it to help minimize robbing, and in the winter you open it partially with the telescoping cover centered to allow air circulation to prevent moisture build up.

    The oval opening in the inner cover is a bee escape; any bees on top of it when you put the lid on can get down into the hive. Bees will go both ways and some will hang out up there, but its not a problem. Secondarily, as has been mentioned, you can put a feeder above the inner cover and the hole will let the bees access it. In the summer I place popsicle sticks on the top side of the inner cover as spacers in the corners. The spacers keep the telescoping cover raised just enough that hive invaders can't get through but air can get out, giving the hive a full rim ventilation slit.
    Zone 5B

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Side note (with tongue in cheek), you're going to love propolis. Its consistence goes from bubble gum on hot asphalt in summer to dried shellac in winter and the bees seem to put it everywhere you don't want it; good schtuff, tons of fun. Welcome to the hobby.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  8. #7

    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    The oval opening in the inner cover is a bee escape; any bees on top of it when you put the lid on can get down into the hive. Bees will go both ways and some will hang out up there, but its not a problem.
    One thing that I'm not clear on. If I put the inner cover (which has the oval opening) on top of the box and then put the telescoping cover on, won't the bees simply go into the opening and hang out up there and add propolis to connect the inner cover to the telescoping cover? Or will this only happen if there's cracks between the inner cover and the roof? My concern is that they'll put the propolis in this space thus connecting the cover and making it difficult to remove the roof.

    Just trying to make sure I'm not setting this up incorrectly. Thanks!
    Last edited by cityprepping; 04-16-2019 at 08:34 AM.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Good observation. I also find this to be an odd practice.

    I always cover holes in the Crown Board (inner cover) either with tiles or a working inverted-jar feeder - but then, I use bottom entrances only.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  10. #9

    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    Good observation. I also find this to be an odd practice.

    I always cover holes in the Crown Board (inner cover) either with tiles or a working inverted-jar feeder - but then, I use bottom entrances only.
    LJ
    Yeh, it's a bit confusing based on what I'm being told. I think I have a solution to resolve this, namely not putting a oval shaped hole in the top inner cover which touches the telescoping roof. I'll still put a 3/8" notch though at the end of the inner cover thus allowing the telescoping roof to serve its purpose. Maybe I'm missing something, but I'm more concerned about the bees gluing the roof to the top inner cover. Again, I'm a complete newbie and learning as I go, so I'm completely open to being corrected on this.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    One of the things you'll quickly learn is that beekeepers seldom agree about everything - in particular there are two schools of thought regarding what approach should be adopted towards environmental conditions towards the top of a beehive.

    One approach is to keep the top completely sealed-up, and let the bees enter the beehive from the hive bottom. That's my approach, the approach of a guy named Roger Delon (who designed what he called a 'ClimateStable' Hive), and many other beekeepers - principally in Europe.

    The other approach - which appears to be favoured by many (perhaps most ?) in the US - is to allow upward ventilation, either through upper entrances, or purpose-made vents.

    This - as with many other beekeeping practices (such as the use of Open Mesh Floors/SBB's)- is something beekeepers are never going to agree on. It must be very confusing for new entrants to beekeeping, but that's just the way it is ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Quote Originally Posted by cityprepping View Post
    If I put the inner cover (which has the oval opening) on top of the box and then put the telescoping cover on, won't the bees simply go into the opening and hang out up there
    Yes.

    and add propolis to connect the inner cover to the telescoping cover?
    They don't seem to. I don't think they perceive it to be a part of their living space where they are trying to control air leaks.

    You'll find a few dozen bees hanging out in the attic above the inner cover, but that's not many compared to the hundreds that will be hanging out on the bottom side of the inner cover when you lift it.
    Zone 5B

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    One of the things you'll quickly learn is that beekeepers seldom agree about everything
    Hell, we can't even agree with our own self.

    cityprepping, if you haven't heard this yet you soon will: Ask three beekeepers a question and you will get five opinions.
    Zone 5B

  14. #13

    Default Re: Understanding the difference between an inner cover and queen excluder

    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    They don't seem to. I don't think they perceive it to be a part of their living space where they are trying to control air leaks.

    You'll find a few dozen bees hanging out in the attic above the inner cover, but that's not many compared to the hundreds that will be hanging out on the bottom side of the inner cover when you lift it.
    OK, then maybe I'll put this inner cover configuration at the top. Again, after reading everyone's feedback, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't creating a problem with a roof that was effectively going to be glued on. Thanks for your feedback!

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