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Discussion Starter #1
As a painter I use heavy canvas fabric drop cloths. It occurred to me that making inner covers out of this heavy fabric would be economical and help with moisture control. I see plastic canvas in use as an inner cover but not fabric. Has anyone tried this?
 

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I have a friend who has used canvas which he got from an Army Surplus Tent. He now uses tar paper, which I don't care for.

SHB love hanging out under cloth inner covers laying on the top bars. One will often find them there when removing the canvas.

Some folks use used plastic feed bags.
 

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I used to help a commercial beekeeper that would salvage old rugs and cut them up to work as inner covers. you are right about the moisture and they work good plus the price is right.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
To expand, I made up some 3 season hive covers which are inner covers with room for styrofoam under the outer cover. The fabric would go above the inner cover and below the styrofoam. The outer cover goes above that. Think the SHB would live above the wood inner cover and in the fabric?

A further note, I plan to use these as hive top feeders as well, so there will be brood, inner cover, "Mel's Fluffy Fondant", canvas, styrofoam, and outer cover in that order.
Thanks for your input.

Here's the link to Mel's Fluffy Fondant;
http://ribeekeeper.org/newsletters/fluffy_fondant.pdf

Here's the all season inner cover;
http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/store/all-season-inner-cover-p-232.html
 

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People often use the plastic animal feed bags on boxes divided into double nucs. I think something that breathes better than a canvas tarp, might work better.
 

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I don't know anyone that uses used feedbags. We buy them new...they are a woven type, and i think breathe a little. I wouldn't use used ones unless.I knew what was in them.
deknow
 

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I wouldn't use used ones unless.I knew what was in them.
deknow
How concerned should one be about what kind of animal feed was in a plastic feed bag? Most of the ones I am familiar w/ have been used a number of times for everything from pelleted cattle feed or rabbit feed to cracked or whole corn. I'm not so sure that there would be anything to be too conserned about. What are you seeing that I might be missing, Dean?
 

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any thought on the plastic versus cloth like burlap?

Mike
The plastic will hold less moisture and will pull of easier. Thoiugh I don't think bees "like" either or any kind of cloth inner cover when they are being removed. Not like less invasive wooden inner covers which don't contact the top bars.
 

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There is a lady out of Atlanta named Linda that has a site and she uses the fabric and it looks like a good way to examine your bees. Once the fabric is laid on the top super when she takes off the outer cover, she just rolls back enough fabric to expose a couple of frames which keeps a lot of the other bees from all coming out and she even uses another piece of fabric when she pulls out honey supers and places them into another to transport and that way that keeps bees from getting back on those frames. Here is the site: http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/search/label/hive drape#uds-search-results. If I did not put that on right just put the beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com into your search and then in her search place fabric inner cover. You probably already knew that, but just in case. She has a lot of nice videos and pictures.
 

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How concerned should one be about what kind of animal feed was in a plastic feed bag?
I dunno...some feeds have antibiotics, some seed has systemic pesticides or fungicides....it's worth 60 cents a bag not to find out. Since not all bags are the same (not all are woven), and we liked what we had seen in Vermont on Kirk Webster and Mike Palmer's colonies, we just ordered new grain bags from the feed store down the street from Kirk so there were no surprises. Again, 60 cents for an inner cover that will last years is probably the smallest monetary investment you can make in a hive.

deknow
 

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By "(not allo are woven)" are you refering to the brown heavy plastic bags? I've wondered about using them.

I understand your caution, but I can't imagine any, or much anyway, antibiotic contamination. But, I guess even miniscule doesn't fit your criteria, right? We all have our standards.
 

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I don't know if woven or not makes a difference. I don't know what might be in a used bag, where it might have been stored, or what the effects might be. I'm using it to produce food and cover my bees. I'm cheap, but 60 cents is cheap enough that I'll buy new from a known source of a known bag.

deknow
 

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We started this year with nucs from Kirk Webster. They came with the feedbag covers and at first we really liked them, simple and cheap. But being new we were in the hives pretty frequently and it seemed like quite a few bees were getting squished on top every time we closed back up. Friends who started with us found the same. we would try to smoke them down a bit. We would try to close up real slow and let them scoot away but it did not seem to help.

Is there a trick to help avoid this (like maybe just don't worry about it?)
Aside from low cost are there advantages to this system over a wooden IC when not being used on divided boxes?
 

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I've found canvas or burlap cloth covers are great when you have bees that just want to "spill-over" when you open the hive. If you have some bees that are a little hot, they can help keep the bees in check. Perhaps it is a way of darkening the hive a bit, keeping them a little calmer. They can also be a way of collecting condensation and preventing a "drip" on the bees. :)
 

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But being new we were in the hives pretty frequently and it seemed like quite a few bees were getting squished on top every time we closed back up.
How many is "quite a few"? Maybe, being new to beekeeping, what you are seeing is the normal amount. I have never noticed very many bees getting squashed using cloth inner covers.
 

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Not really all that many compared to hive population I guess. maybe 5-10.each time would be obvious the next time I opened up. But when I switched over to a wooden IC there would be none.
 
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