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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ran across a few photos where some people made a sort of migratory cover that also doubles as a bottom board. I'm thinking of trying migratory covers and would love to go this route. I can't seem to find any plans though. I saw one that was just a sheet of plywood with cleats on three sides like a solid bottom board, but when used as a cover its still oriented so the cleats are up and only the plywood is cove the hive.
Looks simple and cheap. Are there downsides to this? I feel like it makes sense to do it like this.
 

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The migratory cover does have a couple good uses such as a quick bottom board. However most people don't use them that way as it leaves NO space for the bees to cluster at the bottom of the hive. When you set a hive body onto a bottom board you have about 3/4 of an inch there where the bees can cluster as well as room to go in and out of the hive easily. When you set a standard hive body on a migratory cover (even if it does have an entrance opening) there is only about 1/8 of an inch there where the bees can move through, which means they won't, and have to migrate through the hive by climbing over frames, etc.

Now the other side of this is, if you plan to use an upper entrance above the frames, this can be a cheap easy method of bottom boards. They are just plywood 3/4 inch with cleats on the bottom sides, about 3/4 by 1.5 inches. The migratory covers usually cover over the box side to side and that's it, from front to back give an extra 3/4 inch for bee escapes and ease of use. Other then that there's not much more to them.
 

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I use the same part for top covers and bottom boards on 6 frame nucs, and they'd work just as well on any width hive.

Basically, it is a board with a cleat on each end of the out side, and a 3/8" tall 3/4" wide rim around the sides and back.

A loose 3/8" shim fits into the front to close or reduce it.

I often leave an inch or two at the bottom as an entrance and the entire top opening as a main entrance in the summer.
That way if I need to place robbing screens, I can close the top, put the robbing screen in the bottom, and many of the bees are already oriented to the bottom.

I'll take some pics tomorrow when I go the the yard if I remember my camera.

In a properly ventilated hive that is not overcrowded, there's no need for clustering under the bottom frames.
Better to throw another box on top and get some more comb drawn, IMO.
 

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Cut ply at 23 x 16 1/4. Screw to 2x2 on front and back. Add some 3/8" stickers around the top.

Same piece will be usable top and bottom.

Drill an entrance hole in box and the bottom piece can simply be the top with cleats facing up, no need for the stickers. IMG_6821.jpg

This sort of sketchy design is likely better in California than in a climate with severe weather or humidity. Ply endgrain is exposed all around.

Note the boxes are butt jointed redwood fence boards with cabinet biscuits and drywall screws.

Unless the ply is 3/4" warpage will be an issue. The well screwed cleats help, but don't entirely eliminate twisting.
 

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Are there downsides to this?
Yeah, as a bottom board they may not warp, since the weight of the hives keeps them flat. But, as covers, some of them will warp even w/ cleats. Currently, all of my covers are a simple sheet of plywood. They don't all lay flat.
 

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A magratory cover also doubles as a pallet. Turn it upside down and stack hive bodies, supers or whatever. The cleats leave enough space to slide a two wheeler under it so that stacks can be easily moved around your shop, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Awesome. I built a couple today. Cheap to make. We will see how they work out. My apiary is expanding quicker than I expected.
 
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