When you leave an area for the bees to enter and exit the supers as is the case with offsetting them, doesn't rain get in? I have never used this method, usually I just put a small rock between the outer and inner covers for extra ventilation.
Does rain get in? Maybe. Probably. Do the bees care? Probably not. After many years of using this technique, even in the Pacific Northwest and now in the desert Southwest -- I've never seen it cause any noticeable issues (rather, it seems to be quite beneficial), though I'm sure there is an outside chance that rain storms might destroy a hive, especially if they come in the form of a hurricane, tornado, or if the hives are in a low spot and get flooded.
Offsetting supers seems to me to be too much work. Just set thin popsickle sticks in between near all four corners. You get much more even cross ventilation. During rain or cold weather you can always pull them out easier than trying to maneuver a sticky super back to it's original position. I don't know of any beekeeper who would allow rain in their hives and yes, the bees do mind rain.
Irwin Quick Grip clamps -- only one needed. With the clamp you can easily move supers askew or align them.
I like the idea of the Popsicle sticks. A few years ago I did a similar thing with a few mesquite twigs, I think it worked well.
I certainly agree with you when it's an open-air colony or a swarm clustered in an exposed area, but slightly mis-aligned supers can hardly expose the bees to the rain enough to cause them major problems (at least it hasn't in my experience).
my opinion is the complete opposite to charlieB's to offset a honey super is quick and easy taking just a few seconds with a hive tool, the amount of rain that gets into a hive is minimal and dosn't seem to bother the bees at all offsetting the supers also gives the bees a top entrance which is a great way to both aid in ventilation and ease congestion at the main entrance the bees also seem to do more honey.
I offsett a quarter inch or a little more with no ill effect. The bees just hang out of it on hot nights up off the ground and are much safer than on the ground. For those who think it not safe, don't do it.
As a response, primarily due to toad predation and the research project reported by Jerry Hayes about Entrance Placement and Queen Excluders, I have taken to completely eliminating the traditional bottom entrance. Instead I replace the bottom entrance with a combination of SBB and Slatted Rack. Then I use covers, that when in place provide a small top entrance. Below these covers I also, sometimes use entrance rims that have a screened platform, where the entrance is up and under the screen (this provides the effect of a robber screen). And only during a strong honey flow, do I mis-align supers, as I add them, above the excluder and entrance rim, to provide additional entrance area for foraging honey bees and escape of heat and humidity produced by bees and curing nectar.
Here's an image to show the bees, "hanging-out" near the end of a honey-flow day. The bottom of the image shows the entrance rim/excluder combination protruding from their position on top of the brood supers, then the bees are bearding on the front of two honey supers where the one on top of the first is slid back forming an additional entrance slot, the cover on the top honey super is slid back the same way as the top super, when more supers are added each provides an additional entrance.
And here's a pic that shows the two 8-frame brood supers, the excluder/entrance rim, and three offset honey supers, topped with the offset cover.
Before and after these pics the bees have gone through several very hard and violent desert "Monsoon" rainstorms. During the storms most or all of the bees retreat inside -- but that's all the effect the rains seem to have on them.
Like Vance G said, it may not be for everyone, but it has worked amazingly well, here in the desert Southwest.
BTW, these hives are the "robbers", not the robbers, victims. Though in late Summer or early Autumn I frequently observe what I call depopulating, "bee-wars". The large populations are quickly reduced by these interactions, now the honey stores can last longer with fewer mouths to feed.
I put a large piece of 2" Styrofoam on top the hive,held down with a brick. It won't help ventilation,but it does shade the hive from the blazing sun. Not sure what the bees think. The internal hive temp was 110° yesterday and ambient temp was 95°. "Usually,the hive is always in the 80° to 95° range,no matter the ambient temperature. My understanding is that 114° is near fatal for honey bees?
>My understanding is that 114° is near fatal for honey bees?
We had that one summer back in the 80s in western Nebraska. I had to hose the chickens off as they would be sitting all fluffed up and panting and looking like they were going to die. There was honey running out the front of the hive. I didn't dare open it up for fear everything would collapse. But the bees survived fine. They were all over the water, of course.
I use SBB and homemade screened inner covers with a 5 inch upper entrance which is probably overkill. I also fill all the water sources everyday. Bees are very efficient environmental engineers. Have been for many millions of years. I'm beginning to get the message that the less I fool with them and give them only minimal restrictions, allowing them to develop their own world, their own way, laying aside my human obcessions, the happier and more productive we all are.
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