Last Updated on May 6, 2022
An inner cover is an optional part of a Langstroth beehive. There are certain management strategies where this cover is useful, and there are other times when it is a hindrance. Beehive inner cover plans are available on the net but they often ignore the important ways you can save money making these covers. It is relatively inexpensive just to buy a cover, but if you want to make one, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from recycling wastes and doing your bit for the environment! You definitely won’t save money making the cover, but at least you save the planet.
What Does The Inner Cover Do?
The standard inner cover for a Langstroth hive consists of a board of some sort with a frame around it that observes bee space. There is a handhold/ventilation space normally in the middle of the cover. The lid normally fits over this cover. In some beekeeping systems, this cover is really important, and in other systems, it is a hindrance.
I tend to feel that an inner cover is a very useful thing if you intend to have bees that stay in one place. If you are into migratory beekeeping, an inner cover is a pain in the neck and there are far better options for covering your hive.
In my opinion, they provide a place for hive beetles to be a nuisance.
Do We Really Need An Inner Cover?
When considering the amount of work involved in following beehive inner cover plans and then making the things, my answer is “Mostly no.” There are times when these covers can be useful, but in my opinion, they are probably the least useful part of a beehive. I like using the so-called Australian migratory lids. These lids consist of a solid plywood top with a two-inch frame around it. Normally we attach a metal sheet to the top of this to protect it, and then it provides the bees with a 2-inch cluster space over the top frames of the supers.
The lovely thing about Australian Migratory lids is that in a heavy honey flow the space in the lid fills up with the most delicious comb honey!! You will get a few pounds of delightful white honeycomb that gets packed into the lid gap. The rest of the time it just provides the bees with excellent ventilation space and cluster space at night.
A big advantage of an inner cover is that if the actual lid blows off these covers normally stay on and will protect the bees enough that they will not normally abscond. The bees will just propolize the handhold in the middle shut. When naughty kids/teenage hooligans/bears/baboons/drunk people and other problem animals find apiaries the lids of hives normally can get removed before the bees educate the offending creatures.
Ok, I Still Want An Inner Cover – How Do I Make One?
The easiest way to make an inner cover is to purchase a Masonite board. This is an engineered high-density fiberboard. I personally hardly ever bought this stuff – I would just go around after elections and collect the backing boards that political parties use to stick their posters on poles around town. If you do not have this sort of election happening, you can always visit a brewery, where these boards are often used to separate bottles on pallets. You can normally “buy” these from people at the brewery for a bottle of honey or two. If you do need to buy the board and hardware store will have these sheets typically in a 4’x8′ sheet.
You can find a nice step-by-step guide on how to make these here together with beehive inner cover plans.
Should I Paint The Inner Cover Of The Beehive?
No – if the board is made from Masonite or a similar type of HDF it will easily outlast you if you look after it. When it comes to beehive inner cover plans, you will see no call for painting in any guide. Painting hives on the inside is never a good thing.
Paint may be marked as lead-free, but this does not mean that it is free of all toxic things. Paint is something that flakes with time, and the last thing you want is some flake of paint ending up in your honey, propolis, or wax. The bees will rapidly coat the inner cover with propolis and wax in a few years, and after this, the cover is pretty much indestructible.
Should I Use An Inner Cover With A Hive Top Feeder?
Generally, the inner cover will get in the way – this will depend on which type of hive top feeder. You can use a Candy board with a feeder such as this in winter. Generally, the candy board is supposed to be a replacement for an inner cover, but some beekeepers find that placing an inner cover on top of the candy board improves winter survival.
These feeders are far less problematic in a hive than hive top feeders and if you are using inner covers, you can continue as per normal with these.
Beehive Inner Cover Plans – The Simplest Route
One really simple option for an inner cover is to just cut a sheet of fabric!! You can even buy them precut here. I find these work really well – I used to use an old 2 WW military tent that got destroyed by a wild animal. We used sections of this tent for years and it worked beautifully. The bees propolize the canvas to the top of the frames and leave little crawl holes for themselves. This seems to insulate them well.
You can remove the covers and roll them up. Place the rolled covers in the freezer and then once the propolis freezes unroll them in a basin. The propolis will flake off and collect in the basin. This allows you to use the inner cover to harvest propolis. As far as beehive inner cover plans go, this one is a gem! It works and helps you make medicine.
I hope this article has helped you with your beehive inner cover plans. You can see there are many options, and it is important to test these and see what works for you. If you enjoyed this article please share!
What is the inner cover for a beehive?
The inner cover is a cover that fits on top of the frames below the lid. Normally this refers to a masonite board with a frame around it, but can also refer to a canvas sheet.
Do I paint the inner cover of the beehive?
No. Paint is never a good idea in a beehive. It can introduce chemicals (even lead free paint has these) so it is best to avoid paint. The bees will cover the board in wax and propolis in a year or two. I have had hand me down inner covers that were more than 60 years old! They will outlast you.
Do you need an inner cover?
No. There are thousands of beekeepers who do not use inner covers. In some areas using an inner cover is good. In some areas it is just a nuisance. This will depend on the race of bees you keep, the area, the climate and so on. But you can safely keep bees without an inner cover nearly anywhere.
Do you use an inner cover with a hive top feeder?
Generally this can give you problems. It is better to use frame feeders or candy boards with the inner cover placed above the candy board.
Dr. Garth A. Cambray is a Canadian/South African entrepreneur and beekeeper with 28 years of experience in apiculture and specializes in adding value to honey. His Ph.D. research developed a new advanced continuous fermentation method for making mead that has resulted in a number of companies globally being able to access markets for mead. His company, Makana Meadery, exports honey mead to the USA where it is available to discerning connoisseurs. He has also developed technologies to commercially manufacture organic honey vinegar in Zambia for export globally. He holds a few patents globally in the ethanol industry and believes in technology and knowledge transfer for human development and environmental sustainability. One of his proudest achievements is the fact that the wind farm he started at one of his old apiary sites has essentially made his hometown carbon neutral.