Cover Up

I profess to have an on-again, off again relationship with the inner cover.† The core problem is that beekeepers are human.† Humans being naturally quarrelsome creatures , we seek out things upon which to argue.† The inner cover is easy pickings.

If we still lived in medieval times then national beekeeper conferences would be held in a valley.† The two sides (Migratory and Inner Cover) would camp on opposite sides, descending into the valley only for a light breakfast snack before war† How a piece of wood 20x16 inches can so polarize a discussion amazes me.

†Good idea or not the inner cover has been ensconced into beekeeping lore as an essential part of the hive.† Flip open the pages of almost any beekeeping book and the hive it shows has an inner cover.† Migratory top enthusiasts point to this as evidence of the Inner Cover Cabalís infiltration of the media.† They certainly got to me.

†When I began beekeeping I used an inner cover for a couple of reasons.† The hive in the book had an inner cover Ė my hive had to have an inner cover too.† Opening the hive was scary.† The inner cover was another layer of protection between me and those bees.† Then came the second year.

That year those bees were my bees.† If my hive didnít look like the one in the book it was ok.† I tossed aside the inner cover like a childís blanket.† In their place I fitted migratory covers Ė a single slice of OSB with mild overhangs.† Take that, beekeeping gurus and equipment sellers!† It worked well.

I went a year with migratory tops, proud and pleased.† Then year three dawned.† I started with my migratory tops.† Then one evening I received a box of pure evil.† The box was actually a split, payment for some work Iíd done before and proof I need better bartering skills.† The bees in this box resembled that horror movie where the cloud of bees rises up before the cheer leader then blanket her.† It was like that except Iím uglier and donít have pom poms.

Enter the inner cover.† †With its tiny hole I could smoke them until the hive resembled Friday night at the bingo parlor before most of them could get to me.† I discovered† that feeding above the inner cover works well, and an inner cover with a top entrance is† a great way for a small colony to get a little more ventilation.† It was the dawn of my inner cover renaissance.

ďAnything you can do with a knife I can do with a sharp rock,Ē I once heard a wood carver claim.† ďAnything you can do with an inner cover I can do with a migratory top,Ē said another beekeeper.† Can you do the same thing with migratory covers?† Certainly.† Migratory covers can and do include top entrances.† They can and do include feeding holes.† They can and do allow smoking the colony before removing the lid.

The point is whether or not you can do something.† Itís whether or not you want to do it that way. Like so many of our debates (8 frame versus 10 frame, Deep supers versus mediums, Foundation versus Foundationless), Iíve spent enough energy reviling or defending my choices to harvest a stack of supers.† We almost need a ďDonít ask, donít tellĒ policy for beekeeping equipment.† To paraphrase our government., what you do in the privacy of your own hive is entirely your own business.

†This beekeeping appendix turned once more useful equipment has a home at my house.† I donít feel bound to them or barred from their use.† Use them where you feel the need, avoid them if you donít. In the end, inner covers are like lime green spandex shorts:† Often despised, occasionally useful, and entirely up to you.