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How to make a screened inner cover

Screened inner covers can give your hive a lot of good ventilation. They are used in place of regular inner covers and are designed the hold the telescoping cover up on two ends (or two sides) so that air can flow from the hive and out from under the telescoping cover. The screen is tacked down with narrow strips of wood that are just thick enough to provide some bee space between the top bars and the screen.

You can buy screened inner covers from some of the bee supply houses, but they are also easy to make. I bought long pieces of standard 1 x 2-inch lumber, and used the 2-inch dimension to provide the height necessary to elevate the cover, and I used the 1-inch dimension for the front and back.

The way I cut my pieces, the ventilation air goes out the front and back of the hive. You can also reverse the pieces so the ventilation air goes out the sides, the way the commercial ones do. Either way works, although you will get more air flow if the air goes out the sides, which are longer than the width. However, if your hives are close together, having the air go out the front and back may be best.

These are the steps I used:

  1. First I cut all the wood to the proper length. I had help cutting the strips, which were ripped from a standard 1 x 4.
  2. Then I cut out a notch on each end of the long pieces where the corners will join together.
  3. I used a square to assure right angles, then I pre-drilled the holes with a countersink, so the screws could be recessed.
  4. If you are going to paint, this is an easy time to do it, but painting is not necessary.
  5. I cut a piece of #8 hardware cloth to size, stapled it in place, and then stapled the wooden slats over the edge. The cloth needs to be stretched tight to limit the amount of sag in the center. The wooden slats give you a nice clean edge and they also provide bee space.
  6. When you install the cover, remember that the screen side goes down.
  7. Center your telescoping cover over the screen so there is room for air to travel out each end (or side).



Ted Matthews

Thank You Rusty for your e-mails and your hard work. I enjoy your writings very much, Ted


Please excuse my ignorance, but what is a telescoping cover?


Well I did the sensible thing second instead of first. I searched it on your site and found a very nice explanation. Of course now you have to read two comments but at least your reply will not have to be as long.



Or maybe I won’t reply at all!

Jerry Titus

Hi! Thanks for the great post. A couple of questions if you have the time:

How has this worked out for you?
How many seasons have used it?
Any observations on yield? Behavior?
Do the bees attempt to propolise it?

Thanks and regards.




I’ve been using screened inner covers for five or six years. I would never again keep bees without them. Both honey production and brood production seem to improve with better ventilation. Propolis has never been a problem; sometimes there is a bit of burr comb which can be removed with a heat gun or air compressor.


How high should the inner cover actually “lift” the outer cover? Should I be able to see a gap in it?


Mine lifts about 3/4 of an inch. You can see from the photos in this post.



Mine lifts about 3/4 of an inch. You can see from the photos in this post.


Well, I have an, err, “custom” telescoping cover. I was just wondering if there should be a visible gap on the underside of the tip cover. Thanks.


Sorry, Robert, I don’t understand what you are asking. I confess to being dense at times . . .


I am pretty sure it’s my communication skills lol Thanks for your patience.
Ok let’s see. I bought hives from the Mann-Lake distributor. They came with a top that was flush on the sides. I decided I wanted a telescoping cover, so I added sides to it.
My question is, for a screened inner cover to be effective, does it have to raise the telescoping cover to the point that there is a gap between the bottom of the telescoping cover and the vent sides of the inner cover. I will try to email you a picture to see if that helps.



Screened inner covers are usually shimmed on two sides to hold the telescoping cover far enough away so that air can flow over the other two side. If air can’t flow, then it can’t ventilate. The openings can be under the overhang of the telescoping cover as long as air can move freely from the inside of the hive to the outside.


Great post. I’m in E. WA and am concerned about next week’s weather as we’re supposed to be over 100. One question…where in the world do you find #8 wire cloth? That stuff seems to be as scarce as hen’s teeth, but everyone seems to have it for beekeeping projects. I can’t find it.



So weird. I haven’t been in eastern Washington in ages, but I’m heading out there next week to meet with some bee people at WSU in Prosser. Perfect timing for the heat wave of the decade. You can buy #8 hardware cloth (1/8th-inch squares) from

In a pinch (in case you can’t get it before the heat wave) you can use regular insect screening from your Home Depot or whatever. It will keep your bees cool, but it won’t last like hardware cloth.

Kenny Goodman

Thanks for sharing knowledge 🙂


With screened inner covers, do you leave them in all winter (I am in southeast Iowa) or should I take them out & put the regular inner cover on till spring?

I also have screened bottom boards, which I have read that is good to leave in over winter to help reduce moisture.



I use the screened inner covers in the spring, summer, and early fall, and then I replace them with them with moisture quilts for the winter. I seldom use the standard inner covers.

I leave the screened bottom boards open all year except when it stays in the low 20s for more than a few days. Then I slip the removable drawers back in. With a really populous hive it doesn’t matter much in my climate, but for smaller colonies I like to give them some help.


Thanks for your reply. I am gonna have to Google moisture quilt & read up on them. First I have heard of them. Which is not a surprise being my first year with bees.

Bonnie G.

Hi Rusty, I installed the screened inner cover and immediately the bees started building burr comb which was very troublesome. Determined to have the ventilation I came up with an idea/experiment that has turned out excellent, so I wanted to share.

I took a regular inner cover with an entrance and drilled one inch holes all over it spaced about 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart as I didn’t want to weaken the cover too much. This turned out great.

I then turned the drilled inner cover upside down (wrong side up) and put the screened inner cover on top. The bees now have an upper entrance and they do not build any burr comb on either side of my contraption.

The bees have propolized the two pieces together and I can take this system off in one piece. When I take them off for winter and install my quilt board, I am going to nail the pieces together making the setup permanently into one piece because they worked so well.

I also have an idea for my quilt board I would like to share. I am placing a wood bound queen excluder on the upper brood chamber and placing the vented super on it. I have burlap, double layer, to place inside on top of the queen excluder and then the wood shavings on top of the burlap. Without attaching canvas or burlap directly to the vented super, I can lift the burlap and wood shavings out and replace with newspaper and clumped up sugar if I need to feed .

I hope this helps someone to make beekeeping a little easier while maintaining proper hive integrity.

Regards to all.


Thank you for your information. We had our first warm day 2 days ago and our new nuc was bearding. We have forecast temperatures of 41 and 42 for Christmas/Boxing Day, so off to Murray Bridge yesterday for materials. We have made a heat screen, similar to yours for each hive and put them on Friday when the nights and days warm up again.

Merry Christmas 2016



They really do help to keep the bees cool. You will like them. Merry Christmas to you, too!