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Ways to Provide Ventilation in a Beehive, Part 2
In the first post of this series, we looked at why ventilation was needed in a beehive and some special considerations that needed to be taken when providing ventilation. In the second post of this series, we began to look at actual ways to provide ventilation. Today, we continue to look at methods that can be implemented to ventilate a beehive.
Ways to Provide Ventilation in a Beehive
As previously noted, ventilation is a topic that has mixed opinions in the beekeeping community. Some beekeepers believe it’s needed, while others say it’s unnecessary. If your hives are struggling due to extreme heat or excess moisture, you really should consider adding more ventilation. Most early hive designs, those prior to the age of industrialization, contained some type of ventilation.
Telescoping Lids Used in Conjunction with Shims
A telescoping lid provides additional ventilation, especially when used in conjunction with shims or a notched inner hive cover. A telescoping lid is designed to provide extra protection from the elements and weather. It is referred to as “telescoping” because it telescopes, or extends, over the top of the hive.
Telescoping lids have an additional benefit. Due to their extended edges which fit snugly over the sides of the hive body, they tend to be heavier. This means that they also tend to remain in place better when subjected to high winds.
To provide ventilation, a pair of shims are placed between the uppermost super and the telescoping lid at the front corners. The shims are a small rectangular piece of wood that is approximately ½” x 2”. Because this method creates a long opening across the front of the hive and partway to the back on both sides, implementation of this option should be considered carefully because an opening that large can be difficult, if not impossible for the bees to defend, especially if a hive is struggling.
A hive stand which raises the hive off of the ground allows air to circulate on all sides of the hive, providing better ventilation, especially when used in conjunction with a screened bottom board. A hive stand will also help stop predators, such as skunks, from bothering your hives. The stand forces the skunk to expose its belly, giving the bees a place to attack. Click here to learn how to build a hive stand for yourself.
A ventilation eke is a spacer that fits over or under a brood chamber or honey super. It’s another way to increase airflow in your hive by drilling one to two ventilation holes in each side for airflow. The holes are covered with screen, typically from the inside. If you want to use an eke, you can cut a super or brood box into multiple ekes.
An imre shim, a short rectangular frame that’s the same size as a Langstroth box, is similar to the ventilation eke but is much narrower in height. It is designed and used specifically to improve brood chamber congestion. It can be modified to provide ventilation as well. You can take off one of the shorter sides, creating a U-shaped shim, which then acts as a full-sized upper entrance. Or you can cut a smaller entrance into it. Just as with the telescoping lid with shims, a longer opening (like a full entrance) may be difficult for the bees to defend, especially if the hive is struggling.
Ventilated Gabled Roof
A ventilated gabled roof has screened ventilation ports tucked just below the peak of the roof on both the front and the back. These ports, similar to those in most of our homes, provide a horizontal airflow across the top of the hive, pulling moist air out of the hive quite effectively. Click here for instructions to build a gabled roof for your Langstroth hive.
Don’t want to build one? Our garden hives have a ventilated gabled roof or you can purchase one here.
Screen Replacement for Ventilation
If you have added ventilation holes to your beehive and want versatility, or you don’t want to use a screen, the Beehive Entrance Disc is the perfect answer. You just screw the Beehive Entrance Disc next to your hole and then easily turn it to the function you want for the hole. It offers fully open, fully closed, queen excluder and ventilation only. You never have to add or remove screens again or cover the holes you’ve already added. As conditions change, you simply rotate the disc to the function you need.
Choosing a method that creates a large opening the bees will need to guard may not be an issue when nectar is flowing; however, when your bees are dealing with a nectar dearth, you may need to find a different way to ventilate the hive because robber bees, wasps and yellow jackets may be too much of a problem.
You won’t need all the ventilation strategies outlined in this post and our previous post, however, the more you implement, the better ventilation your hives will have. Good airflow translates into better-cured honey and healthier bees. If you’re looking for additional ways to keep your hive cool in the heat, click here.
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