A cover protects the top bars from the weather. It drains precipitation. Provides shade and ventilation when it’s hot. And insulation when it’s cold.
A properly designed and operated cover can make up for the lack of thermal mass associated with most man-made beehives.
And it can greatly extend the useful life of the top bars and hive body.
Something to think about before designing a cover. Does the cover:
- drain moisture
- need waterproofing
- need insulation for cold climate protection
- enhance moving/migration/storage
- allow cross ventilation to dissipate summer heat
- attach to the hive body
- enhance the hive’s appearance
- weigh too much for easy handling
Covers range from a simple sheet of plastic to keep the rain out, to those that mirror roofs found on a house in a northern climate.
A sloped cover provides good drainage and ventilation. It compliment the looks of a top bar hive with sloped sides. But they take a more time to build and are harder to insulate. They don’t stack at all, an important factor if you move your top bar hives.
A flat cover is easy to build, insulate, and can be stacked. When propped up, they provide shade and ventilation. But they are ugly and have marginal drainage. If you live in a wet climate, be sure to build a flat cover using suitable material. Or give it a proper waterproofing treatment. Without such, a large, painted, poorly prepared, flat cover has a short life.
Most top bar hive covers are lightweight with a large surface area. So, some means should be added to keep them from blowing away.
Here’s a few of the ways top bar hive beekeepers attach covers:
- use bricks, rocks for weight
- bungee cords
- eyelets and wire
- hook and eyelet