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Inner covers with notches make it difficult to seal the top of the hive in the event it becomes necessary, like when you want to seal your hive to move them, or keep them in when farmers spray chemicals or when other hives may try to rob the hive.
Our inner covers also come with the oval shaped hole in the center. About half of our hives in our bee yards have inner covers. Some of our hives just have what is called migratory lids, just a flat wooden lid that covers the top of the hive.
We recommend the use of the inner cover because it does become useful throughout the year. If nothing more, it does make the top cover easier to remove.
The inner cover has a rim of wood, a wood strip on one side only. Customers often wonder which way this goes on the hive, with the rim down or up? Typically, the rim of wood faces up. In other words, the top cover goes down and lands on the rim of the inner cover. This provides the 1/4" spacing if the bees want to hang out between the inner cover and top cover, and a few do hang out there.
There are times when it is necessary to reverse the inner cover position, and place the rim down. I do this when I place pollen patties on the top bars of the frame. The extra spacing the rim provides is just right to accommodate the thickness of my patties and to place my top cover back on.
Finally, the top cover. It is often called a telescoping top cover because it hangs over the hive body. Most telescoping top covers hang over between 1-2 inches. ALWAYS PLACE SOMETHING ON TOP OF THE HIVE TO KEEP THE LID DOWN. I've lost several hives because of strong winds and I did not have a brick or rock on the top and the lid blew off and the storm drenched the hive.