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Will the queen lay- and bees build- above an inner cover?


I have recently built several observation hives. Currently I have one set up with the inner cover on top of the five frame nuc (it has a notched upper entrance- and a large hole in the center foe feeding,etc) and the single frame observation box on top of that. Inside this 6 frame hive there is a one week old swarm. They have already cleaned up some sticky frames I gave them- and built new comb onto them. There are bees in the upper observation box- but they haven’t started building there yet. I don’t expect them to until they have finished down below- but I am just wondering if the inner cover will somehow dissuade them from building upstairs?

I have seen where people say that bees consider things above the inner cover to be ‘outside the hive’ but I am assuming this is only the case for bees who are habituated to having no access upstairs? So when you suddenly uncover the access hole they consider this new space to be ‘non hive’ space? My swarm has been free to go up whenever they like. I am really hoping once they draw out the comb in the upper single frame box- that the queen goes up there and lays eggs.

here are a few pictures of the hive- perhaps it will make it easier to understand what I am on about:


Beautiful set up. Don’t know that I’ll ever want one or need one but beautifully made


It’s more about access, smells and communication than the area being “new”. If a colony is crowded they sometimes expand into an area with minimal communication, but generally they hesitate to do so. Often you find a crowded colony between studs in a wall that, despite a hole connecting this area to the next cavity between studs, the bees have not expanded into that area. On the other hand you often see colonies that have expanded despite one small hole being the only communication. The point is that it is a deterrent, but there is nothing about it that is totally predictable.


It has been my experience (limited) that they will not build above an inner cover. In my case it was a wintering cover that had an exterior entrance above and below the divider with a center hole for feeder jar that was removed giving them easy access to medium super and “Flow” above. My thoughts was that this would provide better ventilation. I was going to leave the medium super for over wintering bees (as I will not feed sugar)(unnatural) and harvest from the Flow super. Twice over the summer I put frames of capped and uncapped honey (3, each time) in medium super hoping the smell would draw bees above queen excluder to build their own supply in medium and Flow that would be used for personnel harvest. In looking through the windows of the Flow I would see activity but not nearly as much as in my others. Due to the activity in the Flows but not closing the cells I would look into the mediums and both times all honey even the capped was taken below. the smell clearly attracted bees but robbing not depositing, they apparently didn’t realize it was to be their honey. I have determined not to use these wintering covers next year, at least there.


after a few weeks the bees hadn’t built anything on my upper frame. When I inspected last I moved the inner cover to the top position and placed a drawn comb with eggs, etc on it and now the whole hive is full. Took the bees three or more days to realise their upper entrance had moved up by 1 foot. They would hover around the old location. Now they seem to have figured it all out.