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Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 2 A , by Christopher Young

Chris walked next door, and saw Ernie out on the porch eating hot dogs without buns. "No bread, neighbor?" Ernie said no, they used the last of the bread this morning. Chris told Ernie a very little bit of the plan. Got some friends who are running short of supplies, I'm going to go help them out. I'll be back a day or so. You remember where the spare key is? Ernie nodded yes, and the two men shook hands. Good luck, they wished each other.

Chris walked slowly back to his truck. He checked the bungee straps on the tarp on top of the trailer. Took a last, slow, look at the trailer where he had lived for the last several years. Would it be there when he got back? Would he even be back ever? Neither seemed likely.

Turning the key in the ignition, the motor came to life. The vents blew cold air, as the engine was cold. Chris turned on the fire service radio. Keyed the microphone, and spoke his call sign. The dispatcher answered immediately, and sounded both very sleepy, and very relieved. "742, how you doing?" "Fine, Chet. You staying out of trouble?" In the next couple minutes, Chris learned that the fire departments in the county were running very low on diesel fuel, and some had run out. The water pressure was near to zero, and the fires kept burning. Chris told the dispatcher he'd be out of the area for a little while. With an understanding note in his voice, Chet ten foured that, and the conversation ended.

Switching to the state police band, Chris listened as the truck engine started to warm up. The vents started to blow warm air, and that felt good, as it was down to about 40F outdoors. The leaves were starting to turn colors, and fall off the trees. From what he could figure, Chris was hearing a lot of reports of trouble, but very little police action. Chris contacted the base, and asked for a T-stat report. The dispatcher replied that the NYS Thruway was official business only, but no problems were reported for the length of the toll road. A couple cars had been burned west of here, towards Buffalo. Chris closed the conversation, and pulled the gear shift into drive.

The short, four mile drive to the Thruway entrance was spooky. It was after dark, and very few houses had any lights on. Some houses and trailers were smouldering piles of ash and blacked beams. There was a State Trooper and four national Guardsmen at the entrance ramp to the Thruway. Chris slowed down, and rolled open the drivers side window. He recognized the man, it was Trooper Gonzales, from the local State Police Barracks. The two men greeted by name, and he asked Chris why was he on the road. Have to head to Albany, they are having a high level meeting, and asked me to attend. What's the road like?

Pedro tipped his flat brimmed patrol hat back, and looked thoughtful. "I been talked to some of the boys up and down, been keeping the radio on, you know. They say the road is pretty good, but once in awhile someone figures to set up ambush. You be careful, now, you know?" Chris nodded, and turned his eyes forward. Trooper Gonzales turned to get back in his car. After all, it's cold out.

Sigh. The decals and light bar worked. We're good. Chris took the familiar east bound entrance ramp, and pulled onto the highway. A NYSPD car passed him on the left, going about 90 MPH. with lights and flashers and siren going. "Neat stuff", Chris thougt. At least if there was a road block or something, that would be his early warning. He would be able to see the flashing lights of the stopped Trooper car ahead. Chris settled for about 50 MPH. Fast enough to get there, but not whipping the tarp off the trailer. The fishtailing from the trailer was managable. Chris set the cruise control, and kept the police band radio turned up good and loud. Any information is useful. The troopers were griping how the FEMA was ordering them to turn over all the looters to Federal control. and then the troopers could see the FEMA trucks taking the looters back to the cities and turning them loose again. The Troopers were disciplined enough not to criticize higher authority, but it was clear they thought the idea was foolish.

Four hours later, Chris arrived at the small town of Elk Flats, NY. He pulled off the  Thruway, and waved to the trooper who was guarding the exit ramp.

The time read 3 AM.

Pleased to be at destination. The car seat was pleasant, but starting to cramp butt. A lot. Five miles off the highway, Chris reached over to the passenger seat. He picked up a two way radio, and wondered out loud if Gomer would remember the channel and code. With a note of curiosity in his voice, he pushed the transmitter and spoke. Two seconds later, a voice replied with the correct coded response. The code meant "caution required, and return to base". Chris turned down the side road, and continued. Going slightly down hill, he was pleased for the rise on top of the hill, the radio would transmit farther. Of course, Gomer was using the base station for a repeater, and would be able to use the base antenna to talk wherever he was. Good thinking, that.

The driveway was marked by only two blue reflectors, the kind that truck drivers and farmers the world around used. To the rest of the world, the driveway was totally unremarkable. Chris turned into the driveway, and reached with his other hand into the glove compartment, to pull out the key to the activator box for the electric gate. As his headlights rounded the corner, the gate was open. Standing next to the end of the gate was Gomer, wearing his combat gear, and rifle at the rest ready position.

Chris closed the glove box, and turned on the revolving red lights. Gomer leaned the battle rifle on the gate, and put both hands way in the air. Eyes wide, and looking scared. Chris turned off the red lights, and both men started to laugh.

Chris pulled far enough in to allow the gate to close. Gomer pushed the button on his remote control, and the gate slid closed on its tracks. Came to the pasenger side of the truck, and got in. The rifle barely fit in the truck, with the night sight and other equipment.

Chris eased the truck down the long drive. Chris knew a thing or two about that gate; it was electrified for instance. And it was heavier than it looked and the track was six feet underground as was the base of the gate. He'd helped Gomer test its desgin and knew that only a very heavily loaded medium duty truck moving at a pretty good clip could punch through it. He'd helped design the gate. A heavy truck might get through, but it would stop dead before it passed completely through. That's where the electricity came in. Anyone trying to squeeze through would find it very unpleasant; every two thousand feet was a line charger box of the kind used to hem in cattle.

"The key is the ground", Chris remembered Gomer telling him. "The grounds are six feet into the earth and each of those boxes is meant to hadle twice the distance they charge and the boxes are wrapped in more wire to prevent tampering". By now they would all be switched on. Gomer plays for keeps.
Chris pulled the truck into the familar parking space in front of Gomer's garage. Turned off the power, and got out. Gomer also got out. Chris tripped the electric locks, and followed Gomer into the house. They chatted a few minutes, and Chris headed down the hall to his pre arranged bedroom. Two kids were sleeping in Chris's bed. He carried one, and Gomer carried the other down the hall to the kids bedroom. And then came back to sleep.

Five hours later, Gomer was fixing breakfast for his family. The kids from downstairs had come up. Mom's still asleep, they said. And Dad's not gonna wake up till noon easy. So, Gomer put two more slices of bread in the toaster, and cracked four more eggs. Two handed, just like in the military. One egg in each hand.

Shawn, 4, was also still about half asleep. He had a bright red plastic spoon in one hand, the other arm was helping prop up his sleepy head. So he wouldn't sleep in his eggs. Wondering why he woke up in the kids room. Didn't I fall asleep in the guest room?  Melissa, 5, was hungrily eating her eggs with one hand, and eating toast with the other hand. No clue what happened last night, nor in the rest of the world. The house is warm and the food is good. Her Blues Clues doll sat next to her at the table. Zachary, 7, was looking at the food with a sour expression. "These eggs are all hard. I like mine runny and yellowy." He went on to complain about how it was hot in the apartment, and open a window. And how the milk was warm, too. Gomer gave him the "shut the F up" look, and went back to cooking eggs. This time, he cooked two eggs wet and runny. Slid them off the pan into Zach's  plate, and went back to toasting more bread.

About 10 AM, Chris awoke from his much needed night sleep. The smell of cooking came down the hall. Chris put his clothes back on, and his shoes. Still partly asleep, Chris arrived at the breakfast table. Gomer put some toast and eggs on Chris's plate, and then opened the propane power fridge, and pulled out a cold Diet Coke. Neat stuff, being able to bug out with a camp cook, and a cold soda.

By 10 AM, Sam had been awake for three hours. Had rolled up the bedding, and folded his tent. A couple of Trioxane tablets in an Esbitt stove had warmed some food out of his back pack. Checking the map, Sam got his location as best he could, and took a compass berring. It was a little redundant to compass, as the sun gave direction. but, better to sight in than to get lost or miss the mark. Sam slowly continued hiking through the woods, his laced his boots leaving no mark, and set the sun over his left shoulder. A look of determination went with him.

Shortly after 10 AM, Faith was looking over her bug out list. She had decided to take only the essentials on the bug out, and figure Gomer would have the rest. Shampoo. Lipstick. Laundry soap. Five changes of fashionable clothes. Four changes of school clothes for the kids. One change of play clothes. Kids toys. Combs and brushes. Bar soap, perfume, and eye liner. Plenty of good CD and DVD to keep the kids entertained. Including the latest one that came in the $39.95 per month kids DVD club. It only arrived yesterday, the girls hadn't seen it yet. The girls were barely awake, and they were both hungry and cranky. Faith looked in the cabinets, and the only food left was a half a box of macaroni and cheese. No milk or butter. There was a huge pile of empty soda pop bottles in the corner next to the over flowing trash can. Wondering if she should take the empty pop bottles, might be able to return them some where. Well, she still had twenty dollars from last week, so she could buy food. Leave the soda bottles. With nothing in the house to feed the kids, she just took the girls outside and strapped them into the car seats.

Locked the door, and then started the car. The gas gage read 1/4 tank. She never managed to keep more than 1/3 tank, because gasoline is so expensive. Might have to stop and put some gasoline on the charge card.

In Chattanooga TN, Bill was finishing his shower for the day, and getting ready to go to bed. After years of working night shift at the factory, Bill had settled into his inverted schedule. Awake at night, and sleep during the day. This worked out well, because David was an early riser. They were comptable, and able to take turns with the guard post. At 10 AM, David had already had his breakfast, and was out walking the perimeter.

Storing Sugar Using Plastic Buckets

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

For some reason or another, I can not think of a good opening to this article. At first, I was going to start with: "According to the Latter-day Saints, a year supply of sugar for one person ranges from 35 to 100 pounds," but that opening didn't work very well. So I changed it to: "Sugar in the last few years has doubled in price. Plus, sugar can be stored indefinitely (forever)," but, that didn't work either, so I started writing the article and as you can tell, I still don't have a decent opening.

Materials Needed:
1 - 5-gallon Plastic Bucket with Lid
1 - Mylar Bag
1 - 25 pound bag of Sugar
1 - 10 pound bag of Sugar

Tools Needed:
Clothes Iron
Rubber Mallet
2X4 wrapped with a Bath Towel

Safety Equipment:
Your Brain

First, you will need to gather your supplies and material. In this picture, I have a 25-pound bag and a 10-pound bag of sugar, a 5-gallon plastic bucket with a lid, and a mylar bag.

Next, I take the mylar bag and fold it into a "S" shape before placing it into the bucket. The "S" shape allows the bag to expand to fit the bucket as the mylar bag fills with sugar.

Next, I pour the sugar into the mylar bag.

I pour the 10-pound bag of sugar into the mylar bag then the 25-pound bag of sugar. I do it this way because it is easier to control a 10-pound bag (Imagine juggling to hold the bag open as you pour the sugar into the bag without spilling any) Plus, this allows me to shake the bucket to shift the sugar, so it spreads the mylar bag open to make pouring the 25-pound bag of sugar a whole lot easier.

Once, all of the sugar has been poured into the bag; I shake and roll the bucket to compact the sugar. Next, I take a clean dry towel and wipe the top inside edge of the mylar bag. (Both of these steps are important)

Next, I take a short piece of wood wrapped in a towel and place it on the edge of the bucket. I fold the edge over, and with an iron set on medium-high, I iron the edge of the mylar bag.

I leave a small opening, at one of the corners, to suck some of the air out of the bag. (another important step)

Once I remove the excess air, I seal the bag and iron a 2-inch seam. Now, I make sure that I seal the mylar bag at the very top because I can reseal the bag if I have to open it for some reason.

Next, I use a permanent marker and print on the seam "Sugar." Next, I fold the bag over making sure all of the bag is inside the bucket (This is real easy, if you remembered to suck most of the air out of the bag) and put the lid on using a rubber mallet. After the lid goes on, I print the contents of the bucket and how much is in the bucket.

Next, I place a label on the bucket's side. The label has the contents, weight, the date it was packaged, and the best used by date.

Yep, this picture shows a bucket that was packed back in 2007.

Lastly, this method can be used for any long-term storage of basic food such wheat, rice, and/or beans, but you will need oxygen absorbers to insure a long shelf-life.

OK. Really lastly. I store the filled bucket in a cool dry place, on pallets.

As always, there are pictures and things I wanted to say that don't fit into the article.

To the right is a picture of the mylar bag with the edge folder over the towel with the seam ironed almost to the corner, and the excess air sucked out of the bag, just before I sealed the bag completely.

Yeah, for some reason the picture didn't upload the way I wanted it to, but you get the idea.

This is a close-up of the 2-inch seal with the corner still unsealed.

To suck the air out of the bag, I stick my finger in the bag and make a opening (like a tube) all the way to the sugar then I put my mouth on the opening and suck the air out.

Now, don't suck too hard because you'll suck-up some sugar. Plus, don't slobber because you want the sugar to stay clean/dry.

Here is a side view with the towel wrapped 2X4 laying on the top of the bucket and the just sealed mylar bag.

Lastly, this picture illustrates how tall the mylar bag is compared to the 5-gallon plastic bucket before filling with sugar. Trust me, you will need all of that excess length once you start filling the mylar bag with your long-term food.

Finally, instead of buying a 50-pound bag of sugar, I buy a 25-pound and a 10-pound bag of sugar because a 5-gallon bucket will only hold 35-pounds of sugar. Trust me, again. I tried to fit more sugar in the bucket; It didn't end well. Plus, it's easier to track how much sugar you have put in the bucket.

My suppliers are:
* mylar bags and oxygen absorbers - Walton Feed. A good company with competitive prices

* sugar - Costco, and/or a local grocery store

* plastic buckets - Sorry, it's a secret, but United States Plastic is an internet source that I have used in the past.

Long Term Coffee Storage For When TSHTF

I’m a coffee addict.  If there’s a recommended daily allowance of caffeine I surely take in five times what they suggest.  For starters I’ll drink three cups of coffee first thing in the morning.  There’s nothing better than getting up in the morning and having a delicious hot cup of dark roast while my son is eating breakfast.  At work I’ll occasionally wait until noon time for my next two or three cups, but usually I have another cup or two at 9:30 am or so.  Then I’ll have another cup or two around 2:00 pm.  And then another cup or two – or even a CoffeeArmy cappuccino – around 7:00 pm.  Just enough to smooth me out and put me to sleep.  Crazy eh?
So imagine my chagrin when I read the headlines talking about how commodities are all rising.  I’m reading the story and it’s saying, “… wheat is going up because of blah blah, and cotton is going up because blah blah…” then I read a little further and my eyes zeroed in on the word I didn’t want to see… “coffee.”  What????  Coffee is going up?  Uh uh, no way man.  Read here for the sordid details.
That’s all I needed to see.  I sprang into action like a startled gazelle and started calling around to various coffee shops and hitting the coffee web sites.   The burning question: What’s the best way to store coffee long term?
Now here’s the thing:  I like good coffee.  Over the years I’ve developed a taste for the dark brew and I’m now a slave to the bean, but that’s not such a bad thing.  I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t do drugs,  and I don’t smoke cigarettes.  This is my one addiction and I don’t mind feeding it some first class java.
I called a local coffee shop and the conversation went something like this:
Me:  Hi.  I’d like to ask you a question about storing coffee.
Young Woman:  Ok. Go ahead.
Me:  Ok, what’s the best way to store coffee long term?  Can I vacuum pack it?
Young Woman:  How long do you plan on storing it for?
Me:  Oh I don’t know.  How about five years?
Young Woman:  Hahaha!
Me:  No.  Seriously.
Young Woman:  Seriously?  (long pause)  Well.  If we grind coffee and don’t use it within fifteen minutes we throw it out.
Me (stunned):  Fifteen minutes?  But how long will it last otherwise?”
I’ll spare you the rest of the conversation, but it only went down hill from there.   A pound of  their Jet coffee was $13.50 and if I bought a pound of that stuff at that price you’d better believe I’m going to use every bean in the bag.
Next I called that bastion of Canadian coffee,  Tim Hortons.  If anybody is going to know how to store coffee long term it’s gotta be those folks, I reasoned.  They make a pretty good cup of coffee and you can’t tell me they ground it fifteen minutes ago.  Here’s that conversation (I decided to change tactics a little because the other girl thought I was insane by the end of our conversation):
Me:  Hi.  I’m a writer and I’m doing a piece on coffee prices going up and how to store coffee long term.
Tim’s Rep (a woman):  How can I help?
Me:  Well, how long will those big cans you sell last if I bought them and put them in my basement.
Tim’s Rep:  About a year.
Me:  Ok.  Is that a rough guideline or does the coffee go bad after a year?  Is that a “’use by” date?’
Tim’s Rep:  What?
Me:  For example:  Could I store the coffee for five years?
Tim’s Rep:  Yes.
Me (brightening up):  Really?  That’s great.
Tim’s Rep.  Yes.  The coffee can be stored for one year.
Me (confused):  You just said five years.
Tim’s Rep:  Yes.  The coffee is good for one year.
Me (staring at the phone):  Oooookay.  But, can I store it for five years?
Tim’s Rep (getting exasperated):  Yes.  The coffee will be good for one year.

I’m not kidding!  I’m not sure what happened there, but I hung up quickly after that.  I didn’t even bother trying to talk to Dunkin’ Donuts.  Something that seemed so simple all of a sudden seemed like a daunting task.
After a lot of web research here are some things I found out about coffee:
For ultimate freshness buy your coffee beans green and roast them yourself – they last up to a year green and probably longer.  As you might expect this is a lot more work, but supposedly the taste is much better.  Too much hassle and equipment for me though.  Check out Sweet Maria’s for more ideas about green coffee.
If you want to store ground coffee either freeze it or put it in an airtight container, but don’t let it sit longer than a couple of weeks for maximum freshness.  Don’t refrigerate – due to its porous nature it will pick up moisture and flavor from anything else you might have in there.  (Fish, for example)
Once you’ve taken coffee out of the freezer don’t refreeze it.
Once you grind coffee it starts to lose flavor right away.  It’s good for about two weeks.
I read several comments by people on various boards and blogs saying that they’d stored canned coffee for years and when they opened it up and used it it was fine.  This probably depends on the coffee too though.  According to one guy I read (sorry – I lost the hyperlink!), he said that any coffee coming out of a can was stale anyway, so if you like it don’t sweat it because it’ll stay that way for years.  Of course, once you open the can you’ll need to use it up in a couple of weeks, but at least I’ll be able to have coffee for a few years after TSHTF.  (If I store enough.)
Now, let’s talk about canned coffee for a minute.  I’ve got a couple of the #10 cans full of coffee in my basement as a hedge against rising prices and the other day I decided to try one out.  It was  Shaw’s French Roast.  If it’s French roast it can’t be half bad right?   Ha!  What I discovered is that it tasted like it had been strained through an old jock strap.  You can put a pig in a jacket, but it’s still a pig.
I’ve also had Folgers and brands like that of course, and while I’m not the biggest fan if there’s nothing else available I’ll drink it.  I’m sure if I hadn’t had a cup of coffee in two months and someone handed me a cup I’d say, “That was the best cup of coffee I ever had!”
Another option is instant coffee.  Again, not a big fan, but it is an option and I believe it would last a long time.  I seem to remember having a jar of instant in my kitchen at one point for a couple of years and every time I made coffee with it it tasted, well, like instant coffee.
Here’s a partial list I found at Demesne – a blog full of all kinds of good advice.  This list was part of a bigger list of how long different foods will last.
Coffee (whole beans from bulk bin)
2-4 weeks in air tight container
Vacuum pack and freeze (3-4 months)
Coffee (ground, in can)
2 years
Refrigerate after opening (2 weeks)
Coffee (instant)
1 year
Refrigerate after opening (2-3 months)
Coffee Creamer, Powder
6 months
6 months
Coffee also comes in little coffee bags.  I use these camping and they’re actually quite good, although they’re little  pricey.
coffee bags
In looking for a better tasting coffee I bought a bag of Tim Hortons to see how it would taste brewed at home.  It wasn’t half bad!  Dunkin Donut’s isn’t bad either, so here’s my inflation/TEOTWAWKI plan:
I’m going to start buying Tim Hortons coffee in the big cans and rotate through those as the coffee isn’t bad.  I’ll probably get some of the Dunkin Donuts coffee too just for variety.  I’ll still buy the fresh ground dark roast from time to time as that’s my all time favorite, but these two are pretty good substitutes.
In conclusion, there are as many different opinions about storing coffee as there are people who store it.  My personal feeling is coffee stored in a can will retain at least some of it’s flavor for many years if stored in a cool place out of sunlight.  As an experiment I am going to get a small can of Tim Hortons coffee and put on the back shelf somewhere and label it, “Do not open until February 2016.”  I will then brew myself a cup and see how it tastes.  I’ll get back to you and let you know how it goes.
-Jarhead Survivor
As usual I’m interested in your feedback.  If you have any experience/opinions/or general comments I want to hear from you!
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The Anatomy Of A Honeybee Hive

tending the hive 300x198 The Anatomy Of A Honeybee Hive
Modern beekeeping is generally done in something called the Langstroth Hive. This is a fairly old design, but it has stood the test of time. In a Langstroth Hive bees build honeycomb into frames that are designed to be easily removed from the hive itself. When you see the ‘stacked box’ style of bee hive, that’s a Langstroth hive.
A Langstroth hive starts with a bottom board, one more more hive bodies or honey supers, an inner cover, and a top cover.
There are a ton of other things you can add in as a specialty item, but the stuff above are the basic requirements.

Bottom Boards

bottom board 200x215 The Anatomy Of A Honeybee HiveThe bottom board is the floor of the hive, and serves also as the landing area. Since it’s a double duty item the bottom board is larger than the hive bodies and supers. Most bottom boards have a shallow side and a deep side. This was originally to help keep the hive warm in winter and cooler in summer, but nowadays most beekeepers use an entrance reducer instead of flipping the bottom board. Hives can weigh quite a bit, so picking them up to flip a board is a pain in the butt.
There are two main kinds of bottom boards. The oldest style is a solid bottom board, though a few years ago many bee keepers started using a screened bottom board instead. The main benefit of a screened bottom board is to allow varroa mites to drop through the screen. Without the screen the mites could just crawl back into the hive and find a new host.

Hive Bodies

hive body 200x161 The Anatomy Of A Honeybee HiveA hive body is a simple wooden box with a standard inside dimension. Both hive bodies and supers have interior dimensions of 14 11/16 inches by 18 5/16 inches. A hive body, also called a deep, is 9 9/16 inches tall and is the largest hive body in common usage.
It is usually only used for the brood chamber because it gets way too heavy if it’s filled with honey. A deep full of honey weighs up to 90-100 lbs.
Rudy’s Note: The brood chamber is the part of the hive where the queen lays eggs and the worker bees care for the larvae.

Honey Supers

Ross round hive 200x198 The Anatomy Of A Honeybee HiveHoney supers are used to provide the bees with space to stash honey, pollen, and nectar. It gives them room to expand which prevents swarming and keeps the bees happy. There are three main types of honey supers in common usage.
Medium Supers (aka Western Supers)
Western Supers are the largest super in common usage and are 6 5/8 inches tall. They’re a reasonable compromise between weight when full of honey and minimization of the number of supers required for a hive. When full of honey, a Western Super can weigh upwards of 60 pounds.
Shallow Supers
Shallow Supers are the smallest honey super in common usage, measuring 5 3/4 inches tall. They’re good for beekeepers that don’t want to deal with the weight of a full Western. A shallow weighs up to 45 pounds when full of honey.
Comb Supers
Comb supers are a specialty super and aren’t really for honey as much as they are for the creation of marketable or consumable honey comb. They use special frames (we’ll discuss frames in a minute) that make it easier to manage the creation of honey comb. Comb supers are only 4 3/4 inches tall.

Frames and Foundation

hive frame 200x149 The Anatomy Of A Honeybee HiveA removable beehive frame is the structural element that holds the comb within the hive body. It starts out as a simple frame, and the bees turn it into so much more! You can either use a plain frame and let the bees do what they want or you can use something called foundation to help them out.
Foundation helps the bees create comb in the way you want them to. You can either buy completed comb foundations, wax foundation that only has an pattern for the bees to follow, or even plastic foundation that has a similar pattern.
Rudy’s Tip: You can get a plastic frame that has an integrated plastic foundation.  It’s not quite as versatile as a wooden frame, but it’s probably the cheapest option if price is a significant consideration.
You can get foundation with different cell sizes. The most common size is for common worker brood, but you can also get them with larger cells for drone brood.

Inner Covers

topcover 200x134 The Anatomy Of A Honeybee HiveThe inner cover serves as a barrier between the outer cover and the hive itself. It helps the bees with climate control, and if you remove the outer cover it can work as a top entrance as well.
During the winter time you can also dump sugar on the top of the inner cover and the bees will be able to get to it without getting too cold.

Outer Covers

The outer cover fits on top of the hive, and is used as a weather cover for the most part. Most hobbyists use a telescoping cover which extends past the edges of the hive and below the top of the topmost hive body or super. This helps keep the weather out of the hive.
Commercial beekeepers often use a migratory cover which is a solid cover that does not extend past the edges. They use this so they can pack the hives densely onto pallets when transporting them.

Wrapping Up

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for some of my thoughts on the economics of beekeeping soon!