Beehive Mouse Guards

This is a bit more detail about the mouse guards that I use on the Brookfield Farm beehives.   What I use has evolved over time, and will probably continue to evolve. For the moment it keeps out the deer mice, which plague all of my yards.

Deer mouse image courtesy of National Park Service

Deer Mouse (NPS image)

At the farmyard, a team of mouse-control experts closely inspects my mouse guards on the beehives.

Kitten checks beehives at Brookfield Farm, Maple Falls, WA

GrisGris checks hives

 

The cats do offer an extra advantage that they are not bothered by the bees, and their hunting helps keeps down the mice.  But inanimate mouse guards are still needed.

Cat inspecting beehive mouse guard

Anubus checks placement

 

As seen in the image, the mouse guards  run the entire length of the hive’s entrance.

mouse guard on beehive

mouse guard

The wooden mouse guards are cut in an elongated “O” shape, from cedar (preferable) or pine.  Cedar’s better because of our rains.  Pine tends to rot unless painted.  Half-inch hardware cloth is then cut and stapled to the back of the wood.

Beehive Mouse Guard showing structure

front of mouse guard

 

Back of beehive mouse guard showing wire and mounting hole

stapled wire & mounting hole

1/2 inch hardware cloth on back of Brookfield Farm mouse guard

back side of mouse guard

If I run the center of the hardware cloth down the center of the “O” the remaining space is less than ½ inch and greater than ¼ inch.  This seems to keep the mice out, or slow them down enough to give the bees time to attack.

They are held in place by what I call plant hanger bolts, but are, I believe, called anchor Beehive mouse guard mounting boltbolts in the hardware store.  The key is that they are basically screws with no heads.  These bolts are screwed into each side of the bottom screen.  The mouse guards just fit over two holes that are drilled into the mouse guards.  In the image of the front of the hive you can see two somewhat rusted bolts sticking though the mouse guard.

I have also used 2 pieces of 1/8-inch hardware cloth, which are folded in half to create a wedge. These are cut to lengths that allow only a one-inch opening, when they are placed at each side of the hive entrance.  If you do this, make them secure.  Mice are rather powerful for their size.

If I think a hive is weak, especially in the spring, I will often put these 1/8-inch hardware cloth wedges behind (inside the hive) my mouse guards.  This helps reduce the amount of area to be guarded by the bees, but still allows ventilation.

I started with the traditional wooden ones, but unless you nail them into the hive, which I don’t want to do, they don’t work.  The mice push them away.

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About brookfieldfarmhoney

Brookfield Farm, a small off-grid apiary in Maple Falls, WA focuses on the beauty and bounties of Washington’s wilderness. We sell honey from our bees, whose chemical-free, antibiotic-free hives are home to bees who fly Washington’s mountains. Herbal salves and lip balms from Brookfield beeswax. Delicately infused honeys and vinegars. Varietal honeys from independent Washington beekeepers. Handcrafted wooden furniture. Handcrafted wooden furniture based on designs that have been proven over centuries. Award-winning DVDs that take the viewer up the Pacific Crest Trail and through Mount Baker’s wonderful wilderness. Handcrafted wooden furniture based on designs that have been proven over centuries. Karen Edmundson Bean: beekeeper, photographer. Her love of the wilderness inspires her to discover new ways of bringing the wonders of nature to others. Brookfield Farm : the tastes, textures, sounds, and images of nature.
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3 Responses to Beehive Mouse Guards

  1. Pete Futter says:

    Thanks for the good info on mouse guards. We are new to beekeeping and this is our first winter. Since you live near Mt Baker, you probably get a fair bit of snow, but maybe not the cold temperatures we get up here in Prince George BC. We had a couple of nights down to -28 C a couple of weeks back, but the hive came thru okay.

    A local beekeeper, Gerry Bomford, has been a great help. He helped us capture a feral swarm and set it up in a hive. He never seems to tire about giving assistance or advice.

    I’ve added your site to our beekeeping favourites. Thanks again.

    Pete

    • Hi Pete – -28 C! The bees can probably stand that, but I couldn’t. We got down to 17F (-8C according to my converter) and that was more than cold for me. I’ve always found that it’s not cold that kills a healthy hive, but the wet. You’ve got a great start with a feral swarm and help from a local beekeeper. Plus you do live in a beautiful area. It’s been a while since I was up your way (in the summer, of course) but I do recall how lovely it is.

      Thank you for you nice comment. – Happy beekeeping, Karen

  2. Hi Yvette. If you go to http://brookfieldfarmhoney.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/beehive-mouse-guards/ Or input mouse guard in the search area on our blog that should get you to a piece I wrote on the mouse guards we make and use. There’s lots of photos there. I say “should” because the internet never ceases to confuse me. Now, this is just from my experience (and we have a lot of mice here) : A mouse can get though a 1/2 inch hole. Which is why I drill my top entrances with a 7/16 inch drill bit. -An aside: I first used wine cork size, as it was suggested, but mice got in though them. Why 1/2 inch hardware cloth works for me: The center opening of our mouse guard frame is less than one inch tall (the opening runs the length of the entrance). I put one “bar” of the hardware cloth down the horizontal center of this opening. The result is that the holes are no longer 1/2 inch, but a bit less. 1/4 inch hardware cloth would probably work as well. I’m using up the hardware cloth from an old wool skirting table to make my mouse guards, so I’ve lots of 1/2″ hardware cloth. The nice thing about our mouse guard frames and wires is that it gives my bees a small landing board as well. I think one could place anything with 1/4 inch holes over the opening – as long as it was so secure the mice couldn’t pull it off. The mice around here are very determined in the winter. Thanks for writing – if I can clarify anything else, or even what I just wrote here, please let me know.

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