Building a slatted rack

After extensive reading, I’m convinced slatted racks are beneficial in this hot climate. So I’m going to make one for each hive.

So far I figured out that the depth of the slats at the top should be 5mm, but does it matter what depth is the bottom from the slats?

I was gong to use 42mm deep timber for the frame, but once the slats go in (19x19mm) the depth of the bottom will be only 23mm. Is this enough, or is it better to use 60mm timber for the frame so there is more space for bees to hang out?

Another question - which way should the slats go? This way or that way? Does it even matter?


No. Although in commercially available slatted racks the slats run parallel with the frames.

I agree with @busso on the slat direction. For the wood, I have no idea, but here is a nice little article with everything you need to know about building one for a 10 frame Langstroth hive:

I believe that the famous beekeeper, C C Miller, invented slatted racks and his had the bars perpendicular to the frames. I have never used a rack with that orientation, but I really do love mine with the parallel bars. Really great piece of equipment, and my bees almost never beard with it in place. :blush:

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I would use the material for a different project & not waste my time building slatted racks.

What comes to mind was the other day someone asked me what I do about chalk brood. One of my answers was to completely clean the bottom board. I suspect that a slatted rack bottom board would be much harder to clean that a flat bottom board.

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Mine aren’t @JeffH. They never seem to get really dirty. They get a bit of wax, sometimes a tiny bit of comb, but otherwise the bees keep them really clean. Did I mention that I love my slatted racks? :wink: :rofl: :kissing_heart:

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Thanks for the input ladies and gentlemen.

Actually, cleanliness was one of my concerns and I’m glad Dawn cleared that up.

I was also following that Honey Bee Suite website for directions, but then found some variations elsewhere.

So… this will give bees space to hang out, by holding on to the slats, and fan if need be, right? Makes me wonder whether depth of the slats is important then. I was going to use 19mm deep slats. I can make them deeper, say 25mm if that provides a benefit.

I’m surprised that the sum of the parts bought from Bunnings is greater than a ready made unit. Shame they’re not available here in Oz and shipping is a killer.

I’ve just been in touch with the guy I bought some of my stuff from, asking for such racks, and looked at me very suspiciously… he was convinced that what I’m after is ventilated bottom boards.

Hi Dawn, I read your reply after I posted mine. I first saw them on this forum. I like building my own stuff, however I can’t see them being an advantage for me as I get very little bearding. I think my strategy of evenly spacing 9 frames in 10 frame supers helps a lot in that regard.

We had a scorcher yesterday. I went out this morning to rob whatever honey was available from 1/2 my hives & as expected, I saw no ill effects from yesterday’s scorcher.

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Hi Jeff your climate there, being tropical, is very different from ours.

I think it is very difficult to comprehend the dry hot summers we get from Queensland. Sometimes they get even me by surprise each year. This year has been a real stinker.

We are sub-tropical. We get our fair share of hot days. I think that slatted racks are another thing beekeepers use to compensate for poorly designed hive setups. If a hive is set up properly, there’s no need for any extra add ons.

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You confuse me now Jeff. What made you change your mind from 6 days ago?

Here’s CCMillers original slatted rack, courtesy of The Practical Beekeeper.

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Yeah Skegs, I saw that photo. I reckon I can do that out of a broken pallet. If it worked for Mr Miller, it will work for Numbatino.

Hi Stefan, I didn’t mean to confuse you. I’m sure they do work at reducing bearding. If you read what I’ve been saying, you’ll understand that they are not for me because I get very little bearding. If a hive is not set up properly, then a slatted rack can be used to compensate for the shortfall.

Do you know the KISS method. I’m not calling you “stupid”, however KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid.

I gave the topic some thought over the last couple of hours: Did you read where I said I evenly space 9 frames in a 10 frame super. The extra space by removing just one frame is hardly noticeable, however if you measure the amount of volume of one frame, it maybe similar to the extra volume of space by adding a slatted rack.

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I did actually. Mine are 8-frames and don’t know whether having 7 frames is too small. And what about the Flow super?

I of course agree with you about keeping it simple. I can’t control heatwaves, only the hives. I can provide some temporary shade and insulation, and thought a slatted rack can only improve their micro environment and will be easier for them to control.

I love my slatted racks too - they sit on top of regular bottom boards and since they provide extra room for hanging out and a buffer between the entrance and brood area, the bees can keep the bottom board very clean and there’s added protection from the elements.

With four seasons that include some extreme heat and cold, beeks in areas like mine are all about compensating!


Thanks Eva. Do you find that bees build comb under the racks? And if they do, is it a problem?

Mine never have. Not much point really, the queen won’t lay down there, and all of their stores are above. :wink:

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Hi Stefan, the topic of evenly spacing the 8 brood frames in the 8 frame brood box got extensively (hotly) debated a few years ago. There is quite a large gap leftover in the 8 frame brood boxes, therefore by evenly spacing the 8 frames in the 8 frame brood boxes, you’re achieving the same result as spacing 9 frames in a 10 frame super. In a standard 10 frame super the 10 frames are fairly tight compared to 8 frames in an 8 frame super. With the original flow hives, there was almost enough room to place a 9th frame, only about a mm short of room. You could fit a 9th frame in by shaving a whisker off it.

Therefore I wouldn’t suggest using 7 frames in the 8 frame super. Just take advantage of the extra space by evenly spacing them, which works out to be similar to 9 frames in a 10 frame super.


Ok Jeff thanks, I’ll search for it and see what the fuss was all about. I’m assuming that the evenly spacing of frames is only required in summer, while in winter keep them cosy to conserve heat?

jeff- I think your climate is very different than others- here in Adelaide today I have hives with single brood, one full depth and one ideal high with migratory lids and hive mats- I know there is space still in the supers as I have harvested them a few weeks ago. I have shaded the hives with cloth- yet bees are still bearding all over. Some hives have ventilation, some don’t, some have mesh floors- others don’t. Yet they are all bearding this week while the outside temp is over 40c. I think slatted racks may help here- to give the bees more room to spread into, and creating a bit more of a barrier between the bees and the outside world. I have also heard they are advantageous with the cold we get- in that the queen feels better about laying eggs all the way to the bottom of the frame- as it isn’t quite as chilly down there as without a rack.

For what it is worth I would also like to make some when I get time and experiment to see if they help. My brother recalls that commercial beeks on Kangaroo Island used them when he kept bees there last century…