Building a slatted rack

There is a ‘free space’ in an 8 frame box of about 8mm which is enough room to remove the first frame without rolling any of the bees. But in a 10 frame hive as Jeff has the 10th frame can be a really tight fit to get in and the only way to get the first frame out is to lever it out vertically. I have a double 10 frame donor hive and it is set up with 9 frames in each box, the same as Jeff, there is much less deaths and damage done set up that way.
Taking a frame from an 8 frame hive will result in a lot of bridging comb and other issues because there is already working space there.
As for the Flow Super changing that will be a step backwards and introduce problems.

I run all my ten framers with 9 frames- as it is just too tight otherwise. I space them evenly with a slightly larger space at each end- the same as I arrange my 8 framers.

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I can see how a slatted rack can increase the available bee space in the hive initially but I wonder if with the extra space the queen will produce more bees? It seems that running 9 frames in a 10 frame box is the way to go to make working a hive so much easier.
While we might be a couple of degrees C cooler in Summer and several degrees warmer in Winter I think the big difference is in the humidity where 70/80% is very common. I remember Adelaide as so very dry.
Cheers Jack

The queen won’t use the extra space to lay directly into it. It is meant to be a temperature buffer and the queen can lay further down the edges of the frames above the rack as there will be less draft and temp changes. That’s what people that actually use them say, not speculate.

However that’s not the primary reason I was looking into it. It will give the bees more space to hang out, and fan to circulate the air. I was initially a bit sceptical, but then I convinced myself after reading extensively about them. Then Jeff wrote… and threw a spanner at the works. haha. He does have a point, but the climate here is hotter and much drier.

But then who am I to argue with an experience beekeeper?.. so I take a step back and reconsider.

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I wasn’t thinking of the bees making more brood area but that bees will control the queen laying brood and one of the controlling factors is how much room the bees have to live in. So with the increase in space the bees might allow the queen to lay more eggs. Some people who have the slatted racks claim that the queen lays eggs closer to the bottom of the frames.
Another way of cutting down air draft over the brood is to have two entrances rather than a single one and doing that I have found there is more brood in the hives with eggs down to the bottom of the brood frames, I have modified compared to those that are still single entrances with a definite bottom of the crescent of the brood.
Personally I don’t see a benefit in a slatted board to decrease the internal hive temperature when there is so many other options that are quicker to make and at a lower cost. With just a couple of hive that might not matter but it all adds up when 30 hives are involved.
It will be interesting to compare your results compared to previous data you have. I procrastinated for some time before I experiments with roof vents and the jury is still out about it being a good thing. I always consider if there is easier ways to get the same end result.

Nail on the head.
Not an attractive offer for commercial beekeepers …cost, time, shifting hives all weigh heavily against slatted racks.
For me they are cheap, I make them myself. Time ,I would only be building another shed or something.
And I do not shift my 2 hives so the advantages (outlined many times above) make my decision easily.

I have slatted racks on both hives and will not be without them.


I agree that commercial vs backyard beekeeper is a a major source of advice disagreement on this forum. Not a bad thing at all as long as it is kept in mind.

Sometimes, it may be hard for a commercial keeper to understand how many hurdles a hobbyist with limited outdoor space have to jump - like finding that perfect spot, dealing with neighbours, shires, pets, kids, shade, bloody kangaroos… etc.

Having said that, Jeff’s advice above isn’t from a commercial point of view, but a practical one.

I will probably still go ahead. I’m not the type of person that can easily be sucked into buying unnecessary gadgets, and will try to do extensive research before I buy something. In this case, I am making it not buying. I wish I had more scrap wood available but at the moment I don’t. I’m not a chippy my all means, but I may even enjoy making it.

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Hi Stefan, I’m feeling a bit guilty now. I owe you an apology, I’m sorry mate. You can’t do any harm in building the slatted racks, especially if you’re not moving your bees around. Even if you build 2 & only used one so you can do a comparison between one with & one without. It’s all part of learning. Learning from experience is always the best teacher.

I’ve been doing more thinking about what I wrote the other day about bees in trees. The more I think about it the more convinced I am that our standard beehives are WAY under built. The 20mm hive thickness out in the sun is not what scout bees would be looking for when choosing a suitable nesting site.

I’ve seen hundreds of places that bees move into. The majority are in well insulated places away from the sun. A classic example is many colonies build nests between floor joists, above the ceiling & below the floor in 2 story houses. Well insulated, away from the sun & difficult for predators to reach.

I’m thinking the better insulated a hive is, the easier it is for the bees to control their hive temp. In reality, that’s all they’re trying to do.

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No Jeff don’t be! What you said is very relevant, and I just have to weigh it up according to my climate and circumstances. I really appreciate your advice. I often go back and re-read.

You also have to keep in mind that as a rookie it can be a bit overwhelming and I may present as confused and undecided. It’s all part of the fun I have to admit.

I agree that hives are way under-built compared to wild ones, and it is hard to over-insulate a hive… but then occasionally we come across fully exposed ones as we discussed some days ago.

See the these two extremes - one has a wall thickness of 150mm or so, the other, zero.

I think, more insulation, more comfortable bees, so more productive bees.


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I think in reality, our hives could have wall thicknesses of at least two inches, including the roof & floor. None of us are going to give our bees that. It would be far cheaper to supply the bees with a slatted rack if that’s going to make their like easier. I guess in making their life easier to control the temp, more bees can be devoted to foraging duties, therefore, as you say “more productive bees”.

I’m almost certain that bees don’t build hives in the open by choice. Some turn of events would cause that to happen. I asked my mentor about it after I encountered my first one. He said that the queen for some reason might not have been able to fly any further, so they built, in that case in a bush.

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Bee keeping is very much the same whether a commercial bee keeper, a back yard bee keeper or someone like myself. It is all about providing the colony with the best condition you can provide.
As a back yard bee keeper most areas can provide good foraging for a few hives where Jeff and I have to be more aware of the possibles of a dearth because of having more hives.
I’m not knocking your idea of a slatted rack, it could be one way to help in keeping a hive cool, but it isn’t an option that would work for me and so I went to better ventilation of my hive roofs. My modifications have to be cost effective and that is why I went for the vents, $2:30 per hive and about 10 minutes to fit. After at least 10 years having my hives in their present location with no vents it has certainly made a difference fitting them.

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It is interesting you say that Peter because Jeff who is close to you advised the exact opposite. In that experiment I carried out during this heatwave I kept your suggestion in mind and had one hive ventilated. It appears that my unventilated one performed better.

YouTube is full of videos advocating various degrees of ventilation too. Again very confusing for a rookie like me. I like to understand what I’m doing, not just do what I’m told or read.

I need to be able to see the science behind the solution and I only convinced myself about these slatted racks when I understood how and why they work.

You also did that experiment with your solar fan and concluded it worked well.

At the end I think bees are extremely adaptable insects.

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The slatted rack is more about enabling the bees to better regulate the hive not just keeping it cool but also keeping it warm. An added bonus is that the Queen, because she avoids light, will lay eggs in the lower parts near the entrance with the front ledge seeing to that.

Slatted racks are in the zone of , I like them, I don’t like them, they suit me , they don’t suite me and there is no measuring stick to or quantitative data to prove or disprove yes or no, but I think we have done it to death.

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Jeff has his way of bee keeping and I do as I have found works for me. I have found that by fitting the vents in the roof reduces bearding and gives a better air flow. I believe that is a benefit to my hives. I know that Jeff does his bee keeping his way and he also knows what I do. That doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong. As with most things in bee keeping there is often more than one path to the same end result.
At over $80 from memory for the solar temperature controlled roof it worked but not viable because of the cost and time to make it. But it did make me think more about roof vents with a similar result.
Jeff lives 18 K’s from me but there is micro-climate differences, last March I had to begin feeding my hives for the next 10 weeks to prevent them starving while Jeff was still extracting honey.

I agree Wilfred, over here our Winter is so warm keeping the hive warm is not a problem and with my double entrances the brood in the cluster is right down to the bottom of the frames so I guess it suits the queen with minimal light or cool drafts. It works for me here and I pass on my advice on my results.
As with so much of bee keeping there is often options to choose from and local climate has to be considered. As I said ‘a slatted rack could be one way of keeping a hive cool’ which is what Stefan is asking about, but wrongly it appears I offered an alternative method for the same result…

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in recent discussions is the use of styro bee hives. I believe I read where bees in styro bee hives increase production by 30% or something like that. It would be interesting to know if bearding decreases with the use of styro hives.

I can’t get my head away from heavily insulated hives in shade as the main answer in reducing bearding.

I have a little story to illustrate: Last year while doing many splits, I ran out of lids. As a temporary measure, I put 2 darkish colored hive mats over a split, directly onto the frames. One day shortly after I arrived at the site during a hot day to find a beard outside the hive with the darkish hive mats. I immediately felt the hive mats with my hand, they were hot. I inspected the frames to find very few bees attending the brood, which would have perished due to hive beetle, if left like that any longer.

Straight away I re-arranged things so that I could give those bees a white painted roof. I could almost see the beard decreasing before my very eyes. By the time I finished what I was doing at the site, the beard was gone. The bees were back inside looking after the brood. They made themselves a beautiful new queen.

Little incidents like that stick in my memory & influences my thinking.

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I agree Jeff, there is precious little on the forum about the styro hives. I know of one commercial bee keeper at Loxton in South Australia who has gone over the timber boxes to styro in a really big way a year or two ago and his area gets really heatwave hot in Summer and that was his reasoning in trying them out. He is what I call a ‘bee keeper showman’ in that he does weekly YouTube videos that are about 20 minutes long but each could be edited to a few minutes if he edited it to the facts and cut the language out. I did about a year ago email him for an update about the styro hives but yet to see a video update.
I have heard of big improvements in honey yields with them but often they are comparing to yields from previous times and even sometimes with different locations, I haven’t read anything about ‘side by side’ hive comparisons.
I was given a hive that is styro fiberglassed that I found out is made by a local bee keeping supplier but it is a total dud with the frames actually sitting on the floor of the hive and a rotating disc entrance. That colony has struggled since day one and each time it is transferred into a timber box they thrive. I put that down to the poor design and not the hive material. Lots more bearding than the timber hives that I figure is due to a lack of ventilation so excessive heat build up.
Cheers mate

Styro hive got talked about in the early day of this forum, that must have been before you arrived on the scene. I put a few colonies in some & they are very lightweight & seem to be robust. Whether they take the same punishment as timber, I don’t know.

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I guess I have not tried them is because of concern as to how they would stand up to the bumps and knocks in an apiary. As for their insulation they would be way in front of a timber hive, remember the styro Esky, they work a treat. :smiley:

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It would be interesting to know what thickness of hoop pine or cedar the styro would be equal to.