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  1. #1
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    Default Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Ok, I finally worked on my idea to get some oil trays under my screened bottom boards. I went over and visited with my mentor a while today and we talked about a lot of things. He doesn't run oil trays but he has in the past and I believe he will again. He encouraged me to try my idea so here's what I came up with this evening...

    My idea is to use the cement blocks that I use as hive stands and the bottom side of the bottom boards as a "slot" to insert an oil tray into. Naturally the tray needs to be "bee-proof". My idea is to make the top of the tray to fit closely to the bottom board rather than to seal the entire area that the tray rests in. The seal needs to be tight at each end and on the sides. Yelp, I'm re-inventing the wheel.

    I had stressed over finding a tray that would work and wasn't that too expensive. Joe, a beek over in Mississippi, had suggested that I check a dollar store. Well, I'm hardheaded and waited until I was at Wallyworld to look (we're about 20 miles from it)...they only had a couple of scratched up ones that I thought might work but I passed on them. I've looked at the heavier trays, the thin disposable trays, etc.,.

    I was actually going to paint some woodenware yesterday evening but the oil tray project kept bugging me so I decided to tinker with modding the bottom boards instead. I got some good measurements from the bottom boards and headed to one of the local dollar stores.....SHAZAM!!!!!!!!!!....NICE BAKING TRAYS!!!!! Nice, unscratched, heavy-duty, 17.3"x11.2"x1" inside dimensions with nice handles/lips extending out about 1" on each end, and $5 each at our local "Family Dollar Store"!!!....thanks for the suggestion Joe! I don't know why I didn't look there earlier!!!!

    Here are the major parts of the mod...complicated, eh? (Oops, I left out the two little pieces of quarter-round "stops" that will keep the tray from sliding too far forward and the two 3/16"x3/4" wooden runners that will be glued to the bottom of the tray...I guess it's even more complicated than I thought. ) The two long pieces of wood are some 1-1/8" pieces that I ripped from a piece of 1x6 treated pine...this will raise the bottom surface of the bottom board up 3/4".


    This is the bottom after adding the shims to the bottom rails and nailing on the two stops...a bead of glue and three nails to each rail and a little glue and a couple of nails for each stop. The "stops" allow the tray to slide in completely beneath the bottom board with about 1/4" of the bottom board covering the end of the tray...this hopefully will help keep rain from entering the tray. I'm hoping, also, that the rolled lips of the tray will help divert any rainwater that might run on the lower surface of the bottom board. Another rain concern I have is water coming in through the lower entrance...I have the hive slightly tilted but a blowing rain could enter and run off into the tray...later I may saw most of the porches off. The stops also correctly position the tray so that the entire screened area is above the tray. The length of these trays are just right for Rossman's 8-frame screened bottom boards...while the width of the tray is a touch wider than the screen....the trays will probably work with other bottom boards, too. Nice handles to pull the trays out with, too.


    A simple shot of the tray pulled out a bit.


    This is an "end" shot. There is a gap that is a touch less than 1/4" between the tray and the bottom board. With my little experimental tray I made from some metal roofing I know I don't want to give the bees a chance to get into the tray. I didn't lose but 7-8 bees in that home-bent tray but that's too many for me if it can be avoided. Rather than fill in this gap I'm going to put some runners on the bottom of the trays and thus raise the tray up higher on the cement block bringing the lip of the tray up close to the bottom board.


    I haven't finished this part yet, but this is what I'm intending to do to fix the gap between the tray and bottom board. That is a 3/16"x3/4" piece of molding...roughly 15" long that is laying on the tray. I'm going to epoxy one on each side of the bottom of the trays. This will lift the tray up higher on the cement blocks and close the gap between the tray and the bottom board. I believe it will be a snug fit and I may or may not have to sand a bit of wood off. It should definitely make it close enough to keep any bees out. I've cut all the runners to length and sanded each end to a sloped edge to make it slide easily on the cement blocks. Just gotta sand a little on the bottom of the trays and epoxy the runners on. When I set my hive stands I placed the blocks 9 inches apart (if I remember correctly!). This distance between blocks should work out well for the trays to slide on...the trays are very rigid and need no support beneath the center of them.


    I figure I can use this setup for mite counts and even to simply close the bottom off during really cold weather (we do get chilly sometimes down here in Dixie. Smiley ). Anyhow, that's where I'm at with the oil trays. I've still got painting to do but I think these will work good, but the proof will be in the pudding. Now to find some cheap mineral oil...too many possums, raccoons, coyotes, etc,, around here for vegetable oil.

    Ed

  2. #2

    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    What you've done certainly looks like it will work.

    I don't know if you've been to the Ashley's Bees website, but they have plans and a step-by-step instruction page with pictures on how to make one.

    He also says you can put 5 or 6 squirts of dishwashing soap in a gallon of water to use in the tray (although it evaporates after about a week).

    Having zero carpentry skills myself, I bought two traps from him and am waiting for delivery before putting them on.

    On a side note, one thing I like about SBBs is the increased ventilation coming up through the bottom, even when using an entrance reducer. One of my hesitations of using these new traps is that it seems that it will block that ventilation path off. Have you thought of that?
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Hamilton, AL
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Cool idea.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Greg, I basically can pull the trigger on a drill and a skilsaw. The boards I ripped using an old worn-out Skil saw...they aren't exactly furniture-grade dimensions. I'll quote the much used phrase..."If I can do it, anybody can do it!" I have indeed thought about the ventilation factor. There are a good many people who still use solid bottom boards and I figure the tray won't be a complete air seal against the bottom board. I've also thought about using a shorter tray that will slide into the slot and up against the stops...this would put the oil trap at the entrance where the beetles enter but would leave a portion of the sbb at the rear of the hive open for ventilation. I'm thinking the first part of the season when the beetles don't have a large population to go with the Beetle Jail Jrs inside the hive and leave the bottom board open...install the oil tray as beetle population increases...I still like the idea of the shorter tray, though. I would need to attach a space on top of the rear lip to keep bees out of the tray.

    Hope it helps, shadow!

    Ed

  5. #5
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    Papaikou, Hawaii, USA
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    That looks great. I have some homemade SBB with oil traps that I use, and just stapled a strip of screen to the back to give a little extra protection for the bees. they seem determined to get in there.

    As to the water/soap idea. Some of us have tossed that around and worry about adding to the humidity in the hive. But its more humid here overall, so maybe its more of an issue for us than in your part of the world.

    We also spraypaint those trays white to be able to see the mites better....

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Well, I got the runners epoxied to the bottom of the trays. You can see how the tray is positioned under the bottom board.


    The tray/runner assembly is a little tight, though. I need to sand the runners down a bit. The sides of the tray are a tad taller than the ends. Sanding the runners down will increase the size of the gap that you see in the end. That is a really small gap and it being a little larger still will not let bees enter the oil pit. A positive note is that a slightly larger gap will increase ventilation some. I'm thinking that if beetles crawl through the gap that it's a 50/50 chance that they'll go down into the oil...hoping that's what they do, anyhow. I'm concerned about the tightness of the fit because I figure the weight of the hive may compress the wood fibers some in the bottom board and further increase the tightness between the bottom board and cement block. I'll sand the runners down some to be safe.

    Looking at the picture it looks like the tray is holding the bottom of the bottom board up off the counter top...the counter top is old and not completely level...though the runners need sanding down, they aren't holding the bottom board up as much as the picture would have you to believe. I think it's going to work ok and if everything works out I'll have these tray systems beneath two of my hives Saturday.

    Ed
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Ok, I managed to make it to the bee yard this afternoon and get these modified bottom boards with oil trays underneath two of my three hives. Swapping out the bottom boards went pretty smoothly by going about it in the order that Jim shared with me. While I was working on the hives I also replaced the #8 mesh screen I had over the escape and jar feeder holes in the inner covers with window screen. I'm thinking this will help a lot in keeping the beetles out...along with moths and those blasted little roaches.

    The colonies are looking good...got stores in there and plenty of brood. Interestingly, I saw ZERO live beetles in the very brief inspection I did...there were a few in the Beetle Jail Jrs but that was it. I also gave the grass around and beneath the hives a much needed manicure. I finished up by doing a good cinnamon dusting around and bneath the hives and on the cement blocks.

    Anyhow here is a picture of a hive sitting on it's new bottom board without the tray inserted. The added wooden strips added another 3/4" of space beneath the bottom board. You can see the two small stops that were glued and nailed to the bottom...these stop the tray in the proper position leaving about 1/4" of space between the back lip of the trap and the back of the hive body above it. The tray is just long enough to perfectly reach from end to end of the screen...it's width is wider than the screen, which doesn't hurt anything...just more room to catch beetles.



    This photo has the tray slipped into place. You can see that the wooden runners beneath the tray lifted the tray up snuggly against the bottom board.



    Here you can see how small a gap there is between the tray and bottom board. There was a small amount of resistance felt as I slid the trays in. I will watch this as I'm not sure whether the wood will compress some from the weight of the hive or even if the runners might swell once they get wet. It's a snug fit...no bees will get in.



    I had to go into town and pick up some mineral oil as I hadn't thought to get some earlier. It looks like Family Dollar Store is becoming my "go to" place for SHB trap supplies! I stopped by there and they had some for $2 a pint...I knew I'd need more than a couple of pints so I rode down to Rite-Aid to see if they had a larger/cheaper container. What I saw was a pint for $5.49!!!! Needless to say I scampered back to Family Dollar. I don't know why, but the girl at the checkout gave me this "knowing" sympathetic smile...



    These traps are some excellent SHB traps!!!! As I mentioned earlier, I didn't see any live beetles when I did a brief inspection of the hive while I swapped out the bottom boards. When I got back from town I slid a tray out to pour some oil in and there were three beetles!!! They all failed the pressure test and were the first floaters in the oil!

    Anyhow, here's a shot of a tray pulled out after I had poured oil in. I only used a pint but I'm thinking I need to use another pint. With only one pint in the 17x11 tray the oil will only be a hair over 1/8" deep throughout the pan. If there's some tilt to the tray then there may be an area that isn't covered with oil. I'll pour another pint in tomorrow.


    I had finished up with the bottom boards and was working on the grass some more when my cellphone rang. It was my wife...she wanted me to come take care of this...



    After taking care of that I went back and finished tidying up around the hives.

    I've still got the big hive that has the 10-frame deep beneath it. I opened it up just to check the top box and see what was going on. I found 3-4 beetles on the bottom of the inner cover and pressure tested them all. I really want to get this hive into all medium boxes so I can slip an oil tray beneath it, too.

    Ed

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Ed, what an easy way to deal with the mites, and the shb this spring & summer. This coming winter, back to completely open screened bottom boards for moisture, problems. I have sbb on my hives year round, but have found the hive beetles; I will get on to modifying the pan to fit bb today. Thanks, this is a lot easier & less complicated to build than the others, I don’t even need a drawing, just follow your lead, the screened bottom boards, I have already built. I use 1/4 inch galvanized hardware cloth for my screening, bought at any local hardware store.
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Ed, instead of buying mineral oil, why not call the mgr., of McDonald's, or who ever, to see if you could drop by and get some of there used cooking oil, or your wife's, or neighbor next door. We need to save all our pennies to pay all our new federal taxes we all will be paying this year!
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    You can also use soapy water in the trays. Downside: it will dry out fairly quickly, at least it did when I had hives at my house in central alabama. -js

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Howdy Ronnie. Are you sure you have 1/4" mesh? Bees will easily pass through 1/4" mesh. The largest size I've seen stated that will work (and a few bees still go through this, especially small bees) is #6 mesh. #7 is the magic bullet, but is more rare than chicken with teeth. Remember that bee space is 1/4" to 3/8".

    Glad you like the SOT mod. A couple of things to note....

    The epoxy I used has failed on two occasions which caused a runner to fall off of a couple of trays. I've got to figure out a different type of adhesive for the runners. I need an adhesive that is strong but still with a bit of flex to it.

    Also, rain water can be a problem. I'm not sure if rain water is a problem with other oil tray designs or not. I've thought of a couple of options...one of them being to use a shorter tray and to allow the first 1/2" or so of screening to be open for incoming rain water to fall through to the ground rather than into the tray. A cross-member piece of wood would need to be installed beneath the screening so that the top edge of the oil tray could seal against it otherwise that end of the tray would be open for bees to get into. Variations of this could be done. My bottom boards have porches on them and I'm seriously thinking of sawing the porches off so rain can't land there (and run or be blown into the hive (and tray).

    I'm afraid that used cooking oil would attract more ants (that I'm already battling) and larger four-footed critters (I've had a couple of fat-based ant baits dragged out from under my hives). The mineral oil seems mostly tasteless and odorless and doesn't go rancid. You don't have to nor would you want to fill the trays all the way up, just enough to be sure you have the bottom of the trays covered well...once the beetles hit the oil they're pretty much goners. I have also thought about using petroleum jelly smeared on the tray like folks do for sticky boards and varroar...basically anything to "mire" the beetles down so that their bellies get in the jelly...block their air-intakes (which are on their abdomen) and they die. With the PJ there would not be a problem of spilling but with oil if the beetle lands in it he's pretty much 100% dead. Pick your, er, poison.

    James, how long did the soap suds last you? I like the idea of using soap rather than oil, but in the heat of the summer it seems it may not last very long....a week or week and a half would probably be doable for me.

    Ed

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Ed: the soap water didn't last long - maybe a week. But it did kill a lot of beetles (and ants) while it was there. -js

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    What size container were you using?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Ed, nice job!
    I do not think that epoxy will stay - as soon as oil gets to the wood strip at the bottom, the glue may fail. Also high summer temperatures.... I do not understand why you could not add some strips to the top edges of the pan to rise it in the groves in the SBB? This way the pan will be properly hold in its groves and there is no need in the bottom support. Or, since the gap is really small, may be just bent the edges of the tray, so bent edge would move the tray up?

    I was less lucky than you and did not find the pan. I made mine from thinnest sheet-metal - just cut using regular scissors, fold by hands and solder the sides. I spent more time looking for the proper pan, than making my own. My SBB is different - I have a screen, than 1.5 cm gap and than solid bottom - so I just slide my tray in.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    You know another way to go would be to permanantly attach the #8 to the pan. Then just fill empty and drain through the wire. The corpses might be a problem though. I hate hive beetles. Thumbs up to anyone trying to find a better way.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Serg, the problem is the epoxy detaches from the metal tray...the epoxy is still adhered to the wooden runner. The rim of the tray is not completely square...the ends are "rounded out" a bit to use for a handle while cooking. There may be enough "lip" around the sides to bend upwards and fill the gap between tray and bottom board. The ends of the tray would have to be trimmed square. It might would work. My bottom boards do not have any grooves cut into them...the trays simply sit on the cement blocks.

    Interesting thought, David, on permanently attaching the #8 to the tray. I'm just wondering if the second layer of #8 would give the beetles a second chance to "hang on", though. My bottom boards are the standard commercially produced ones that have a ledge protruding into the area inside the hive...I bought these bottom boards before I new better...they're good bottom boards, but do have that ledge. I've found that most mass-produced sbb's have this ledge, though Dadant has one that doesn't have it. The ledge creates a 3/4" drop from screen to top edge of tray. I think it would be too problematical (for me) to rig the screen on the tray as the bottom board for the hive.

    The key word with the ISOT is "simple". I'm a newbee starting out with no woodshop nor much real woodworking experience. ISOT uses very little material and can be done with the simplest of tools (a power saw does make like much easier than a hand saw...especially for ripping the wood! ).

    The simplest fix that I can see is not to settle for the standard 3/4" lumber for the shims under the side rails of the bottom board. Instead, use a thickness that will naturally lift the bottom of the bottom board to just above the top edge of the oil tray...close enough to prevent bee passage into the tray. With a planer it would be easier to reduce the 3/4" stock by 1/8" or 3/16" before ripping for the shims. Without a planer a little research is called for. I know I could rip the wood to the width(thickness) that I needed but I'm not good enough with a skilsaw to make that many level cuts plus I like a little wider shim under the bottom rails. With the bottom boards I currently have I'll have to work from the tray side of things unless I ripped the nailed/glued shims off the bottom boards. I've thought about even using some JB Weld and flat bar stock to make the runners for the trays but I think once I find a good, flexible adhesive for the runners things will work well.

    Death to the beetles!!!!

    Ed

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Please overlook my crappy workmanship...a fingernail clipper knife, a stapler, and scissors were the tools.

    I've been thinking of modifying Intheswamp's Simple Oil Tray (ISOT) screened bottom boards with the hope of them causing more shb to fall into the oil tray below. I've found that beetles are rather adept at walking across #8 mesh while some are simply too large to go through the mesh opening. My thoughts have been to build something akin to a shb obstacle course at the entrance. I've gotta admit that Beetle Jail was an inspiration for this...they have some *really* nice traps.


    Anyhow, I removed part of the #8 mesh screening and replaced it with the flashing. Armed with my high tech tools I cut some slits in a piece of flashing and bent the metal apart there to create gaps. I bent the metal so that when a beetle passes through the main entrance of the hive that it will run into a staggered series of slits. As the beetle enters through the entrance the leading edge of the slits bends downward toward the oil tray, the back edge of the slits are bent upwards. Naturally this will be a dark area that hopefully will be attractive to the beetle. If the beetle enters the slit there is only a thin edge to the metal which the beetle should have trouble holding on to. The size of the opening was eyeballed....hopefully it's about right...it's about 1/8" but long.

    This will only work for beetles entering "on the floor". It will not work for the ones crawling down the front of the hive and entering through the top of the entrance. I'm hoping that the bees will knock the beetles down to the floor either inside or outside of the hive making them have to walk inside. I'm curious as to how well a beetle can circumvent the thin edge of the flashing, though. If the beetles have a problem (they lose their grip and fall off) with the thin edge it may be that I can add a thin strip of flashing along the bottom edge of the bottom brood box at the entrance...if a beetle crawls down the outside of the hive when it gets to that edge it may fall off and have to travel the obstacle course.

    Here's some pictures of the bottom board with the flashing installed to give you an idea of what I'm doing. I've still got to add the shims under the rails for room for the oil tray. Who knows, it might work!...if it does the next version will look nicer!







    Ed

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Intheswamp, thank you for bringing the 1/4-inch size hardware cloth to my attention, and about the oil. The 1/4-inch cloth is what I use on my open bottom boards, I use year round. Sure helped on the mite problem, but had beetles last fall. I better order some oil tray boards, I need to start fishing, the crappie or soon to start spawning, let the bees do there thing.
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    Quote Originally Posted by Intheswamp View Post
    .... I think once I find a good, flexible adhesive for the runners things will work well.

    Death to the beetles!!!!

    Ed
    You may try some plastic (propaganda signs - ~1/8") and double-sided sticky tape.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Simple oil tray mod for sbb's...

    if u take a pice of sheet metal and bend a L shap making a alley way at the top of the entrance and on the sides of the entrance the bettles coming down will hit it and bee made to follow the alleyway. at the bottom stop it so the have to craw it and hit the slits like you waht them just a thought,
    \

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