I would like to know if taking my existing bottom boards and using a jigsaw to cut out an area for screen is the way to do it. How big of an area is optimal? What size hardware screen is used? Thank-you.
I've seen similar things done. Part of the problem is the structural integrity. Some bottom boards will fall apart if you do this. If the main bottom is a piece of plywood you can easily do this. If it's several tongue and groove boards that are not glued together it may fall apart. You can try to cut it out anyway and glue it all back together afterwards, but it may not work well.
If your purpose is just mite fall and not ventilation, you can buy a add on screen for a standard bottom board from Brushy Mt. It just sets on the botom board. (#471 Guy's screen) In lots of 10 they are $6.50. Or you could build something similar.
I've seen SBB's with everything from an entirely open bottom board (all but a 3/4" space around the edge) to just a 9" x 14" hole out in the middle. I would suppose that since most of the activity is in the middle of the brood chamber, they would both work.
Most SBB's I've seen are #8 (1/8") or #7 (1/7") hardware cloth. I think regular porch screen could work but probably not as well as there is a better chance of a falling mite finding something to cling to.
I have modifyed all of my SSB's. I use a skil saw with the blade set deep. First I use a magic marker and outline where I want to cut which generally is about an inch inside of the riser around the bottom board. I also secure the bottom boards to the rails with screws to keep it all together after I cut the center out. Then I free hand the saw cutting on or near the line, [take it slow for saftey sake.] After cutting the center out, staple 1/8" hail screen over the opening. If you want to close this area up for winter you can screw, or nail some cleats on the lower side to hold the panel to close the opening. [This can be most anything that will close up the opening, [scrap of paneling, 1/4" plywood, or cardboard] Hope this gives you some Ideas, works for me. Dale in S.E. Ks.
I made 20 of these this winter. Some from scratch and some retrofits. I made 2 serious mistakes. I stapled the 1/8" hardware cloth on the wrong side of the bottom board. The bees then added 3/4 " of new comb to all the frames. Having fixed that I paid attention to the cleats and sliding board. They have to be really loose as they swell. Mine do because I made them fron 1/4 " plywood. The first version scraped off all the debris (and messed up the test)when I withdrew the board. (from the rear in my case.) See the plans on this site. I think the fix will be to find some white plastic such as that used on countertops and make new boards. If you are careful to keep thing uniform, these boards will be interchangeable.
I failed to mention that I take a permanent Magic Marker and put a number on the hive and also the sliding board to close up the bottom of the board so in case these are different in size it won't be like a jig saw puzzle to find the right board. Dale
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