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I have acquired a couple of used slatted racks over the years, but never used them. Some of our conversations on beesource seem to indicate a renewed interest in them. The benefits of slatted racks give the bees more space on the bottom to cluster in the summer and the slatted rack keeps the lower brood nest warmer in the early spring.

Conventionally, slatted racks run the slats perpendicular to the frames. It was mentioned that it would be better if the slats ran parallel to the frames so the mites would continue to fall down instead of resting on the slats.

I don't necessarily need another piece of equipment, but I got thinking about the purpose of the slatted rack and it's presumed benefits. Why wouldn't a shallow super, with frames, set underneath the lower brood box not act like slatted rack? The slats (really the frames) would run parallel, and I wouldn't have to buy another piece of equipment. I could use my existing shallow supers.

Any thoughts on why this wouldn't work?

Additionally, I wondered why the bees don't build comb on the bottom of the conventional slatted rack.

Grant
Jackson, MO
 

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Additionally, I wondered why the bees don't build comb on the bottom of the conventional slatted rack.
I've never used a slatted rack so I don't know, but maybe that is why the slats run perpendicular to the frames. Just a thought.

BB
 

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Bee space. If spaced correctly, the slatted rack should have correct bee space under the slats. Bees won't build comb if bee space is correct.

As far as the shallow super, the brood nest will simply enlarge down into the shallow super. You'll likely just be rotating a shallow in as a brood box. The available comb and space will be used by the bees.
 

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>Bee space. If spaced correctly, the slatted rack should have correct bee space under the slats. Bees won't build comb if bee space is correct.

I have never used a slatted rack or looked at one up close, but I'm not so sure the bees would build comb under the slats as long as their bottoms were not more than 7/8" above the bottom board surface. The standard bottom board has two size entrances, depending on which way you flip it, 3/8" and 7/8". When I use my bottom with the 7/8" side up, I never have any problem with combs built on the bottom of my frames in the lower box. So putting a slatted rack on top of the bottom board would be just like having the bottoms of the frames above the bottom board. Like I said I have never seen one up close so maybe I'm wrong . Let me know if I am.
 

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The slats run perpendicular to the frames because that's the way the rack was first developed. Way back before mites, the rack was built the easiest way possible, which was to run the slats perpendicular.

It is so much easier to construct a slatted rack with the slats running perpendicular to the frames, rather than parallel with the frames. However, in this era of mite control, the preferred method is to run the slats parallel with the frames, to facilitate mite drop.

Now, do the slatted racks help? Do they work? I personally use them. I find it helps in colony defense, in additional clustering space reducing or eliminating bearding and congestion on hot days, but beyond that, I'm not sure. This season as I work thru the hives, I should learn more about them. The developer and some others, most notably Charles Koover (a regular contributor in Gleanings in Bee Culture) back in the 1970's and earlier, swore by them. Others swear at them as an additional piece of equipment, additional expense, etc.
Regards,
Steven
 

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i did exactly as you described last year with forty hives. i use foundationless frames.
i top supered and bottom supered. all forty hives built up, none built down and swarming was at a minimum.
another way to give some bottom breathing room is to use a deep super with medium frames on the bottom of the stack. the bottom of the stack is a great place to store extra boxes/frames.
in the queen rearing book by laidlaw and someone else they write about giving field bees a place to hang out to minimize congestion. during the season i noticed alot of bees down there hanging out but they were not wax makers.
 

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The racks are mostly of use where bees are confined to one brood box, and crowded, either by comb honey production, or the use of a single with excluder and restricted supering.

The thinking these days is to put on lots of supers for extracted production and super well ahead of need, so the racks would be counterproductive for most beekeepers.

The racks provide clustering space below. Most people want their bees in the supers.
 

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The slatted rack is, as you said, used by the bees to cluster, below the brood nest. This cluster of bees, helps to control the internal temperature of the hive, the clustering bees can better control the movement of air, either in or out, as they see fit.

I believe their was someone on here earlier, in a thread, which I too participated in, about slatted racks, I believe he built a slatted rack, which occupied a box, similar to a shallow super being converted into a slatted rack. Slatted racks have all components arranged so there is bee-space everywhere. This inspires the bees to cluster, but not build comb or burr-comb.

Several decades ago there was quite a stir about using slatted racks, slatted racks were even installed on either side of supers, especially brood supers, the two racks would take the place of one frame. With them the bees would more readily extend the brood nest even to the outside surface of the outermost combs. I have used some of these continuously since then.

So, despite having one less comb in a 10-frame hive, you could have nine, full combs of brood rather than eight. And if you used 1-1/4" wide frames -vs- 1-3/8" wide frames, you could fit ten frames in a 10-frame super and still have the slatted racks on the "walls" for cluster space (in my 8-frame hives I use 1-1/4" wide frames and fit nine frames, so I could install slatted-racks and still fit eight frames into my supers.

I have all of the bottom boards in my honey production hives, configured with a combination SBB/SR (SBB/SR).

Here is a SketchUp design for inside super wall racks for deep supers --> (Super Wall Racks). I plan to install these in all my brood supers, to help relieve congestion and encourage the queen to use all the comb available to her there.
 

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Yes, we used to use follower boards on sides and ends of our comb boxes. Warmth is important in comb production.

We also used slatted racks a bit, but decided that they did nothing for us unless we were negligent and did not get back before the bees were crowded out by the combs they built from foundation and filled with honey. We made sure we were not negligent -- too much burr comb and lost production, even if no swarms issued.

(A huge hive of bees will fit into a few boxes of foundation, but quickly need more room as the combs expand and fill)

In standard hives, these days, I use a new sheet of plastic foundation on each side as a follower board. Normally the bees stay centered and work vertically, but if they get crowded, they are forced outwards and build the foundation.

Otherwise, the foundation is also there, handy, if needed for manipulations, and being plastic, does not degrade if not occupied.
 

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Additionally, I wondered why the bees don't build comb on the bottom of the conventional slatted rack.

Another point which hasn't been mentioned is that the one place you can get away with a bee space violation is underneath the bottommost combs.

When you have an inch gap between the bottom of the frames and the floor, why don't the bees build comb in that 1 inch (since it is over 3/8 bee space?) The slatted rack works with the same principle as the gap between the floor and the frames.
 

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I played around with slatted racks a couple years ago. Never really noticed a difference with or without. Considering selling what I have if anyone is interested. They are wax dipped. Also, I never had a single one build comb on or near one. Above or below.
 

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Here's a link to a photo I just took of one of my medium 8-frame supers configured for brood with the addition of the slatted racks and frames with 1-1/4" end bars. The two slatted racks take up a total of 1-1/4" of space (space that could permit an additional frame to fit in the super. With the racks, more often the queen will completely fill all comb surfaces with brood, even those immediately adjacent to the slatted racks. Super with Slatted Racks.

I often see the slatted rack area to be where drones and resting bees congregate. This keeps them off of the brood combs, where I would imagine they might interfere with business (being a factor in congestion). It also provides an inner wall, insulated from the outer wall of the hive, which can be either too warm, or too cold depending on the outside temperature. The slatted rack can come to "hive temp" and act as a buffer to temperature fluctuations, bees congregating on it can help this process.

Are slatted racks essential, no; are they important, probably not. They do use more lumber, they do take more time and effort to make and install. But, for me, they are fun. They have benefits to the bees, more than the beekeeper and it's fascinating to observe how the bees interact with -vs- without them.
 

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Thanks for the picture, Joseph!

For clarification, I think the original question involved the slatted racks that go on the bottom of the hive, between the bottom brood box and the screened bottom board. Those slatted racks have the 4" wide board at the front, and the slats (in the old days ran across the frames) run lengthwise, under the frames, to facilitate mite drop. They also purportedly help relieve congestion, and aid in cooling the hive, plus help in defense - the 4" wide board gives more defensive space before the intruder gains access to the hive itself.

The slatted racks you show are hung in the hive body. Their benefit, as you mentioned, are to help relieve brood nest congestion. They give bees a place to congregate, out of the way. I've never used them, and don't know how well they work.

But there are two different kinds of slatted racks, with a little different purpose. There probably is more to each kind than I've mentioned, however. Anyone else care to chime in?
Regards,
Steven
 

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There was a thread last year, with the comb on the bottom of hive question.

I think the answer was that bee space doesn't apply to the bottom. The bees don't care if there is extra room at the bottom.
 

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I find comb under my slatted racks, but usually dry with no honey. Maybe for use as a ladder. I think that is a design flaw in slatted racks. Bees must either hop up onto the slats, or walk to the wall of the rack and all the way to the back of the four inch board. I need to build a few new jumbo width racks, and I think I will add a few ladder racks on the bottom of the slats. This should dramatically increase my yield. Think how many tons of honey I have lost making my bees walk and climb in excess over the last thirty-five years.
 

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The design of slatted-rack created for standard bottom boards, which I used before I changed to closed but screened bottom boards, was an insert that left nothing but bee-space anywhere, even in the region of the bottom board entrance. It used screws to create bee-space even between all its' wooden components and the standard bottom board. Even my homemade SBB/SR units provide no areas larger than bee-space dimensions.

I am planning to try a new idea to see if I can make slatted-bottom racks even more beneficial to honeybee colonies. The plan is to incorporate an additional level or more of slats to further increase the cluster space and increase the diffusion/baffling of air moving through the racks
 

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I have current designs that have them both ways, in various materials and configurations.

The design I was thinking to modify first, has slats that are 1/4" thick and 3/4" wide, they run perpendicular to the direction the frames run. Here is a link to those plans: Slatted-rack design. Though it hasn't happened yet, I worry about the queen hiding out in the SBB/SR, so I will probably build the modification into an additional separate piece, until I see how it does. This SR design has the slats standing on their edges to provide maximum clustering space, so the additional layer will likely be flat and parallel to the frames for maximum air baffling.
 
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