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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I'm going to use slatted racks in my hives and I plan on building them myself. I have seen two different designs and am not sure which one to go with. I'm looking for input on which one I should go with, and if there is a big deal with the difference. One design has slats going the entire length of the rack, where the other has a 3 inch solid board at the front. The pictures show one deeper than the other, I'll be making them 2.5 inches deep. The only thing I'm not sure about is the length of the slats. I just don't know if there is a difference in the performance of the rack. Thanks!


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The purpose of the baffle at the front is to block the air and light from the entrance. This allows the queen to lay all the way to the front of the frames in the bottom box. The gap under the slatted rack is actually the point of the rack. To allow cluster space inside the hive that usually won't be filled with comb. Without the baffle and without the gap under the rack, the effectiveness is seriously impaired.
 

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The purpose of the baffle at the front is to block the air and light from the entrance. This allows the queen to lay all the way to the front of the frames in the bottom box. The gap under the slatted rack is actually the point of the rack. To allow cluster space inside the hive that usually won't be filled with comb. Without the baffle and without the gap under the rack, the effectiveness is seriously impaired.
Yeah, what he said. Build it like the 2nd one you posted above.
 

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This is how I made some:
http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/beek17b.htm (second photo down) - they work really well. I recently checked one after 12 months of use and it was as clean as the day I installed it. Well pleased.

If you take a look at how the inventor (C.C.Miller) made his - you'll realise that exactly how they are made really isn't all that important. He appears to have made the originals using an axe !
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks y’all. I appreciate the info. I have plans for the one with the solid board, so that’s what I’ll be doing. In y’alls opinion, do these really make a difference? I’ve been a beek for 3 years and I’ve had good success without them.
 

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So far as I know, there has only been 1 controlled study in the last 20 years. That study found no improvement in honey production, which was what they were trying to determine.
 

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I saw a pic somewhere that use slats full length front to rear and merely staple a 4" wide piece of aluminum flashing to the top of the entrance end of the slats to create the light baffle. I made one up for a five frame size but never got around to trying it. It is a simple construction.
 

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The use of slatted racks doesn't - as far as I know - have anything to do with honey yield.

Miller's original idea was that the rack was removable, to be inserted - as required - into a void beneath the bottom box. This feature appears to have been lost over time. As can be seen from Miller's photo, unlike modern woodenware it was a very crude affair:



Miller's idea was taken-up by Killion who used them all-year round, and so built them as a fixed hive feature, rather than being removable. He spoke highly of them, writing that they help to prevent swarming and aid with the evaporation of nectar, as well as providing much needed ventilation.



As can be seen in both of the above photographs, the slats ran crosswise - that is, at ninety degrees to the orientation of the combs. For some strange reason, people seem to have got it into their heads that the slats must run lengthways, and that each gap needs to coincide with the comb directly above it. I've even seen plans which incorporate tubes, and even wedge-shaped slats (apex pointing upwards) with claims that these facilitate the directing of falling debris towards the mesh below. Total overkill, and completely unnecessary.

Personally, I think they're great, and have never seen a single example of bearding in a hive with one fitted. Many people think bearding is perfectly normal - I don't - I think it's an indicator of poor hive design. Imo, bees should be able to get off the combs when congested during hot weather without leaving the security of the beehive, and the slatted rack enables them to do this.
LJ

PS - as MB has already mentioned, it's the space beneath the slats which is the really important feature - all the slats do is to prevent comb from being built in that space.
 

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When I started beekeeping I started with deep brood boxes, so I also made about 20 deep 5 frame nucs. However in my area most new beekeepers start with medium nucs, so I had a problem !.
SoI built slatted racks that I could just drop into the deep nucs and have been using them for medium nucs ever since.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Thanks for all the input!! As far as honey flow, I wouldn’t expect these to change anything plus or minus for yield. To be honest that’s not really even a concern for me, I just want to do what’s good, or better for the bees. I have never really given it much thought until the other day. I saw one mentioned in a post and I guess a lightbulb went on. To make it an easy build, I may just make mine with the slats going all the way front to back, but adding a three piece of aluminum flashing at the front to act as a baffle. Instead of cutting, routing that extra wood in the front, a piece of flashing is going to do the same thing. I think.
 

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To make it an easy build ...
There's a lot to be said for making life simple. (Memo to self ... :) )
LJ

PS - I think Johno's idea has particular merit for anyone building their own boxes from scratch: to deliberately build the next size deeper box, then insert a loose slatted rack to take up the difference - that way such a box could be used to house both size frames, if needs be.
 

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My recollection of this particular study was that the slatted rack influenced the location of the brood but not the quantity...which would also imply no improvement in honey yield..

Effects of the slatted rack on brood production and its distribution in the brood nest. Delaplane, K.S. 1999. American Bee Journal 139(6): 474-476
ABSTRACT In newly-installed package colonies, the slatted rack significantly increased the proportion of colony brood being reared near hive entrances, but did not affect overall quantity of brood produced. The experiment was replicated over three years.
 

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In y’alls opinion, do these really make a difference?
That would depend on the type of bottom board being used. For me, i use solid bottom boards with a sensible entrance, bees brood right to the bottom bars, i don't see what improvements to the hive a slatted rack would achieve.

For poorly designed or screened bottom boards that tend to stop bees properly utilising all the comb, a slatted rack may help overcome this.

From a robbing point of view, in cold conditions, wouldn't a slatted rack seperate the cluster from the hive entrance and make it harder for them to gaurd against wasps and such?
 

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That would depend on the type of bottom board being used. For me, i use solid bottom boards with a sensible entrance, bees brood right to the bottom bars, i don't see what improvements to the hive a slatted rack would achieve.
I've always considered them an invention in search of a purpose. Like so many other similar things....screened bottom boards come to mind.....they gained a following all the same.
Just my opinion. No offense intended for those who love 'em.
 

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Dan, you're killing me :)
 
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