Building Slatted Racks

I didn't realize what a difference slatted racks make on bee hives until I compared several hives without them against several hives with them in our apiaries during this past season.

The hives with slatted racks raised brood much lower in the bottom box than those without slatted racks. The hives with slatted racks also seemed not to beard quite so much in comparison to those without slatted racks. has directions for making slatted bottom racks for standard 10 frame Langstroth hives on their website.

The schematics in the directions are pretty good and I only have a few tips to include if you decide to make them yourself.

The slats are made from 3/8th inch thick wood. You can by standard 1" thick wood and plane it down, but I found it easier to go to the section of Home Depot or Lowes that sells "craft wood". You can get the wood in 3/8th inch thick boards that are ready to use.

The plans require making several rabbet and housing joints in order to build the frame and hold the slats in place.

For this project, I chose not to use my router and instead did all the work on my table saw without the use of a dado blade.

I'm sure it's obvious for most who have a workshop, but in case it helps someone, here's a video on how I made the cuts using a standard table saw blade.

Once the cuts were all made, it was just a matter of putting it together.

What made the assembly really quick was to use extra slats to help in spacing the slats being assembled. Each slat being 3/8ths of inch thick was perfect for the 3/8th inch spacing required.

With a little glue and brads, I had three of them nailed together in about 15 minutes.

When the weather warms up a bit I'll paint these in the garage. For now it's too cold to paint and I'll leave them in storage with my other bee equipment.

Update: As James mentions in the comments below, the DIY plans on are (at the time of this writing) an older style of slatted racks with the slats running left-to-right. Newer style slatted racks have the slats running front-to-back so they alight with the frames of the hive, allowing varroa to fall through the slatted racks instead of landing directly onto the slats. Thanks James for pointing out the new design!

Comments For This Post: (11) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Nick Holmes says...
Date:   January 6, 2014, 12:45 pm

Seems like an interesting idea, I have seen others post favorable things about them before on bee blogs.  I wonder do the slats need to be as thick as that. I only ask because I have lots of ply wood and not a huge amount of 3/4 - 1inch decent wood to try  it out with. If there is not much clearance below the bees that would fit should not cause a  lot of weight. 

Jerry says...
Date:   March 18, 2014, 9:24 am

What is the reason for 13 slatts instead of 10

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   March 25, 2014, 7:20 pm

The number of slats aren't important I don't believe...Just so long as you maintain proper bee space between each of the slats.

James says...
Date:   June 5, 2014, 9:32 am

If you're using a screened bottom board for Varroa control, you'll want the slats to run front to back and sit directly under your frames. The design shown above is the old style that was used until screened bottom boards really took over during the past decade.

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   June 5, 2014, 9:58 am

Funny you should mention the direction of the slats...I had no sooner made my own slatted racks using plans from and a few days later I noticed the newer style models in bee catalogs had slats going front to back.  Doh! If I make more, I'll be sure to make them with slats from front to back so they align with the frames. :)

David says...
Date:   December 4, 2014, 11:40 am

I just built a slatted rack using your PDF as a guide.  I made a few design changes.
The outside frame is the same as in your drawings.
Changes made:
I placed a dado cut 3/8 inches deep 3/16 inches from the top on both the back and from of the frame.  On each side I dadoed a dado from the front 4 3/8" and finished the cuts with a 3/8" wide chisel to clean out the area that the blades left curved.  A piece of wood that was planed down to 3/8" was cut to fit in the dado grooves made on the sides and front of the frame.  On the inside edge I made a 3/4 " deep cut centered on the inside edge of the 4 3/8 board facing the back of the frame. This cut was centered leaving a 1/8" wide cut.  I then took this piece and set the saw blade at a 1/4 inch and cut back 3/4" from the edge, leaving an area 1/4" x 3/4" rabbit facing up.  The 10 slats that I made were 3/8" x 3/4" x the length that you will need for a slat that sets in the back board 3/8" in the dado and the 3/4" needed to set in the rabbit on the board at the front of the rack.  note: on one end of the slats cut a rabbit on one of the piece that is 1/8" x 3/4".  This end with set on the 4  3/8" board on the inside edge with the 1/4" side facing up.  When glued this creates a strong joint that is 3/8" thick and flush with the rest of the slats and end piece.   I determined that the outside slats be positioned 3/8" from the inside edge of the frame and that 11/l6" be used to space the remaining 8 slats. To finish, I cut pieces to fit the spaces created by the rabbit cuts and the dado at the back board between each of the slats.  By doing this it gives the fixture a finished flush appearance.
I always use Titebond III wood glue.  It is waterproof.  I placed long brads in the back board from the outside to hold the slats in place.  I believe that with the Titebond glue, the joint will hold on the front end of the slats.

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   December 4, 2014, 12:11 pm

David, that sounds awesome!
I would love to see a picture, if you have one, could you email it to:  .

David says...
Date:   December 10, 2014, 3:15 pm

As a follow up to my post above for the slatted rack.  I haven't the opportunity to get any images yet, but will.
In regards to the rack, what determines the thickness of the slats.  On various websites with plans.  I have seen and built the 3/8" thickness.  I have also seen 3/4" , 1 1/2", and the full depth of the frame or 2 inches.  The benefits of the slatted rack is obvious.  Is it personal preference or something else.

David Manning says...
Date:   April 18, 2015, 10:42 am

Chris, I e-mailed you images of the slatted racks that I build for my hives.  I also included an instruction document for the construction of it.  You have my permission to use the images of the racks and the document.


Bob says...
Date:   December 2, 2016, 4:13 pm

Why is the dimension of 19-1/8 used in the diagram when a ten frame hive is 19-7/8 ?

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   December 22, 2016, 9:18 pm

@Bob - The type of joint in the plans calls for a "rabbet" joint. The slatted rack, when glued and nailed together with this type of joint ends up being exactly the right dimension for a typical Langstroth hive (19 7/8 inches).

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