A Combo Bottom Board

I got creative this summer and built a solid bottom board and a screened bottom board from scrap wood in my shed. I can’t continue to use either of them for long because the wood I used is old and half rotted and I’m afraid the boards will collapse under the weight of the hives during the winter, and around here that means damp and soggy, great conditions for softening up old plywood. So I went ahead and got more creative with my limited carpentry skills and woefully inadequate tools (or maybe it’s the other way around), and I built a new and improved sturdy bottom board that is both screened and solid. I won’t have a chance to put it into action this year, but I’ll show it off anyway. Here it is as a screened bottom board:

To make this bottom board, I repeated what I did with bottom board #1, only this time I used mostly brand new wood, and I cut a hole in the bottom and stapled some screen over the hole like I did with screened bottom board #1. The ingenious part of the design, which requires virtually zero carpentry skills, is the piece of corrugated plastic that slides over the screen to convert it to a solid bottom board. I drove four nails on the inside to hold the plastic sheet in place. Two nails in the front:

The corrugated plastic (an old political campaign sign I stole after a recent election) slides under the two front nails:

Over the stapled down screen mesh:

Until it fits snugly under the two nails poking out at the end:

This is what it looks like with a brood box on top:

Similar screened bottom boards are available commercially, and I wouldn’t bother making my own if I didn’t have to. But if you’re like me, beekeeping on a budget, and you’re sick of paying the extra costs of having every piece of your beekeeping gear shipped to Newfoundland, something like this requires minimal carpentry skills and it’s cheap. I bought enough materials to make three or four of these bottom boards and it cost me maybe $30 for all of it. Someone with a half decent table saw, a staple gun and few nails could whip these babies off in no time.

March 2019 Postscript: I don’t use screened bottom boards anymore, but only because I haven’t had time to build any recently. If you look at some of my previous posts, you’ll see that these screened bottom boards helped expel a lot of humidity from my hives. So they work. I even kept the screened bottom board open on a winter hive (though I made sure wind couldn’t blow underneath the hive). I know another beekeeping in Newfoundland who drills large holes in the bottom of all his bottom boards and then screens them over and keeps like that all year round. There are many ways to ventilate a hive.

Except for people who follow the D.E. Hive route with their hives, there’s no reason to spend big bucks on a bottom board. I can barely hammer a nail into a piece of wood without hitting my thumb, and even I can build a bottom board from scrap wood or cheap wood. It doesn’t require much time or expensive tools or much skill. Of all the expensive hive components that are even more expensive because of shipping to Newfoundland, bottom boards and inner covers are the easiest to make, and I doubt I’ll ever buy a commercial version of either of them again. There’s no need.

3 thoughts on “A Combo Bottom Board

  1. Wow very cool saw this on Twitter, we make similar boards down in new Zealand. Will post some pics on my blog, when I get them finished.

    See ya…Gary

  2. Well done, Phillip. I’ve found I can just wait until you figure out how to make the equipment and then follow your lead. Very helpful.

    • I may not be the best lead to follow. More technical minded folks could probably come up with a better design, but my skills, budget and resources are limited, so I have to think creatively within the “fast, cheap and simple” paradigm.

      Some changes I might make to the design before I use the bottom board next year: 1) Replace the mosquito screen with 1/8-inch mesh — if I can find it anywhere around here. We don’t really need it in Newfoundland because we don’t have mites, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. 2) Trim the wings off the base. I can imagine water collecting down there. I made the plywood base wider than the brood box thinking it might provide more support, but that probably doesn’t matter.

      I suppose a smarter way to make a screened bottom board would be to make a frame from four pieces of wood and then tack on the screen somehow. But that’s beyond my carpentry abilities. I don’t have the tools or a workshop for anything too sophisticated. I don’t have the mentality for it either. Too many beekeeping solutions seem to make simple things complicated. I don’t like going there.

Comments are closed.