beekeeping equipment

Woodworking plans for beekeepers

Over the years, an amazing number of generous and talented beekeepers have contributed to Honey Bee Suite in various ways. Today, I posted professionally drawn woodworking plans by Matthew Waddington of Duvall, Washington.

Matthew, an architect by day, has been keeping bees since 1995. After deciding to build some slatted racks for his hives, Matthew came across my post, “How to build a slatted rack,” in which another beekeeper, David Manning of Missouri, shared his design.

For those of you visual types, Matthew turned David’s verbal explanation and photos into a set of professional drawings. He also tweaked a few of the measurements, and then sent them to me. I was completely awestruck.

Twenty racks later

The following weekend, Matthew built twenty slatted racks, a pretty impressive project. He said, “I’ve made a lot of gear over the years, but that took a lot of time! Besides having to cut 200 tenoned slats, there’s a lot of rabbeting and dadoing. Still, material cost was about 4 bucks a rack (though I used really cheap wood), which is pretty good. If I figure my time at a $1.00 an hour, it probably works out.”

After cutting and assembling the twenty racks, Matthew went back and tweaked the plans. “I made some very slight modifications to Dave’s plans, just so that people could use standard 1×2 and 1×4 and not have to rip them, or buy bigger material. I also added a few notes regarding putting them together, and allowed for the thickness of the material (which varies, depending on what you buy. I bought cheapo Home Depot 1x and it was barely 5/8″ thick, so had to adjust other dimensions).”

And a screened inner cover

Currently, I have two sets of drawings posted. I asked Matthew to draw plans for a screened inner cover simply because I’ve gotten many requests for that piece of equipment.

Matthew has graciously offered to draw other plans for us, so if you think of something you would like to see, let me know.

The links to the plans are below, and I’ve also added a tab in the drop-down menu in the header of every page. Click “Beekeeping” and under that you will see, “Woodworking Plans,” a page that also contains links to the pdf documents. Be sure the check out the photos of Matthew’s work in progress (below), and the impressive stack of finished slatted racks!

Honey Bee Suite

All photos and drawings © 2017 Matthew Waddington.

Slatted Rack (pdf)

Screened Inner Cover (pdf)

Workworking plans for beekeepers. The finished racks.


  • Awesome work Matthew! I would like plans for a Slovenian style hive that takes Langstroth sized foundation!

    • Hi Janet- I recognize your name and some of the other folks here from the Mt Baker forum. I’m glad you like the drawings-and I am making more per the requests here. Its fun. I have drawn up quite a bit of the Slovenian AZ hive, based on various images and drawings on the web. There are a lot of variations- however, one thing I wanted to ask you (and anyone else interested) about, is to what degree would you want standard Langstroth gear integrated? The AZ hives have a LOT of pieces- they are super complicated- much more so than I would think they need to be- and there are no shared parts with our hives. For example, frames don’t have “shoulders, they sit apart-so they won’t get propolized together. and have an odd convex curve at top and bottom- Ours do have shoulders, and touch, so I imagine we’d have to modify ours, or figure out a way to break them apart from only one end. And it would be nice to not have to make a custom queen excluder- or have to make special spacer bars- etc.etc. Is this what you are thinking?

      I imagine the some local person has worked some of this out- but without actually trying it- there’s going to be some hit and miss. Any thoughts/opinions?

  • Impressive work, Matthew. And so generous to share your beautiful plans! (would never guess you were an architect) (lol).

  • I would love plans for a long hive/ horizontal hive (like a top bar hive but accepts deep langstroth frames). I built my own and love working with it but I think someone with more know how could probably do better.

    • I too would like easy to follow plans for long hive/horizontal hives that accept langstroth frames. Birthdays are adding up and the top bar horizontal approach looks more and more interesting, but I would want to continue using langstroth frames for comb stability when inspecting/working the hive.

  • Rusty, you recently posted about robbing screens. How about a plan or two for making some robbing screens?

  • I get the screened inner cover but what do you do with a slatted rack? Does it serve like a screened bottom board?

    Thanks, John

  • Ok, how does the “inner cover” work and what is the benefit and where does it fit in a typical hive? Sorry I am a starter> Thanks Brian.

  • I’m on board with WesternWilson! It’s been my goal from the start to have an AZ-Slovenian Hive trailer with 25+ hives on it. Each hive equivalent to 2-Deeps and 2-shallows. Liquid honey is nice, but nothing is better than healthy bees and comb honey!

    DJ Bruce

  • Thank you so much David Manning for your video on making the slatted racks and Matthew Waddington for drawing up the plans and working all the kinks out. Big thank you Rusty for making the plans accessible to us as well as explaining the purpose and value of using the racks, etc :} This new-bee sure appreciates all your experience and expertise and how you make everything so much more do-able with your explanations and all :} You’re a wealth of priceless information!!! :}

  • How vital is the depth of the slatted rack being 2.5 inches? The design mentions the depth being 2.5 inches made out of the 1×2. however where I am the 1×2 tends to be 47mm x 22mm much less that the 2.5 inches, will it matter?

    Many thanks,

  • Hi Rusty. were you in line of the solar eclipse? Did you notice your bee behaviour? We had one in UK several years ago. There were thousands of bees on the ground at the front of the hives for about half an hour, highlighting how much the bees depend on the sun to navigate.

    Regards Hamish

    • Hamish,

      We were at the 75% line, so the sun never completely disappeared. My honey bees were acting like they do in the evening, coming home but not leaving again, but nothing too strange. Native bees in the garden, though, completely disappeared.

  • Matthew, my wife has been keeping bees for about 4 years now. She mentioned the Slovenian hives to me and how they would be easier for older people. I would like to build her one for our anniversary. I am wondering if you have a set of plans your willing to share?


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.