IPM Pallet Expansion Accelerating Growth

An IPM Pallet From Our Perspective

Have you ever been so addicted to something (good things) you just couldn’t stop improving on concepts and methodologies?  Well, we have that type of addiction with our honey bees.  Our desire to expand to 150 colonies in 2013 came up against some budget constraints and we had to start searching for more economical ways of managing our growth.  We needed to move from individual screened bottom boards to an IPM Pallet.

The expense of individual components isn’t so bad when you are buying for a few colonies, and sure, with the right supplier free shipping helps save some money.  Managing the number of components and their costs can be challenging when keeping to your management strategies for honeybees.  As we were new to beekeeping with our first 50 hive installation we wanted to stay with tried and true methods.  We were concerned about Integrated Pest Management (IPM) when selecting our hive components.  Screened bottom boards were very important to control mites and other pests.  Most commercial operations used pallets with solid bottom boards and migratory covers, not an IPM Pallet.  Great options if you couple them with chemicals for pest control which is something we want to avoid.

Quite frankly, we didn’t expect to get so addicted to beekeeping so quickly.  Our desire to expand left us with several questions:

  • How can we control pests (IPM) without individual screened bottom boards?
  • How will we move major quantities of hives around the ranch or to other locations efficiently when carrying capacity is reached?
  • How can we incorporate benefits of migratory pallets and IPM based screened bottom boards and create an IPM Pallet?
  • Can we build an IPM Pallet with a screened bottom that will survive forklift abuse?

The answer had to be in the design and construction of a screened IPM Pallet for bottom boards that will survive some level of forklift mishaps.


  1. Incorporate all the benefits of an individual screened bottom board into an IPM Pallet design that holds four colonies, with minimal construction waste.
  2. Evaluate costs of materials and labor and compare to individual screened bottom boards. (wow, what a difference in cost)
  3. Build jigs to replicate pallets quickly.
  4. Pre-cut all components for rapid assembly.

Spiral Horn Apiary uses 8 frame Langstroth hives as we are not spring chickens any longer and the extra weight of 10 frame hives was a little more than our backs desired.  A lot of plans/ideas exist on the Internet for 10 frame solid bottom board pallet designs.  Incorporating the screened bottom board and sticky board (varroa counts) or oil pan (beetle traps) was not found in our search.  We drew up some plans and started with a jig for ensuring that the IPM Pallet would be square and one person could assemble the pallet (two hands vs four).  The jig is made from 3/16 inch angle iron.  One 20 ft. length is plenty for our 8 frame hive measurements.

Each of the 3 support rails in the IPM Pallet required a dado cut allowing the easy insertion/removal of a sticky board.  The two outer rails have 1 dado each, with the slot facing inwards, the middle rail has one dado cut on each side allowing sticky boards to be inserted easily under each hive on the IPM Pallet.  Once the dado slots were made, each rail goes into its respective place in the frame.  The center rail has a guide slot to allow one person to assemble the IPM Pallet and not worry about center rail alignment or it falling over during nail-up.

Once the rails are in place, cross members are added with side boards.  These cross members are standard 1×4 pressure treated boards.  Nail each of these boards in place where appropriate to secure the rails and cross members.  We added side boards (ripped 1×4 in half) to eliminate the space created by the cross members and adds a stapling area for the screen.  We nailed 3 pieces of 1×4 on the bottom side of the pallet after removing it from the jig.

We used 36 inch wide hardware cloth (1/8 x 1/8) purchased from hardwareandtools.com cut right down the middle thereby eliminating any waste.  The individual pieces were the perfect size for each section of the IPM Pallet.  We stapled (pneumatic staple gun) the hardware cloth squarely across the side and cross members side to side, using 1/4 inch staples.  All those tools collected over the years (and my wife thought I was a “hoarder of tools”) sure have come in handy.

The hive sits on top runners which also add extra hold-down for the screen, the middle runner has pallet “w” brackets purchased from Mannlakeltd.com screwed into it at appropriate distances to hold the hives from shifting side to side.  All of these runners are 1/2 inch thick to provide appropriate “bee space”.  We went a little above the 3/8 inch normally considered appropriate bee space for stability.  We have a planer that allowed us to use the same 1×4 pressure treated boards, ripped in half for the two sides; ripped 2 1/4 inches for the center piece, and the waste strip used to cut the four pieces required to support the back end of each hive.

Making the IPM Pallet build go a lot faster required all of the pieces to be pre-cut and planed (where appropriate).  Using the jig was critical to our success by keeping the IPM Pallet square and our pre-cut pieces fitting perfectly.  We have built 25 of these IPM Pallets so far and will use them for the 100 hive expansion in 2013.  If you would like a measured drawing to build an IPM Pallet send us an email via the “contact us” section of the website.

Next up, building more brood boxes, supers, and frames.  Seems early for a 2013 expansion but with one guy doing the work it takes a while.

By | 2017-01-02T06:50:06+00:00 May 7th, 2012|51 Comments

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  1. Gustavo Chavez January 27, 2013 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Hello, Please e-mail me the plans for the 4 way pallet that you designed.

    Thank you,
    Gustavo Chavez

    • Mark Hedley January 31, 2013 at 10:11 am - Reply

      Gustavo, sent to you via email. Thanks for your interest


  2. […] locations need to move heavily populated hives quickly.  Most always the bee boxes are on pallets of some kind to aid in faster loading and unloading from a truck.  Although we do not use our […]

  3. Jake Russell June 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Great job, I’m in the same position expanding from single to pallets. I use 10 frame equipment but I would like an email of your plans. Thanks for posting this on the web and providing the details.

  4. Sam McGuire October 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Great job—–please send plans for these pallets—–I am using 8 frame equipment and plan to go commerical (small).

  5. robert May 19, 2014 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Please send plans for the ipm pallets..thank you.

  6. Dylan October 21, 2014 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Hey Mark,

    I see this was a while ago, but if you’ve got a minute could you also forward me the plans for this pallet?


  7. Steve November 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Mark, Great Idea !! This looks like exactly what I’m looking to build. Please forward me the plans for this pallet.


  8. Russell Hahn December 1, 2014 at 11:44 am - Reply


    Congrats on the award you received at the TBA banquet. I am definitely interested in you IPM Pallet. Can you send me the plans?

    Russell Hahn
    Hahn Honey Company

  9. Joe Hairston February 2, 2015 at 11:18 am - Reply

    Great job on your website, business and pallet design.
    Please send me the pallet drawings.
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Fernando Garcia April 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    you are a great beekeeper for sharing your knowledge.

    Please send me Your plane pallet.

    thank you very much

  11. Al Bailey April 10, 2015 at 6:27 am - Reply

    Hi, would be interested in seeing your plans, please can you email.
    Thank you.

  12. Marvin April 19, 2015 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Hello you did a great job is it anyway you can send me your plans? Thanks in advance.

  13. Tom April 19, 2015 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Exactly what I need for quick expansion on a budget. I’d love to see the plans for this. Thanks so much!

  14. roger kathka May 21, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Like you idea, but thinking about 2 hive platform so could still use a hand truck. Would like to receive your plans. thanks roger

  15. Daniel Vestring August 3, 2015 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Nice website y’all have put together. I am also trying to expand to four hive pallets and would very much like to see your plans. Any way you have the measurements for 10 frame equipment?


    Daniel Vestring

  16. Anton Esterhuysen September 16, 2015 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Hi Mark
    I am also after plans for the pallets. I have 10 frame equipment.

  17. Steve Lindsay February 21, 2016 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    Would like a copy of the plans if you are sharing. New to the bee business but trying to get my own started on a budget. Thanks

  18. Molodoi Andrian April 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Hello Mark. I also would like a copy of the plans for this pallet. Thanks a lot!

  19. Gerry July 13, 2016 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,
    Great info and just what I’m looking for. (I would like to show off my “hoarding” results to my wife as well). Please email me your plans and thank you so much!

  20. Peter Hsu July 26, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Wonderful article! I would love the plans if you have them available. This is exactly what I want to make!

  21. Ron Johnstone November 17, 2016 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Mark, found your article to be very informative!! When you get time I would love to have a set of your plans. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!

  22. Serg February 22, 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    just loved your idea!
    Could you send me some drawings, please?

  23. Steve DuBois March 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Mark,

    Would you mind e-mailing the plans for the 8 frame IPM pallet to me.

  24. Byron Russell April 5, 2017 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I love your pallets. I also love to tinker and create new bee stuff. These pallets have hit the mark. Very effective with minimal design. My first concepts are usually over complicated. Y’all hit it on the first shot with theses pallets. I’m gonna make up some (2) hive versions for my growing bee hobby. That way I can move them with my modified 2-wheel dolly.
    Thanks for sharing
    Running Dog Apiary
    Coldwater, MS

  25. joel May 28, 2017 at 9:22 am - Reply

    could you send your pallet design thx

  26. James Brantley May 29, 2017 at 1:00 am - Reply

    I would like a copy of your 8 frame pallet plans, Thanks

  27. Jon Sweeney June 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I would like a copy of the pallet plans please. I have the 8 frame boxes. Thanks

  28. Jason August 9, 2017 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Wonderful design. It would be greatly appreciated if you would send me the plans. Best Regards.

  29. Meagan September 23, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Hi Mark,
    This is such a helpful article for us! We are expanding and are looking into building 4-way pallets. We currently have pallets that hold 2 hives. I’m curious as to how the screened bottoms have held up over the years? We want to do screened as well (also in TX) but have heard that a forklift can tear them up.
    Elzner Farms

    • Mark Hedley September 23, 2017 at 11:13 am - Reply

      Screens stay fine as long as the forklift driver knows how to operate the forklift properly. Mistakes can happen which do result in screens pulling from staples. We went to a 1 inch wide staple on the screens which helped a lot

  30. Curtis Wirths October 8, 2017 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Can you please email me the plans for your screened pallets. I am using 10 frame mediums as my hive configuration. This is what I have been pondering on how to build for several months. Thank You!

    • Mark Hedley October 8, 2017 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Curtis, sent via email. The plans are for 8 frame but you can modify measurements accordingly

  31. Diana October 24, 2017 at 6:09 am - Reply

    Hello Mapk!
    Can you send me too the scheme of your pallet? Thank you in advance!

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