Repairing Rotted Supers

On first inspection of my ruined apiary, I counted about 100 supers.  However,  I soon found out that the decade of neglect, water damage, and mice had destroyed nearly all them to one degree or another.  My friend Marvin reassured me that things were not nearly as grim as they seemed and encouraged me to try and replace only the bad spots in each box.
His advice proved golden as I have so far salvaged 63 of the supers for about $1 each in materials.  Here is how I did it.
Lets start with what they looked like:
Beyond repair
Medium Damage
Light Damage

A quick note on the roaches… DEAR GOD THERE WERE  A LOT OF ROACHES!!!  I’m not squeamish by any means.  I didn’t mind the plethora of spiders or legion of sugar ants or even the gaggle of slimy slugs… but there is something so unsettling about roaches.  They crawled in my shirt and up my neck.  Eventually I could feel them even when they weren’t there anymore.  It felt like that scene from Creep Show where the roaches start coming out of the guy’s mouth.  Please hold while I shimmy……

Anyway, as you can see, the boxes were in rough shape.  Rather than just cutting out a 4″x4″ square here or 8″x2″ strip there, I instead cut 3 1/2″ from one end to the other where ever the box needed repair.  This gave me a good solid foundation to nail to and didn’t weaken the sides of my supers.  Like this:
The A005 is my 1st attempt at labeling hives for my records.
I think marking the lids will prove to be a better system.
In some cases this had to be done on all 4 sides since many of the boxes had been sitting directly on the ground for years.  In the cases where more than half the box was rotted or where an entire side was rotted, I placed the box in a different pile to be re-evaluted in a few days.
After cutting out the rotted spots, I used Elmer’s Wood glue and 1 1/4″ finishing nails to reassemble the boxes.  I didn’t use any fancy joints (finger joints or dovetail or the like).  I simply cut out the bad spots, added new boards, and then glued and toenailed them into place.  Some boxes only needed a single board while others received as many as six.  I paid $2.70 for 1x4x8′ yellow pine and was able to get 5 to 7 boards from each (depending on whether it was the long side or the short side.)
As you can see, I rushed the new boxes into the field without painting them first.  This was not by choice and will need to be rectified as soon as possible.  What happened was I ordered 8 new queens from Bordelon Apiaries in Gary, La.  Super nice people that managed to fit me in but then sent the bees to me 3 days early.  Since I was offshore when I ordered them and didn’t get home until a day after the bees arrived, I was forced to rush them into the field.  (I’ll post those details in a later blog.)
My point is that one of my newly repaired boxes was left in an upside down lid on my trailer (the little red one you see above) and already is showing signs of water damage.  So never forget to paint the boxes.
The moral of the story is that a rotted super is not the end of the world.  The new repairs seem just as strong as the original boxes.
I finished my repairs last Friday but by that night began to feel a burning in my sinuses.  My son had been mildly sick all week so I may have caught something from him.  However, there was mold in some of the boxes (I will bleach out later) and the table saw did disperse a lot of dust into the air.  Whatever the cause, I have been very sick ever since then and unable to get off the couch (which is given me time to blog).  In the future I will wear a dust mask when cutting old wood.
Disclaimer:  This blog is a journal and is only meant to share my experiences.  If you choose to use any of this information then you do so at your own risk.  That being said, do try to be safe.  On more than one occasion, my table saw cut through old nails that could have caused real injury.  Always wear the proper PPE and pre-plan your work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s