Cleated Handles

By Paul Kelly

Handling heavy honey supers poses some ergonomic challenges. It’s kind of silly when you think about it. We lift boxes weighing up to 90 pounds with hand holds barely big enough for your finger tips .Then we  go for a walk through long grass over rough ground  to carry them to the truck!

We added cleat handles to our honey supers to adapt them for use with our boom loader (see picture). Since making this change we have found that the supers are also much easier to handle manually. Cleat handles are common in other regions but have never become popular in Canada. After using them for several years, I wonder why we haven’t adopted this method here.

When adding cleats to supers you need to mount them in a position that won’t interfere with the telescoping lid. Ours are mounted 1 ¾” from the top of the super and are made from 3/4” X 1  1/2” pine.  Rounding edges over makes the handles easy on your fingers and is definitely worth the effort. When building new boxes it’s best to paint the cleats and supers separately then install the handles with screws after the paint is completely dry. This way the handles are removable and supers will maintain their value if sold to a beekeeper who doesn’t want cleats. The screws are best installed from inside the box. It’s an all or nothing situation; cleated and uncleated supers don’t handle well when mixed together.  As with anything new, try it on a small scale before you commit.

Originally Published in the Ontario Bee Journal