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Frame comb spacing in conventional hives + bee space

 
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:09 pm    Post subject: Frame comb spacing in conventional hives + bee space Reply with quote

I am planning to start building a few danish 12x10 conventional hives but instead of 10 I will have only 8 frames in the boxes.

I have kept bees only in Top Bar Hives and my top bars are 38 mm wide so I was wondering if I could have the same measure from center to center of frames? Is this too much in a framed hive? I think Michael Bush goes with 32 mm and some go wider.

And what bee space do you suggest is best? Perone has 9 mm, Warre 12 mm, and so on ...

I keep Buckfast/Carnolians/... mongrels in the future Im sure

Please feel free to contemplate on this subject with me.
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I currently run just 2 frame sizes: the Hoffman standard DN4 frame for the UK 'National Hive', and 108mm deep Delon frames for the Russian 'Alpine' Hive. Until this year my bees have been the usual Carni-Buckfast-AMM mongrels. From this year onwards I will be rearing as pure AMM as possible.

Commercially-produced DN4's come with 35mm spacing, and my custom-made Delon frames have 36mm. Both types of frame are used for both brood and stores, and the spacing is thus a compromise between the somewhat tighter ideal brood spacing of 32-34mm, and the wider stores spacing of around 38mm.

But - apart from a few small instances of inter-comb adhesion towards the top of the combs, which are easy enough to slice away when inspecting, the bees seem happy enough with 35-36mm, although I plan to make my own 'National' frames next year with a spacing of around 33-34mm to see if that removes these token adhesions. However, as the brood areas themselves are always free of such imperfections, it doesn't really seem to be a major issue.

With regard to bee-spaces, Warre does indeed specify 12mm - but that is principally the inter-comb space which of course here is 2 x 6mm. But yes - he also specifies 12mm for the end-comb 'bee-space' (between the comb and box wall) - which is something of a mystery to me. Smile In contrast, the National end-frames have just single bee-spaces.

My experience has been that the top bee-space - that is, between the frame top bar and crown-board - really needs to be at a minimum: I make mine 7-8mm (but no more), in the knowledge that it will become around 6-7mm when the boxes have built-up a layer of propolis. I've noticed that some people have started to use no clearance here at all, but instead place a layer of thick polythene directly over the frame top-bars, and simply peel it back when inspecting. This seems to work well, although I've never tried this myself.

The side bee-spaces are less critical and, bearing in mind that frames will always have 1 or 2mm of end-float, I find that anything between 6 and 9mm works ok, so I aim to build at 7mm in the knowledge that this will actually vary between 6-8mm when in use.

The bee-space at the bottom of the frame is the least critical of all - anywhere between 6 and 10mm. I find it really has to be quite a big space for the bees to consider it worthwhile to build comb there.

Hope at least some of the above is of interest.

'best
Colin
BBC
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Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.


Last edited by BBC on Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply Colin.

Quote:
he also specifies 12mm for the end-comb 'bee-space' (between the comb and box wall) - which is something of a mystery to me. Smile In contrast, the National end-frames have just single bee-spaces.


This is interesting I honestly didn't even consider the box wall to comb bee space. There seems to much more to building a framed hive than my good ol' top bar hives Smile

I will be visiting my wives father tomorrow and he will give me some danish 12x10 frames which he isn't using any more. I will probably go with those dimensions but still the spacing of combs and the bee spaces are something to ponder about.

Why would Warre go with 12mm (6+6mm) bee space and conventional hives with only one bee space? What does this do to the cluster? Michael Bush wrote something about smaller spacing keeping the brood nest warmer and closer brood spacing encouraging small cells (4,9mm).

Does any one has any first hand experience about this?
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:

Why would Warre go with 12mm (6+6mm) bee space and conventional hives with only one bee space?


Just to clarify - with conventional frames, it's only the end frames which have a single bee-space (i.e. between the frame and box wall), whereas Warre has two bee-spaces there !

I don't know if it's relevant, but it's well-known amongst National Hive users that the bees usually leave the outer side of the end combs empty. Now whether that's due to the single bee-space, or whether it's because those sides of the comb are closest to the box walls (which, with the National design, are somewhat on the thin side and thus colder) is anyone's guess.

One or two people have started to 'dummy' the end frames during winter, to reduce the number of combs from 11 down to 8, with good results apparently.

Colin
BBC
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1123
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
Why would Warre go with 12mm (6+6mm) bee space and conventional hives with only one bee space?


I have the "double" bee space between follower & first comb in my hTBH. I often see a layer of bees "relaxing" on the face of the follower (usually staying quite still). I guess you could see them as adding insulation as Colin suggests, or do they need a little bit of space away from the work face?

In a framed hive, the end double space will reduce any "rolling" of the bees when the end frames are lifted and inserted.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The beespace is only at the ends. The mid to mid distance is 35mm. 32 mm is too short. Mid to mid means: center of topbar to center of topbar. Depending of the width of the frame's topbar, the gap measurements differ. Some do wider topbars, some narrower. The Gatineau frame (basicly the Warré frame version) is 25 mm wide. A good thing about this size is you can cut the cappings off with a hot knife.

For measures see: http://warre.biobees.com/frames.htm

If you leave too much space, you get a lot of burr comb. This is true for the gap between boxes, too. Burr comb makes life difficult and slows you down significantly when working the boxes. (In fixed comb boxes you don't have that problem, because bees do build comb down close to the topbar of the lower box and keep the bee space by themselves.) I would say, burr comb by wrong measurements doubles the time you need to work a hive. So frame hives need to be build very accurately.

Bernhard
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I calculate the spacing used in the Russian 'Alpine' Hive as follows:

300mm - 12mm (to remove 1 x 6mm bee-space from either end) = 288mm
288mm divided by 8 (the number of frames) = 36mm spacing

When using frames, Warre used a different sized box with 9 frames.


One other consideration when using self-spacing frames is the build-up of propolis which, when it accumulates and hardens, will widen the spacing.
The solution is either to clean-off the frame contact areas regularly, or allow for this in advance by making the spacing 0.5-1.0mm undersize. I find that in practice bees are fairly tolerant of spacing, and for me burr comb has never been an issue.

I think Michael Bush's 32mm is realistic, for his bees - although I think the comb spacing/ cell size relationship described in the OP is reversed - and that it is the cell size (and thus the size of emerging bee) which determines the appropriate spacing for those bees. The whole comb-spacing/ cell-size relationship is in the nature of one being a function of the other, for combs are built by the bees using their own bodies as tools of measurement, and as the bee size decreases, the natural spacing between combs also decreases.

Although the 'bee-space' is frequently viewed as having some fixed value - bees actually vary in size, and thus the dimensions of the 'bee-space' will vary accordingly.

Colin
BBC
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Bees build Brace Comb for a reason, not just to be bloody-minded.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1486
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bees in my Warré always join the comb to the bars underneath. I must buy myself a cheese wire for pulling between the boxes before splitting them next year.
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