Three frequent questions about Beehive Frames

by Peter Sieling
Why are hive boxes wider than the sum of the frames?

Ten 1 3/8″ frames side by side fill a space 13 3/4″, cialis but the interior width of the super is 14 3/4″. That leaves a one inch space: just enough room for a forgotten piece of equipment called a “follower”, ambulance “spacing board”, sickness or “hive-dummy”. This is the same length and width as a frame and can vary from 1/4″ to 3/4″ thick, leaving a 1/4″ bee space. You pry that out first, then slide the adjacent frame into that space to loosen it. It prevented a lot of bee crushing but was just one more piece of equipment to maintain. As used today, the Hoffman style self-spacing frame isn’t self spacing. Beekeepers spread them out evenly, sometimes using only nine or even eight frames in ten frame honey supers (Don’t try this with frames of foundation because bees may build comb crossways between sheets of foundation). The bees draw the foundation out farther, leaving a bee space between combs.

The actual distance between combs in a wild bee colony will range from 1 1/4″ to 2″, closer in the brood area and farther apart in the honey storage area.

If beekeepers no longer use a spacing board, and the frames are always pushed tightly together, why not make hives narrower?

You still need a box width that is wider than the sum of the frame width. Without some lateral movement, you’ll never be able to remove frames without prying top bars off the frames and crushing bees.

In addition, if you make a different sized box from everyone else, you will not have interchangeable boxes. Used equipment isn’t worth much because but non-standard boxes aren’t worth anything.

Does the buildup of propolis and wax add to the width of the frames?

When you spread frames apart, bees will fill the spaces between the side bars. You can scrape them clean every time or just replace the frames in the same order.

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