9 Frame Spacer in 10 Frame Box

Does anyone use the 9 frame Spacers in a 10 frame box? That means only 9 frames in the box. How best to space 10 frames?

I use it for comb honey supers, but not in the brood boxes. Too much wonky comb if used with brood frames.

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I always use 9 frames in 10 frame supers for brood and honey. I space them out evenly, including a small space on the sides. The bees will put propolis around the frame lugs, which makes it easy when replacing them. I use all foundation frames. I don’t get any issues with wonky comb that way. I always find it easier to pull the first brood frame out to inspect while using 9 frames in 10 frame supers.


Interesting, you don’t have less bees by losing that one frame? Hmm i wonder how it is for efficiency. Do bees have more room then?

Yes it seems to be efficient in my climate. I think it gives the bees more room for fanning & air conditioning the hive. I get very strong colonies by using 9 frames. The biggest swarm I collected last year came from someone’s flow hive, single 8 frame brood. Two months later the colony was strong enough to swarm again. The trick is to use properly fitted wax foundation, then make sure that the bees have done a good job drawing those frames into a very high % of worker comb.

Always push all the frames tight together in the middle if running ten frames in a ten frame brood box. If you want 9 frames in the supers, it works better with drawn comb. Honey comb varies in thickness. Brood comb does not. But the honey portion of a brood comb does. So with 9 frames in a 10 frame brood box you end up with very uneven comb. In a super you end up with thick comb that is easier to uncap.


When you say “with 9 frames in a 10 frame brood box you end up with very uneven comb”, I have not found that to be the case during the 30 years of doing it. I keep the frames evenly spaced, maybe that’s why. On top of that, I’ve always used foundation, except for one brief period about 6 years ago when I started using foundationless. I quickly gave that up.


Even at 35mm spacing you get somewhat uneven comb. It only gets worse as you space it further apart. I’ve never seen it fail to be uneven. Maybe you’re so used to seeing uneven comb you don’t recognize even comb…

“…if the space is insufficient, the bees shorten the cells on the side of one comb, thus rendering that side useless; and if placed more than the usual width, it requires a greater amount of bees to cover the brood, as also to raise the temperature to the proper degree for building comb, Second, when the combs are too widely spaced, the bees while refilling them with stores, lengthen the cells and thus make the comb thick and irregular–the application of the knife is then the only remedy to reduce them to proper thickness.”–J.S. Harbison, The bee-keeper’s directory pg 32

The brood part is nice & straight. The honey above the brood can be a bit wavy. I can live with that. It still make inspecting the brood much easier with 9 frames. A little bit of wonky honeycomb is easily fixed, if it’s going to cause an issue while returning the frame.

The trouble you can have with tight brood frames is when you remove the first frame that has a chunk of drone comb on the bottom, that drone comb rolls & kills bees & possibly the queen while lifting it up.

When I first started out, I was aware that some beekeepers used 10 frames & some used 9. I quickly settled on 9 after experiences as described.

hi jeff do you use a 9 frame spacer tool, or you just guess the spacing

Hi Charlie, I space the frames out by eye. I leave about 3mils between the frame shoulder & the hive wall, then 3 mils between the frame shoulders. Then I even it all up before placing the QX or hive mat, whichever is the case.

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Instead of going with 9 frames why don’t you get a slatted rack? There are more benefits to it, and you don’t lose a frame.

I like 9 frames in 10 frame supers for brood as well as honey. I simply like 9 frames because it makes removing the first frame much easier & less risky of killing the queen. I have around 50 hives, so I’m in no rush to start building slatted racks for them.


I saw a guy at the local bee keepers meeting use a frame spacing tool. It looked like an oversized hair comb (not honey comb :crazy_face:) hand made from wood.

Or you can purchase plastic ones online that looks like this:

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This is standard equipment in most commercial hives in my area…used in FD Langstroth hives…I couldn’t do without them.

Nine-Frame Spacer Rests

They cost $.60 each…2 per super…an investment you won’t regret. Available also in 8 frame spacing for the guys who run 8 honey frames in a 10 frame super.

Photo below shows a brood box with a 1 kg New Zealand package setting up shop after 2 weeks of installation…frames are perfectly aligned. Note the fresh white wax…a sheet of 5 mil poly plastic and 1’ foam insulation is placed on top.

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