We want to make a frame spacer this year since we can’t find one in stores near us. Just wondering how far apart do the frames need to be.
If you put them right close to touching each other you got it right, then leave equal free space at either end. They are already spaced by design.
For Langstroth frames, they are self-spacing if you put them tightly shoulder to shoulder, as @Webclan wrote. In a Flow hive (2 boxes etc from Flow), you should always have 8 frames in the brood box. There is almost space for a 9th frame, but don’t put one in unless you have shaved down the frames. The extra space in the box should be outside the outer frames, so the frames are all next to each other in the middle of the box.
If you want to space the frames further apart in the supers, that is different. Your profile doesn’t give your location, so I can’t suggest a local supplier [hint, hint, please fill it in!]… In the US, Mann Lake and Brushy Mountain both sell them. This is one choice:
Honestly though, if you are just doing it to make uncapping easier, you can eyeball the spacing. Once the comb is drawn, the spacing doesn’t have to be perfect - the bees will fix the bee space as they drawn it out further.
Hi Anna, in my climate (sub-tropical), I space my frames about 3mm apart. That is for the brood as well as the honey supers. I find that by getting the spacing equal at the start, the bees will put propolis around the frame lug which gives you a guide for where to replace them after your frames have been taken out.
…and i use 9 frames in my 8 frame brood box without any problems. I also had no need to shave any of the frames to get them to fit. They are a snug fit but no issues.
So, as you can see @Anna1, bees are a forgiving lot. They accept us for all our quirks and peculiarities and interference in their lives
Some people do this, as well as @SnowflakeHoney. The only problem is that the frames are really a tight fit, and the bee space isn’t quite right at the outer face of the edge frames. This means that it can be hard to lift the first frame, and you risk rolling bees which may kill them. The bee space is less of a problem, but the bees will ‘waste’ energy drawing less deep comb against the hive wall, and also if you don’t put the combs back in exactly the same order, they won’t fit easily going back in, killing more bees.
Thank you for all your replies. This is helpful.
I am unhappy that 8 frames do not fit in perfectly and there is a gap left. I agree with you - when they are too tight it is very awkward and living in a hottish climate potentially causes early swarming. I am about to make a board that will take up the extra space making 8 frames fit perfectly. I am presuming the design is so the flow supers fit snuggly above??
I don’t think so. Langstroth boxes for 8 frames have a described width of 13.75 to 14 inches. Flow went with 14 inches. I think it was to help new beekeepers lift frames without rolling bees, as the greater space at the outside edge makes maneuvering the first frame considerably easier. You can buy a smaller box and use it with the Flow boxes - the difference really isn’t noticeable. I have both, and mix and match them without even thinking about it.
The extra gap is only really an issue with undrawn frames. Once they are drawn, it just doesn’t matter any more.
I also live in a hottish climate & I find that if the frames are evenly spaced, that works out perfect. I use 9 frames in 10 frame supers for the brood which is close to the same spacing you get by evenly spacing the 8 frames in a flow brood box. I think the extra few mm’s helps the bees to circulate air more efficiently throughout the hive in hot climates.
If you space them correctly at the beginning, you’ll notice that the bees deposit propolis around the lugs, which makes it easier, I find when relocating the frames.
I have been doing what Jeff does- leaving a 2-3mm gap between frames. My thinking was: if I leave a large gap on the outer two frames the bees will build those two out fatter than the rest on the outermost faces? Which would mean if I moved them around they would stuff up the bee space with other frames?
Maybe, but if they do, the outer frames are usually honey, pollen or a few drones. All those are expendable to my mind, so if they get crushed or rolled, I am not devastated.
Anyhow, you know the answer, because you have done it yourself…
Hi Jack, sometimes they do build the frame fatter on that side, however with bees having a mind of their own, sometimes they’ll partially build the comb fatter on the outside & build a thin comb on the inside of the box to correspond with the section of the frame that they didn’t build fat.
It becomes a problem if you think you can take that frame out first. Then go ahead & try, only to find that it gets stuck part of the way up.
This kind of thing is one of the reasons I’m using a lot more foundation- the way if a single frame is out of whack - it makes the adjacent one off- and the issue cascades.
I guess harvesting frames with an uncapping knife and rotating them through the brood and honey supers- over time - you end up with a lot of lovely flat combs?
For anyone interested in brood frame spacing. It appears that the frames are evenly spaced in this flow learning video.