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Bee Space: Supering a Flow Hive & Underneath frames- Help required


I am putting the final touches on my long hive before I install a colony. I have run into a few potential issues with bee space…

i am using flow frames in my long hive- and it is also designed so it can be supered with two boxes placed on top…

In assembling everything I noticed a few things: Flow frames are slightly taller than traditional frames- so if you super a flow super- the tops of the flow frames are flush with the top of the box. In my case I hope to use a queen excluder above the flow frames. This means much of the excluder will be blocked by the frames - the amount of space where bees can travel through it will be greatly reduced.

The second issue is the ideal size supers I have designed to go on top. I think I made a mistake with the measurements I used when I made those boxes. the ideal frame bottoms are flush with the bottom of the boxes. there is no beespace there. I am thinking there should be 1 cm or therabouts of space? is it common for the bottom of frames to be flush with the bottom of a box? I am guessing - NO? If I use them as is- the frame bottoms will also touch the queen excluder below and block a lot of the surface area. Is that acceptable?

If not- It seems I might have to modify all my super boxes by adding 1cm shims along the bottoms?

As for the Flow frame issue: I guess I am in an unusual position- no-one would normally have any need for a queen excluder above flow frames. If one had two flow supers installed- the tops of the frames in the lower box would be flush witht he bottom of the upper box but there would still be a 1cm gap between there and the bottom of the upper flow frames… which would be fine I guess…

As a general rule- is it important that bees can walk over the top of the frames? I guess not as so many people use hive mats that stop bees from being able to do that.


Being a bear of little brain, I am finding it hard to understand just what you are doing.
Are you putting 2 Flow frame supers on top of one another, on top of your long hive?
Not sure why you would want a Queen excluder in between your Flow supers or on top of your top flow super.

A picture would help me here.


Langstroth boxes are what we call top bee space. The space between the boxes for the bees to walk about is over the top bars. The frames are level with the bottom of the box. So the answer is yes. There are hives such as the British National that are normally bottom bee space.
If you have space on top of the frames AND underneath the bees bridge the gap and you boxes are stuck together


Hi Jack, I would go with the 10 mil shims. Problem solved. I like a bee space, if we don’t allow a bee space, the bees will make one, provided we are using wax foundation. With plastic frames where bees can’t make their own bee space inside the frames, it’s important that we allow for a bee space, particularly so that the bees can adequately circulate the air throughout the hive.


If only manufacturers adhered to the rules!

Great post by a local Canberra beekeeper on the ACT beekeeping forum where a member (Laurie) has measured the gaps on some different brands.



Hmm- that’s interesting Dee and makes sense. I read somewhere that a little space is left under the bottom of the frames as wood boxes can shrink against the grain (horizontally) so a little space is left to account for that.

When I designed my ideal supers I went off a plan- and was surprised to find that the frames went right to the bottom of the box- I thought I’d made a mistake but your post suggests this is correct- except for some leeway for shrinkage- and it could be that my boxes actually did shrink when I hot wax dipped then- I’ll have to measure and check against my ordinal cutting plan…

As usual with bees I now have several sensible yet contradictory opinions to sort through :thinking::hugs:


Did you base your ideal boxes off imperial or metric measurements?

The imperial measurement for the box is 5 3/4 which is 146.05mm

I have seen metric measurement for ideal boxes quoted as both 144mm and 146mm which caused me some pain in some of the design stuff I’m doing. I have 2 types of ideal box here and they measure between 145.5 and 146.

The frame height I have in wood from Alliance is 137.5mm, but I have 3 different frame Heights for ‘Ideal’ here, which makes it interesting!


My ideal boxes were based on imperial measurements I found on the net. When I designed my hive I did everything in imperial as the measurements were so clean, original langstroth figures. So I did use the 5 3/4 size- however I just re-measured them and they are fractionally shorter now- they did indeed shrink around 4 mm’s when I hot wax dipped them. I also bought 100 ideal frames by Alliance- and the one I just measured is exactly 139mm… So taking into account the shrinkage my frames now go pretty much to the bottom of the box. I am still concerned that if I don’t add shims- much of the surface area of the queen excluders will be blocked by the bottom of the frames in the upper boxes?

It seems to me there is supposed to be bee space of around 4 to 7 mm beneath the bottoms of the frames- mostly to account for future box shrinkage? But also as @JeffH says for the bees?

The same thing happened with my hoop pine flow hives- after I hot wax dipped them the acrylic windows no longer fit- I had to take off 1.5 mm off each top edge of the acrylic in order to get them in. The boxes had shrunk vertically- but not horizontally… (grain runs horizontally). When I made my own long hive windows- I cut the rebates for the acrylic windows a few mm oversized to account for this shrinkage and it worked perfectly. My guess is the same thing is likely to happen over time to any wooden box?