Frame Spacing and 9 frames in 8 frame box

I was thinking of doing the same thing Another frame fits in perfectly and there appears enough room to accommodate with no problems to remove with the proper tool. Waiting for my bees.

It’s easy enough to shave the end bars down with a plane.

Here is what the bees built:

and what it measured:

I wen to narrow spacing because it was what the bees would do. They did it in my top bar hive when I had 1 1/2" (38mm) spacing, they did it in my top bar hive when I had 1 3/8" (35mm) spacing, so I decided to do what they wanted. I did not invent the idea, of course the bees did, but neither am I the first beekeeper to do it. Quite a few historic quotes on the subject here:


If you measure all across the natural comb…you will see that quite a bit of it is wider than 3 cm.
I know that in an empty hive…when you put in the frames it is easy to fit an extra one…but after the bees have used it a bit…some of the comb will be wider especially at the top of the comb where they like to store honey. So whereas to begin with the extra frame is ok…you will soon struggle to put it in when the colony matures.

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That is good to know.

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Forget the Langsroth invention, make room for the Busso invention from now one. May people still be talking about this in 160 years time :slight_smile:

Not my invention but thanks for the thought.

I adopted using 9 frames after reading the discussion @Michael_Bush started. He made sense in solving my bracing comb problems.
The only thing I changed was, the frames at both ends were reduced in width a lot to about 25mm rather than reducing all frames a small bit. The reason I did this was I was dealing with a working hive. The two frames on the outside had only honey (no eggs or larvae ) and by removing them and replacing them I did not disturb the whole hive. In fact it would probably not have been possible to reduce the size of all frames without destroying the hive unless carried out over many months.

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Why use a dummy board when you could use a 25mm frame against the side .[quote=“jape, post:19, topic:5691”]
A good hive has 50-90 frames.

At 8 frames a box you are saying a good hive has 6 to 11 boxes. You obviously carry a step ladder around or your very very tall. :astonished:

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Hi Busso, I have absolutely no problems with 9 frames in 10 frame boxes for the brood. I found the spacing of 8 frames in the Flow brood boxes to be identical to the spacing of 9 frames in a 10 frame box. You always find that if you get the spacing even the first time, the bees will put propolis around the frame lug which makes it easier next time you replace frames. I’m always using those propolis marks when replacing frames in the brood OR honey super, for that matter.

Anyway, that’s what works for me, I have no intention of changing my method.

From yours & Lorne’s point of view, as well as other new beekeepers, it’s always good to know alternative ways of doing things.

The main thing now is: your learning from experience, not everything you read in books or online forums.


And that is exactly the problem. Brood comb is not that wide, only honey comb. If the brood comb is spaced correctly then there is no honey protruding.

I understand what you are saying but the honey arc is their stores so why would you limit it? As winter approaches the bees can store more honey per frame. Also…unless you use poly hives…wooden ones are not warm enough for brood in the outside frame in many parts of the world. I find that the bees put their stores in the outside frame.

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I don’t limit it. They can store as much honey as they want wherever they want. But as far as why I would want smaller spacing rather than larger:

“If we space the combs from center to center 1 1/2 (38mm) inches, instead of 1 3/8 (32mm), then we have an empty space of 5/8 inch (16mm) between two combs of brood instead of 1/2 (13mm), as it ought to be; and it will certainly require more bees to fill and keep warm a 5/8 (16mm) than a 1/2 inch (13mm) space. In a 1/2 inch (13mm) space, the breeding bees from two combs facing each other will join with their backs, and so close up the space between the two brood combs. If this space is widened to 5/8 (16mm) the bees cannot do this, and more bees will be required to keep up the needed brood-rearing temperature. What a drawback this would be in a cool spring, when our colonies are still weak in numbers, yet breeding most desirable, can readily be understood.”–Julius Hoffman

“…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

“I have found it to be just that conclusion in theory that experiment proves a fact in practice, viz: with frames 7/8 of an inch (22mm) wide, spaced just a bee-space apart (between 6 and 9.5mm), the bees will fill all the cells from top to bottom with brood, provided deeper cells or wider spacing, is used in the storage chamber. This is not guess-work or theory. In experiments covering a term of years. I have found the same results, without variation, in every instance. Such being the fact, what follows? In answer, I will say that the brood is invariably reared in the brood-chamber – the surplus is stored, and at once, where it should be, and no brace-combs are built; and not only this, but the rearing of drones is kept well in hand, excess of swarming is easily prevented, and, in fact, the whole matter of bee-keeping work is reduced to a minimum, all that is required being to start with sheets of comb just 7/8 (22mm) of an inch thick, and so spaced that they cannot be built any deeper. I trust that I have made myself understood; I know that if the plan indicated is followed, beekeeping will not only be found an easier pursuit, but speedy progress will be made from now on.”–“Which are Better, the Wide or Narrow Frames?” by J.E. Pond, American Bee Journal: Volume 26, Number 9 March 1, 1890 No. 9. Page 141


I find that the honey arc is built out a bit on my frames but the bee space in the honey arc is very narrow…perhaps one bee space…whereas the bee space in the brood area is a little wider…I am presuming that is because they need the room to work back to back. I use Hoffman frames, where the spacing is preordained. I’m not questioning the spacing. I am questioning why make it narrower. Do the bees actually make brood on the frame with the smaller bee space?

No. It’s because they have to build brood comb a fixed thickness. If you set the spacing at 32 mm and the brood comb is 21mm then that leaves 11mm. If you set the spacing at 38mm and the brood comb is 21mm that leaves 17mm. The bees have no choice in how thick the brood comb is. It has to be the right thickness to raise brood in. They can, however, make honey comb as thick or thin as they like. So the space between surfaces of brood comb was determined by the Hoffman end bars on your frames, NOT by the bees.

I have done bees in box hives, had brood nests in feeders and played with top bars of various widths for decades. The bees want brood to be 32mm. Your hoffman spacers are 35mm. 35mm can work fine, but the uneven surface of the comb is the result as well as taking more bees to cover the brood. The wider spacing also incites them to build larger diameter cells.

Also the thickness is driven somewhat by cell size. Here is a chart from Baudoux’s research:
According to Baudoux (note this is the thickness of the comb itself and not the spacing of the comb on centers)

Cell Size Comb width
5.555 mm 22.60 mm
5.375 mm 22.20 mm
5.210 mm 21.80 mm
5.060 mm 21.40 mm
4.925 mm 21.00 mm
4.805 mm 20.60 mm
4.700 mm 20.20 mm
ABC XYZ of Bee Culture 1945 edition Pg 126

So you are saying that all the Hoffmann are too wide…and should be thinner at the shoulders…so the comb is 32 mm from centre to centre. So why do the manufacturers still make the Hoffmans too wide…I’m going to measure mine tomorrow!!!
Although I have to say that the comb is all straight and and aligned except for the slightly thicker top edge on some of the frames.

Why do manufacturers make foundation with cells that are 150% larger then they should be for worker comb? Because at some point someone decided what they thought was the best thing for the bees whether it was or not, and it’s just still being done because that’s how it was always done. I think most things in regard to how we do things are because of the beekeeper not because of the bees.

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