I've built two long hives that are 48" long and fit a medium 6 1/4" foundationless frame. Glued in 45 degree champher strips top and bottom in the frames and rubbed bees wax on the points. Installed 2 NWC packages from Strachan on 4/22 and started feeding inside with a quart jar upside down with small holes in the lid. They're going thru a quart every 2 days and are bulding beautiful combs. I'm wanting to do small cells and was wondering what size they might make the first time? Would they regress themselves in steps or just what to expect? What can I do to help them?
Some people have had different results, but my experience is that they will build about 5.1mm or so cells in the brood nest and larger for honey for the first shot. According to Dee Lusby some of this is dependant on how long they were in the package because some of it is short term memory of the last cells they were building.
My next regression usually runs around 4.9mm or 4.95mm.
Just measure the brood cells across ten cells and divide by 10 to see what you are getting.
Don't mix up the combs. If they build a comb for honey storage it should stay in that part of the hive. If you move it to the brood area they will raise a lot of drones in it.
If you want to speed things along, then when you have some smaller, new, young bees, add some empty frames in the center of the brood nest for them to build. A good time is about a month after you installed the package.
According to Dee they don't build small cell well in a honey flow because they are trying to build storage cells instead of brood during the honey flow.
I have done regressions in the late summer and I've done them in early spring. I haven't done a lot in the middle of the flow, so I can't say how that works.
I have two boxes just like yours. 48 3/4" long all mediums. I plan to build some more.
I bought a lot of frames from Walter Kelly with solid top and bottom bars (no grooves) and I'm cutting the bevel on the top bar. I will give me more comb area than adding the bevel.