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  1. #1
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    Default Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    I noticed on this forum that the spacing between the frames/bars is quite variable in topbar hives, tbh, warré..., from 1.25 inch or 3.175 cm wide for brood bars and 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) or more (5cm) for honey frames

    Some Warre-ists install 7 frames (4.85 cm ; 1"9) for honey and 8 (3.75 cm ; 1"47) (for the brood ?) could be thought to nine frames for the cluster (3.33 cm ; 1"31) or even 10 according to TBH-ists dimensions
    I saw the same, with the additional variation of the building (hot / cold), on the Voirnot 4X4 beehive

    In short, is there a real advantage to choose different gauges other then standard trade racks? closer for the brood or queen rearing? or even prevention of swarming? or conversely ?
    and there would be an advantage or a disadvantage to cross the frames example building on 8 or 9 (hot) and cross a 7 frame super?

    tropically yours

  2. #2

    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    one thing I have noticed about beekeepers is that most of us, to some extent, are incorrigible experimentalists.

    Warre himself was an experimentalist having tried and used over 300 hives in his own time before creating his "peoples hive"

    I build every one of my warre boxes to fit exactly 8 bars with 3/8" bee space separating them. no variations.

    but, I can see the interest in experimenting with 7 bars to get them to draw out the honey bars wider.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    OK well people can do what they want, but if you let the bees build and space their own combs naturally, where they want, the spacing is dependent on cell size.

    So, bees that build a cell size of, for example, 5.3 mm's, would space the combs wider apart than bees building a cell size of 4.7 mms. This is simply because the larvae are smaller. However in a hive such as a top bar we cannot regulate cell size it depends not just on the bees level of regression, but also on the strain, the bees decide.

    So for practicle purposes, if we are going to use a moveable comb hive we must accept that we cannot have it EXACTLY how the bees would want it, as we have to be able to move the combs, but we can go as close to nature as we can. So, in the brood area 33mm wide bars is best, it is aproximate to what most bees can work to in a brood nest. The honey storage area can indeed be spaced out quite considerably, too, if you want, 42 mm per bar. But that's only if you want good thick combs a smaller width can be used also.

    In fact, most TBH's are run a bit different than those measurements, because the hive is designed for the convenience of the beekeeper, it is not really practicle to have different widths of top bar. But bees are adaptable and can handle most of this type of thing, but it's still good to be as close as we can to their preference.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    The same spacing variations exist in framed hives. Voirnot recommended different spacing than Hoffman (which is the current standard North American frame-space) which is different from Manley (common in UK) which is different from...

    They all fit within the 32-38mm span (center-to-center), though, so it's probably okay to settle anywhere in that range that your whimsy takes you.
    The World Beehive Project - I build one of every popular beehive in the world!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    In fact, most TBH's are run a bit different than those measurements, because the hive is designed for the convenience of the beekeeper,
    now, don't take this personal, but, I am going to disagree with you on this.

    A tbh is designed to allow the bees more control of the comb and cells. The tbh is designed to give the bees a 'next best thing' experience to being in a log or tree limb or even porch roof, some type of horizontal location, etc...

    The only "convenience" a tbh offers the beekeeper is that the beekeeper doesn't have to lift heavy boxes.

    the removable frames and box management style of the lang is where the beek conveniences are and Mr Langstroth has acknowledged that much in his writings.

    the bees determine the comb width and cell sizes in a top bar system pretty much as they would in a feral hive seeing as the top bars form a solid ceiling over them. we beekeepers try to manipulate the combs being drawn straight with the top bars by using comb guides underneath the top bars.

    In some ways, top bar beekeepers experience less convenience in terms of management as tbh's require more attention in watching for cross comb and preventing the hive becoming honey bound.

    Warre hives with consistent spacing measurements will allow the bees to determine how wide to make comb as they build each comb, as you said, to accommodate for cell sizes and purpose. Some combs will be wider and expand perhaps beyond the width of the bar. Others may be not as wide as the top bar, all in the same box.

    just my 2 cent.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbearomaha View Post
    now, don't take this personal, but, I am going to disagree with you on this.
    Big Bear
    Nothing personal at all, take it easy Bubba!

    I don't even dissagree. Yes, the Langstroth is designed around beekeeper convenience, as you say. And so is the TBH, in that the combs can be moved. Nothing wrong with that! It's a good thing.

    Kinda. Because when we determine the width of the top bar, then put a strip of wax, or whatever, down the middle of it for the bees to start building on, we are "forcing" the bees to build their comb where we want it. For our convenience.

    That it why we put strips of wax etc down the middle of the comb, so the bees do not build the comb where they would have preferred. But is that a bad thing? No. Long as we do it right, and judge the spacing correctly, so it suits the bees, we can have what is convenient for the bees, AND what is convenient for us. That is why I gave the measurements in the last post. Just a lot of people don't understand this and hives are sometimes designed wrong.

    Paraplegic Racehorse - Good post, and the measurements you gave are correct, or at least workable. But just narrower for the brood area, and wider (if you want) in the honey area.

    But it pains me, to see hives (and this is all too common) where the brood combs are too widely spaced. Usually the beekeeper is newish, sees bees coming and going, and thinks everything is fine. But he/she doesn't realise the disruption the wide spacing is causing inside the hive.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Santa Clara, CA
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    38

    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    my current 10 frame hive came with 9 frames in the brood nest (which i am trying to remedy), but what are the problems that this sort of spacing causes in there?

    Sorry to hijack the thread :)

    -tmk

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    What kind of hive is it ( TBH, Lang, etc) & what are the frame spacings at the moment?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Santa Clara, CA
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    38

    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    sorry, forgot this was the TBH area. It's a standard 10-frame lang setup. I noticed 3 weeks after i got it (bought as a complete hive) that the full-deep hive body only had 9 frames in it.

    doh.

    The frames were more or less spaced evenly given the available space. I have since pushed them together as much as possible, leaving the extra space at the outside. There was enough burr comb and bulging honey cells to make it so some of the frames did not go all the way together.

    -tmk

  10. #10

    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    take it easy Bubba
    Hey!! Who told you my other name?

    heh heh

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    Quote Originally Posted by tmk View Post
    sorry, forgot this was the TBH area. It's a standard 10-frame lang setup. I noticed 3 weeks after i got it (bought as a complete hive) that the full-deep hive body only had 9 frames in it.

    doh.

    The frames were more or less spaced evenly given the available space. I have since pushed them together as much as possible, leaving the extra space at the outside. There was enough burr comb and bulging honey cells to make it so some of the frames did not go all the way together.

    -tmk
    OK well it's the top bar area, although the thread is about comb spacing, so it's semi on topic I'm sure these nice folks will excuse us for a post or two !

    In my own langs, I run 9 frames to a brood box. That's because 10 frames fit, but it's a tight fit. When you pull that first comb out you risk injuring bees, even the queen. What i do, is run 9, pushed to the middle with a small gap at each side of the box. That way the spacing is correct. To work the hive, I stick my hive tool in and seperate the combs widely, so the first one to come out does not roll bees over or anything like that, no risk to the queen. After I've looked at that comb it gets leaned on the outside of the hive, to leave a wide gap for taking other combs out without damage.
    For the brood area I run two deeps, with 9 combs each. That is more than any queen can lay, there is no advantage in having 10. BTW for the honey boxes, I run 8 frames, evenly spaced across the box so the bees pull them out wide, which makes for easy uncapping.

    Now all that's been said, out of respect for the TB forum, if there's any other discussion about langs, might pay to start a thread in the general area.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    I've tried them all. In my experience in a top bar hive they will space the combs 1 1/4" (32mm) in the brood area regardless of what size your bars are. In my experience they will space the honey 1 1/2" (38mm) regardless of what you space the bars. So I gave up fighting them and made the bars half and half with a few spares. But the compromise between the two sizes is 1 3/8" (35mm). I prefer to just not fight them. Another solution is make them all 1 1/4" and make a bunch of 1/4" spacers.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
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    May 2010
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    Arbovale, West Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I've tried them all. In my experience in a top bar hive they will space the combs 1 1/4" (32mm) in the brood area regardless of what size your bars are. ...
    Thanks Michael. I do have a few questions: when I started with my TBH I went with the 1 1/4" bar. After installing the package it became clear that they wanted more room. They built the first comb right down the bar along the guide. The two neighbors where biased away from the guide, in the direction away from the first comb. Etc. So I added 1/8" spacers, but still they did this, until they started crossing bars.

    I also noticed that they store honey at the top, and have brood in the middle and towards the bottom of a single comb. The comb thickness thus varies on the same comb. Is this normal, or is this a characteristic of a new hive?

    Also, how many generations will it take for the bees to revert to a smaller size? And how should I manage the transition?

    Sorry, lots of questions. But I'm sure I know less now than when I started!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Frame Spacing in Warre (or TBH)

    >Thanks Michael. I do have a few questions: when I started with my TBH I went with the 1 1/4" bar. After installing the package it became clear that they wanted more room. They built the first comb right down the bar along the guide. The two neighbors where biased away from the guide, in the direction away from the first comb. Etc. So I added 1/8" spacers, but still they did this, until they started crossing bars.

    That is the point. The bees will do what they want you need to adjust to it. If they want to build thicker comb, add wider bars. If they want to build skinnier comb, add narrower bars. Or add spacers when they want more and not when they want less. Errors accumulate and they will get further off if you don't correct things.

    >I also noticed that they store honey at the top, and have brood in the middle and towards the bottom of a single comb. The comb thickness thus varies on the same comb.

    True.

    >Is this normal, or is this a characteristic of a new hive?

    Normal.

    >Also, how many generations will it take for the bees to revert to a smaller size?

    It's not generations that regress them, it's turnovers of comb. Large comb will not quickly get smaller. It needs to be swapped out for foundationless frames or small cell foundation.

    How many turnovers of comb will it take? It varies by the bees. Some will build the core of the brood nest in the 4.7mm range right off the bat. Some may take as many as four turnovers.

    > And how should I manage the transition?

    Measure the cells size and mark it on the top bar. Try to move the larger cells to the outsides of the brood nest. Pull them when they are empty. Feed empty bars into the core of the brood nest, especially during the big spring buildup when they are building brood comb.

    >Sorry, lots of questions. But I'm sure I know less now than when I started!

    Now you are starting to know what you don't know... which is a start...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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