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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Hello guys,

    I've been lurking for a while, and think it's finally time to start contributing... Of course, my first "contribution" is a question, but I have to start somewhere, right

    I've used 10-frame stuff up until this point (one whole season ), but now I'm going to switch to 8-frame. At the same time, I want to regress the bees to natural (~4.9mm cell). I have new packages coming, and I want to start them out right.

    One thing I am considering doing is bringing the frames to 1 1/4" spacing. However, if I plane the frames down a bit, then the top bars are too close. I have heard that the bees can make do, but I hate to stack the deck against them.

    So, here's the question: Is it better (for regressed cell size) to have too-close top bars, or too-wide comb spacing? Or should I just stop being lazy and modify the frames?

    Thanks very much,
    wanderyr

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    I've run hives both ways, normal width Top Bars with narrow End Bars and with both narrower. The bees don't seem to care either way, but when the Top Bars are wider; two things, the bees sometimes propolize them together and there isn't enough room to easily fit my fingers in, in order to grip the frames -- it seems that bee space is more than just "bee space". I'm working now to convert all of my frames to the narrower End Bars and Top Bars.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,071

    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    On new wooden frames, I've started trimming the top bar before assembly. You can easily take 1/32" off each side or even more if you want. Frames don't really need that indent where the end bar spacer fits into the top bar. I have some old frames with 7/8" top bars like that. Whatever works as long as the thing still fits together. 1/16" increase in gap should be quite sufficient to eliminate propolis.

    I also trim PF-100 and 120 frames but those top bars are easily narrow enough to not cause any problems.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    The need to get between the frames so they don't really have a motivation to connect the top bars even if they are a little below beespace. I do it all the time.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Wow, I'm honored! Immediate replies from three of the heavy-weights Thanks guys.

    It sounds like what I would like to do is assemble new frames, after narrowing down the top bars (and spacers) and cutting a bevel into them to assist in natural comb alignment (thanks Mr. Bush for that idea).

    So far I've only used pre-assembled frames. I guess now's a good time to learn, eh? I'm a little nervous, though: I assembled some supers last year (for top-feeder inserts) and they didn't come out as square as I wanted. Oh, they were square around the periphery, but the were warped a bit with two opposite corners sitting lower than the other two... Know what I mean? Who knows how my frames would turn out

    Is there a trick to this, or does it just take practice?

    Here's my preliminary regression plan. If you're willing, I would sure appreciate a sanity check!

    Here goes: I'll start out new packages on ML PF-120's, wait until a generation or two has come out of the 120's, then start inserting my foundationless frames. I believe that the drawn 120's will provide nice guides to keep the newly-built comb straight. I'm also considering cutting some lower corners out ot the 120's to give space for drone comb. My thought is that this will keep the girls from building a lot of drone cells in the first foundationless frames I give them.

    Eventually, I'll have worked the 120's out of the hives, and can use them to assist regression in future hives (or my existing Rite-Cell hives).

    Does this sound good? Is there anything I'm missing?

    Thanks again,
    wanderyr
    Last edited by wanderyr; 02-13-2012 at 09:37 AM. Reason: corrected meaning

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    >It sounds like what I would like to do is assemble new frames, after narrowing down the top bars (and spacers) and cutting a bevel into them to assist in natural comb alignment (thanks Mr. Bush for that idea).

    You can just buy foundationless frames from Walter T. Kelley and they will have the bevel. You can just shave the end bars and forget the rest.

    >So far I've only used pre-assembled frames. I guess now's a good time to learn, eh? I'm a little nervous, though: I assembled some supers last year (for top-feeder inserts) and they didn't come out as square as I wanted. Oh, they were square around the periphery, but the were warped a bit with two opposite corners sitting lower than the other two... Know what I mean? Who knows how my frames would turn out

    A jig is very nice to have for making frames. Walter T. Kelley makes one.

    >Is there a trick to this, or does it just take practice?

    The jig makes it all go much faster...

    >I'll start out new packages on ML PF-120's, wait until a generation or two has come out of the 120's, then start inserting my foundationless frames. I believe that the drawn 120's will provide nice guides to keep the newly-built comb straight.

    Especially if you put the empty frames between two brood combs.

    > I'm also considering cutting some lower corners out ot the 120's to give space for brood comb.

    I assume you mean drone. I wouldn't worry about it. As soon as you give them foundationless they will make up that deficiency.

    > My thought is that this will keep the girls from building a lot of brood cells in the first foundationless frames I give them.

    (assuming drone again) But how is that a bad thing? They need drone comb. They build drone comb...

    >Eventually, I'll have worked the 120's out of the hives, and can use them to assist regression in future hives (or my existing Rite-Cell hives).

    If you keep the wax moths out of them...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Yes, I meant drone. It was late when I typed that up I've corrected the post.

    Thanks, Mr. Bush, that's exactly what I was looking for.

    Anything else, anyone?

    Thanks!
    wanderyr

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Pisgah Forest, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >
    You can just buy foundationless frames from Walter T. Kelley and they will have the bevel. You can just shave the end bars and forget the rest.
    Do you use the 1 1/4" spacing throughout the hive, or just in the broodnest area? Your book talks about 1 1/4" for worker comb, 1 3/8" for drone comb, 1 1/2" for honey storage. I'm getting ready to plane down my end bars on foundationless frames from Walter T. Kelley and was curios if I needed to plane down all of them, or just some of them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Plane them all, then they're interchangeable. You can always space them wider for honey just like regular frames.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    >Do you use the 1 1/4" spacing throughout the hive, or just in the broodnest area?

    Agree with Solomon. In theory I plane them all down and space them wider in the supers. In reality I don't always get them all done... In reality I often leave them all 1 1/4" until they are drawn.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    I've done some math, and wanted to share it:

    I have frames by two manufactures: Long Lane and Mann Lake. They are both preassembled, grooved, and came with Ritecell.

    The dimensions are identicle, except the top bar. The Mann Lake top bar is 1 x 5/16". The Long Lane top bar is a bit beefier, at 1 1/16 x 3/4".

    Trimming 1/16" from each edge of the side bars (therefore removing 1/8", turning 1 3/8" comb into [1 1/4"] comb) brings the top bars closer together. The Long Lane top bars are now 3/16" apart, a bit under beespace. The Mann Lake top bars are 1/4" apart, which is generally acceptable.

    So, any other frame with 1" top bars should work as well. I'm going to call Walter T Kelley and ask. I would like to use their foundationless frames.

    On the other hand, I'd prefer to have the frames preassembled. Which would make the Mann Lake's the better choice, since I can shave the side bars and feel good about leaving the top bars alone.

    Take care,
    wanderyr
    Last edited by Solomon Parker; 02-26-2012 at 03:19 PM. Reason: Corrected measurement

  12. #12
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    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    By the way, in either case, both the wide and narrow sections of the side bars need to be trimmed. If only the upper wide part is trimmed, the lower area squeezes down to 5/32. This would keep the bees from being able to move sideways from the frames...

    (ps thanks Solomon for the edit)
    -wanderyr

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    When I build frames from scratch I try to take all the proper measurements into account. When I'm using commercial frames, I just shave the part that touches on the end bars and call it good. It has not caused issues.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Hi! A few months have passed... I have some 8-frame mediums, and a bunch of 1 1/4" frames. I trimmed down PF-120's for initial regression, and trimmed some wooden foundationless frames ready to swap in as needed. My packages arrive next week.

    When I installed my first two packages into 10-frame deeps last year, I didn't do anything special. Delayed (marshmellow) release, Ritecell frames, entrance feeder, entrance reducer. Both hives settled in well.

    This time, I'm worried about them absconding. Maybe I shouldn't be. But, here are my reasons:
    1) I understand the bees don't take to PF-120's very well.
    2) An 8-frame medium seems so small!

    I'll use a small entrance, and spray the PF-120's with syrup. Is there more I should do? Perhaps a queen excluder to keep her home? Or should I start with two mediums of undrawn PF-120's?

    Or should it work just fine?

    Thanks for any advice,
    wanderyr

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    You can do an excluder as an includer if you like, but in my experience even if the queen is caged they will move next door if they don't care for her. That's been my problem. I install packages in five frame mediums when I don't have drawn comb and they do great. You have to move them into something bigger in two weeks, but they really take off.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,318

    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Quote Originally Posted by wanderyr View Post
    . . . I understand the bees don't take to PF-120's very well.
    I've never heard this, or experienced it. I use PF120's regularly, sometimes with added beeswax, sometimes not. They're always accepted well, and with added beeswax they're drawn out even faster than without.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    [QUOTE=wanderyr;755663]Wow, I'm honored! Immediate replies from three of the heavy-weights Thanks guys. /QUOTE]

    What reason do you have to put your faith in these three guys, who have just popped up on the internet in the last few years, to sway you from a spacing used succcessfully for decades by millions of people? I am always surprised how easily people are ready to take the word of some person making posts on a message board. Do we really know that these "heavy weights" are correct in their proposal that a 1/16" difference in frame spacing, and .03mm cell size spacing, will make a noticeable difference in our success as beekeepers? I have tried both for years and yet to see a reason to modify all of my equipment.

  18. #18
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    Feb 2012
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Fair enough, odfrank! Of course, I consider you to be one of the heavyweights, as well Among other things, your swarm-catching skills are legendary! I'm just starting out, have had bees for a year, and all of you have much more experience than me.

    I'm of the general philosophy that nature takes care of herself, and has feedback-and-control systems so robust that we should learn to model from her. (sorry for my choice of words; I'm an electrical engineer )

    When I read that 4.9mm cells were more "natural", and that we had caused bees to grow bigger than that for our sake, I was already feeling uneasy about it. I truly don't know that it's causing any problems. It seems possible to me that varroa would do better in a hive of larger bees, since they certainly prefer the larger drones in any hive you give them. But even if this isn't true, who knows what other effects the larger size has (if any?)

    So, when researching it, I came across Mr. Bush first, and then this forum, with all of the knowledge offered here.

    I'm not dogmatic; I don't know if there will be any perceivable difference. However, even if all is equal, I'd prefer the bees to be the size they evolved (or were created) to be. I only have a handful of hives, two with standard 10-frame deeps, and two with 1-1/4 8-frame mediums. It hasn't been a lot of work modifying components, and it's no additional work once the first season has gone by... I'll expand by increasing numbers of both types, and do some data collection! Eventually, I'll decide which type to go with.

    So, I just realized that I'm begging the question regarding 4.9mm actually being more natural! If it's not, then all this effort was unnecessary I'll start researching deeper.

    So, here's a question. Would I be wise to put a drop of LGO in my brand new hives (with PF-120's) before installing the packages? Or is it only good for swarm baiting?

    Thanks, all of you, for everything!
    -wanderyr

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    >Would I be wise to put a drop of LGO in my brand new hives (with PF-120's) before installing the packages? Or is it only good for swarm baiting?

    With brand new equipment it might tip the scale on a package that was considering absconding. With used equipment I don't think it would make any difference. I have used it on a newly hived package that seemed to be contemplating leaving (all of them were hanging on the front of the hive and only a few were in it) and it seemed to tip the scale and they moved back in.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
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    Pisgah Forest, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Cell size regression and comb spacing

    Ok so I'm getting ready to add a second box to a couple of my hives. 9 Frames in an 8 frame box shaved to an 1 1/4" wide. At what point in time (after how many boxes) would I revert to 8 frames in a box spaced wider apart?

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