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  1. #1
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    Aug 2007
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    Default How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I have been rotating out 1 3/8" wide frames for two years now and I believe that my full size hives will all have narrow frames in them by Summer 2013. That should be about eight hives.

    Who else is trying to move to narrow frames?
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Are you doing this for the brood chamber or the whole hive?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  3. #3
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    Jun 2011
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    Portland, Oregon
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I'm not trying to move to narrow frames, I have already done so.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Are you doing this for the brood chamber or the whole hive?
    The narrow frames are beneficial in the brood chamber. Or at least that's what those who use them believe...
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    So what are you doing or what do you believe?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    So what are you doing or what do you believe?
    The subject / purpose of this thread is fairly clear. This thread was not intended as a conversation about what's and why's or beliefs. Go read some threads about narrow frames or read Bush's website... I'm just trying to get an idea of how many may be practicing the same technique...
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I'm planning to go to all narrow frames in the brood chambers. Right now I have two hives, one with standard frames and the other with narrow frames in two medium boxes over a deep with standard frames (picked up the wrong nuc box, I had one ready with narrow frames when I got that swarm so ended up with standard frames in the deep).

    Next spring I intend to do splits, and will replace the standard frames with narrows, and start any new swarms or packages on narrows.

    The brood looks much better on narrow frames, and the honey band at the top is the same depth as the brood rather than thicker. I suspect (although I can't prove it) that the bees will be able to cover more brood and stay warmer with less honey consumption on the narrow frames. Not that this winter is any colder than last so far -- supposed to be 70F on Monday!

    Peter

  8. #8
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    Jan 2011
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I run my frames thru the tablesaw to 1 1/4" wide before placing in service. I put a vee on top with a sharpie toward the side narrowed . I am thinking that I am going to quit running 11 though and put a follower on one side so It will be easier to start pulling them. In my opinion the narrow spacing improves the quality of the drawn comb. If I want to run them 8 to a box in a super, it won't matter once they are intially drawn.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I make mine complete, that way I get wider spacing between the top bars (which are 7/8" wide instead of 1 1/16"). I think that's better than cutting standard ones down, but I have the time and inclination and don't expect anyone else to do so. Kelley is selling narrow frames where the end bars are narrower but equal width on each side, and that might work well, although not in combination with unequal ones.

    The brood comb (and honey storage comb) on narrow frames is VERY flat, quite nice. Helped along, I'm sure, by the fact that I cross-wired them all this year after having fits with foundation bulged to one side without wires.

    I'm anxious to see how narrow frames work with a swarm, too -- I expect them to make very nice comb with lots of happy brood, unlike the swarm I got this year that was in a box with unwired frames -- still need to get in there in the spring and remove a couple frames that the bees don't want to draw out, it's bulged so far they were attaching it to the side of the brood box. That one will get tossed, I think, and replaced with a nice, flat, cross-wired foundation in a narrow frame.

    Peter

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I ordered 400 "thin" endbars, as Kelley's refer to them, this past week.
    I have a lot of my frames already cut down but having 200 more will help to tidy things up. Many of my pf-120's will be cut down and mounted in the narrow wooden frames.

    I will most likely be thinning the topbars down as well for this batch of 200 frames.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    Go read some threads about narrow frames or read Bush's website... I'm just trying to get an idea of how many may be practicing the same technique...
    I have read a lot of Michael Bush's website and I know he is in favor of keeping your equipment all the same. I too am trying to get an idea if people modify all their frames to the narrow dimension and then space them out when they are used in the supers.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I have read a lot of Michael Bush's website ...
    Perhaps you should spend more time reading and less time po....

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I too am trying to get an idea if people modify all their frames to the narrow dimension and then space them out when they are used in the supers.
    There is absolutely no benefit to having an expensive, narrow frame sitting spaced out in a honey super! The only benefit is in a brood nest.


    But go ahead Acebird, take my thread down the rat hole where so many have been taken before....
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  14. #14
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    Thumbs Up Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I ran enough frames for five deep hive bodies through a table saw this summer with a final width of about 1 3/16 inch. I can fit (barely) nine frames in an eight frame deep. Thing is, most of my bees produce a good amount of propolis, and getting the frames out is a problem because the small space you need to break the first frame loose by prying the frames apart is not there any longer. I have to pull the frame vertically to break the propolis bond and get it out. At least one frame joint has come apart while pulling it out of the hive this way. I have two widths of 8 frame hive bodies, (14" and 13 3/4"), so that makes some supers very tight. I'm buying the wider size now, so that should get better.

    I like the more compact waxwork on the narrower brood frame and do not miss the extra width of the honey and pollen storage mentioned in an earlier post, but need to go narrower or go back to standard width frames. I might trim another half-blade width on each side and see how that works. Anyone know the limit to how narrow we can go?
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  15. #15
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    Feb 2011
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    Oshawa, Ontario
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I think Ace is asking what you are hoping to accomplish in the end; I'm struggling as well.
    I have small cell bees, but I don't believe it's due to the width of the top bar or frames.
    Are you trying to reduce the energy required to maintain cluster temperature by thinner comb?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Here's my take on narrow frames:

    The spacing of brood frames in feral hives is typically 1.25", and the honey storage area at the top of the comb is the same depth as the brood. Outer combs (storage only, or drones and storage) are spaced wider.

    Two things happen when you space the frames at 1/25".

    First, since the bees only make the brood comb as deep as the larvae use, the brood comb stays the same thickness. In standard spaced frames, that means there is excess space between the frames in areas where brood is raised, and the bees will build bridge comb, drone cells, and tend to try to fill in the extra space at the ends of the comb, all of which lead to lumpy comb and difficulty getting frames in and out. They will also be more likely to draw very deep storage comb on the outer frames, ignoring the next one. That is really a pain. They draw honey storage out to bee space, but usually not evenly, which results in "keyed" frames that only fit together one way unless you cut the excess off. With narrow frames, all the cells are pretty much the same depth, and quite flat. That way the frames are more interchangeable, and you won't get anywhere near as much super-fat comb next to empty foundation.

    Second, since the space between drawn brood comb is now bee space between narrow frames, it only takes one layer of bees to cover the brood. Therefore, under ideal conditions, the same number of bees can cover nearly twice as much brood, leading to faster buildup. That single layer of bees means denser clustering too, as you have more bees in the comb and fewer between combs. There is also a reduction in air movement through the cluster, I think. Honey storage is the same depth as brood area, so the comb is pretty flat (not perfectly, bees always make it uneven in my experience), allowing one to easily remove frames without rolling bees.

    Nice flat comb, high density clusters, less stores consumption during cold weather, faster buildup, easier to remove and handle comb, what's not to like about narrow frames?

    Honey supers work better with standard frames and wider spacing once the comb has been drawn -- the bees will make the honey storage comb much thicker, which makes it easier to uncap, gives the same yield of honey with fewer frames, and better ventilation during honey curing.

    Peter

  17. #17
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    Feb 2011
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    Oshawa, Ontario
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Great answer.
    Thanks!
    Does this work with foundationless frames and/or top bars as well?
    Sounds like something to try in the spring.
    It would be nice to start a caught swarm off that way.

  18. #18
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    All my deep frames are narrow. I cut all my end bars to a 1.24" width before assembly. Any assembled frames I had were shaved down with a hand plane, as are any that I get in nucs or from other beekeepers.

    I have been running 9 in an 8 frame box, but find them a bit tight in a 13.75" box. I am going to be making follower or 'dummy' boards to divide deep boxes into two four frame nucs, and when I'm using them for only one colony, I will move the board all the way to one side and just use 8 frames in the box, allowing the board to take up some extra space.

    Adam

  19. #19
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    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    Its best to shave all frames or you have one more standardization problem with things not fitting when you need them to.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Stillwell, KS
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    645

    Default Re: How many Small Cell hobbyists are using Narrow Frames?

    I have over 3000 narrow foundationless frames in use. Work better with sc bees.

    Don

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