Buy a used jointer, bet it wouldn't set you back $2 - $300. Handy tool to have and doesn't take up much space. Runs on 110v too and safer then using a table saw.
I find regressed bees mess up PF120's and foundationless a lot less with 1 1/4" spacing in the brood nest.
But, I'm nobody's advisor.
If I had time, I would cut my PF120s down. I don't have the time, and I haven't.
As to 1 ¼" spacing, it wasn't invented by me, or by Dee Lusby.
I can't find exact measurements on the Greek basket hives, but Huber used 1 ¼" frames in the late 1700s. Many proponents over the years have used them and suggested them. Koover, more recently was a proponent. The Russians did studies on them and concluded that they had less Nosema, and more brood rearing with the narrower frames. I just think they are a good way to get small cell more quickly and, also, to get 9 frames of nice straight brood comb in my eight frame brood boxes.
"...are placed the usual distance, so that the frames are 1 9/20 inch from centre to centre; but if it is desired to prevent the production of drone brood, the ends of every other frame are slipped back as shown at B, and the distance of 1 ¼ inch from centre to centre may be maintained."--T.W. Cowan, British bee-keeper's Guide Book pg 44
"On measuring the combs in a hive that were regularly made, I found the following result, viz; five worker-combs occupied a space of five and a half inches, the space between each being three-eights of an inch, and allowing for the same width on each outer side, equals six and a quarter inches, as the proper diameter of a box in which five worker-combs could be build...The diameter of worker-combs averaged four-fifths of an inch; and that of drone-combs, one and one-eight of an inch."--T.B. Miner, The American bee keeper's manual, pg 325
If you take off the extra 3/8" on the last one this is 5 7/8" for five combs divided by five is 1.175" or 1 3/16" on center for each comb.
"Frame.--As before mentioned, each stock hive has ten of these frames, each 13 inches long by 7 ¼ inches high, with a 5/8 inch projection either back or front. The width both of the bar and frame is 7/8 of an inch; this is less by ¼ of an inch than the bar recommended by the older apiarians. Mr.Woodbury,--whose authority on the modern plans for keeping bees is of great weight,--finds the 7/8 of an inch bar an improvement, because with them the combs are closer together, and require fewer bees to cover the brood. Then too, in the same space that eight old fashioned bars occupied the narrower frames admit of an additional bar, so that, by using these, increased accommodation is afforded for breeding and storing of honey."-- Alfred Neighbour, The Apiary, or, Bees, Bee Hives, and Bee Culture...
"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 wide, spaced just a bee-space apart, 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 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
Note: 7/8" plus 3/8" (max beespace) makes 1 ¼".
7/8" plus ¼" (min beespace) makes 1 1/8".
"But those who have given special attention to the matter, trying both spacing, agree almost uniformly that the right distance is 1 3/8, or, if anything, a trifle scant, and some use quite successfully 1 ¼ inch spacing." --ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture by Ernest Rob Root Copyright 1917, Pg 669
"With so many beginners wanting to know about eleven deep frames in a 10 frame deep Langstroth brood chamber I will have to go into further details. But first this letter from Anchorage, Alaska of all places. For that is as far north as you can keep bees. He writes, I'm a new beekeeper with one season's experience with two hives. A good friend is in the same boat he had read one of your articles on "Squeezing" the bees and tried one of his hives that way result a hive full of bees and honey. This year we will have eight hives with eleven frames in the brood chamber."
"If you, too, want to have eleven frames in the brood chamber do this. In assembling your frames besides nails use glue. It' a permanent deal anyway. Be sure your frames are the type with grooved top and bottom bars. After assembling the frames, plane down the end bars on each side so that they are the same width as the top bar. Now drive in the staples. As I mentioned last month make them by cutting paper clips in half. They cost but little and don't split the wood. Drive the staples into the wood until they stick out one quarter inch. The staples should be all on one side. This prevents you from turning the frame around in the brood nest. It's a bad practice and it upsets the arrangement of the brood nest. It is being done, but it leads to chilling of brood and it disturbs the laying cycle of the queen. I am talking to beginners, but even old timers should not commit this bad practice. As for the foundation, if you use molded plastic foundation just snap it into the frame and you are ready to go."-- Charles Koover,Bee Culture, April 1979, From the West Column.
From what I have read in your posts, you have had success keeping bees on narrow sc frames. Why change if it is working for you? Yes it takes time to trim but sounds like it has been paying off for you.
The biggest reason that I would think sticking with the 1.25" spacing would be, in your case, worth it would be to sell more nucs. Over the entire apiary, that extra frame adds up to more overall material to work with and potentially stock into more nucs. A 10% gain in space (10 frame box holding 11) is a pretty good reason unto itself and the ONLY reason I would use the 1.25" spacing.
Just my .02
I'm running a mix of std and narrow frames, and the bees don't seem to care.
I don't treat for varroa, (tho I did a sugar shake once in 2011).
I don't see a difference in varroa with narrow frames as they're not a problem with my std frames either.
I quit narrowing my pf frames.
I don't think it made any difference , and I have better things to do with my time.
Most of us assume that space is valuable, I don't think it is. the brood chamber is surrounded by "insulation" I don't think that will change. we never get wall to wall brood. I run 8 frames in the bottom box, and no matter waht there is always about 2 frames of space around the cluster.
Of course if we did this, we would be without PCR analysis....devised during an LSD trip by someone that claims to have talked to an alien disguised as a glowing green raccoon (without the help of drugs).
Perhaps it is a matter of location. Here, in my present location, two medium 8-frame supers (holding 9-frames each of 1-1/4" spacing), I regularly see wall-to-wall brood, though I don't remember seeing that in any other part of the country. Though this is the only time I've gone to using 1-1/4" spacing, or small cell/foundationless natural comb.
Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 04-24-2013 at 09:17 AM.
Perhaps an aspect to explore is wasted space, not for the same reasons we think but for things like Michael Bush talks about with honey comb being extended past the plane of the brood comb. I have observed that the narrow frames are very consistent with comb depth when they're fully drawn out and laid full of brood. Again I don't have enough data to make a comparison.
Other things aside, in "honey supers" I do still spread the frames out, 9 frames in a ten frame box for instance. But it seems lately that honey is not my primary crop, nucs are.
I too have discovered my niche to be producing queens and nucs. Having a touch of OCD makes it difficult to deal with honey - too sticky/messy.
I have not yet trimmed the End Bars of any of my PF frames, but I have, once, cut myself on their sharp edges, and am thinking that freshly trimmed edges might be even sharper. Though I have several pieces of equipment that could do the job of trimming each edge 1/16". A jointer and a router table with bits that could be used to set it up as a jointer. I have cut the centers out of PF frames and inserted them into wooden frames with narrow End Bars, with excellent success.
My standard nucs are 5-frame medium, though I also produce some that are 5-frame deep, and TB nucs that are 5-frame medium (I'm afraid to produce any deep TB nucs, those larger new combs would be more prone to damage in transit).
For me, honey is a one day a year thing, like a holiday or a proctological exam.
Plastic frames are so much more useful for extracting. Spin them like a top, no blowouts.
I'm going to look at a jointer/planer this evening. With a reasonable investment, I should be able to trim a lot of frames with minimal effort and danger. The table saw makes me a little nervous trimming frames. And I could use it for other fun projects as well. I feel that the planer will also be more accurate. Every batch I do I always mess up at least one frame.
I haven't experienced the sharp edge thing.
I purchased a jointer/planer I found on Craigs List today. It works fantastically, way more efficient than the table saw and much less nerve wracking. I can do a frame in about 8.5 seconds. 210 frames makes that about half an hour's work. Not bad.
Of course the first thing I had to do was remove the safety thing.
That's only partially a "safety thing". It's primary purpose is to push the stock against the fence. A jointer indexes from the perpendicular side (hence, the spring loaded pressure against the fence), a thickness planer indexes from the parallel side.
But yes, you have to remove that to do pf frames.
With my new table saw fence system, I'm finding it worth my while to run the edge through the jointer before ripping against the fence.
It has a record too, it planed off a not insignificant portion of the previous owner's ring finger.
It came with a set of those, so it's good.
Fortunately, the frames are pretty well behaved and your fingers don't have to come too close anyway. Even with wooden frames it seems like it is a better idea to plane them after they've been assembled.
Yep, I trimmed the tip of my own right ring finger off into my jointer. The only power tool accident I've ever had. Turned the severed fingertip, bone and all into many very thin slices. Happened so fast, and the blades were razor sharp, I felt no pain at all. But my shop, then, was in an isolated area, and I was the only one around, and without a means of communication, so I had to hold the finger from bleeding with the same hand and drive using my left hand, to where my friend was, so she could then drive me to the hospital emergency room to get it stitched up.
What D Semple said, I should have been using those push blocks.