Compatibility Between Manufacturers
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  1. #1
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    Default Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Hi,

    New beek here (no bees yet, this spring!). I have a question... I'm wondering how compatible
    the woodenware is between manufacturers. I guess there is a 'national standard' sizes. Do I need
    to worry about it, if say I buy my first hives locally (they make them here), and then later get some
    frames or hives from one of the major suppliers like Mann Lake, will everything be ok?

    One thing in particular... if you stack the hive bodies from different manufacturers (and frames too)
    on top of each other, is the spacing right - so the 'bee space' is maintained?

    Probably worded this all wrong but mostly just wonder if this is something to worry about or not.

    Also, I hope I am asking in the right place. Didn't find a thread on this, if there is one please point me to it.

    Thanks much!

    -- Thor

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    10 frame boxes are pretty uniform in length and width. What is less standard is the depth of the frame recess cut into the top edge of the box. Sometimes the depth is cut with expectation that a metal frame rest will be added, but if no frame rests are used, then of course the point where the bottom of the frame 'ears' sit is different than if metal/plastic frame rests are used.

    When it comes to 8 frame boxes, there is really no standard for the width of the box. There can be as much as 1/2" variance between manufacturers. However, with recent demise of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, the choices for woodenware are less varied now.

    Your best bet to avoid bee space issues is to pick one manufacturer and stick with them.

    [ I seem to recall that Barry produced a comparison of various manufacturers boxes some years ago, but I can't find it! ]

    .
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 11-15-2018 at 04:02 PM.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Thor, there are standard dimensions. A 10 frame deep will be 19-7/8" long by 16-1/4" wide by 9-5/8" deep. Frame rest rabbets are cut 5/8" deep. This allows the equipment to be interchanged among manufacturers. That said, there are some slight variations. If you use 7/8" thick boxes instead of the standard 3/4", things wont line up exactly. Poly equipment also has larger outside dimensions but not enough to create a gap. Nucs are a little different. 5 frame nucs can vary from 9" to 9-1/2" wide. Frames are interchangable among all same depth lang equipment.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Everything Rader said, plus the possibility of local manufactured hive bodies may shrink in height if made from non kiln dried lumber. The deep boxes should be approximately 9 5/8 over all in depth with a 5/8 deep frame rest. A bit of shrinkage on the deeps is tolerable. On mediums, however, the standard box dimension, with standard frames, leaves scant bee space between upper and lower frames. If they shrink somewhat, making them less than 6 5/8" the resulting bee space will result in bees joining them solid between boxes. Ask me how I know!

    Unless you know the critical areas to check you could be buying yourself problems with the local boxes. Not saying that is the case - they could be bang on but best be wary.
    Frank

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I keep asking who came up with this 5/8" depth rest, if we could dig him up he should be shot. If the rests were 3/4" deep one would not need an inner cover and could use a flat migratory cover, now all my migratory covers need a 3/16" strip around to give the correct bee space which is a PITA.
    Johno

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    I keep asking who came up with this 5/8" depth rest, if we could dig him up he should be shot. If the rests were 3/4" deep one would not need an inner cover and could use a flat migratory cover, now all my migratory covers need a 3/16" strip around to give the correct bee space which is a PITA.
    Johno
    It would be hard to go back now and make the change because of the conflicts it would make between frames of mixed depth boxes. I have gone to using a sheet of aluminized bubble wrap for top of upper box, then it makes no difference whether you use a flat or a rimmed top cover.

    Bees are pretty fussy if you mesh with bee space!
    Frank

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    I keep asking who came up with this 5/8" depth rest, if we could dig him up he should be shot.
    Johno
    He was clearly a sadist. I cut 5/8 rabbets on my swarm traps which have a tele top but no inner cover. Can you say frames propolized to the lid? Need to try that 3/16" strip inside the lid trick.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
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    Nov 2018
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    Centerburg, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Thor, there are standard dimensions. A 10 frame deep will be 19-7/8" long by 16-1/4" wide by 9-5/8" deep. Frame rest rabbets are cut 5/8" deep. This allows the equipment to be interchanged among manufacturers. That said, there are some slight variations. If you use 7/8" thick boxes instead of the standard 3/4", things wont line up exactly. Poly equipment also has larger outside dimensions but not enough to create a gap. Nucs are a little different. 5 frame nucs can vary from 9" to 9-1/2" wide. Frames are interchangable among all same depth lang equipment.
    Thank you. I am only looking at 3/4 ". It is hard to pick a supplier if that means a lifelong commitment
    The 'local' place I mention does sell and ship all over, it is not a tiny outfit. It is Little LaRue apiary in Mt Vernon, OH.
    It would be nice to buy locally and pick them up rather than having them shipped.

    There is another place that sells Amish made hive woodenware... I would consider them but they only sell assembled
    and I want to assemble my own and see how that all works.

    Thanks!

    -- Thor

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I looked at the website, all the 10 frame stuff is standard sized. You should ask them if they make it themselves or distribute for another manufacturer and who then if they do.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I looked at the website, all the 10 frame stuff is standard sized. You should ask them if they make it themselves or distribute for another manufacturer and who then if they do.
    They make it themselves at the shop in Mt. Vernon.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Beginning in the mid-70s, I bought more than a thousand hives of bees in used equipment. Those from all sorts of manufacturers, and plenty of home made, too. While there was a bit of difference in the size of the boxes. I didn't find that an issue. The biggest issue was top or bottom bee space. Most manufacturers use top bee space...the bee space is at the top of the box, above the top bars. Some used to use bottom bee space...the bee space is at the bottom of the box, below the bottom bars. The problem arrises when you use a top bee space box with a bottom bee space box.

    Do any manufacturers make bottom bee space boxes anymore?

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I haven't seen new bottom space boxes for sale.

    I have a bunch of old ones still in use though painted with flat house paint and heavy as could be even when empty. Old wood I guess.
    Bottom space with metal frame rests which brings the top bar of the frame nearly right up to the top edge of the box.
    All of these deep boxes 'live' together in the same yards and are the same color so they don't get mixed with other boxes
    during the early season rush when I might not be paying attention.
    Mixed them with other boxes one to many times and finally learned my lessons.

    ShinnBeesMar30 17.JPG

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by clyderoad View Post
    All of these deep boxes 'live' together in the same yards and are the same color so they don't get mixed with other boxes
    during the early season rush when I might not be paying attention.
    Mixed them with other boxes one to many times and finally learned my lessons.
    Yep

  15. #14
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    Forsyth, NC, USA
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I'm a sad Brushy Mountain guy who has ALL their equipment. 8Frame mediums except for 1 deep per hive. Mediums from either dadant or Mann Lake - is either closer to a match? Thanks all

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I've never had any major problems with mixing up different box and frame sources. The biggest issue I've run into is mixing in one piece ML plastic frames. The plastic top bars are thinner than the wooden frames. The bees always seem to build a lot of burr comb on top of the plastic frames due to the extra space above the plastic top bar. It seems to be even worse if multiple boxes are stacked with all plastic frames. Not a real big deal, just a little extra work sometimes separating the boxes. Periodic clean up scraping some of the worst burr comb off the plastic top bars will help for a while.
    To everything there is a season....

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    I've never had any major problems with mixing up different box and frame sources. The biggest issue I've run into is mixing in one piece ML plastic frames. The plastic top bars are thinner than the wooden frames. The bees always seem to build a lot of burr comb on top of the plastic frames due to the extra space above the plastic top bar. It seems to be even worse if multiple boxes are stacked with all plastic frames. Not a real big deal, just a little extra work sometimes separating the boxes. Periodic clean up scraping some of the worst burr comb off the plastic top bars will help for a while.
    Thanks Mike - thats reassuring! Heading into 3rd year and was just about to expand the apiary - so was mortified at having to switch sources. I generally stay away from plastic frames.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Something random to add, nuc widths are all over the map, from 9" as listed on the beesource "build it" site, all the way to nearly 10" from some Amish makers.
    Ask two beekeepers, get three answers

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post

    Do any manufacturers make bottom bee space boxes anymore?
    I'm not certain but I don't think they do. I wonder if that spacing was caused
    by those metal frame rests that seemed fairly standard back in the '70's. They
    raised the ears of the top bar up off the wooden rabbet, I think to reduce propolis
    build-up. During that same period, many of the end bars were flat on one side,
    where they met the adjacent frame, and tapered on the other. Again, I think this
    was for the same reason.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I think the metal rails went out of favor because it gave ideal hiding space under the frame lug for hive beetles to hide where the bees could not get at them.
    Frank

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    Default Re: Compatibility Between Manufacturers

    I use Brushy Mountain Medium Nucs and Dadant Medium 10 frames and heights seem compatible. I'm gonna miss Brushy, that's for sure
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, flood and strange weather. The bees are still alive.

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