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I keep bees year-round in Minnesota. I use standard 10 frame deeps for brood chambers. Once comb is drawn - do most maintain 10 frames in brood chamber or do they move down to 9?
Any known advantages or disadvantages to either way? Any affect on winter survivability or disease?
Thanks!
 

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I say 11-frames!
(1 1/4" frames, search narrow frame beekeeping.) You get an additional frame for the brood nest and the nurse bees can keep two frames of brood warm with the close spacing.
9-frame spacing, comb is deeper and not good for brood, better for honey storage.
10-frames covers both the brood nest and storage and is interchangeable (if you use the same depth frames for both areas.)
 

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I am not a fan of 9 frames, but for different reasons. I got some old equipment with the 9 frame brackets installed on the deep boxes. So they were like that for the build up of stores. Where the extra room is there the bees tend to use it and over fill the frames. If I move those frames around that over load can get in the way and I sometimes end up with a bunch of rolled bees if I am not careful. Have been thinking about removing the brackets. Do not really see a benefit to the 9 frames in the brood chamber.

I would actually think that you would want the cluster to be tighter like what you would get with the 10 frames. But I will be taking a number of 9 frame broods into winter this year. Will see how that works.
 

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Bees will draw out the depth of the comb to suit their purpose. Brood comb will be shortened to accommodate brood. when they then want to store honey or pollen in it they will lengthen the depth again. this is what gives the white wax effect of honey being stored. Since brood comb is a set depth reducing fraems in the brood nest would be a waste of space. I have never tried the 11 fraems in the brood nest.
 

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I am not a fan of 9 frames, but for different reasons. I got some old equipment with the 9 frame brackets installed on the deep boxes. So they were like that for the build up of stores. Where the extra room is there the bees tend to use it and over fill the frames.
I agree, those brackets are terrible in the broodnest. But, understand, that they were designed for honey supers, not brood chambers.

The Hoffman self spacing comb was designed to space 10 brood combs at worker brood spacing, in a Langstroth box. Honey comb and drone comb spacing is wider. So, if you space 9 brood combs evenly in a 10 frame box, you are spacing them at honey/drone comb spacing. That's why it doesn't work.

Using 9 frames in a 10 frame box helps prevent rolling bees and queens when examining a colony. Nothing quite like crushing bees to piss a colony off, or rolling queens to insure you set back the colony. It also helps speed up the inspection, getting you into and out of the colony quickly, to lessen the disturbance.

If you're going to use 9 frame, space the frames correctly...almost touching. Leave any extra space at the sidewalls. Yes, they'll puff out the outside of the outside combs. They may even build a bit of brace comb, or if they really need them, a bit of drone. But, never worker. Then you only have to move the outside comb to the side a little, to be able to remove the second comb easily, without rolling bees and queens.

Now, as far as using 11 combs in a 10 frame box, I can't quite figure the benefit of that one. Adding another comb doesn't mean that there will be one more comb of brood in the box. Having 9 in a box doesn't mean that there will be one frame less. The size of the brood rearing cluster is what it is, and oval vertically, not horizontally. Most people use double brood chambers, so there's no reason to force the broodnest to hold 11 combs. Those that don't use 2-d, use a 1-1/2, or s-d-s configuration...which fits their climate or management better.

I have another issue with 11 combs. The self spacing shoulders have to be removed, meaning that every comb has to be hand spaced, every time you inspect the colony. I've had lots of those type frames in my operation, that I got from bees I bought in Ontario. What a pain. Can't move the frames over during an inspection. Can't use a shaker box to look for queens. Mine are almost gone, and good riddance to them.
 

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> I have another issue with 11 combs. The self spacing shoulders have to be removed, meaning that every comb has to be hand spaced, every time you inspect the colony.

If you are referring to the "self spacing" shoulders of the frame ends, the shoulders can simply be slimmed down to 1 1/4". They are still "self spacing", but at 1 1/4" instead of 1 3/8".

If you are buying conventional width frame ends and narrowing them to 1 1/4" yourself, there certainly is a time and effort penalty. If you are making your own frame components, then there is no penalty to narrow frames in manufacturing effort.
 

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Graham. ON the time issue. I built a jig for my radial arm saw . the same could be done for a table saw that cuts the shoulders to the correct distance. referenced from the notch for the top and bottom bar. It makes cutting bars to width very fast.

Sorry no camera and no photos. but imagine a board that has a block on it that fits the top and bottom bar notch on the end frame. this board is then mounted to the correct distance from the blade. to cut and end bar to width you simply drop it in the jig and pull the blade past it. turn the end board over and cut again. perfectly repeatable width cuts for end bars. I have not worked out a method to do them in mass.
 

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I use the 9 frame spacers for my brood boxes primarily for the reasons listed above. Helps prevent rolling, helps make sure things go back in exactly the way they came out (so I'm not constantly moving frames in/out towards each other every time I go in), and ensures I have some space to get my hive tool/fingers in there to pry up a propolised down frame. Also means I can pull any frame I want without having to disturb any other frame (so if I want to go straight to a middle frame, I can, without worrying about moving the others around to make enough room to get to it safely).
 

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I'm going to start a couple packages on narrow frames this year -- was going to start some swarms last year, but didn't get any.

I ran some narrow frame medium boxes last year, and the bees do very well with them. The main advantage is that when properly drawn, they are very flat, all the cells including honey storage are brood cell depth. Makes it very easy to pull frames to check on things, and the bees used some of mine for a very nice crop of brood early. When filled with honey they stay flat, unlike standard frames where the honey tends to get "thicker" than the brood area. No burr comb on the narrow frames either, except where I left them a foundationless frame to make drones in and they only partially drew it. The combs on either side "grew" out and had to be trimmed back when I extracted. Otherwise very nice.

If you do use 9 frames in a 10 frame box, push them tight together. Leaving them spaced out is asking for a mess. 9 frames in the honey supers works very well, nice fat combs that are easy to decap and probably make you a bit more honey, too.

Peter
 

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I like to draw comb with the frames shaved so 11 will fit in the box too. I winter bees on that configuration too. It seems to work fine.
 

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From the beginning, we used 9 frame spacers in brood boxes. It just seemed reasonable to have a straight shot up and down for forager traffic. We liked the advantages of speeded-up inspections afforded by that arrangement. Had we had the foresight to shave 1/8 inch off the spacing shoulders, we could have saved even more inspection time. The bees propolize the the space between self-spacing frame shoulders and that propolis must be sliced through to move that frame. There would not be propolis between the spacing shoulders with a full 1/4 inch between frames.

Walt
 
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