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Would it be worthwhile to cut my 4.9 plastic frames down to 1-1/4" width?
Will it help them with small cell?
 

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with a table saw? are the end frames parts plastic or wood?

sure why not

GG
I don't know. Those plastic frames are already pretty floppy.

What does the small cell really do? I found it caused a lot of jumbled comb with adjustment ridges and conversion to drone cells. Closer together might not make them any better. I admit I didn't give them a whole lot of opportunity to prove themselves! They are history.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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I don't know. Those plastic frames are already pretty floppy.

What does the small cell really do? I found it caused a lot of jumbled comb with adjustment ridges and conversion to drone cells. Closer together might not make them any better. I admit I didn't give them a whole lot of opportunity to prove themselves! They are history.
IMO you need to get there in more than one step.
Ideally you get a NUC or swarm that was in 4.9 then you are good to go.

if you have the standard 5.4, going to 5.1 or some partial step , then 4.9 is easier. some just do the "natural"/ Foundation Less frame and let the bees decide.

conceptually by having smaller cells the bee cluster can "Cover" more cells, then if you as well squish then together a bit you cover even more.
In spring the "cluster" will only brood up what they can keep warm, so if it is 2000 cells or 3000 cells the growth in population will be faster as they can raise more bees. Mathematically think of 9 frames in a 10 frame box, the "space" in the seem is bigger, now think of the 10 frame box with 11 frames this space is reduced so the bees when squeesed down can cover more cells, ergo faster spring growth. the 2 things together can offer even more covered cells.

I see similar results with insulated hives BTW and will be trying that path. IMO it offers the same result with out the conversion.

GG
 

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IMO you need to get there in more than one step.
Ideally you get a NUC or swarm that was in 4.9 then you are good to go.

if you have the standard 5.4, going to 5.1 or some partial step , then 4.9 is easier. some just do the "natural"/ Foundation Less frame and let the bees decide.

conceptually by having smaller cells the bee cluster can "Cover" more cells, then if you as well squish then together a bit you cover even more.
In spring the "cluster" will only brood up what they can keep warm, so if it is 2000 cells or 3000 cells the growth in population will be faster as they can raise more bees. Mathematically think of 9 frames in a 10 frame box, the "space" in the seem is bigger, now think of the 10 frame box with 11 frames this space is reduced so the bees when squeesed down can cover more cells, ergo faster spring growth. the 2 things together can offer even more covered cells.

I see similar results with insulated hives BTW and will be trying that path. IMO it offers the same result with out the conversion.

GG
Fusion_power does the narrow spacing and feels the bees brood up quicker in the spring but swarm sooner. The math is there for the smaller cells similarly but not all genetics of bees do a good job of drawing them out well. The previous forum owner figured about 20 % loss to unwanted jumble and drones with the
PF 100 series frames. Overall I quickly became disenchanted with the notion.
 

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olii2d:

I have utilized 1-1/4" frames fairly consistently the last few seasons in both a 4.9 mm foundation and foundationless setting and have had fairly good success getting straight comb drawn out- at least in the core of the broodnest. During this same time I have run colonies with mixed narrow and standard frames as well.

That said, I am not convinced (based on my limited personal experience and research I've read) that it confers a statistically-relevant benefit- at least in my locale.

Part of this is anecdotal in that I also have some top-bar Warre colonies in the yard that fairly consistently draw comb out at approximately 1-1/2" centers and a 5.2 mm worker cell size when given the option.

Other than that, there are three practical aspects of narrow-frame beekeeping that are undesirable (to me):

1. It is a lot of work- it takes a fair bit of time (and more than average skill) to successfully rip the end bars down. I have also taken the added step of shaving the top bar down too, but it seems like they can manage without it (at least here).

2. Manipulations are slowed- Assuming you add the extra frame to each box, you have less margin for error to get the first frame out of a box. Again, not a deal-breaker but when you have more than a few colonies, this time adds up when you are doing deep-dive inspections.

3. Outer frames are problematic- This may not apply in an imprinted plastic or foundation setting, but I have found that the bees tend to 'bell out' the bottom of outside frames to raise drones and store nectar which makes frame-by-frame removal difficult.

Otherwise, I have read that bees might overwinter better in 1-1/4" spacing so it might provide a more acute distinction for folks as far North as you are.

In summary, I would suggest that it cannot hurt to try narrow frame spacing, but depending on your goals and objectives it might not be worth the added investment (at least in my experience).
 

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I cut all my wood frames down. I don't usually bother to cut down plastic 4.9mm. My main reason is to get them to draw smaller cells on natural comb. The plastic takes care of that. I'm not saying it's a bad idea to cut them down, just more work than I want to do. I did set up and cut down several thousand wood frames to 1 1/4" this last summer:

Though there are some other advantages:

And I cut bevels on the top bars of about a thousand that I bought from Walter T. Kelley with no grooves in the top bar:
 
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