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Discussion Starter #1
About two weeks ago whilst I was researching some British weather-related queen-rearing problems, I ran across a real gem in Thomas Cowan's 'British Beekeepers Guide Book' where there were no less than four references to the same issue of getting worker-comb drawn-out- so it's not as if he made a single rash statement in error:

P.35 [...] if we wish to restrict them to the production of worker-brood only, the frames may be placed as near together as 1 1/4" from centre to centre.

p.47 [...] if it is desired to prevent the production of drone-brood, without using full sheets of foundation in frames, the ends(*) of every other frame are slipped back, as in Fig. 26, b, and a distance of 1 1/4 inches from centre to centre may thus be maintained. Great care, however, must be taken to return to the wider spacing when combs are built out.

p.62 The frames in the two lower storeys should be placed 1 1/4 inches from centre to centre, which will prevent the rearing of drone-brood, and those in the upper storeys may be placed 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches from centre to centre.

p.201 Where drones are not required place the frames 1 1/4 inches from the centre to centre by means of the "W.B.C." end(*) (Fig. 129).

The British Beekeepers Guide Book (1911), T.W. Cowan

(*) These 'ends' being once-popular oblong metal spacing-collars capable of being moved into different positions to create alternative frame spacings.
For a brief moment I thought I'd stumbled across some real gold dust - but not so - this information is far from being unknown. There is even a whole page devoted to frame-spacing on Michael Bush's website (http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm) - but it would appear that this knowledge has not yet reached a wide enough audience.

Nevertheless, I'm not one to accept anyone's claims unless I've checked them out for myself - so - as I was about to transfer a colony from British National Deeps onto bare Gallup frames (set at 32mm spacing), this seemed like a good opportunity to test Cowan's assertion. And sure enough, every comb thus far drawn-out is 100% worker. I'll now set a couple at 35mm in order that they can rear some drone brood as well.

Life is getting better and better. :)
LJ
 

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Good post, LJ. Thank you for the information.

I experimented with narrow-frames last year and was sufficiently impressed with the results such that I decided to work more broadly with this platform this year.

One thing I have noted (at least in a foundationless context) is that several colonies allowed the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the outer frame space to 'open-up' at the bottom, presumably for the express purpose of raising drones- so much so that it has me considering installing a sheet of foundation in the outer frames to preemptively forestall this in the future.

Other colonies on the other hand seem perfectly content to draw out a full box of straight comb with the assistance of comb guides- I hope your colonies all subscribe to the latter.

Thanks again for the information. I do appreciate it.

Russ
 

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It depends.
Here is ~1.25 spacing with the drone brood embedded.
20190629_144209.jpg

For 1.25 to work - EVERYTHING must be perfect.
The bigger the frame, the more chances for the imperfections.
On a smaller frame, however, one should be able to achieve better uniformity.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
FWIW - I did try a slightly tighter 30mm ( 1 3/16 inch ) spacing with some larger (14" x 12") frames which also produced 100% worker comb, but there were some drone combs already present in the box, so I don't know what influence they may have had.
LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It depends.
Here is ~1.25 spacing with the drone brood embedded.
Hi Greg - I was a bit surprised to see so much drone comb at the top of those frames. Towards the bottom wouldn't have surprised me, as that - to my way of thinking - would be fairly appropriate.

For 1.25 to work - EVERYTHING must be perfect.
The bigger the frame, the more chances for the imperfections.
On a smaller frame, however, one should be able to achieve better uniformity.
So it would seem.

All I can say is that - so far - I've had complete success with 100% worker comb being drawn-out on new, bare frames of 8, 11 and 12 inch depths. These frames do have precision spacing - by courtesy of screw adjustment (some at both top and bottom) - I don't know how important such precision actually is.

Later-on today, I'll be making some 25mm (one inch) frames to be inter-leaved between standard 35mm Hoffman-spaced frames in order to give a net spacing of 30mm. This should work (but obviously needs testing) - to enable existing mass-produced frames to be drawn-out as 100% worker, but without any need to be modified.
'best
LJ
 

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Hi Greg - I was a bit surprised to see so much drone comb at the top of those frames. Towards the bottom wouldn't have surprised me, as that - to my way of thinking - would be fairly appropriate.

So it would seem..........

LJ
My case is easily explained.
I do cut-and-strain harvest a lot.
In the picture above, I harvested areas of the upper comb and left empty combs below for reuse.

Upon reinsertion of this butchered frame into some hive next season, they filled the empty windows with the drone comb.
They likely had limited space for drone comb and those open windows presented the opportunity.

Basically, if you do what I do - selectively cut-and-strain chunks of comb - one never knows how they will rebuild the holes in the combs.

Here is a typical large, foundation-less, and imperfect frame on ~1.25 spacing.
20190106_164330_mod.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok - so this is where the fun starts ...

I've not made Deep National frames before, as I normally use commercially-made flat-pack - but I've just knocked a few out using the same method used to make Gallup Frames:



I've slapped some red paint on 'em so they can instantly be recognised (and so not confused with others).

This is how I intend using them:



That box normally holds 11 frames, but there are 13 in there right now (12 plus a dummy) at 30mm spacing. I think using a dummy frame is essential, in order to prevent rolling of bees with such a tight spacing.

Obviously it'll now be a two-stage process - first to get those 25mm frames drawn-out - and then to use them to get 'standard' 35mm Hoffman frames drawn out.

If anyone has any interest in this, I'll keep you posted as to outcome.
'best,
LJ
 

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Thanks for the updated post, LJ. I will look forward to reading your updates. The color-coding approach is a good idea in my book.
 
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