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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I started this hobby a couple yrs ago I built my own [8-frame] hive boxes. My design was to make the box big enough for eight frames, so that's what I did. Since then I've learned that commercially made boxes allow for space between the frames. My boxes do not, the frames fit snugly. My boxes are 13" wide and I believe purchased boxes are 3/4" wider (13 3/4").

Is having space between frames critical? It appeared to me that frames are designed to accommodate whatever space is necessary.

So far my bees haven't seemed to mind. :)

- djb
 

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I made nuc boxes like that before I gave it much thought. The disadvantages is that if you pull the first frame and the queen is on it, she’s gonna at peril. Then when the bees get done doing their thang with propolis, it’s a struggle getting the first frame out.
 

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Propolis and drone cells are the reason this is a bad idea. As propolis builds up on the end bars, it eventually gets thick enough to muck up frame spacing. Drone cells are usually built at the bottom of frames resulting in a thick area that can roll a queen when the frame is removed. This is the reason at least 1/2 inch of extra space is needed in the box.

The frames at the sides of the box will not have enough room to be built out fully if the box is too tight. This is a major factor in combs being odd size and with one face not properly built out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Propolis and drone cells are the reason this is a bad idea. As propolis builds up on the end bars, it eventually gets thick enough to muck up frame spacing. Drone cells are usually built at the bottom of frames resulting in a thick area that can roll a queen when the frame is removed. This is the reason at least 1/2 inch of extra space is needed in the box.

The frames at the sides of the box will not have enough room to be built out fully if the box is too tight. This is a major factor in combs being odd size and with one face not properly built out.
When you say 1/2" extra space is needed in the box, I assume you mean 1/2" total which is spread between (in my case) eight frames. I was thinking my boxes were 3/4" shy, which is less than 1/10" extra space between frames (0.75 / 8 = 0.09375). That seems to be a mighty small amount of space to make a big difference. But, I suppose it may be so...

- djb
 

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There is a reason boxes are made specific sizes. Unfortunately, they are still not standard across the different manufacturers in the U.S.

Frames are spaced center to center. This means from the center of one frame to the center of the next with typical 1 3/8 inch spacing for most frames in the U.S. I run frames with 1 1/4 inch spacing which has several effects on spring buildup and on swarm behavior. Dadant advocated 1 1/2 inch spacing which he correctly stated reduced swarming. He did not understand exactly why it reduced swarming.

Box size is another matter. The box has to be large enough to accommodate the required number of frames plus some expansion space to account for propolis buildup on the end bars.

The first problem I see is that you appear to be giving exterior dimensions of the boxes you built. Use interior dimensions as that takes the thickness of the wood off the table.Do the math and you will find that 8 frames at 1 3/8 inches each need exactly 11 inches of "interior" space to fit in a box. Now consider that different manufacturers make 8 frame boxes with from 1/2" up to 3/4" of extra space. Now we have the table set for a mismatch in hive dimensions. You can't buy an 8 frame box from Mann Lake and put an 8 frame box from Kelley on it because the boxes are about 1/4 inch different in width.

Here are threads with relevant information.

https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?320759
https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?325985
https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?327565
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The first problem I see is that you appear to be giving exterior dimensions of the boxes you built. Use interior dimensions as that takes the thickness of the wood off the table.Do the math and you will find that 8 frames at 1 3/8 inches each need exactly 11 inches of "interior" space to fit in a box. Now consider that different manufacturers make 8 frame boxes with from 1/2" up to 3/4" of extra space. Now we have the table set for a mismatch in hive dimensions. You can't buy an 8 frame box from Mann Lake and put an 8 frame box from Kelley on it because the boxes are about 1/4 inch different in width.
Yes, I've been referring to an outside dimension (OD) measurement. I think 3/4" board is pretty standard for box construction, so the inside dimension (ID) would be 1 1/2" less than the outside measurement. In my case the ID is 11 1/2".

- djb
 

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This is interesting so I just measured some boxes and frames. Humble Abodes boxes are 13 3/4" outside as are old Kelly boxes. Mann Lake boxes are 14" outside. Eight new frames pushed together are 11 1/4" leaving 1" space in the HA boxes. That seems like a lot initially, but quickly becomes barely enough.
 
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