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Is it possible to buy narrow foundationless frames? I've always used top bar hives but I'm having to put up some langstroth. I want to stick with foundationless and I also want to do narrow frames. I will be using 8 bar medium boxes.
 

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Reports are that Kelley (who did offer 1.25" endbars at one time) no longer offers that product. As far as I am aware, no one else does either.

Cutting down commercial 1.375" endbars on a tablesaw, or making your own endbars and buying the other frame components are options.
 

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I make my own. Not that hard, but I have a pretty well equipped woodworking shop.

You can shave down commercial end bars 1/16" on each side with a table saw fairly easily.

Peter
 

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>What do the narrower frames do?

A lot of things actually:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm

>Is it possible to buy narrow foundationless frames?

I don't know of anyone selling them. Just shave 1/16" off each side of the end bars. You can do this a number of ways. You can plane them with a hand plane. You can saw them on a table saw (set the fence at 1 5/16" and cut one side then 1 1/4" and cut the other side) or you can cut them on opposite corners (set the fence at 1 1/4") so they are the same either way you flip them...
 

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How many frames would fit in a 10 frame box when end bars are shaved to 1.25"? I assumed 11 based on 10x1/8" equaling 1.25". But with 11 in I have room for one more frame. What am I doing wrong?
 

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Hmmm ...

10 * 1.375" = 13.75"
11 * 1.250" = 13.75"

Standard 10 frame boxes are 16.25" - (2 * 0.75") = 14.75" inside dimensions, so 12 frames should not be able to fit a 10 frame box.

Are you shaving more than 1/8" total from each frame? If you are shaving 1/8" from each side, then that may be the problem.
 

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Nope, they are 1.25 on the nose. My box is 14.75" inside. Mann Lake deep.

IMG_20140627_233807_609.jpg

IMG_20140628_074845_461.jpg

The 12 end bar would be very tight, but it does fit. Measured the gap is about 1", but it will accept the 1.25" end bar.

Sorry to the OP to hijack, but it seems germane to the conversation.
 

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>What do the narrower frames do?

A lot of things actually:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm

>Is it possible to buy narrow foundationless frames?

I don't know of anyone selling them. Just shave 1/16" off each side of the end bars. You can do this a number of ways. You can plane them with a hand plane. You can saw them on a table saw (set the fence at 1 5/16" and cut one side then 1 1/4" and cut the other side) or you can cut them on opposite corners (set the fence at 1 1/4") so they are the same either way you flip them...
Less drone comb? But I thought you, Michael Bush, advocated letting a colony have as much drone comb as it wanted. Did I misunderstand or misread something? (like that would be a first. :) )
 

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Table 1 (page 42) in this Bee Culture article about the lack of uniform dimensions across various manufacturers shows Mann Lake wooden deeps somewhat oversize at 16.3" outside measurement:
http://www.beeculture.com/content/BeeSpaceArticle.pdf

> Measured the gap is about 1", but it will accept the 1.25" end bar.

Well, you can't put a 1.25" frame into a 1" gap unless the gap is actually larger than 1". Perhaps some of the frames are slightly warped, and compressing the group of frames straightens them out and allows a gap of 1.25" instead?
 

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They were just loosely sitting in there. What I meant was in the picture shows it about an inch.
Figures I had to pick the company with bigger boxes. I think I'll cut a 1"x and make a blank frame. Any issue with this?
 

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Less drone comb? But I thought you, Michael Bush, advocated letting a colony have as much drone comb as it wanted. Did I misunderstand or misread something? (like that would be a first. :) )
Sqkcrk, I have a feeling you will be getting an answer. I will be waiting. G :popcorn:
 

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You need some space between the outermost frame and the box in order to remove them without mashing bees, so 11 narrow frames is the same space as 10 standard frames, with about 1/2" space between outermost frame and box.

My bees with narrow frames wintered better than other people's with standard frames, but I don't claim it's due to the frames alone. They do allow more bees to cluster closer -- one layer of bees between combs rather than two -- the brood area is always the same depth, no matter how far apart the combs are. The narrow spacing tends to keep the drone comb out of the brood nest, too, which means denser worker brood when it counts in spring buildup.

A foundationless frame near the established brood nest will usually get drawn as nearly all drone comb, and they wont' make much anywhere else, which is nice.

Peter
 

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Thank you, Peter, that answered my question. I'll probably make some sort of spacer so I get the two end combs back in pretty much the same spot each time.
 

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>Less drone comb? But I thought you, Michael Bush, advocated letting a colony have as much drone comb as it wanted. Did I misunderstand or misread something? (like that would be a first. )

If they prefer less drone when I give them the spacing they prefer, it's their call... it is an observation on narrower spacing. Maybe all you beekeepers who are so worried about extra drones are causing your own problems with 1 3/8" spacing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sorry to the OP to hijack, but it seems germane to the conversation.

Seems all relevant to me. I guess because I'm not a commercial beekeeper my style differs. I've never worried about drones, etc etc... I've always used TBH and just let the bees do whatever they wanted to do (other than trying to get straight comb). In addition, I've broken lots of "rules" and the bees seem to do fine. Only reason I started the thread is because I am having to put up a langstroth and I want to stay close to TBH, i.e. foudationless and narrow frames (8 frame mediums). I'm really not looking forward to it as I love the manageability of TBH. Gotta do what you gotta do though 😄 (where I'm putting this other hive requires langstroth).
 

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I would suggest that once you get used to a Lang you will find it easier to manage than a top bar hive. Much stronger comb, less swarming (and more options to prevent it) and after you get a supply of drawn supers, a much larger and easier honey harvest.

I looked into top bar hives, but everyone I know who has one runs into problems I don't have with Langs.

Peter
 

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Odd, I have run a TBH and a Lang side by side, And I much preferred working my top bar. I can usually get away working my top bars without gloves and not get stung than I can with a lang. First time I opened up the lang I wasnt wearing gloves and I got stung on the hand about a minute or two in. I looked through my strong TBH a couple days ago with nothing more than a veil and short sleeve shirt, they didnt seem to care too much till I got to the front of the hive, even then.

In fact, up until yesterday The only times I've been stung was in fooling around with a lang.

And the only "problems" I can see you having with TBH that you wouldnt get in langs is.... well, I cant really. If you go foundationless, you still risk breaking comb, and cross combing, and "extra" drone. The only point you have is with honey harvest, however I STILL prefer my TBH in that regard as I'd rather have fresh wax than several year old wax that has soaked in all sorts of stuff I'd much rather not have near my hives in the first place.

In regards to swarming, thats why we do splits, and if you dont want more hives, sell the splits. This desire for a continuous brood cycle is not good for the bees, but it is great for varroa, and then by the time summer hits, you wonder why your hives are crashing. In fact, I think I'll take after Sam Comfort in the regard and when it comes time to do some splits, I'll package em for a couple days and then house them in a waiting hive.

About the only thing you can do with a lang that cant do with a TBH is be a bit rougher than you should, but this doesnt teach you anything. You shouldnt manhandle bees in the first place.
 
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