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I've been transitioning to foundationless frames and would eventually like to get fully to small cell. I've read several places that the center to center spacing should be 1-1/4 inches and you should trim the sidebars down from 1-3/8 which is typical to 1-1/4. I started trimming my bars but then it raised a question in my mind. Will this create difficulty for bees, particularly the queen and drones to move between the top bars into the next hive body? If sidebars are trimmed to 1-1/4 inch, does that not reduce the top bar spacing to 1/4 inch? Please let me know your thoughts and experiences. Thanks.
 

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Bees can pass through a 1/4" space without a problem. Some people use hive entrance mouse guards of 1/4" wire mesh which actually has smaller 'holes' than 1/4" (minus half the thickness of each wire.)

Note that 1 1/4" frames and foundationless frames are really separate issues. You certainly can use them together, but there is no reason you have to.
 

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I've been using 1 1/4 frames for 2 years now. Last year all of my foundationless frames were 1 1/4 and this year I shaved all of the drawn out frames that I could. I left about 75% of honey frames as they were and some brood frames were left at 1 3/8. Otherwise, everything else is 1.25" now.
 

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Have you notice any real difference with the narrow frames? I was debating on trying it on a few hives to see if they stop storing giant blobs up honey at the top of the frames...
 

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I thought about slipping the center of the top bars down on the table saw blade to shave about 1/16" off each side near the center. If everyone else is using them "as is" and the bees (queen and drones) have no trouble moving between the top bars, it may not be worth the effort. I feel like the workers will be able to move back and forth without any trouble. I was just worried about placing more barriers for the queen and drones since they are larger and the space between the top bars is more narrow now. Thanks for the feedback. This is my first use of 1-1/4 inch sidebars.
 

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Have you notice any real difference with the narrow frames? I was debating on trying it on a few hives to see if they stop storing giant blobs up honey at the top of the frames...
I haven't yet, but I do like that I can fit 9 frames in an 8 frame box, or 11 frames in standard 10 frame box.
 

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I thought about slipping the center of the top bars down on the table saw blade to shave about 1/16" off each side near the center. If everyone else is using them "as is" and the bees (queen and drones) have no trouble moving between the top bars, it may not be worth the effort. I feel like the workers will be able to move back and forth without any trouble. I was just worried about placing more barriers for the queen and drones since they are larger and the space between the top bars is more narrow now. Thanks for the feedback. This is my first use of 1-1/4 inch sidebars.
I use foundationless frames and almost every brood frame has "communication" holes for the bees to pass through to the other side of comb. They also don't fill the comb completely to the frame, there's some gaps where bees can pass through.
 

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>Will this create difficulty for bees, particularly the queen and drones to move between the top bars into the next hive body?

No.

> If sidebars are trimmed to 1-1/4 inch, does that not reduce the top bar spacing to 1/4 inch?

Yes. 1/4" is not a problem. Beespace is a range between 1/4" and 3/8". Bees can squeeze through 1/6" if they have to.
 

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I've read several places that the center to center spacing should be 1-1/4 inches and you should trim the sidebars down from 1-3/8 which is typical to 1-1/4.
Can be, not necessarily should be, it's up to you. There are some benefits.


Will this create difficulty for bees, particularly the queen and drones to move between the top bars into the next hive body? If sidebars are trimmed to 1-1/4 inch, does that not reduce the top bar spacing to 1/4 inch?
It depends on the frames you start with. With foundationless frames from Kelley, you'll have a narrower space, which could cause problems. But I use those frames for drone, so I don't trim them. I do trim Mann Lake PF-120 frames which have a narrower topbar and so there is no problem. As someone mentioned, if you are concerned, you can trim a wood topbar 1/32" off each side and you should be fine. Watch the fingers.
 

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I shaved a bunch of bars yesterday. Some Mann Lake and some Kelley foundationless frames. Both appear to have enough room for the bees to make their way through, and at the very least you'll have some space on the sides where they could move.
 
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