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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a hodgepodge of hive equipment that I've bought, made and inherited. I know they are not all the built using the same blueprints, hence I'm running into issues with lots of cross combs and ladders and hanging comb where there just doesn't need to be if build right and consistent.

1) Should the bottom of the frames, when hanging in the box, be level with the bottom of the box? Or should there be some space. I.e 3/8 or 3/16?

2) How much space should there be between the top of the box and the frames. So, if you were to place ruler (Or any flat object) across the top of the box, how much space should there be between the bottom of the ruler and any frames that are in the box?

3) What is the standard (hahah) edge height of a bottom board? The edge I'm referring to is the wood that the brood box directly sits on.

My thinking is that there should be 3/8 inch bee space everywhere in the hive... ideally. Which means that when stacking boxes, the distance between the bottoms of the frames from a super and the top of the frames from a brood box should maintain a 3/8" space. Is that correct, feasible, or even actually desired?

I thought that most store bought bottom boards have a 3/4" edge height, which would be double the bee space and they would tend to draw out bridge comb. This bridge comb from a bottom box frame would then be undesirable if moving that that frame into another box where the bottom spacing is only 3/8?

What are the correct dimensions (and any other crucial dimensions I'm missing). I would like to correct my woodenware to be consistent, and hopefully correct. This is to both keep from smashing bees AND it should minimize the extra maintenance of removing undesired comb as I'm working the hives and moving frames around.

If it matters, I'm running all medium boxes in hives and nucs
 

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Our rule of thumb, IIRC, is the frame rests should be 5/8" down from the top edge of the super. If all of your frames are consistent, worry no farther. If they are not, decide who's frame you will replace them with in time, and act accordingly.

The space at the entrance , from the bottom board to the bottom of the brood box is 3/8" so that you can cut pieces of 1-2 (3/4" by 1 1/2") to serve as entrance blocks. They get changed with the seasons.,

Crazy Roland
 

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DDDillon, I believe your interpretation is correct. Bee space created by the sum of the space above the frame top to top of hive body Plus the distance from bottom of frame to the bottom edge of the hive body, should add up to 3/8" or a bit less. The law of bee space is mostly ignored by the bees when it is below the lowest frame. Sometimes there will be some ladder comb built there and should be removed if you are placing those frames where they will be Above other frames. Sometimes if the bees are short of drone comb space they will build some drone comb below and of course swarm cells can project down. You just have to check before you put such a box above others.

Bee space between deeps (in standard Langstroth box and frame dimensions) is on the large size with deeps but between mediums is a bit on the tight side but that is quibbling. Fusion_power mentions it in some of his treatises on box and frame dimensions. If you are building your own and lumber is on the green side it would be well to keep in mind though. Mediums I make a bit on the tall side. If the deeps shrink a tiny bit it is not the same problem.

Some used equipement combinations run into issues when combining old boxes with frame rest rebates cut to accommodate the once popular metal frame rest inserts and someone uses them without the insert. 3/4 deep instead of 5/8. If both upper and lower boxes are the same, no problem, but depending on the combination, bee space could be an eight of an inch over or under standard.
 

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My equipment is a mix as well. I have pulled a couple of boxes out of the mix because they were too far different from my other equipment that it resulted in smashed and angry bees (the frames sat too low in the boxes).

If I were trying to make them all match, I would buy a new box from a reputable supplier and match mine to theirs as much as possible. Of course suppliers are different ...

I like to have the frames not go all the way to the bottom of the box, nor to the top of the box. IOW, some of the bee space on each end.
 
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Very nice explanation here, Wood Frames for the Langstroth Hive scroll down about 2/3rds to "Mix and Match" if you do not have time to read it all.

BTW, Love the smooth finish and 'slick' feel of BB frames compared to Dadant frames (only two I have used) Prefer BB for foundation-less since it is easy to glue pop cycle sticks in. Prefer Dadant frames for foundation (wax or waxed plastic) as it easy to get them in the wider grooves.
 

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People using "soft" inner covers like grain bags or reflectix bubble wrap foam might like the frame tops to run close to level with top of hive body so no burr comb or propolis gets deposited on top of frames. If you have hard inner covers they need to have about 1/4" perimeter lip. If completely flat like a migratory cover the resulting clearance is less than bee space and gets filled irregularly so makes a bee squisher when reassembling.

The Canadian Beekeeper, Ian Stettler uses the soft inner cover. If you are handling hundreds of colonies uniformity becomes very important. For instance try working boxes that are built with sub standard space between end of frame ears and side of frame rest! You soon see how much difference a 1/16th or 1/8th of an inch can make.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Don, I thought you were building all your boxes and frames to standard dimensions. Bottom boards are often reversible, one side having 3/8" height, the other side 3/4". I prefer to use the 3/4' side year round. Your medium boxes should all be 6-5/8 inches tall with a a 5/8" rabbet for the frame rest. When the frames are sitting on the rest, there should be about 1/8" space to the top edge of the box.
 
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As you have found, all manufacturers make their equipment different. Even the Langstroth standard deep as built according to the original design is flawed. The basic problem is that a Langstroth deep is defined as 9 5/8 inches deep with frames that have 9 1/8 inch end bars. No matter what the rest of the dimensions are for the box, the result is 1/2 inch between stacked boxes. Bees will always build comb in a gap that wide.

However, you can do some things to address the issues and make your life a bit easier. Start with frame rests. They are variously cut 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", or even 7/8". Each manufacturer does this just a bit different, but I prefer either 5/8" with standard frames or 3/4" with a metal frame rest that brings it up to 5/8". Most frames will fit in an acceptable way with this setup.

End bar lugs are the next area where different manufacturers make things difficult. Mann Lake cuts lugs 1/2 inch thick. This makes the frame sit 1/8 inch below the top of the box which IMO is not the preferred measurement. I cut my own frames with tapered lugs so that they are 5/16 inch thick on the rest leaving a top space of 5/16 inch. Bees will still build burr comb to some extent with 5/16" top space depending on genetics and how strong the nectar flows hit, but it is far less than with other spacing. You have to decide whether to use top of bottom spacing in the boxes or some combination where there is some space at the top and some at the bottom. This is one area where buying from different manufacturers causes tons of headaches.

The bottom board makes surprisingly little difference because light comes in from the front of the hive and bees have a natural tendency to leave open space near light. This makes sense when you think about hive ventilation. They will often build barnacles on the bottom board so they can more easily climb up onto the frames. I use a modified killion deep bottom board which is beneficial here in the southeast. It is not really necessary, but I think the benefit of extra ventilation in hot weather justifies making them. Bees often build burr comb in the bottom board but never attached to the bottom.

The other advice I would give is mostly in these threads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
John, my boxes that I've made hold pretty close to standard dimensions, but I think I'm running into some issues from my earliest batch of home made frames. I was trying to be frugal and use scrap 2x material to make the frame pieces and didn't fully appreciate the nuances of how much a thinner or thicker piece would really affect the application of the frame as it sits on the rest. Most of my issues are arising from the rests (the ears of the frame that set on the box rebates) being too thick, so they ride higher, thus closer to frames above them, and further away from frames below them. My mission this year is to identify these ones as I see them during normal inspections and take what action I can. The first step, as I'm doing here, is to understand and define what the desired outcome is so that I can take the correct action.

The other issue is that I've inherited a few dozen boxes and associated frames that I'm cleaning, refurbishing and applying new foundation into that is a hodgepodge of manufacturer. They are fairly consistent, mostly, but things like metal frame rests, 9 frame metal rest slots, no metal rests, etc make for a multitude of slight variations.

I just looked a a couple of stored supers and it looks like the slight gap on top and bottom are the standard template I'll be going for to achieve the desired beespace between boxes.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I have a great idea. You decide on frames and boxes that are anything other than what Mann-Lake offers, and give me the ones that conform to the ML dimensions. Think of all the hours you will save not having to cut down or add to the ears.:p
 

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People using "soft" inner covers like grain bags or reflectix bubble wrap foam might like the frame tops to run close to level with top of hive body so no burr comb or propolis gets deposited on top of frames. If you have hard inner covers they need to have about 1/4" perimeter lip. If completely flat like a migratory cover the resulting clearance is less than bee space and gets filled irregularly so makes a bee squisher when reassembling.
Crofter, is it not best to have room on the top of the top bars for bee traffic? Having no space above the top bars would drastically reduce their ability to move around. Communication holes through the foundation would be helpful, I suppose. Otherwise, they must walk around the ends or go around the bottom bar to move between frames. Just seems that having space above the bars is best. If there is top space, you can also put patties there or accommodate those coming up to feed when top feeder added.
 

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Pretty sure bees don't have space above a comb in the wild.
Only need the room on top if you are going to put another box above. Otherwise I see no reason to have it
 

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Pretty sure bees don't have space above a comb in the wild.
Only need the room on top if you are going to put another box above. Otherwise I see no reason to have it
I have seen a few suggestions that in overwintering the ability to move across the top bars rather than go out to the cold ends, could be an advantage. My feeder rim takes care of that if it really is an issue.

Ian Stettler uses the soft flush frame top cover of foil bubble wrap but does winter indoors. Scott Hendriks from my neck of the woods cuts an inch and a half dia. hole in the center of all brood frames. Good You tube sites

Good question.
 

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Pretty sure bees don't have space above a comb in the wild.
Only need the room on top if you are going to put another box above. Otherwise I see no reason to have it
Hi Tigger,

Oddly you have Lang in your profile but seem to think the bees do not need the space above the top bars. A feature of the hive you are using.
I will have to take the opposite side of the discussion here. In the winter if the bees do not go all the way to the bottom of a frame, the only way to shrink from say 9 frames to 7 is with lateral movement. In the cold they do not go down and around.
Also often the stores are at the outsides IE frames 1,2,9,10 and the inside ones are void of much stores IE 4,5,6 so with out lateral movement the bees do not have access to food.

In the wild they do not have plastic foundation either :) likely they leave holes in the comb to allow the necessary movement. A person who has removed several "wild" hives from places would need to weight in here to confirm.
this "can be locale dependent" If you said" in Hawaii you do not need the space above the frames" I would agree.

Good day
GG
 

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AHH, my mistake I thought this was on the Long Hive 🤦‍♀️
Which still makes me wonder how they move in the Winter
edit to add. I have not seen in the videos of house or tree removals a Hole in the middle of comb.
 

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AHH, my mistake I thought this was on the Long Hive 🤦‍♀️
Which still makes me wonder how they move in the Winter
edit to add. I have not seen in the videos of house or tree removals a Hole in the middle of comb.
usually a small hole like dime size. like where 2 combs were started and when joined they left a bit unconnected.

Concur on the true long hive, I guess move around the end, but on a warmish day.
Except the angle one Greg showed the seems go the log way on those.

My long hive is a double deep so a path in the center, as well over the top, where I left a bee space.

Some in the olden days bored a hole in the high center of the comb, in late summer, for passage in winter.

GG
 
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