Frame spacing etc.

Following a recent enquiry about frame spacing and also in view of our enforced confinement due to Covid-19, it occurred to me that others may find my response of interest. Given that beekeepers’ are a very individualistic bunch, I have no doubt that some of you will have your own thoughts on the subject and I would welcome any positive contributions to the debate!

Please feel free to engage therefore, and if you also have any other subjects you have an opinion on and would like to write a short article for inclusion, please let me know!

Stay safe,

Paul Eades

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For what it’s worth, this is my take on the subject of frames and frame spacing, and for the sake of simplicity, I have limited my views to SN1, SN4 and Manley frames.

There are essentially two situations when you use super frames:

  1. Above a brood box, as part of the brood chamber to create a ‘brood and a half’ configuration in order to give the queen more room to lay. In that situation, the answer is quite simple. You would choose a super with runners (rather than castellations) and have either 11 x SN4 (Hoffman frames) which are self-spacing, plus a dummy board (in the same way as the main brood box which uses DN4 (Hoffman)frames, plus a dummy board). Or 11 x SN1 frames, with plastic end spacers, plus a dummy board.
  2. In a super for honey production. Things here, can get a little more complicated depending on what you want to achieve. Essentially, if you are starting with foundation, then you may want to use 11 frames initially, to get the bees to draw out the foundation, gradually increasing the gaps to 9 frames in order to get the ideal depth of comb. If you try and start with 9 frames of foundation, it will be drawn out unevenly and difficult to uncap. So, why not use 11 frames then, I hear you say! Well, 11 frames of comb can be awkward to uncap, because the comb is narrow and more or less level with the wooden frame. Some would say it is also wasteful, as 9 frames would have wider comb with more honey carrying capacity and you are of course saving on 2 frames per super. On the downside, I find in practice that trying to get the spacing from 11 to 9 frames when drawing out, is time consuming and depending on your inspection timing, not guaranteed. There is however a compromise, which I personally prefer.
  3. In supers, use either self-spacing Manley frames; or SN1 frames with either 10 frame castellated spacers, or a mixture of small and large plastic end spacers, on runners. The latter is a little fiddly and sticky in practice, so I prefer to use 10 frame castellated spacers in dedicated honey supers. With Manley frames ,you are essentially doing the same thing, as they are self-spacing 10 frames per super and have wide side bars for their full length, as they were designed for transportation during the season to keep them from rattling about. They are more expensive than SN1 frames however and as I use SN1s in ‘brood and a half’ brood box configurations, I prefer to stick to that. Basically, I use DN4 frames for all the deep brood boxes and SN1 frames for all the super boxes, whether as part of the brood box or as a honey gathering super. This gives me flexibility and also means I am standardising my equipment which makes life a lot simpler, especially if you have more than a couple of hives. I have also found that if I alternate a drawn frame of comb with a frame of foundation in a 10 frame super, it will draw out the foundation perfectly well and the depth of the comb makes uncapping easy.

As I said, that is my personal take on the subject and all I can tell you is that it is simple, works for me and the bees don’t seem to mind!

In conclusion, I now use the following as my basic approach to frames and spacing.

  • 11 x DN4 (Hoffman) self-spacing frames on runners for the main brood box, plus a dummy board
  • 11 x SN1 frames on runners in super boxes (plus a super dummy board if you have one), for ‘Brood and a half’ configurations, with small plastic end spacers
  • 10 x SN1 frames on 10 frame castellated spacers, for your dedicated honey supers

Comments welcome!!

A useful tip just came in from Alan Johnson……..

“When I use a Maisemore poly nuc, I put large frame spacers on the outside frames. The frames then sit snugly and the bees use the outside faces of the frames, useful when room is getting a little tight.”

 

Wax Processing Session for PBKA members

We are planning to run a small informal wax processing session for a limited number of PBKA members at the Scolton Manor Honey Kitchen on Sunday 8th February, from 2pm until approximately 4pm. The session will include:

  • Processing of raw comb using a steam wax extractor
  • Safe melting of wax prior to making candles using moulds

If the session is oversubscribed, we will see about arranging an extra session or sessions as required.

If you are interested, please contact the Apiary Manager.

Successful opening weekend of Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre

Friday 18th July 2014 marked the beginning of a very successful weekend for the PBKA, with the official opening of the ‘Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre’ at Scolton Manor by Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, together with the launch of Scolton’s own Victorian Walled Garden project.

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Saturday featured an Open Day at the Centre as part of National Countryside Week and the ‘Bee Hive’ exhibition was overflowing all afternoon with members of the public coming in to watch the honey extracting demonstration in the ‘Honey Kitchen’ and live pictures from the ‘hive cam’! Members of the PBKA were also present to talk to the public and give hive inspection demonstrations at the ‘Pine Tree Apiary’.

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On Sunday, we held another beekeeping training session at the apiary, which was followed as always with tea and Rosemary’s fabulous (and dare I say it? – famous) cakes, which she always keeps us generously supplied with!

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If you haven’t been up to see the Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre yet, it is well worth the trip with something for the whole family!

We hope to see you there soon!

Successful ‘Honey Kitchen’ demonstration

A very successful demonstration of honey extracting took place at the new Honey Kitchen at Scolton Manor on Sunday afternoon watched by over 70 people who crammed into the exhibition and extracting room. Paul Eades, the Apiary Manager, uncapped the frames, while John Dudman loaded the extractor and gave a running commentary to various groups, consisting of PBKA members and the public, who came in to watch the fun!

Lots of questions were asked by the observers present, and staff at Scolton Manor have indicated that an enormous amount of interest has been generated since the facility first opened in July. It is planned to do further demonstrations during the rest of this season (dates to be finalised) in order to build on this.

The Honey Kitchen is a commercial standard honey processing facility, which will be used for hygienically extracting and bottling association honey in accordance with Environmental Health regulations, as well as for training PBKA members and public demonstration.

PBKA members wishing to extract their own honey, can of course continue to hire the association extractor from the Apiary Manager by arrangement.
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