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.”

 

Introduction to beekeeping video – Episode 3

Third in the series, making up Brood and Super frames is a necessary skill. Both types share a common approach to the way they are put together.

Note also that when you look to buy frames, DN1 and SN1 have straight side bars so these frames will have to be spaced, using either plastic or castellated spacers in the hive. DN4 and SN4 have Hoffman side bars so are self spacing. We would certainly recommend using Hoffman side bars to begin with to ensure correct spacing in both Super and Brood boxes and to keep things simple.

With regard to foundation, standard wired is the most common product used in the majority of hives. Click here to see Episode 3.

Introduction to beekeeping video – Episode 1

Introducing a new service for the members of the Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association, and others who are starting out on their beekeeping journey.

Presented by Jeremy Percy, Training Officer and Chairman of the Association, these short videos, which will be produced on a regular basis, are designed to provide a simple introduction to Beekeeping. They are not meant to be all encompassing and should not be considered an alternative to practical learning.

They are based loosely on the PBKA training sessions that would normally be taking place at the Association’s training apiary, if it were not for the current Coronavirus situation.

We hope you find them helpful.

Click on the link for Episode 1

Postponement of Apiary Training Sessions

In the light of the current Coronavirus issue, the Association has regrettably decided that it is necessary to cancel all apiary training sessions at both The Rhos and Scolton Manor, until further notice.

In the meantime, members both old and new can telephone for ‘virtual’ advice and assistance with regard to any beekeeping problems they may encounter.

Note that a short video clip or photo sent initially via email to pbkaapiarymanager@live.co.uk may assist us when giving advice, on the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words!

We recognise that many new beekeepers in particular will be disappointed at the absence of the ever popular Beginner Sessions and we hope to be able to reinstate them later in the season.

In order to continue to help those new to beekeeping, Jeremy, who organizes these sessions will be producing a series of short videos for the website, based on the ‘Basic Assessment’ curriculum, to guide our newer members along the path to becoming an efficient and effective beekeeper.

If anyone has a particular aspect of beekeeping that they would like to see explained via a video, then please let us know. This service is also intended to deter newer members from seeking advice that is currently to be found on the internet, not least as much of it is of dubious quality and some of it downright misleading.

For advice contact: Alan on 07867 988597, Jeremy on 07799 698568 or Paul on 07988 037571

The Beginners’ Beekeeping Course is filling up!!

There now only a limited number of places available for the one-day classroom based course for the beginner to beekeeping (or as a refresher) on Saturday 21st March 2020, at the Picton Centre in Haverfordwest.

These courses have been very popular over the years, giving many potential beekeepers the confidence to attend practical lessons with Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association, and to keep their own bee hives!

If you want further details, or wish to book, please see the Introductory Beekeeping Course – 2020

 

 

Beginners’ Beekeeping Course – Saturday 21st March 2020

A one-day classroom based course for the complete beginner to beekeeping is scheduled for Saturday 21st March 2020, to be held at the Picton Centre in Haverfordwest.

These courses have been very popular, giving many potential beekeepers the confidence to attend practical lessons with Pembrokeshire Beekeepers’ Association.

If you want further details, or wish to book, please see the Introductory Beekeeping Course – 2020 for details.

Places are limited, so booking early is recommended!