Space Inside the Hive
It may seem to be of little importance to the beekeeper BUT the right space within the hive makes it all better for the bees and the beekeeper.
The spacing of frames is first and foremost of importance. The inventor of the Removable Frame Hive, Lorenzo Langstroth , discovered that bees in a rather wild environment would build their combs approximately 1 3/8 inches center to center. So it is not wise to force the bees to do things different. Originally, most frames were built so the ideal space was kept automatically, if the frames were hung side by side. NOW, most frames do not have that wide end bar so other means must be applied to keep that proper space. It is apparent that The Walter T. Kelley Co. may be the only manufacturer that has frame end bars that measure 1 3/8 ". When placed in a ten frame hive the space is perfect. Some beekeepers consider squeezing other makes of frames together and putting a board along the side to fill in the space. It's for sure the frames are not spaced so the bees can utilize the combs to any advantage. IF, the narrow frames are used , permanent frame spacers should be installed in all brood chambers. For best results ten frames should always be used in ten frame brood chambers.
How About Inner Covers?. Most Hive bodies ( including honey supers) are designed so the top bars of frames hang approximately 1/4 inch below the top edge of the hive. SO, the inner cover that is flat on one side and has a rim on the other side is correct. There again the Walter T. Kelley Co. may be the only manufacturer making the inner cover that way. Inner covers with some rim on both sides allows too much room above the top bars of the frames so the bees stick some comb and honey in between. That is a waste of their time and makes a mess for the beekeeper. The inner cover with the rim only on one side can be used when requeening colonies. Simply lay the queen cage (screen side down) on the top bars in the center of the hive, place the inner cover rim side down to accommodate the cage. That is quick, easy and gets good results.
Most Standard Bottom Boards are made properly with a 3/4 inch rail above the flooring boards. That provides an entrance which the beekeeper can reduce properly and open for ventilation and traffic at the beginning of the major honey flow. The time for full entrance in Iowa is June 1st.
Plastic foundation is being used by many as a labor saver. Some labor saving devices are not always the best and plastic foundation is one that is not the best. Placed in a hive along with pure wax foundation the bees will prefer the wax every time. It is more next to their nature. Plastic hives, inner covers and lids created excessive moisture so not a good investment.
It is the duty of the beekeeper to help the bees do what they do naturally and the right equipment, made right, will aid in that endeavor.
Glen L. Stanley
Iowa State Apiarist (emeritus)
2615 Aspen Road # 1
Ames, Iowa 50014