Using 9 Frames in a Super
May 14, 2021
P. Michael Henderson
I read about using only nine frames in a super, with the idea that the bees would draw comb out further on those frames, making it easier to decap the cells. Additionally, you'd only have to process nine frames from a super instead of ten frames.
So I ordered a spacing tool from Mann Lake and used it to space nine new, wax coated plastic frames in a few supers that I put on my hives. The tool works well to space the frames. Mann lake also offered spacers that you would attach to the inside of the hive, on both sides, to space the frames. I didn't like that becasue when I examine a super, I remove the one of the outside frames and then slide others towards me for examination or removal. With those pernament spacers I wouldn't be able to do that.
A few weeks ago, I opened one of the hives to examine the nine frame supers. There was a problem.
With new frames and plastic foundation, there was a lot of space between the plastic foundation of two adjacent frames. So the bees began to draw comb between two of the frames, rather then drawing out the foundation. When I removed the frames, most of the comb remained on one frame so I took that frame and put it on the outside, with the comb facing the hive box. Then I got another frame and put ten frames in that super.
The lesson here is: You can use nine frames if those frames already have drawn comb on them - but don't try to put nine frames of bare foundation in a super. Put in ten frames and once the bees draw out the comb, you can remove one and space the nine remaining out evenly.