Yard Report – May Year 1

small cell size plastic brood frame
Excellent brood pattern on small cell sized comb.

Five 3 lb bee packages were installed in single, conventional, 10 frame Langstroth hives. These were filled with plastic small cell frames and a division board feeder.

This is the first step in establishing 3 story deep body hives with each box approximating a natural broodnest’s structure.

Along the way I’ll compare this new small cell plastic frame based experience with my decade old wax foundation based small cell experience.

Despite the cold and windy May weather, the bees continued to draw small cell size comb and raise brood.


I wanted to approximate the cell size and comb spacing found in a natural broodnest. So some Mann Lake’s small cell size plastic frames were cut to 1 1/4″ width.

  • a division board feeder was placed at one side
  • 6 Mann Lake PF-100 frames cut to 1 1/4″ spacing were placed in the center
  • remaining space filled with PF-100 frames at 1 3/8″ spacing
  • the feeder was kept filled with 1:1 sugar syrup

My ultimate goal is to have 3 story hives with each brood box setup as follows:

  • 5 central small cell frames at 1 1/4″ spacing
  • 4 large cell frames at 1 3/8″ spacing
  • 2 drone frames on the outside edges
  • medium sized honey supers filled with large cell size comb

That’s the long range goal. But first, how will those large cell bees draw out small cell comb?

To find out, the singles were filled with small cell size plastic frames. I had cases of them left over from my small cell work a decade ago. 🙂

The Bees

After a quick inspection to verify queen acceptance, the hives were left alone to minimize disruptions.

  • feeders were filled once a week
  • commercial pollen patties, ignored by the bees, were removed
  • all queens were accepted
  • the bees quickly occupied 5 central frames
  • perfect small cell size comb was drawn

Despite the lack of moisture, abundant early spring forage was available. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. It was windy and cold which greatly limited bee flight during May.

 Small Cell

I’ll be watching:

  • how the bees draw out small cell comb when given no other choice?
  • and will comb spacing make a difference?