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Author Topic: How many small cells per sq/ft of comb ?  (Read 569 times)
Maryland Beekeeper
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Nature does nothing uselessly. Aristotle


« on: January 03, 2013, 07:25:46 AM »

Thanks in advance.
Cheers,
Drew
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2013, 10:52:47 AM »

That depends upon what you call “small cell”.  The Mann Lake PF frames are stamped with 4.9mm sized cells.  There are 25.4mm per inch.  So 1 linear inch of comb crosses 25.4/4.9 = 5.18 cells.  1 square inch area of comb then has 5.18 x 5.18 = 26.8 cells.  The Mann Lake PF frames really have a lot more cells than normal deep frames for 2 reasons.  The cells size is smaller AND there is less space consumed by the supporting plastic frame.  The skinnier plastic supporting frames though seem to result in more burr comb, so it’s not a win win type of situation. 

As for how many of your super jumbo 18” x 4 foot tall frames to use in a brood box; I’m going to assume your giant frames are going to need a beefier wood support than normal.  So I’ll assume you end up with a comb area of about 17”x47”.  That’s 799 sq inches of comb space.  If by small cell, you’re talking 4.9mm, that gives you 26.8 cells per sq inch IFF the bees comb it all up as worker cells.  On the big combs they’re not going to comb them all up as worker cells so you have to adjust the numbers a little bit due to bigger drone cells.  You can fudge factor later.

So you have 799 sq feet x 26.8 cells per sq inch = 21469 cells per side of frame = 42939 cells per frame.  The queen doesn’t lay in the outer two frames in the brood chamber (normally) so you really can’t count those cells in your calculations of queen laying ability vs available cells.  I base my capacity designs on the available cells NOT counting the outer 2 frames. 

So if you go with a 3 frame design, you can’t really count on your queen having any more than 42939 cells to lay in.  That is not enough.  If you go with a 4 frame brood nest, then your queen has 85,878 cells for potential brood.  However the bees never brood the big frames up to 100% capacity.  70% would be a good estimate in my opinion.  So a 4 frame hive using your super jumbo frames would have about 85,878 x 0.70 = 60114 cells for brood.  The brood cycle is 21 days, so 60114 cells could satisfy a queen laying up to 2862 eggs a day.  That is a LOT of descent sized eggs from a not so large queen everyday.  I doubt many queens get close to that number. 

Let’s assume you do have prolific queen that could fill that capacity.  Two brood cycles would yield you a hive over 120,000 bees!  3 cycles and you’re up to 180,000 bees.  Do you really want to deal with THAT many bees?   Maybe, but certainly not more than that. grin
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Maryland Beekeeper
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Nature does nothing uselessly. Aristotle


« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2013, 11:49:23 AM »

Thanks for the reply and the calculations. Just want queen to always have cells available. + larger combs means fewer of them = faster easier inspections. Of course the easiest would be one large comb, thinking an old set of sliding glass doors might fit the bill nicely. I'll be watching the craigslist come remodel season  Smiley
Cheers,
Drew
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BlueBee
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2013, 01:20:33 AM »

As you may know, my jumbo frames are 14.5” tall.  I designed my jumbos to have 90,000 cells between the two unused outer frames.  In my experience that is plenty of cells.  Those hives brood up some really big colonies on the big frames.  The swarms are something else. 

The idea of titanic frames is intriguing, but once you reach a certain size, the bees are forced to make their brood nest in the shape of a squished ball (or a plane in the extreme) as opposed to a sphere.  It’s going to be harder to keep a sheet of 60,000 babies warm than a sphere of 60,0000 babies in the spring when you want max brood.  A sphere has the minimum surface area per volume contained and as such, it’s going to be able to retain the most bee heat.  (Heat loss is a function of surface area).  You’re not going to be able to raise 60,000 babies on a single frame if they get cold.

You titanic frames sound very interesting.  Be sure to post some photos!
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