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A hive frame or honey frame is a structural element in a beehive that holds the honeycomb or brood comb within the hive enclosure. The hive frame is a key part of the modern movable-comb hive. It can be removed in order to inspect the bees for disease or to extract the excess honey.
In 1814 Petro Prokopovych invented the world's first beehive which used hive frames. Early prototypes had a large distance between frames, and the frame lay on supporting strips of wood. As a result, the frames were cross-attached by burr comb and propolized to the supporting strips and were difficult to remove. In Prokopovych's design, the frames were placed only in the honey chamber. In the brood chamber, the bees built the combs in free style.
Jan Dzierzon described the correct distance between combs in the brood chamber as 1½ inches from the center of one bar to the center of the next. In 1848, Dzierzon introduced grooves into the hive's side walls replacing the strips of wood to hang top bars. The grooves were 8 mm apart and met the distance requirements for a bee space.
A Langstroth hive is designed to hold ten frames spaced 1 1⁄2 inches (38 mm) center to center (but may have as few as 8 frames if the comb can be drawn out more widely within the frame to maintain the beespace). The top bar length is 19 inches (48 cm). The depth of the frame varies. Frames are made from wood or plastic.
Specialty frames such as cell bar frames are used to raise new queens.
- The hive and the honeybee, Dadant, 1971.
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