Frame spacing and size of drones.

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Beebe 

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I was watching a video by BIBBA, in which Tony Jefferson said that with Hoffman frames you don't get "full-sized" drones. . For those of us who want hunky drones to be produced, that is a less than ideal outcome. I can see the logic if two drone cells were on opposing combs and their cells were directly aligned. But bees are presumably cleverer than that

I'm assuming that his claim is anecdotal as I haven't encountered if before. I promise that I have thought about it before asking. Does anyone have an opinion about this?

Sorry for the stupid question ;).
 
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I was watching a video by BIBBA, in which Tony Jefferson said that with Hoffman frames you don't get "full-sized" drones. . For those of us who want hunky drones to be produced, that is a less than ideal outcome. I can see the logic if two drone cells were on opposing combs and their cells were directly aligned. But bees are presumably cleverer than that

I'm assuming that his claim is anecdotal as I haven't encountered if before. I promise that I have thought about it before asking. Does anyone have an opinion about this?

Sorry for the stupid question ;).
It's an interesting subject, to be sure. Hoffman uses 35mm spacing, while the standard narrow plastic spacers give 38mm which is, I think, a little bit more in line with what bees will use if allowed to build to their own designs.

See also this video

Where it's possible, I try to leave a mm or two between the Hoffman frames (or I sometimes add plastic spacers) to allow for this. Maybe it helps, maybe not. Doesn't hurt.
 
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Erichalfbee 

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So what does Tony Jefferson advocate?
Half my colonies are foundation free. They seem to manage either way. I can’t say I have noticed small drones in any of my colonies.
Never heard this before
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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It was the reason Hivemaker eschewed standard Hoffman brood frames (at one time apparently you could get wider spacings) which gave you eleven frames in the deep and instead used ten frame castellations
 

rolande 

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We use bs hoffman's @35mm and modified dadant hoffman's @38mm, while I prefer the wider spacing for various other reasons I can't say that I've noticed a difference in drone size between the two but if someone wants to come and measure them in the summer let me know.
 
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I was watching a video by BIBBA, in which Tony Jefferson said that with Hoffman frames you don't get "full-sized" drones. . For those of us who want hunky drones to be produced, that is a less than ideal outcome. I can see the logic if two drone cells were on opposing combs and their cells were directly aligned. But bees are presumably cleverer than that

I'm assuming that his claim is anecdotal as I haven't encountered if before. I promise that I have thought about it before asking. Does anyone have an opinion about this?

Sorry for the stupid question ;).
I've just texted Tony J & asked him about this (he's from Whitby association & part of the wider Yorkshire region that I'm a member of too.)

This is what he says "If you look at the frame spacings on Hoffman and the fact that narrow ends are wider than Hoffman. So when drones are built and they leave a bee space between, you end up with smaller drones. Thats why there are narrow ends in brood nest. I noticed it when I wanted lots of drones in an observation hive for a talk, as you know drones go anywhere, so I collected drones from a hive one Sunday afternoon [with Hoffman] whilst doing a beekeeping demo and bunged them in the observation hive. I closed it up, when I took the ops hive to a school for the talk, it was noticeable they were small comparing with other drones. So it's clear to me"
So anecdotal from Tony, but interesting observation. Seems to be reinforced by @Boston Bees video posted, the presenter doesn't mention small drones but clearly shows they are compromised by regular Hoffman spacing, so as you say the bees end up making fewer. Learn something new everyday here!
 

rolande 

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I have an idea you're on Portland, Rolande. We used to stay at the Dead House (where drowned sailors used to be taken) and spent many happy times in the Cove House Inn next door.
Yes I am. Not been in the Cove for years but I did hear that it had a make over and the old tables were replaced with new. Should go and have a look one day.
 
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Beebe 

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I've just texted Tony J & asked him about this (he's from Whitby association & part of the wider Yorkshire region that I'm a member of too.)

This is what he says "If you look at the frame spacings on Hoffman and the fact that narrow ends are wider than Hoffman. So when drones are built and they leave a bee space between, you end up with smaller drones. Thats why there are narrow ends in brood nest. I noticed it when I wanted lots of drones in an observation hive for a talk, as you know drones go anywhere, so I collected drones from a hive one Sunday afternoon [with Hoffman] whilst doing a beekeeping demo and bunged them in the observation hive. I closed it up, when I took the ops hive to a school for the talk, it was noticeable they were small comparing with other drones. So it's clear to me"
So anecdotal from Tony, but interesting observation. Seems to be reinforced by @Boston Bees video posted, the presenter doesn't mention small drones but clearly shows they are compromised by regular Hoffman spacing, so as you say the bees end up making fewer. Learn something new everyday here!
Thank-you for following that up. There's already plenty of logical comment above for me to be persuaded that this is something that any drone breeder needs to consider in addition to possibly providing foundational opportunities for the bees.
 

JamezF 

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Interesting thoughts, though I'd suggest it's not an entirely supportable chain of reasoning to go from "these drones from a hive with close spacing are smaller than those from a hive with larger spacing" to "closer spacing means drones will be smaller". Doesn't mean it's wrong, just that there could be other factors -- perhaps it could just be different genetics, for example.

What might perhaps be interesting would be to mix spacings in a single hive and see how the drones turn out in the different frames. Or perhaps the bees would just decide to have the majority of the drones laid in the wider-spaced frames?

James
 

Beebe 

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Turns out (as should be obvious to me) that Dave Cushman was well ahead of of the game. In his usual precise and pedantic style, for drone production, he preferred 38mm wide Hoffman side-bars and even recommended more than double the standard thickness, 12.5mm bottom bars. Presumably, he custom made or mixed parts to suit him; it sounds like that would have been no challenge to him when in his prime.

 

Beebe 

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If there is such an effect affecting drone sizes, does it actually have an impact on the quality of the drones?

This topic reminds me a little of small cell foundation.
In this case, I think it is relevant. The functionality of the drone being all about size...muscle-mass, speed, vigour of endophallus. ;)

Of course, not everyone may want to optimise their drones or care one way or the other....that's beekeeping. :)
 

JamezF 

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If there is such an effect affecting drone sizes, does it actually have an impact on the quality of the drones?
Depends what you mean by "quality", I guess. It's probably fair to ask whether small or large drones are more likely to carry genes that either bees or beekeepers might find beneficial, and if, when a mating flight occurs, size matters.

James
 

JamezF 

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In this case, I think it is relevant. The functionality of the drone being all about size...muscle-mass, speed, vigour of endophallus.
It may well be relevant, but can we decide how? Increased muscle mass is not always a benefit, because the more there is, the more is required just to handle the additional mass. For similar reasons, speed may not have a direct correlation with muscle mass.

On the basis of no information whatsoever, I'd guess that in terms of being a successful drone, there may be a range of sizes that are well-suited to achieving that goal, and outside that range, whether larger or smaller, they're less likely to be successful.

James
 

Beebe 

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Depends what you mean by "quality", I guess. It's probably fair to ask whether small or large drones are more likely to carry genes that either bees or beekeepers might find beneficial, and if, when a mating flight occurs, size matters.

James
It's not so much about whether the relative sizes of drones means that they have better genetics. In a colony where a beekeeper considers the queen's genetics to be favourable or more favourable than those of another queen, all the drones in that colony, regardless of size, will carry the favoured genes. If its drones are also better equipped physically than those from less favoured colonies, that will increase the chances of those genetics reaching another generation.
 
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