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Yet another take on follower boards

After making some Langstroth brood boxes with nine frames and two follower boards (in positions one and eleven) I began to think that it would be easier to make a ten-frame Langstroth into an eight-frame Langstroth by putting follower boards in positions one and ten. In this way you could use two standard Langstroth frames and fill them with Masonite to use as your followers. This method has several advantages:

  • The follower boards would be easier to make. Instead of having to divide a frame lengthwise, you could use the whole thing.
  • A full brood box would be lighter with just eight brood frames instead of ten. Using this system, the weight of a full ten-frame brood box with follower boards would be similar to that of a full eight-frame brood box without follower boards.
  • You gain some of the benefits of an eight-frame brood box (chiefly lighter weight) without sacrificing compatibility between eight-frame and ten-frame equipment.
  • You gain all the advantages of having follower boards (a place for bees to congregate, easy to remove frames, insulation in winter) while still having a conventional shape in your brood boxes. (In other words, your ten-frame slatted rack will work perfectly even though you have two follower boards.)
  • Because eight-frame equipment has become very common, we know that a hive can thrive in that configuration.

The downside is that a large hive, let’s say one with three deeps, will contain only 24 instead of 30 frames of bees. However, this would be the same if you had three eight-frame deeps with no follower boards, so I suspect it’s not much of an issue.

Rusty

Comments

Phillip
Reply

Hey Rusty,

Have you used this variation of the follower boards yet? Any success?

I will always be sold on anything that makes the boxes easier to lift, and I’m equally sold on anything that’s easier to make. And this variation of the follower boards is super easy.

My only concern would be knocking my brood boxes down to eight frames. Losing one frame per box doesn’t seem like a great loss, but losing two frames, where I live, that might just be enough to reduce the strength of the colony. I’ll have to ask around about that.

Rusty
Reply

Phillip,

No, I’ve only used the split-bar type with nine frames. I’ve never used an eight-frame configuration.

Phillip
Reply

After reading Warré book, and hearing him talk about the benefits of a smaller brood chamber, I’ve decided to use this kind of follower board on at least one of my hives this year. Doesn’t seem like it would hurt. Not too much anyway.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

paula ellen
Reply

Hi Rusty,

I was wondering about using follower boards to relieve congestion in the brood box come springtime. If the brood is in two boxes, do I need to use follower boards in both boxes, or can I just use them in the bottom box?

Thank you so much for this website! You are a wealth of information!

Rusty
Reply

Paula Ellen,

You could use follower boards in one brood box and not the other.

Dave in Sudbury MA
Reply

Hi Rusty,

When this was posted where you using a 9-frame slated rack with the 2 followers, what configuration are you using at present?

Is there a way to return to using 10 frames using the thicker frames from running 9?

Rusty
Reply

Dave,

I don’t use followers any longer except in nucs or very small colonies. Generally, I use nine frames with a nine-frame slatted rack. I will use 10 frames if I can get them in, but after a couple years they don’t fit. I don’t worry about the number of slats in the rack because neither slatted racks or screened bottoms have much impact on mite control. Mostly, they are for ventilation.

Dave from Sudbury MA
Reply

If there are 9 frames in the bottom brood box should 9 be used in the upper? Right now I have a 9-10 configuration and that seems to give the bees a little more space that encourages them to build comb between the upper and lower frames so if I try and remove the upper box the lower frames are lifted up aggravating the bees no end.

Rusty
Reply

Dave,

In my opinion, it’s best to be consistent. On the other hand, if you’re not, the bees will adapt.

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