What is “Bee Space” and why is this important to beekeeping?

Bee Health November 10, 2009|Print
Traditional hive parts are made from wood. The design and dimension of hive parts are based on the concept of bee space. Bee space was first recognized and promoted by the Philadelphia minister Lorenzo Langstroth in 1851, when he introduced what is commonly known as the Langstroth hive. He discovered that bees build excess comb in a space larger than 3/8 inch. Bees will fill any space less than 1/4 inch with propolis. Therefore, a space between 3/8 inch and 1/4 inch is in a range of acceptable bee space, with 5/16 inch an average that is most acceptable by beekeepers. A Langstroth hive would have a 5/16- or 3/8-inch space separating each frame and the frames from all other hive parts. -John Skinner, University of Tennessee