Spacing in eight frame Langstroth hives (metric)

I am a strong advocate for Langstroth and especially 10 frame Langstroth hives. One of the primary issues I have with the eight frame standard adopted in Australia is the frame spacing and internal volume. Consider the following measurements which have been converted to metric for an Australian audience:

A 10 frame hive containing 10 Hoffman 35mm frames has a total frame width of 350mm. The internal size of a wooden 10 frame hive in Australia is 362mm. Using this sizing, the additional 12mm can be attributed to the spacing provided from the firmly centred frames to the internal sides of the hive wall, 6mm on each side.

An 8 frame hive containing 8 Hoffman 35mm frames has a total frame width of 280mm. The internal width of an 8 frame hive in Australia is ~310mm. This wider dimension provides a total of 30mm additional spacing from the firmly centred frames to the internal sides of the hive wall, 15mm each side. If this measurement is derived from the total frame width, it should surely be less, not more.

Speaking to several manufacturers of wood ware in Australia, there was some level of acceptance that something is ‘off’ with the spacing of 8 frame hive boxes, and it has been this way for some time.

The following article extracted from ‘Gleanings in Bee Culture’ from 1891 suggests ‘some time’ may be closer to 125 years. The attached article possibly provides some insight into the path that resulted in this persistent anomaly with 8 frame hives.

The article discusses the improvements and changes to the ‘dovetailed’ hive design which was a popular benchmark for improvements and developments with the Langstroth hive.

The specific points of interest are the following:

The hive and supers are 1/2 inch wider: instead of being 11 5/8 inches wide inside, they are 12 1/8. This makes room for the addition of a dummy or division-board in the brood-chamber, which is to be first removed before handling the frames. This additional 1/2 inch gives room in the supers for a follower and wedge making it possible to have side pressure on the section, which is so desirable.

In the late 1880s and early 1890s division/follower boards appear to still be an integral part of Langstroth hive management. The division board is designed to actively manage the brood space by having a movable wall (the division/follower) on one side of the hive that is pressed up firmly against the end frame to reduce the brood space. This adds the flexibility of variable brood sizing eg. from 5 to 8 frames without increasing the brood cavity volume with empty frames. This division board can also be used to split the brood chamber if the beekeeper wanted to host two colonies in the same hive box eg. two smaller nucleus hives.

The measurements that are discussed in the article convert to the following metric measurements:
11 5/8 = 295.3mm
12 1/8 = 307.9mm

This suggests that the 8 frame super was originally closer to 295mm, and the addition of a 1/2 inch division/follower board and increased spacing pushed the internal width out to 308mm.

Although the 308mm internal width isn’t the current standard (although very close), it should be noted that the current measurement of 310mm is closer to the ‘wide’ measurement of 308mm (+2mm) than the ‘original’ measurement of 295mm (+13mm).

Frame width of 280mm for 8 frames with a 295mm internal hive width provides 7.5mm spacing from the side of the centred frames to each side of the hive. With rounding considered, this falls eerily close to a valid bee space measurement (

So why wasn’t the 10 frame hive modified in the same way and widened for a follower board? great question.

Edit History
2020-02-09 - Fix transcription of 12 1/2 to 12 1/8 after feedback in thread from @FreeBee. Remaining references updated to reflect change but no change to conclusion
2017-03-07 - Re-phrase again for 10 frame sizing and use 362mm measurement as base for calculations
2017-03-06 - Include feedback from Laurie on 10 frame hive sizings in Australia

I have updated the original article regarding 10 frame hive sizes after some excellent feedback from Laurie, a local beekeeper in the Canberra region on the ACT Beekeepers forum.

To quote the specific section:

btw: is “The standard internal width of a 10 frame hive in Australia” really 370mm?
The imperial internal width was 14 1/4" which is approximately 362mm and I thought that was the size in common usage.
I bought a 10-frame wooden super from lockwoods at the field day last weekend specifically because I wanted one to check measurements/fit etc (I don’t use 10-frame wooden equipment myself) and it has internal width of 362mm.

As well as

According to cushmans website 370mm looks to the metric 10-frame langstroth measurement used in the Britian (and possibly parts of Europe also as my HoneyPaw 10-frame polystyrene hives from Finland have 370mm internal width)

Even with this alternate measurement of 362mm (in reality 370mm is likely the ‘alternate’ measurement) it is an interesting measurement as it would provide 6mm on each side of the firmly centred frames in a 10 frame super, which is closer to the available space provided in the ‘proposed’ 295mm internal width 8 frame super.

As hive dimensions are of ‘interest’ to me I’ve collected a number of them over time and have just shared a google-sheets document with a number of the bits I have gathered.
Hopefully this link will work:

If not this should work:

The only Technoset box I have is a Q8 and I’m not sure how representative it is so if someone knows the dimensions; let me know and I’ll add them.


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Yeah, the Q8 is based on the standard Technoset super.

The following are from the Technoset glossy / promotional material:

Box sizes:

Frame sizes:

The following thread on the Australian modified Warre might be of interest too as it includes dimensions.


Why not use dummy boards as standard practice for 8 frame boxes?

Based on the historical clip, that’s what they are designed to do.

This is a great article, well done on tracking down the origin of the odd Victorian hive size.

One suggestion though… the image says:
“instead of being 11 5/8 inches wide inside, they are 12 1/8

but then the text goes on to discuss the internal dimension of 12 1/2 inches.

I feel significant value could be added to the article by updating the text to match the dimensions in the original article.

Thanks for the feedback @FreeBee! This was an honest error introduced when transcribing the original text, and I appreciate you identifying it and bringing it to my attention.

I have updated the original document and believe it still flows/makes sense with the updated measurements.

Welcome to the site :slight_smile: