Measuring Honey Bee Combs

The Results, from around the world

A recent post from BEE-L


I have two 30 bar Kenya style hives. I just started two packages April 24th.

We talked earlier. The packages are from Hardeman apiaries in GA and I believe the bees are Italian. I have an Italian queen and a Carniolan queen, but I believe the bees from both packages are all italian.

I had to remove some cone that they attached to my inside the hive feeder and have measured 10 cells across in three areas. 5.2cm to 5.3cm is what I am reading. Bees are starting to hatch and they still have more bars of comb to build. So, I should have a carniolan measure for you in a few months. This is all natural comb, no foundation.

I do not know the latitude, longitude or altitude, but I am just 8 miles south from the birth place of the H.A.L 9000. Here is a fun link.

Until the next measure,
- Bill Slusser

I had a package that built some large (gorgeous)
sheets of burr comb.
10 cells = 53.5mm
Good Luck
Here is another quote for worker cell dimensions stated in the old german Textbook by Ferdinand Gerstung:"Der Bien und seine Zucht" 7th edition printed in 1924.

He states on page 136: The worker cell measures from wall to wall 5 mm and from tip to tip 6 mm. For drone cells he states: From wall to wall 6 mm and from tip to tip 7 mm.

Just for further information.
With best regards Ahlert

Greetings from rainy Belgium! to the point:

Some 10 cells cm measurements of a ten years old WBC hive just dismantled. The hive hadn't be opened in more than five years (but for Apistan fluvalinate strips). Very dark brown comb used both for stores and brood, probably not built on foundation. Dad just gives them a one inch thick starter at the top of the frame, but it was many years ago and he does not remember for sure.

By the way, some drone 10 cells cm measurements:

The stock was black colored and rather naughty, from unknown origin (suburban swarm).
Belgium, Europe roughly 50° North and 5° East, 200 km from and 200 m above sea level, Dandelion just blooming now. (April 9,2000)

Vanessa de Behr

The locally available foundation cells of average 5.35 mm.  Some "wild" comb has cells of 6.7 mm. 
Paul. (NZ)
In Sweden there are three manufacturers of wax foundation. Two says they use 5.4 mm size. The third 5.7 mm. But when measuring it also depends which of the three ways to measure parallel to parallel you measure as the mill seems to stretch the foundation a bit, so measured one way of three will usually give a little bigger size than measuring the other two.

There are also molds on the market, from Germany and from Denmark. The one from Denmark gives 5.3 mm.

A measurement made by our old professor Ake Hansson given in an old article from -64 mentions his measurement of 5.03 from a wild swarm.

I will look myself this summer.

Best regards
Erik Osterlund
Editor of Swedish Beekeeping Journal "Bitidningen"

10 cells=5,4 cm
Regards from Dane Bogunovic
beekeeper from Yugoslavia
The German Textbook: Büdel and Herold: Biene und Bienenzucht says that the cell should be 5.37 mm from wall to wall. I have measured 10 cells from my wax foundation im am using currently and I have come up for 10cells to 53 mm, which would be 5.3 mm for 1 cell.
With best regards
Prof. Dr. Ahlert Schmidt
Institut für Botanik
Universität Hannover
Plastic Swedish made foundation: 5,1 mm
Wax foundation: 5,5 mm
P-O Gustafsson,
Hi Allen.
This goes for Danish factory-made worker-cell foundation, middle-of-cell-wall to middle-of-cell-wall over 10 cells is 5,4 cm. You can buy drone-cell foundation, but I don't use it. I've been using three different suppliers of wax foundation the last five years, and there has been absolutely zero difference in the size - same manufacturer of foundation machinery, I guess? :-)
Would be interesting to hear more about Your results.
Bee greetings
:-) Lars Hansen in Denmark
...I have looked at a variety of foundation sizes we have here, some local, some US, and some of which you will definitely have seen before.

Makers name first, then number of millimeters per 10 cells.

Steele & Brodie 55.5
Thorne  56.5, 57.0, 57.5
      (3 different batches)
Kemble 54.5
Kemlea 54.5
Dadant (old) 53.0
Dadant Plasticell 53.5
Pierco foundation 52.5
Pierco frames 52.0
Wild combs 54.0 52.5 53.0 55.5

In the case of the wild combs they were in two swarms found in open spaces which we had to remove during the summer. There was a range of sizes in both sets of wild combs. The top two figures are the range in the first, and the second two are the range in the second. Both colonies were A.m.mellifera mongrels (probably including a little carniolan or caucasian blood, or even perhaps both, but predominantly the northern black bee)...

Murray McGregor

... from The Netherlands
A top bar hive only wax (without cells) as starter strip
10 cells total 53 mm (1 inch 89/128) to bee exact
Distance heart to heart:
            53/10 = 5,3 mm. 27/128

bees: carnica
regards, jant

From Fiji,

New Zealand foundation, Ceracell - 5.55 cm
Un-identified old roller mill* - 5.275 cm
Fiji, top bar comb - 5.325 cm (10 cells)

*will enquire

I do some bee removal as a sideline. The comb measurement was 51mm for 10 cells the bees were of unknown origin and the comb was built straight (no curves) without foundation. The bees were in a upturned flower pot. I am located in Adelaide South Australia.

Don Nairn

My two local foundation manufacturers produce foundations with the worker bees cells of an average diameter 5.26 and 5.36 mm. I have not measured any wild combs yet.

P. Slezar, Czech Republic, Central Europe,
altitude 200-600m, average temperature 7°C, annual rainfalls 500 to 800 mm

What size is your foundation?

Please let us know today

Simply measure across 10 cells on your foundation  and  write me with the measurement,
especially if it does not measure between 5.20 and 5.45 cm. (That's 2-1/16 and 2-1/8 inches)

If you do not use foundation, What size is your worker comb?
 Please measure several worker combs  and write me with the measurements.

Please mention

  • if you are measuring combs or foundation

  • if the combs are built on foundation or not

  • where you are located

Also tell us, ...if you know

  • the race of bees

  • your latitude, longitude

  • your altitude above sea level

 If you do not want to have your name or results shown here, let me know when you write


Please report errors to allen dick