Thorne, the equipment supplier, have been sending newsletters recently. The latest contains an interesting article about increasing the number of drones in a hive.
The article points out that the Drone population in feral hives is up to 20% of the total. Drones are males and are necessary for the less visible part of sexual reproduction in the colony which happens in flight. Having an adequate number of Drones will improve the chances of a colony passing on its' genes. It may also improve temperament and reduce swarming, presumably because the colony is achieving its' biological need to reproduce.
Framed hives discriminate against Drones because the Hoffman spacing is too small to accommodate the deeper cells. Drone brood are pushed to the margins of the brood area, reducing the number of Drones which can be produced.
Interventions performed by conventional bee keepers further reduce the population of drones by damaging cappings during inspections and by bio-technical controls (ie Drone uncapping to manage Varroa). These don't apply to my bee keeping.
Adapting a framed hive to allow for deeper cells should be easy enough. Wider spacers can be used, either as glued on blocks; frame spacers or nails which set width. I will look for a way to adapt existing frames, starting with the glue method. I will report on this in a later blog post.