In the wild bees will indeed make their homes in many different spaces and since they aren’t planning for inspections or honey harvests there’s no reason a space has to be a specific size. But for us humans to work with the bees to do inspections and harvest honey there are requirements.
Many of you might have heard the term Langstroth hive but you’re not sure where that comes from. Lorenzo Langstroth first came up with the hive design used by many beekeepers in 1851. The primary importance of his finding is that bees will fill any space smaller than 1/4 inch with propolis and will build comb in any space larger than 3/8 inch. That’s a 1/8 inch sweet spot.
So can you build equipment? Absolutely, but you’ll need to insure that you get your spacing correct or your bees will make a mess of things and inspecting your hive will be difficult.
Finally, most folks have found that building their own frames is rarely worth it for langstroth style hives… there’s just too many tiny pieces to make that worthwhile if you don’t have machinery to automate the process. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it of course, but for many the cost/benefit for frames just isn’t there.
Have you built your own equipment? We’d love to see your pictures! Let us know below and we’ll contact you.