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Assembling a Simple Frame


#1

The frames are what is used for bees to build comb, it is a human contraption to allow us to remove the bees brood, pollen and honey comb without destroying the hive. Bees naturally build their comb in neat rows and frames are merely a container for this comb.
Assembling varies from country to country, region to region. This guide is merely one simple method you can use to put frames together. Frames are generally wired to add strength to this support however this is not a necessary component and has been left out of this guide.
Frames can be purchased in several different sizes to suit the many different size hive boxes.
If you are planning to wire your frames, be sure to order the frame side bars pre-drilled as this will save a lot of time effort with minimal cost difference. Buy the best quality frame timber you can get your hands on without knots, splits or bends. The timber should be soft enough to hammer a nail through without splitting, the top bar could be carrying up to 2.5kg of honey and will occasionally be bumped on the ground or shaken to remove the bees.
What do you need:
• Good quality glue
• A small hammer
• Nails 30mm x1.6mm or Staples 14mm long

The best type of glue used differs depending on the beekeeper you talk to, I have found epoxy to be ideal although it can be pricey, it offers great strength and is resilient to moisture unlike PVA. Liquid nails is also widely used and cost effective.

Start by placing the top bar on a flat workbench or surface upturned so the wax foundation groove is facing upwards, then take two side bars and place a dab of glue into the cut out of the widest end and push each side bar onto the upturned top bar.
Whilst upturned put another dab of glue on the end of the side bars then push the bottom bar into the side bar cut outs. Check for squareness.

The next step is to carefully hammer nails or staples to provide greater support to the frame. Start by hammering a single nail through the top side bar of the frame, if a 30mm nail is used it should pass though one side bar lug, the top bar and into the side bar lug on the other side ensuring that the top bar is secured in place. Do this for both ends of the frame but only a single nail per end.

Drive a nail directly through the bottom bar so that it locks the bottom and side bars in place. A staple could also be used here as this part of the frame is not considered to be load bearing.

Staples can be used in place of nails or as additional support to using nails. Bear in mind that just using staples to attach the top bar may be insufficient and at some point the top bar may come away from the frame whilst being levered by the beekeeper.


Novice or beginner bee keeping
#2

I must admit I don’t Glue. the frames are not really under torsion and they are easier to disassemble if not glued.

Just what I do - But I’m no carpenter.

I do however put 2 pins in either end of the top bar where the strength is needed


#3

I have read a few people who advise not to glue frames for that reason as well. The Fat Beeman on Youtube is one of them as well. Because if a single component breaks on a frame it can be pulled out and replaced instead of replacing the whole frame.

The construction/over engineer in my brain says glue, but I could see both sides of this one.


#4

I think glue is a great idea but I’ve never done it. I can’t say I’ve had any reason to regret not using it. In nearly 28 years, I’ve never had any reason to disassemble a frame. Sometimes they might need an extra nail to tighten things up after many years. This is what I do.


#5

I agree with Valli
If you are using foundation, some beekeepers like to re-use old frames.

I personally don’t. Cant be bothered cleaning them.
I don’t glue and National lugs are longer than Langs, I’ve never had one break, and remember the whole frame is substantially reinforced by the bees creating a rigid wax comb.


#6

Also National frames are more fiddly on the lower bar there are 2 not 1. I have some really good “Gimp Pins” - can’t remember where they were from? They are 1 3/4" coated against rust and work really well - but narrow enough not to split the frames.


#7

Any chance you could share a photo or two of the national frames @Valli ? I am not familiar with this design.


#8

See the bottom of the frame is 2 thin strips not a split strip as for some Langs


#9

I found them a pain to assemble - give me Langs any day. the strips are really thin and slot into the frame then pinned


#10

Here is a deconstructed Frame
with Hoffman sides


#11

Thanks for sharing, very interesting and quite different to standard Lang frames.


#12

I think they are more flimsy - the Lang is a more robust frame and the nationals are smaller


#13

Thanks for that Rodderick. I’ve just bought another 100 Langstroth frames and will need to assemble some of them over the next week or two. I made up a jig when I assemble the last lot but I’m not happy with it. I’m thinking of building another jig using a few ideas from internet bee experts.

I’ve been using an electric staple gun from the sides of the frames as well as a tiny amount of polyurethane glue. The glue is a little flexible and expands into place. It doesn’t seem to worry the bees at all but I’m still very much a beekeeping novice so my expertise is very close to zero.


#14

To glue or not to glue. I glue for extra strength and as the glue I use sets solid with no residual smell I have no issues in the hive. But I understand the choice to “not glue” and respect that. I have had issues with staples not holding the frames pieces together so I now use the nails as listed above in the sides and a staple in the top (and glue of course). Attaching a photo of my wiring jig which also helps in assembling frames and keeping them square. Is this what you are referring to @sciencemaster ?


#15

I have not had any luck with wiring - any Videos?


#16

Hi Valli, Brushy Mountain put out a reasonable wiring video, I do have How-To-Wire that I am putting together for my local club. Will be ready soon.


#17

Nup! Waaaay too Fiddly!!

That tool he drags on the wire - I would have thought it stretches the wire not tightens - How doe it do it?


#18

Its a wire crimper, they create a zig-zag in the wire that basically shortens and tightens the wire. It’s actually quite clever and easy to use. I have this one, much easier to hold than the plastic cheapy variety in the video.


#19

I remember now why I went with Starter Strips LOL!

Do you in-bed your wire?

The whole 9v battery seemed a pain and I done’t have one


#20

I like the cotton reel wire rollers and the doorstop clamp on the left of your jig Rodderick. I assume it holds the frame while you wire it. I modelled my first jig on one I saw on you tube. I knocked it together in a few minutes. It’s pretty rough and out of square but I learnt what not to do. When I build the next one, I’ll do a video and post a link.