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Frame gripper - yes or no?


Hi everyone, does anyone have any experience with frame grippers? after a few inspections now and realising my big hands aren’t ideal for getting frames out easily and smoothly i wondered about these. i worry that the little hooked ends might damage comb though.

thoughts or experience appreciated.


I got one when I dislocated my shoulder. It was ok and the little bit of comb damage doesn’t matter. But I never use it now.

It is easier to keep bees without using gloves. And you will get good at removing frames with practice.


Hey Robert, when they came on the market I thought it was just a gimmick and haven’t bought one, my concern that using it could maybe accentuate any unwanted movement. The claw tangs wouldn’t damage any more than a few cell cappings, about the same amount as an errant finger and thumb.


Thanks gentlemen, ok… Due to being a novice and getting nervous in the whole inspection space I might get one for now.

Can’t imagine removing frames without gloves. Each of the 2 times I inspected I had a couple stings in the gloves. :thinking:


I have one that I bought for curiosity, but I never use it now. I kept worrying that if I lost my grip, I would drop the frame. Somehow holding the frame directly feels more secure.

If you have a J-hook hive tool, just lever that under the end lugs of the frame, and lift it enough to get your fingers around the lug. Then lever the other end up while lifting the frame up straight. Once out of the box, you can gently let go of the tool end, put the tool down and grab the second lug. This won’t work for really fresh foundationless frames though, as the wax is very soft and may fall out if you let it tilt that much. A better refinement of this is to use a mini-hive tool, like @JeffH used to do - do you still use it, Jeff? If you hook out the frame with that, you can then “palm” the tool and grab the frame at the same time. Very easy.


I have and use these- I think they are very handy. It is easy to lift out a comb very cleanly using one. However there are a few caveats: once you have lifted a comb out- it is hard to rotate it all the way around to look into all the cells if you are holding it with the grabber. You can’t twist your wrist around… and you also can’t easily transfer it to the other hand… So I often use one along with a frame rest that hangs off the side of the hive. I lift it out- place it in the rest and then pick it up with both hands. You really need both hands to manipulate and look at a frame well.

the second is more important: if you are lifting a very heavy frame or one that is stuck hard in place: the grabber can cause the top bar to bend in the middle when you try and pull the frame up and out. This can cause the comb to split. So if a frame is stuck hard- you really need to loosen it first with the hive tool at both ends and partially lift it up before using the tool. Never just grab the frame and pull hard… Take extra care when the frame is stuck hard with bridge comb etc. If they are really stuck and/or really heavy maybe don’t use the grabber at all.


I use mine all the time but it’s a different style. It helps me get the first frame out easily without injury to the bees. Sometimes it helps when the frames have bridgecomb too. It’s personal preference. :grinning:


I used to get this as well, then I used a bit more smoke on the bees initially when opening the box and it is no longer an issue.


You will get more sting in the gloves than you would with bare hands simply because you loose the sense of touch and that is threatening to the bees if you are pinching or even crowding them excessively.
What I do is to fully suit up and hit the hive with a little smoke at the entrance and under the lid then leave the lid in place for a minute or two then remove the lid. If the bees are quiet the first thing I do is get my gloves off. But don’t do that till you are confident. The odd sting will more than likely build up an immunity so that you don’t swell in the sting area, which used to happen to me ‘big time’…
When you are doing an inspection think about what you are going to do before hand and feel you are in control of the situation. If the colony is too hot then close up and leave it till tomorrow. Take your time, work smooth and confidently. The bees will sense if they have you bluffed. :wink:


Thanks for asking this question @Ropate - I had the same one in the back of my mind, and now we have a good bunch of answers to consider.


Fantastic. Thank you everyone!


I was using one in Sicily because the beekeeper I was working with used one. It makes it really easy to lift the frames out without squishing bees, etc.
Can be hard lifting the frames out from each corner of the frame with your hands, so when you use one of those frame grippers you can pull them straight out. If there is a little bit of bridging comb a little wiggle side to side or a knife, and they will pull straight out.
You can use the grippers to hold the frame in front of your face for a good look.
Then swap to your other hand to look at the other side.
I also find it good for getting the frame back into the brood box because you won’t catch your fingers underneath the side of the frames, and knock the other frames beside it.