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Separating frames

HELP! I have two flow frame 2 hives
I am having a tremendous problem with separating the frames to extract them for inspection
The comb seems to meld together and I invariably damage a large section trying to separate the frames
The colonies have been in place about a month and I feel the foundationless frames are a disaster and inspection usually causes more damage than good
Should i pull the frames and replace with foundations or let the bees build and not try to separate?
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Hello Marc, You will get arguments for and against using frames with foundation in the brood box. Reasons against it vary from those that want to keep the colony totally to natural and in some countries there is a concern about toxins in bees wax. In Australia there is a lot of so called “bees wax” foundation sold that is made in China that the bees are reluctant to use.
Here any frame in a bee hive must be able to be removed for inspection, that is the law, and I’m sure it is the same in the US, it makes sense.
I’ve experimented in the past with frames with no foundation checker boarding them between frames but it doesn’t work for me as the bees make too much bur and bridging comb and too many drone cells. I make up my frames with wire fitted and fit foundation to them and then add them to the brood box of a split. After a couple of years, and because they are wired I transfer them to the super of a Langstroth hive for honey storage where they can withstand extraction in a spinner.
My advice is to make up a few frames as ‘stand bys’ if needed and cut the frames out to separate them. Tidy the foundation as best you can, doing nothing won’t help and often it will get worse.


Hello Marc, just a few things are the frames hard up against each other and central in the brood box with only a larger gap on the outsides?
If the gaps are larger you are more likely to get more bridging comb.
This also makes it easier to remove frames. Using your hive tool push the outer most frame to the side remove it and place it on a stand. Then you can just spread the next frame over a little and so on. Just leave the first frame out until you are finished.
Is the hive level from side to side and only angled from front to rear? The bees want to build straight down.
If you are really concerned and you have done as above put one frame with foundation in to help guide them.
Good luck


Thanks so much for the info. It has been a steep learning curve!

Thanks so much for the info
It has been a learning experience!

This was my exact feeling as a first-year beekeeper, Marc :sweat:. I felt like more like a marauder than a beekeeper when every inspection required separating cross combed (foundationless) frames with a bread knife. Occasionally I just rebelled and let two fused frames here or there remain. I took the bees’ relentless cues and concluded that deep foundationless frames need more structure to work safely. They cross the combs in these because they know their weight when full, in proportion to the height from top bar to bottom, will risk collapse. Since then, in addition to keeping frames aligned and level, I modify all my new deep frames with bamboo skewers:


Thanks peter - good advice I will give it a try

Thanks Eva -I like the bamboo idea. From now on all my frames will have some type of support