In this article I’m going to show you how to assemble a bee frame. You will find that it is very easy to do and will soon become second nature to you during the course of your beekeeping hobby.
Don’t worry if you bend a few frame nails or you make some mistakes along the way when assembling your bee frames. I’m sure the bees won’t really mind. If you follow my steps below on how to assemble a bee frame, you will be fine.
For this tutorial I will be using a national Hoffman brood frame.
A quick note on bee frames
The bee frame has two main, distinct purposes. Let’s take the brood frame first as an example. The ‘brood’ frame is part of the main living quarters for the bees. The queen will lay eggs in these frames and the young will be raised in them. They are also used to store the food for the young to eat, such as a readily available supply of pollen and honey.
The ‘super’ frame is only used to store the bees surplus of honey that the bees have gathered over the course of the warmer season. The bees live off of this surplus of honey over the cold winter period. It is this surplus that a beekeeper will usually harvest for themselves as well.
A brood frame is usually larger than a super frame but they are assembled in exactly the same way.
What you will need:
- The unassembled bee frame parts ( I’m using a self spacing hoffman brood frame in this example
- A fresh sheet of wired brood foundation (the sheet of wax to go in the frame)
- Frame nails
- A lightweight hammer
The different parts that make up a bee frame
The frame parts comprise of:
- 1x top bar
- 1x top bar snap strip (comes attached to the top bar)
- 2x side bars
- 2x bottom bars
Now let’s assemble the bee frame
Take the top bar and notice there is a long strip that has been machined, ready for you to snap off.
Using your fingers to gently prise apart this strip away from the top bar. Put it to one side to be used later.
Slot a side bar into the top bar. If need be, persuade it to go into the slot with gentle taps of the hammer. Make sure the groove is facing inwards. Repeat with the other side bar.
We will now use a frame nail to fix the side bar to the top bar. I use one nail on the flat side of each side bar.
This edge of the side bar does not need a frame nail. Some people may advise using one here but my frames have always been strong enough without it.
Take a bottom bar and push it into the slot on the bottom of the side bar. I like to fix in place only one bottom bar first. This will help hold in place the wax foundation sheet later on.
Get your frame nails organised and ready to use. I like to use 9 frame nails in total when I assemble my bee frames.
Hammer a frame nail into both ends of the bottom bar to attach it to the side bar.
Grab your wax foundation sheet and you will see three wired tabs on the bottom. With your fingers, bend these upwards.
Now get ready to slide your wax foundation sheet into your partially built frame. You want to ensure the end with the bent metal tabs lead the way so they end up resting against the top bar.
Ensure the wax foundation is properly seated in the groove on both the left and right side bar. This will ensure that it stays put during inspections or when it is spinning in an extractor if you are building a super frame.
TIP – If it is a warm day you may find the wax foundation is a little soft. I like to place it in the fridge or freezer for about 5 minutes to firm it up a bit.
This is how your bee frame assembly should look so far. The three metal tabs are resting on the top bar ready for the next stage.
Remember the bit you snapped off of the top bar earlier? Now it is going to be used to secure the wax foundation in the frame. Place the top bar snap strip over the three metal tabs. If it does not slide in easily, you can tap it in with your hammer.
Now grab three frame nails. You are going to hammer a nail into the wood above each of the three metal tabs. This will ensure the wax will not slide out of place. Try to hammer each frame nail at an angle into the wood. This will prevent the nail penetrating fully through the top bar to the other side.
Here is how the bee frame should be looking so far. The wax foundation sheet is now fully secured using three frame nails.
We are almost done. All that is needed now is to fix in place the remaining bottom bar to the side bar. Just like you did with the first bottom bar, use a frame nail on each end.
And now we have completely assembled our bee frame. Some books that I have read suggest that you glue the edges of the side bar and top bar together before you nail them. I find this totally unnecessary as the bee frame is very strong without it.
Although it is not quite rocket science, it’s nice to see how things are done before you have a go yourself. I know that’s how I like to learn stuff.
With that said, I hope that you have found this step by step process of how to assemble a bee frame useful.