Assembling Beekeeping Equipment Part 1 – Assembling Frames


Hello, everybody. I’d like to talk to you today about building bee equipment. You can go to a bee store and buy everything, all assembled, everything painted, ready to go. That’s one option. Some of us like building things. It is definitely cheaper to be assembling the equipment yourself. Some things are worth cutting from scratch, other things I really feel are not worth it. Things like frame parts are – with all that machine that goes on in a frame part, it’s barely worth cutting these yourself. If you are going to make anything yourself, buy something to copy because the dimensions that you’re cutting things to have to be very precise to respect the bee space that’s built into our modern beehives. So, let’s talk about frames first. And we’ll look at the end bars of frames first. We have two frames here. The one on my right, your left is self spacing. It has shoulders built onto that end bar. The other one on the other side is non-self spacing. In a brood chamber, my preference is to have these self spacing frames because they prevent you from mashing bees together as you’re sliding frames close to each other.

They butt up against each other, prevent the frames from getting too close together. And we only use nine frames in a honey super. So, these spaces are really non-functional. And in that case, a non-self spacing frame works quite well. So, that’s the end bars. Let’s talk a little bit about assembly options. There are a lot of different types of frames on the market even more so now that we are commonly using plastic for foundation. When we assemble a frame, there’s a certain forces that want to be pulling the frame apart. The main force on the frame is wanting to pull the top bar off the end bar. When we pry up with a hive tool to pry a frame out, we’re putting force, pulling it up like that. When the frame is hanging in the box, the weight of the honey, if you’re going over bumps and so on, going down the road, wants to pull that frame apart as well. So, this joint has to be very secure. Now, you can accomplish that either through using glue or nails. If you’re going to be using just nails, a nail through the end bar is really important, most important nail in the frame, because the nail they’ll going perpendicular to the force will prevent that frame from coming apart.

A lot of modern frames are built in a way that there’s very little space for nailing through to the end bar into the top bar. You can see that as a very tight little shoulder there. These are made for gluing together. So, let’s talk about where glue works and where glue doesn’t work. Woodworkers are all taught to use glue on face screen. Glue doesn’t work on end ring. That’s end ring there, where all the greens, the tips of all these, the green are faced up there. And there’s no good adhesion to that sort of a surface. This is face screen right here, and that’s face screen right there. So, the only location that glue will work is applied to this side here. So, you just apply it there using a little spreader like so. Another thing that works well is an acid brush to apply the glue, but then that frame is assembled like so. And it’s even a good idea to apply a little bit of glue to the other face screen surfaces as well. Then what we would be doing is putting a nail down in from the top, just to keep things in place while the glue dries.

It’ll actually be the glue that holds the bond together. So, now, we’re looking at it from the bottom of the frame. We have applied glue on the face screen in here as well on both ends. And now we’re ready to nail the frame together. Just hold the frame upright like that. And you want to be using very specific nails that are made for nailing frames together. These are box nails. They have a very thin profile. And that black coating is actually glue. When the nail is driven in, the heat from that friction melts the glue on the nail. And then when it cools, it sets. So, it helps hold the nail securely in place. So, we’ll just drive that in right in the middle of the frame there, get it centered, and then drive in. We’ll spin that around. So, everything’s kind of in the same orientation, makes it a little easier to work on, make sure the nail is straight up, and drive it home. We flip the frame over and do two nails here. Because as you can see, there’s a space for a nail to go in there and the nail to go in there.

So, we’ll just put the nails in the bottom now, get it tapped in, line it up nice and straight and drive it home. Second in, get it set, make sure it’s straight, drive it home. So, there we go. We’ve got to frame all assembled and it’ll be a good strong frame that’ll last for many years. Now, let’s look at doing this in a little bit more efficient manner by ganging up the frames to nail them all at once. This is a jig for assembling multiple frames at once. It holds them into position for nailing, but it also holds them nice and square, so they’re assembled properly. Let’s take a look at this box. We have plans for this on our website, but it’s a box. It’s five and a half inches high. And what we’ve done is put a sheet of quarter-inch plywood on the ends of the box to take up the bee space that is situated in that location. And then we’ve made up another box that fits inside. And so, when we stand our end bars up in here and over on the other side over here that will hold them all in a vertical position.

So, we’ll just tip that box up. And what we do is just go down one side, standing the frames up all the way down, and then we stand frames up all the way down on the other side until this box is completely full. So, now we have all our end bars lined up in here. You can see how they’re held in position. And then we can just take her glue and go down and place glue on our face screen there all the way down on both sides. So, we’ve got the glue on all our end bars, and then we just place the top bars on, push them down until they’re all the way down. And this goes along pretty quickly. And now, we can go ahead and nail the frames. With the jig holding the frames all into position, it’s really a simple map to run down the top bars and drive all those nails in, make it in, make sure that the nails are running straight down and not hoping at the sides at the end bar. When all those top bars are nailed, we just flip the whole jig over, and then apply glue all the way along on the bottom. So, once that glue is in place, we then just put all our bottom bars in place, too.