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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

For Want of a Nail.......

At Young Harris Beekeeping Institute this year, I heard some of the people who were taking the Certified Beekeeper exam comment that there was a question on the exam about how many nails do you need to put together a frame? One might think 8 - two at either end of the top bar (4) and two at either end of the bottom bar (4), but if you gave that answer, you would not be right.

The real answer is 10: two at either end of the top bar, two at either end of the bottom bar and one on each side of the end bar going from the end bar sideways into the top bar. If you have glued the frame together and used that 9th and 10th nail, your frame should stay together well.

Unfortunately yesterday while inspecting, I tried to free a frame built last year from the propolis glueing it to the hive box. The picture below was the result. The top bar pried from the propolis, pulled up on its own and separated from the end bar. This is a good object lesson for me - last year I didn't glue my frames and I only used 8 nails on most of them.

Much to the bees' displeasure, I pulled out my trusty hammer and nailed it back together but didn't add the 9th and 10th nail (didn't want to disturb the girls even more), but I have learned my lesson - never put together a frame without glue and with only 8 nails!

The old nursery rhyme says it best:

"For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

Benjamin Franklin even included a version of this rhyme in his Poor Richard's Almanac.
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  1. Anonymous10:15 AM

    I live with a woodworker, who will tell you the correct answer is NO nails! Glue joints are stronger than the wood itself; the nails keep pieces together while the glue sets. If one had no glue, the 10 nails would work better than 8, but could still loosen and pull out, especially in soft wood. If you don't have clamps, 4 nails should do just fine. After the glue sets, the nails are superfluous.

  2. Anonymous11:26 PM

    I purchase all my frames ready made and I am wondering now how they assemble them and how strong they really are. Never gave this much thought until I saw your photo today.

    Thanks for the information

    Annette from Placerville California


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