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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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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How to build a Frame

At the end of January I posted some questions that most new beekeepers wish to have answered (or at least I did). Here are the questions:
  1. How hard is it to put together a hive box?
  2. What do you use to light a smoker?
  3. How do you put the bees in the hive and what are the scary parts?
  4. How do you deal with your neighbors?
  5. What is it like to be stung the first time?
  6. How much is the initial investment and do you have to have an extractor?
  7. Will you have enough wax the first year to make candles?
  8. What's the purpose of a hive inspection and how hard is it to do one?
  9. What are the most confusing parts of the first year of beekeeping?
I answered the first one: "How hard is it to put together a hive box?" here.
A missing question from the above list is how to build frames for your hives. The easiest way to build frames is to use a "jig" to build a lot of frames at once, but in order to use the jig, you have to understand how just one frame is built - so here goes:

Basically you glue the frames together and then nail them together.

If you are using foundation, on some frames you nail in the foundation with the wedge. On others you wax in the foundation into the groove of the frame using the wax tube fastener. I don't usually use foundation, but rather give the bees starter strips which are waxed into the frames just like full sheets of foundation. I wax the starter strips into both groove and wedge frames.

I find building frames to be a bit boring so instead of working on my downstairs workbench, I usually build my frames in front of the TV while I watch a movie.

The frames I built in this post came from Walter T. Kelley Company. His frames have two notches on the bottom of the end bar, but the principle of frame building is the same whether there are two notches on the bottom of the end bar or just one.

I made one of my own movies about building frames posted below:

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  1. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Good God woman, you are sure putting those frames together the hard way. I use a jig that puts together 10 at a time and they are much easier to nail. Walter Kelley sells them and they are worth their weight in gold for ease of use and time saving.

  2. Hi my name is kirt and I would like to know how much times does it take into making a hive box and how much money do you have to spend for the material in making a hive and does it take long to make it.

  3. Anonymous7:11 PM

    How many hives do u have? This spring will be our first full yr. We have two now and have ordered 2 new queens, and another package of bees. We hope to split all of them this yr. We are in SC..Howdy neighbor.....Joe and Pamela

  4. The Walter Kelley frame jig is definitely the way to go. But after nailing and gluing dozens of frames, even with the jig, and probably feeling my first hints of arthritis in my 40-something year old meat and potato hands, I think I will splurge next time and just order them pre-assembled the next time I need a batch of them. I have a feeling it is going to be worth the few extra cents per frame for me. I also tried the "paint some wax" on the guide in my foundationless frames. I got the kind that have the V-shaped bar at the top. It turns out that the V-shaped bar was all they needed and I really did not need to paint on any wax. If I was using the regular frames, I would definitely use the starter strips of wax foundation like you do or the popsicle stick method.

  5. Thank you for this! I'm just getting started, and I've looked all over for directions on how to assemble the frames without a jig and withoutt an air-compressor-powered staple gun! I thought I was the only one who didn't just happen to have one laying around.

  6. jig + stapler = 100 frames/hr

    you can build the jig easily with board lumber and bunjee cord.

    new stapler = $80.00
    used = $40.00

    pancake compressor = 150.00
    used = $100.00

    Look at your pawn shops, they usually have lots of tools. And there are many more uses for a compressor and stapler/nailgun than putting frames together.


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