Assembling British National Frames
Frames firmly hold foundation sheets in place and enable beekeepers to remove panels of honeycomb for inspection. This piece of beekeeping equipment is the trickiest part to assemble, so to help make it easier, Simon shows how to do it quickly and easily.
What you need
Foundation - wired or unwired
These clever little rectangular sheets are used to persuade your bees to draw even honeycomb. Hexagonal cell patterns are imprinted to guide the bees where to draw uniform cells, and these cells will be used to raise brood, store food or collect honey. There are plastic options out there, but in our experience, pure beeswax foundation is the way to go as the bees accept it much more.
This will come in handy for levering the wedge strip of wood from the top bar at the beginning of the process, ready to use it later to help hold the sheet of foundation in place.
All of the frames we currently sell are self spacing. This choice of frame is very popular because they have been carefully designed to stop bees from gluing frames together with propolis, as well as keeping the bees where they're meant to be and maintaining an all round safe and productive hive.
These consist of two rails.
These have two grooves to keep the foundation in place.
Please don't be tempted to use any other nails other than those provided with your frames. These pins are made for the job whereas others can split the wood.
Rampin or hammer
Either of these tools will help speed up your frame assembly. If you would like to get your hands on a rampin, you can find them here.
The majority of beekeeping tasks usually fall between the months of April and July, so building your frames is a great thing to do during the quiet months. Yes, it's a repetitive job, but it can also be quite a relaxing task because of this. It's never a bad thing to have too many frames, as any beekeeper knows, we get through quite a vast amount. Therefore, it's always a good idea to be prepared for the months you'll be inspecting your hive(s) and swapping and changing frames.
Take frames to the hive with you
We know this might seem like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many beekeepers forget to take frames to the hives with them when they're inspecting in peak season. There is nothing more annoying than going to have a look at your bees and then realising you need to change a frame and having to traipse all the way back to get one. So, a little helpful hint is to try and get into the habit of always taking some spares with you.
Know when to replace your frames
Ideally, frames should be changed every three years or so to avoid infestation and germ build up.
Remember, brood frames are pretty much always in use so they stay with the colony.
The shallow super frames are removed and after the honey has been extracted, they can either be replaced for the bees to use again, or scored for the following years honey season. They must be dry and free of all moisture if they are to be stored and used again.
What to do with sticky frames?
A handy hint for the extracted sticky frames is to leave them exposed to all bees, wasps and honeybees out in the open, so they can thoroughly clean them out by feeding on all the residue nectar.