If there’s one thing beekeepers go through a lot, it’s frames. Through normal wear and tear, beehive frames periodically need to be replaced. A way to save on costs is to make your own. Read on to learn how to make beehive frames from scratch.
What is a Beehive Frame?
The frame is a very important part of a beehive. It is the part that the bees build wax upon. Beehive frames hold the bee’s brood and honey.
Before the invention of modern beehives, beekeepers used to have to destroy the whole hive just to harvest honey. But with the invention of movable frame beehives, the frames can be taken out of the hive for inspections and harvesting and placed back in.
Beehive boxes will hold either 8 or 10 frames, depending on the size of the box. Since Langstroth hive boxes have standardized measurements, beehive frames do as well. Frames are usually made out of wood, but there are plastic frames as well.
Parts of a Beehive Frame
- Top Bar – The top of the frame has two ears on the ends that is used to hang from the hive box. They also have a groove on the bottom that is used to place foundation.
- Side Bar – Each frame has 2 side bars. They usually have a few holes in them to attach the foundation.
- Bottom Bar – Like the top bar, the bottom bar may have a groove for the foundation to connect to.
Beehive Frame Measurements
Langstroth beehive frames have standardized measurements. This is helpful when learning how to make beehive frames from scratch.
The top bar of a beehive frame measures 19 inches. The depth of the frame will vary depending on the size of box. As you may recall from my post on beehive supers, there are 3 sizes of boxes – deep, medium, and shallow.
Frames for deep boxes will have a width of 19 inches and a depth of 9 1⁄8 inches. These boxes are usually used for the brood.
Medium box frames have a width of 19 inches and a depth of 6 1⁄4 inches. Medium boxes are used for brood boxes or honey supers.
The measurements for shallow box frames are 19 inches width and 5 3⁄8 inches depth. Shallow boxes are typically used for honey supers.
Materials Needed to Make Beehive Frames
To make beehive frames from scratch you need the following materials:
- Lumber, such as pine, cedar, or fir. Choose strong wood that is knot free.
- Wood glue
- Power saw
- Sand Paper
- Staples or nails
How to Make Beehive Frames From Scratch
- Use a power saw to cut each piece of wood to the appropriate sizes. The top bars are longer than the other pieces, as they have ears to hang onto the box.
- Drill holes into the side bars. These holes are used to attach foundation to the frame.
- Cut grooves into the top and bottom bars. These grooves will hold the foundation in place.
- Cut notches into the side bars. The top and bottom bars will fit into these notches for extra support.
- Use wood glue to glue the pieces together.
- Add staples or nails to hold the frame together while the glue sets up.
Once the glue is set up, you can add foundation if you wish. These frames can also be used for foundationless beekeeping. See my article on Foundation vs Foundationless Beekeeping for more information.
I find that watching videos helps a lot when learning how to make things. See the videos below to learn how to make beehive frames from scratch.
In a beehive, the bees build their comb on frames. These frames will hold the bee’s brood and honey. Beekeepers can go through a lot of frames in a season. To save money, beekeepers can learn how to make beehive frames from scratch.