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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Crofton, NE
    Posts
    6

    Default Making frames and boxes??

    I want to get started with my beekeeping venture next spring (2013). I would like to start putting together the necessities now and I need to know what equipment I need to make frames, boxes, bottom boards, etc... I have reviewed quite a few plans and other information on this site and I have determined that I would like to go with all 10-frame, medium boxes. I like the idea of standardizing my equipment. I would also like opinions on the best foundation for these hive bodies/supers. My dad has kept bees for the past 35-40 years, so I have a pretty good idea of some of these things, but he has scaled back from 50 hives some 20 years ago to 7, at the moment. I guess he's getting old. I haven't been able to help pops with his bees for 25 years or so, and he is kind of old-school, so I am looking for any fresh ideas on hive make-up and so forth. All of his hives have solid bottom boards with no screens. Should I screen mine? What are the benefits? Are there any negatives? I guess that's enough for now. For building equipment, I have a table saw, miter saw, brad nailer, 1/4" crown stapler, finish nailer, screw guns, drills, and most any hand tool I think I would need. I do not have a router. Do I have all the stuff I need or do I need a router/other stuff? After pricing frames, I got to thinking I have more time than money...LOL

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,159

    Default Re: Making frames and boxes??

    Sounds like you got all you need, although for making end bars a bench mounted buzzer is good. When I used to do it we also had a bench mounted gizmo that would drill 3 holes in the end bars at the same time. But if you are just making enough for a few hives a hand held drill may suffice, but make up a template guide so you can drill them quickly.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,178

    Default Re: Making frames and boxes??

    I made all my own boxes, bottom board (solid), Inner cover, and outer cover. But bought the frames online from Westernbee.com

    I made deep hive bodies and med supers. I am using crimp wire foundation in the brood boxes and cut comb foundation in the mediums. I will not be extracting honey so foundation selection will be according to how you plan to manage your frames.

    I used a table saw and finish nailer to make and assemble the entire hive. A Dado blade would have been nice but I managed without one. I did use a router to cut some of the notches for the frame rests. I would not want to try and make frames without a router and router table.

    I got the wood free for making my boxes otherwise I think it would have been cheaper to buy ready made boxes.

    Take your time and think it through as you cut and build. I now have 5 boxes one set up in my back yard waiting for the foundation to arrive. The bees are going to be the expensive part for me.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Madison, WI, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Making frames and boxes??

    My Dad and I built medium hive bodies over the winter. We started with 8" pine lumber from the local lumber store, we found the 6' lengths to be the best deal as one 6' board will make one medium hive body, and the 6' boards are usually better quality and lower priced per board foot than the longer lengths. I figured that each medium cost less than $3 to make. A table saw and a drill were the only tools we used. We put them together with screws and Titebond III. My Dad is 84 and he had fun designing and building these things, and it helped to get through the long Wisconsin winter and focus on Spring.
    life is finite while knowledge is infinite. - Zhuang Zi

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Cookeville, TN
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: Making frames and boxes??

    I have 8 frame medium hives and I've made everything including the frames. I simplified the frame design so I wouldn't need to use a router since I dont have one currently. I use scrap pieces of 2x and disassembled pallet wood, the 2x work really well for building the frames. I'll glue the pallet pieces together to get a board wide enough to make the boxes. I wait till I've got enough lumber saved up to make a 10+ boxes or 100+ frames. Then you just set up the saw to make one cut and run as much lumber through as you can. Besides the gas to get the pallets, electricity to run the saw, and screws I've spent nothing on the 20 or so hives I've got laying around. I would say a table saw and dado blade would be the most important tools in building your own equipment. You could probably get away without the dado blade but it definately makes it easier

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,577

    Default Re: Making frames and boxes??

    Frames are fairly easy if you have a dado blade set, although you CAN carve them out with just a triple-chip blade (ATB blades leave dimples you have to cut out with a chisel for good fit).

    I use 2x6 "whitewood" pine -- yellow pine is usually nicer here, but it splits badly in thin sections. Cut to 18 7/8" length, cut a slanted groove in the end (3/16" to 3/8" from the side) for a tapered bar (less propolis, no place for the SHB to lay eggs), although you can do a flat 3/8". Slit should be deep enough to enter the space where you will dado out for the 3/8" end bar. Do both sides, you can get 10 bars from each piece that way.

    Cut off 1" sections for standard bars, 7/8" if you want 1.25" spacing instead of 1 3/8". Reset saw and split each section down the center -- this will give you just under 3/4". If you have a good band saw, you will get slightly thicker setions.

    Cut the slits for a wedge if you want, otherwise groove the top bar so that the foundation sits in the center.

    Set up the dado cutter for 3/8" and cut each end of the bar on the bottom so that you leave 3/8" of wood measuring from the top. Depth will depend on the exact thickness of your bars as cut. Reset dado blade lower and cut the sides to leave 5/8" of wood across the bar (narrow bars) or 3/4" (standard bars), and you have your top bars done. The last cut should be 1/8" deep, but adjust to leave the correct width.

    For the end bars, plane down the 2x6 to 1 3/8" or 1 1/4", cut the appropriate length (5 3/8" for shallows, 6 1/4" for mediums, 9 1/4" for deeps), set up your dado for either 5/8" or 3/4" (wide or narrow spacing) and mill a slot down one end of the block across the grain on each piece. Be careful to center this slot exactly, should be 3/16" from each side.

    Set up for the bottom slot, which will depend on what you want for bottom bars -- 5/8" for a solid slotted bar, 5/16" for divided bars -- and mill the slot exactly in the center for the 5/8" single bar or offset to leave a 1/8" rib down the center for divided bars.

    Once you have the slots milled, rip the block into 3/8" thick pieces. Again, if you have a good bandsaw, you get a couple more per piece.

    Mark and drill holes on the centerline for wiring -- if you have a long jobber drill and a drill press, you can drill the blocks before milling the slots, which will give you more accurate holes.

    Bottom bars can usually be made up from scrap.

    If you have a band saw, it should be possible to cut the sides down on the end bars for Hoffman frames before slicing off the individual bars. You can also taper them by hand if you want -- a good trim plane makes this easy.

    You can also start with 1 by boards, but you will have to be picking about buying them, as knots should be avoided in top bars if at all possible, and the 2x6 whitewood usually has very small knots that won't ruin too many. Select 1 by boards are VERY expensive compared to buying bulk frames!

    Peter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Crofton, NE
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Making frames and boxes??

    Thanks for the replies. You folks have been a lot of help. I'm always looking for an easier way to do things. I do construction during the summer, so I get a lot of scrap from window packaging and other scrap that should work very well for making frames and such. Hopefully, I won't have to buy too much wood. The nice thing about window packaging is that it is select wood left over from making the window sashes; no knots to deal with and the grain is usually very good. Now, if I could find a good source of 1X8s, I'd have it made!

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