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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Randolph County, NC
    Posts
    26

    Default Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    First off, Hello from NC. I'm new to beekeeping and plan on getting a few packages to start off this spring. I am also starting off by building all of my own hives, frames, etc. using all medium boxes.

    I have studied the frame plans on this site, as well as looked over all of the related frame building posts I could find, but I still have a few questions left. I do plan on modifying them to be foundation-less frames, probably using a router to bevel 45's on the top bar.

    1. What is the purpose of the 1/2" to 7/16" taper on the ends of the top bar? Why not just make it 7/16?
    2. What is the purpose of beveling the corners of the top bar? Is that needed/useful? Or does it add places for SHB to hide?
    3. Some have suggested making a 7/8" top bar, and 1 1/4 frame spacing a more natural frame size. Would you still use 10 frames, or 11? Would you do this for brood as well as honey supers?
    4. If using a 7/8" top bar, would you adjust the side dados accordingly, or would you skip the dados on the top bar, since the side bars already call for a 7/8" dado? Should I make any changes to the bottom bar? (except for excluding the kerf)
    5. Has anyone found a benefit to adding a guide to the bottom bar? I have seen some people hypothesize that it may encourage bees to build all the way down, but I haven't seen anyone that has said this from first hand experience. I do not plan on using fishing line type guides in the middle.


    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,723

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    Welcome to Beesource!

    Quote Originally Posted by taftech View Post
    1. What is the purpose of the 1/2" to 7/16" taper on the ends of the top bar? Why not just make it 7/16?
    The taper may make it easier to get a hive tool under the bar. Some beeks do indeed leave out the taper and make the bar flat. I saw a post the other day where the beek felt that a flat bar resulted in less bees getting pinched under the bar when sliding the bar sideways.

    Quote Originally Posted by taftech View Post
    3. Some have suggested making a 7/8" top bar, and 1 1/4 frame spacing a more natural frame size. Would you still use 10 frames, or 11? Would you do this for brood as well as honey supers?
    You may want to review Michael Bush's page about this issue:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesframewidth.htm
    Graham
    --- Victor Hugo - "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Randolph County, NC
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    Thanks for the reply. I was thinking that may have been the purpose of the taper, but I wasn't sure.

    I have looked at Mr. Bush's page, as well as several other posts and sources relating to it all. Perhaps I missed something in there though, I will look at it again.

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,723

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    Michael Bush is an advocate of narrow frames, and yes that would mean 11 frames in a 10 frame brood box. Typically, those frames would be spaced out to fit 9 frames in the honey supers.

    Keep in mind that Mr Bush also prefers 8 medium frame boxes for everything, so you will see relatively few references to 11 frames in a nominal 10 frame box on his site. You just have to read between the lines.
    Graham
    --- Victor Hugo - "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tyrone, Pennsylvania,USA
    Posts
    353

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    You can use a table saw to make the 45 degree angle on the bottom of the top bar.It is fast and easy if you have a table saw.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,087

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    You might have better luck getting them to drawn straight by putting a strip of foundation across the top.
    I've put on suppers with pop-cycle stick guides, & had the bees draw the whole super in the wrong direction, 90 deg.
    Dan

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,473

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    You may or may not get good results putting a package on empty foundationless frames. Sometimes they build the comb "warm way" and ignore all your hints, which makes for a mess.

    I would use a couple sheets of foundation, or at least a 1" starter strip in the center frames, if not all of them. In the future, when you have frames full of drawn empty comb, use one of those for packages.

    As far as making frames goes, you will need to make a smaller dado in the end bars, you need the slot in the top bar to hold them in place. It only need be 1/16" deep, just enough to add some resistance to tilting. That 7/8" top bar is quite narrow and weak enough as it is, don't go deeper.

    You can also just cut down standard frame end bars to get the narrow spacing, but it's better, I think, to keep the width of the top bar so that there is 3/8" between them, that's the space the bees leave between combs by and large (although it can be as low as 1/4").

    The reasoning behind the narrow frames is two-fold -- first, this is typical brood nest spacing in feral hives, and the spacing bees will usually (not always, but you may have already noticed there is no "always" in beekeeping) use in a box with no frames or when they ignore the frames. They make the brood cells the depth of a bee, no more, and this leaves more space than there should be between comb faces. Therefore, it requires a layer of bees on both faces to keep the brood warm (brood nest is 98F at all times) if you use 1/38" spacing. If you use 1 1/4" spacing, only one layer of bees can deep both sides warm since the space is more like 3/8" than 1/2".

    The close spacing also discourages drone brood since drones are bigger and the cells stick out more. Drones will tend to be raised outside the brood nest proper, this is good since they make fewer that way.

    Second, the bees will draw honey storage comb out much deeper than brood comb, so you end up with combs that are much thicker at the top than the bottom. Since there is extra comb up there at the top, the bees seem to want to make comb between the frames at the ends, and this makes a mess when you rip it apart every time you inspect. Bees don't like you tearing comb for some reason. Narrow frames result in flat comb with no lumps, much easier to work with.

    11 narrow frames in the brood box, 10 standard frames in the honey supers, 9 after they are fully drawn once.

    Peter

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bunker Hill, IL
    Posts
    495

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    if your building your own, you may want to read up on the old dadent deep frames. they were taller than todays deeps used just for brood.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,737

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    Quote Originally Posted by taftech View Post
    5. Has anyone found a benefit to adding a guide to the bottom bar? I have seen some people hypothesize that it may encourage bees to build all the way down, but I haven't seen anyone that has said this from first hand experience.
    No there is no point having a guide on the bottom bar. When bees don't join the comb to the bottom bar it's actually a bee space to allow them to walk from one side of the comb to the other. A guide will not change their need for this, but the position in the hive where they build the comb will.

    Typically comb drawn in the bottom box will have a bee space between the bottom of the comb and the bottom bar. This is simply because in a wild hive in a tree, once bees have joined a comb bottom to timber, they cannot cross there any more. A very strong hive may join the comb in the bottom box to the bottom bar because there are so many bees hanging under the bottom bar they know they can cross the timber and get around. Likewise combs drawn in frames higher up in the hive have a better chance to be joined to the bottom bar because there are plenty of bees all over and under the bottom bar so they know they can use that to cross over.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,481

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    >1. What is the purpose of the 1/2" to 7/16" taper on the ends of the top bar? Why not just make it 7/16?

    Either works fine. Actually the ends of the top bars should be 3/8" thick...

    >2. What is the purpose of beveling the corners of the top bar?

    There is not.

    > Is that needed/useful? Or does it add places for SHB to hide?

    I've never made them and see no reason for them, but I don't think it would help the SHB one way or the other, either.

    >3. Some have suggested making a 7/8" top bar, and 1 1/4 frame spacing a more natural frame size. Would you still use 10 frames, or 11?

    11.

    > Would you do this for brood as well as honey supers?

    I would make them all the same as interchangeability is nice. You can always space them wider in the supers.

    >4. If using a 7/8" top bar, would you adjust the side dados accordingly

    Yes.

    > or would you skip the dados on the top bar, since the side bars already call for a 7/8" dado?

    You can. There are a lot of extraneous cuts on frames just to make them a bit more foolproof when you assemble them.

    > Should I make any changes to the bottom bar? (except for excluding the kerf)

    No need.

    >5. Has anyone found a benefit to adding a guide to the bottom bar?

    I've done it. They will attach the bottom a bit sooner, but they will attach it anyway. If you intend to do this, I would just cut a beveled bottom bar.

    > I have seen some people hypothesize that it may encourage bees to build all the way down, but I haven't seen anyone that has said this from first hand experience

    I'll say it from first hand experience, but it's not enough difference to be worth very much effort.

    > I do not plan on using fishing line type guides in the middle.

    I never do.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Randolph County, NC
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Working out design details for natural sized foundation-less frams

    Thank you everyone for the very informative answers. Now I just need to get my wood

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