Simplest Way to Build Frames
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2019
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    Lenoir City, TN, USA
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    Default Simplest Way to Build Frames

    I am in my second year of beekeeping. While I was in my in-laws shed, I found several old boxes. My father-in-law said they were his dad's, and I could use them if I wanted. When I started beekeeping, I decided to use all medium boxes. These boxes, being older, are of the deep/shallow arrangement. While I don't necessarily want to use them long term, I like the idea of having more equipment than I need short term, as I am buying what equipment I think I'll need on a yearly basis to keep it affordable.

    Since I don't have any deep frames, is there a really simple way to build only about 20-30 frames so I could use these boxes if I needed them? I've already ordered equipment for this year and don't need enough frames to get free shipping. I'm proficient in woodworking and have the saws and router already, I was just wondering if anyone had a simpler design than the traditional design of frames? (And in asking this, I do understand they are designed the way they are for a reason.)

    Or, if I wind up using them, would the better option be to just use the medium frames that I already have and let them draw a few inches of comb off the bottom of the frames?

    Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    Croatia
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    102

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Jcasteel View Post
    is there a really simple way to build only about 20-30 frames
    My first step is to make battens; 2m long, 36 mm wide and 9 mm thick. After that, this picture explains how Hoffmann style side bars are made:
    IMG_20180425_094521_s.jpg

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Gould, OK
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    135

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    If you have a Atwood's or Tractor Supply stores near you, they carry beekeeping equipment or order online and have shipped to the story. The Atwood's store near me have boxes of 5 frames with plastic foundation in both deep an medium sizes. You can give them a try.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
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    1,234

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Surely there is something else you need or want to reach the free shipping threshold

    I've made frames and quite frankly it is not worth the hassle, even if you count paying shipping.

    However if you do make them then plans are in the Build It section of this site.

    To make end bars start with any 2x board but wider stock such as a 2x8 is easier to work with, but you may already have scrap 2x4.
    Plane it to 1-3/8. Cut to the length of the side bars and then using a tenoning jig cut a centered dado across the endgrain of the block, for the top bar on one end and for the bottom bar on the other end. Then slice off 3/8" wide top bars. Use a push block that has a foot and sacrificial base that will let you push the piece all the way past the blade such as this one. Make sure you build the side bars so that the grain runs the length of the side bar, there are some hacks on YouTube that built them endgrain, and those will just break, if you come across it then don't do what they did. Safety tip, when your 2x stock gets narrower than 3/4" be done with it. Do not try and get that one last side bar out of it, the cut is too risky.

    Using a router table or a band saw cut the narrow side of the side bar. I've monkeyed with enough of these to tell you that the router table is the easiest. Unless you have a jointer. If you have a jointer then do that step on the jointer. This step will take some time. Use a stop block for a consistent cut.

    For top bars, after cutting the pieces to width, thickness, and length, cut the foundation groove first. Set up a dado stack to exactly match the width of the side bars. Make a test cut in a scrap and make sure the side bars fit. Set up an end stop with a block clamped to your fence, then first cut all the side dadoes, then without moving your end stop, raise the blade and cut the bottom dado. The next to the last cut is the taper cut on the end. Its easiest to do with a band saw but if you don't have a band saw then you can cut it with the tenoning jig and tilting the table saw blade. The final cut is to miter the end corners at 45. You might be tempted to skip that but that corner miter will aid you in lifting frames out. I found the easiest way to do this was with a belt sander. I only have a portable one so I clamped it on its side to my workbench and it worked like a champ.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 02-24-2020 at 04:04 PM. Reason: add safety tip
    Zone 6B

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    4,560

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    And then, you could always just use your medium frames and let the bees build free comb the last three inches. I still have a few of those in my hives.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Location
    Lake of the Woods, MN, USA
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    The Michigan Beekeepers Association has some very good info detailing building woodenware. Scroll down to the "building frames" topic. They also have youtube videos showing the process. https://www.michiganbees.org/beekeep...pers-workshop/

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    Enfield,Ct.
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    644

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Easier to cut the boxes down to mediums.
    You could then use a slice of the cut off to extend the shallows to 6 5/8.
    Pull the nails along the cut line first,wear a good pair of safety glasses and don't stand behind the blade.
    I have an old carbide blade labeled for nails that I use for recycled wood

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Decorah, Iowa USA
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    244

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    How many med. frames do you have? I use med. frames in my old deep boxes quite often. they extend the bottoms if crowded . Just cut the comb off the bottoms if you want to use them in med boxes later. Works in a pinch. Bees don't care
    Jerry

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    591

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Easier to cut the boxes down to mediums.
    You could then use a slice of the cut off to extend the shallows to 6 5/8.
    That's what I would do. If you are into making cut comb honey maybe keep the shallow boxes for that.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Lenoir City, TN, USA
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    8

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Surely there is something else you need or want to reach the free shipping threshold
    Yes, I definitely could. My better half would call these "wants" and point out what I have already invested in my newfound addiction. I will probably attempt frames at some point because I enjoy wood working and would do it just to say I've done it.

    Easier to cut the boxes down to mediums.
    You could then use a slice of the cut off to extend the shallows to 6 5/8.
    Pull the nails along the cut line first,wear a good pair of safety glasses and don't stand behind the blade.
    I have an old carbide blade labeled for nails that I use for recycled wood
    I really like this idea. It would maximize my uses out of everything.

    How many med. frames do you have? I use med. frames in my old deep boxes quite often. they extend the bottoms if crowded . Just cut the comb off the bottoms if you want to use them in med boxes later.
    I have about 50 extra medium frames since I opted to buy them in bulk for better pricing.

    Thanks for all the responses/advice/tips. I think I'll either just stick my mediums in them for the time being, but will probably cut them down and resize the shallows eventually.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
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    1,812

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    There are three other possible ways of dealing with this situation. One is to fit your Deep box with a false floor in the form of a Slatted Rack. The second is to fit dummy frame extenders to your medium frames, thusly:



    The third would be to build a few foundationless frames (quick and absurdly simple to make) to fit the boxes you already have.

    Shallow boxes can always be fitted with simple shims to convert them into mediums.

    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Darlington Co., SC
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    16

    Default

    Simplest way to use those deep boxes is, simply use medium frames and let the bees draw comb on the bottom if those frames.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Butler Co, Missouri, USA
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    470

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Grimshaw View Post
    Easier to cut the boxes down to mediums.
    You could then use a slice of the cut off to extend the shallows to 6 5/8.
    Pull the nails along the cut line first,wear a good pair of safety glasses and don't stand behind the blade.
    I have an old carbide blade labeled for nails that I use for recycled wood
    This for the deeps.

    I have 10 shallow supers I keep around just for comb honey
    Hindsight is 20/10, not 20/20...
    After the fact, I always know what didn't work.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Williamsport, PA
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    517

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Why not just use the old boxes for swarm traps? That's what I did last year with some gifted boxes that sat in a friend's barn since the '70s. I caught 2 swarms with them as well. Catching swarms would put you ahead instead of building frames.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
    Location
    Campbell, Calif.
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    #1 - Order frames plus more (pollen patties, Honey-B-Healthy, swarm lures, cardboard 5 Frame Swarm Box, etc.
    Or
    #2 - Make them because you enjoy it. ( Me ).
    Top & Bottom Rails are no brainers, search YouTube.
    My goto for Bee Equipment is The Beekeepers Workshop...
    Making Frames - Part 1
    (by) BeekeepersWorkshop
    https://youtu.be/r8Zx4uRQx9k
    Making Frames - Part 2
    (by) BeekeepersWorkshop
    https://youtu.be/6ZoB6c-kuuc

    The very best way to make Side Bars, is also on Youtube..
    How to Make Bee Hive Frame Side Bars
    (by) Path of the Bee
    https://youtu.be/YaF2G4lrafc

    Have Fun

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    225

    Default

    Well covered above. Easiest short term, use med frames in deep boxes. Next cut down the boxes. If you have swarms in your area use as swarm traps with 1 oldest comb in middle of box and a full compliment of (med) frames across the rest of the box. Do yourself a favor and put a nail at each end of the outside frame(s) so they don't rattle around when you bring them home. If you catch it soon enough you will be able to transfer the colony into your medium equipment before they build comb below the frames and rebait your trap to the same location for the afterswarms....

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA USA
    Posts
    128

    Default Re: Simplest Way to Build Frames

    Or use the deep boxes like a top bar hive. Just put a vertical piece in the center of each for added comb strength. Not good for spinning honey out but good for brood comb and honey comb.

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