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How often do you have to replace frames? Do you replace them when you replace the comb? I have read that supers usually only last about 7 years. To what extent does this depend on material? I used to be a cabinet maker so quality is not an issue as I am making my own woodware.
 

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In continuous use, they will last until you break them, the wood will not deteriorate unless you get a bad infestation of wax moths, which burrow into the wood to make coccoons.

Supers should last decades if you keep them painted, we have a number of brood boxes and supers that are at least ten years old and are just now needing new paint, otherwise they are fine.

Keep the joints waterproof and they should never rot -- the bees coat any exposed surfaces with propolis. They can't seal the fingers, so I use Titebond III there.

Make sure your finger joints are tight -- if you need to tap them together that's perfect. Less exposed surface to get and stay wet.

I've been using boiled linseed oil followed by good alkyd primer and top quality "oops" mistint paint, two or three coats. Those boxes are fine, some of the earlier ones I only used alkyd primer and exterior paint on are peeling due to poor adhesion of the primer.

A nice close fit between boxes is good too, but you are going to damage the edges prying them apart, so don't worry about perfect. The bees seal them up pretty well with propolis, but a good fit results in boxes easier to take apart since they have less "glue" between them.

Peter
 

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Frames will last decades. The wax in brood chambers gets real funky in 4-5 years, honey supers not so much.

On constructing boxes --- you ain't building a piano. Some funk and slop actually suits the bees. Stacks don't blow over quite so much with a bit of propolis between the boxes. A knothole? -- the bees will seal it up in the fall, and open it in the spring. Its a great tell-tale to what the bees think of the season.

I live in a dry climate, and build out of rot-resistant redwood and cedar. I think some hobby boxes are way, way over painted, glazed might be the correct word. Natural hive locations are semi-porous, and moisture is easier to control in a box that breathes a bit. For that reason, a thin whitewash that protects the wood a bit from sun and checking, might be better than the multi-coat boat-paint strategy.

Try a couple of different box finishes, and then decide which carries you through the winter better. The "quiltbox" of warre hives, or the Mountain Camp top of sugar both function for moisture control. They replicate the natural moisture exchange of an un-glazed box. The thrifty old farmers of yore didn't multi-coat their boxes, they pinched pennies and thinned the whitewash to where it just took.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>How often do you have to replace frames?

I have wood frames I bought 40 years ago. I've inherited frames that I know are older than that. Plastic doesn't last as long, but will last a long time if you don't leave them in the sun.
 
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