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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is a photo of the kind of honeycombs I dream about. A very nice comb, almost completely solid with sealed worker brood.


This image was taken in August 2007, of a comb, built by the bees, in a foundationless frame. This one is without wires and has very tenuous connections to the end bars and bottom bar (the bees may improve this later, but they might not). Since the end bars were reduced in width to 1-1/4", I cut a notch on both sides near the middle of the top bar to give the bees a little more freedom of movement. I have since decided that I prefer two horizontal support wires in my medium depth frames, if they are foundation or foundationless. I currently attempt to assemble all my new frames with horizontal wires installed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I've been planning to make a few frames of my own design (foundationless), to see how they work. I haven't made any yet, but I've put together a SketchUp plan for making them. This image is a link to the SketchUp plans -->

 

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When you push this new design frame close together touching, it might be hard to break the propolis adhesion on the bottoms of the end bars where they touch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Thanks odfrank,

I want the frames to be self-spacing/aligning, so their must be a way for this to happen and I also want it to keep the combs from swinging together near their bottoms - something I highly dislike about standard wooden frames. It's nice that PF120 frames do not have this issue, their end bars extend nearly to the bottom of the frame (but they have many openings for SHB to hide in). I'm also considering just using parallel end bars, without any cuts into their edges.

Here is an alternative design -->

 

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They're still going to glue the bottoms together, aren't they? So why don't you taper them all the way down. Like plastic frames are? Or is that not structurally sound? Are you going to nail and glue these frames or just glue them? have you though about running a wire from the middle of the top bar down through the bottom bar, so when the bees glue the bottom bar to the top bar of the frames below you won't have the middle of the bottom bar being bowed downwards and breaking comb?

What about beveled edges on the end bars? So the bees won't glue them together as much.
 

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Joseph,
Hi. I know what you are saying and here's an idea. It seems to me the bees make a beespace around the comb within the frame, so they don't go around the frame, they go around comb when moving side to side. You can see this in the top pic, is why the bees don't attach to the sides all the way but only near the top. I think you should go with the plan you mentioned I think, of not doing any cutout in the sidebars but let them be straight all the way down. The bees will make their beespace around the combs within the frames. It will also cut down on nooks and crainies where SHB may hide in. It should also cut down on propollis on the side bars maybe? As they are now touching all the way down. Just some thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone, for the great ideas as I try to come up with my ideal custom frame. I believe that this winter I will be building several different sets of these frames and trying each out to see how they do for me. Of course, beekeepers throughout the centuries have designed and built many different versions of the wooden frame. I'm probably repeating what has been done many times before, but it is fun and will allow me to actually see what the bees do with my various designs.

I believe that having the two horizontal wires, embedded in each comb, even though they are only medium depth frames, will help me to have a better sense of security about the combs staying where they belong during any manipulations, either brood or honey.

Here is my most recent version -->

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
so how do you make the end bars?
In order to make these end bars with the middle section dado'ed as a bee space and a wider piece near the bottom to stabilize and keep combs from swinging together.

I would first fashion an end bar blank; 6-1/4" wide x 1-1/4" thick, route the dado in what will be the tops of the end bars, then route the angled shoulders of the bee-space, then dado out the bee-space, and finally cut the end bars from the now finished blank. Of course I need to drill the wiring holes in each bar in pairs, until I get myself a drill press.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
To answer sqkcrk:
I will make a batch of end bars, like you suggest. I plan to nail and glue them, with the bottom bar fitting between the end bars and glued and nailed through the bottoms of the end bars. I'd not thought of a vertical center wire to help support the bottom bar -- I've almost never had the bees create the issue you describe.

Beveling the end bar edges may be something I'll try, just to see if it really makes a difference. I've used wooden frames that have these, off and on for decades, but haven't noticed any difference they might produce. I could easily use a 3/8" radius bull-nose router bit to round over both vertical edges, creating a near bevel on the edges. My expectation is that propolis and beeswax would, more easily build up on these rounded edges and I'd need an edged tool with a 3/8" radius, recessed blade, in order to efficiently clean these edges.

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I did make one more frame modification, this one has slightly different end bars, similar to those on a PF120 frame -->

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
so you can use a router to make the cuts? . . .
Yes, even the entire dado area(s) can be removed with a router in a router table. I use the router to make all the profile cuts on a "blank". After the profile cuts are made I can then cut the individual end bars from the blank with my band saw. It is much safer and quicker to make the cuts for the end bars when they are a blank, before they are individual pieces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I can't help myself, I guess I'm a designing fool. I just discovered an Edge Banding Tongue and Groove router bit with a profile that looks ideal for creating a comb-guide edge, so here is another design incorporating the use of this bit. I love beautiful combs, and I think the frame can help with that process.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ray,
Yes, there is a difference between them. The one on page 1 has a 3/16" radius bull nose bead as the comb guide on top bar and on bottom bar.

This most recent design has the same comb guide on the bottom bar, but the top bar comb guide profile is from the use of an Edge Banding Tongue & Groove Router bit with 60 degree shoulders. The profile will look very similar to this profile I used on plans for top bars -->


The plans on page 1 have a profile that is simply a 3/8" wide x 3/16" high raised bump running the length of the inside of the frames top bar.
 

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I like this one, are you planning on coating the ridge with wax?
I've heard it works better.

I made up some frames here, split the frame into 3 sections by drilling the top and bottom bars and pressing in 1/4" dowel. I then glued a popsickle stick into the top and bottom bar grooves in each section. I figured the dowel would help give them a ladder to start drawing down from the top when a super is added on top of hive, and would give structural strength for extracting.

I did not coat the sticks or dowels with anything. I did not have a good strong flow, but there was some flow. The bees started drawing at the top, but was not centered on the sticks and was mostly cross comb. I had this problem because I'm currently running all deeps, and was just adding box on top. I usually pull and put some drawn brood comb in the center of a box I add on top, but could not with different sized frames. Next year I'll put a couple medium frames in the deep brood box and get them drawn with brood in them before adding the medium supers so I will have frames to use as bait.

So, I was just wondering if you were planning on coating them with wax.
 

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I've been making my own frames and trying to tweak the design for simplicity and functionality. One idea I've had (but not tried) is to make the side bars asymmetrical, with both sides straight down, but one side narrower, and make up the bee space by putting two push pins (or round headed brass studs, or something like that) on the narrow side. That way the pin heads would be the only contact points with the flats of the next frame, and it would also give a reference to keep from accidentally turning frames around.
 
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