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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building my frames for next year, which will be my first year beekeeping. Looking at the plans, it seems like it's more complicated than necessary. The sidebar top and bottom dadoes, for example, don't have to be different sizes. They just have to match the top and bottom bars. So my openings on both ends are 3/4 x 1/2 inches.

My bottom bar is a simple board with a dado down the length to accept foundation. The top bar is where my question is at. It seems to me that the top could just be a 3/4 x 3/4 bar with the tabs cut out so it sets correctly in the boxes. Most plans have it wider with notches added to accommodate the sidebars, but the added wood to wood surface for glue is truly negligible.

Is there any downside to having an overall thinner top bar in a Langstroth frame? Spacing is determined by the sidebars so I can't think of any resulting issues from my lack of real-world experience. Of course, glue and staples will be used.
 

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The top bar is where my question is at. It seems to me that the top could just be a 3/4 x 3/4 bar with the tabs cut out so it sets correctly in the boxes. Most plans have it wider with notches added to accommodate the sidebars, but the added wood to wood surface for glue is truly negligible.

Is there any downside to having an overall thinner top bar in a Langstroth frame? Spacing is determined by the sidebars so I can't think of any resulting issues from my lack of real-world experience. Of course, glue and staples will be used.
I think the point of having the top bar width wider than what you are proposing is so that "bee space" is maintained when the frames are pushed together. If the space between the top bars is wider than "bee space" there is a greater likelihood of burr comb getting built between the bars. You don't want that. :)

More on bee space here:
 

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Radar,. Bee space was always my belief as well but last year I lucked out on a really good deal on almost a thousand frames with narrow top bars . Some 7/8" and 3/4". I was surprised to find my bees making the honey band on the top of the frames narrower with the skinny top bars rather than fatter almost like they were using it as a guide of how fat to draw the comb. So the traditional fat top bars are actually more difficult to work. Go figure.
 

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There are reasons frames are the dimensions they are, Some is strength, some is honoring bee space and some is ease of working with the frames/hives. IMHO, it is not worth the small savings to build your own frames. There is will be more than enough unfamiliar things going on when getting into bees. Don't compound your problems by building non standard frames.

I have a neighbor whose husband had a handyman build her frames and supers. Frames are weak, top bar ears are too wide for ten frames in a brood box, top bars are too narrow so too much space between, frame rests are not deep enough so bought frames she bought in a NUC.is deeper than rest, etc. The end result is that there is usually a disaster happening because inspections are very difficult and not being done as they should. Hence, brood boxes frames are one mass.

My advice to her is to junk most of it and buy frames and supers, She has not parted with her home built frames and supers and I avoid going into a hive to help her. She is out of bees other than a mating NUC I gave to her this summer.
 

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"Spacing is determined by the sidebars so I can't think of any resulting issues from my lack of real-world experience. Of course, glue and staples will be used."

I can and you will find them out quickly enough after a year or two of use.

This is akin to building a better mouse trap without ever seeing the mouse.
 

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Im with mgolden in the fact i think it adds to the overal structural integrity of the frame, you get a full frame of honey, thats alot of weight hanging on that top bar, not to mention once you start handling it around. Just my opinion
 

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Center to center spacing of the frames IS regulated by the sidebar width but the space between the sides of the top bars is then determined by their individual width. A 3/4 width top bar combined with standard 1 3/8 side bar width will result in approx a 5/8 gap between top bars which is larger than regular bee space. The reduction in top bar width will also result in slightly slimmer (weaker) ears on top bars which is their usual failure point.

I can understand the savings in setup time by having the same dimension notch top and bottom but it does have a couple of very real negative tradeoffs.
 

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Cut myself off without listing some issues: some already mentioned weak ears, comb between top bars, structural weakness when full of honey, difficulty removing propolized frames, lacks ease of gripping/ handling like full of honey deep plastic frames do. All this comes to mind quickly.
Kelly made some junk deep frames a short time ago with poor, but 'correctly' sized top bars that failed one after another and were too much trouble to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sounds like I need to just buy the frames then.

I built my deeper frames to spec, then had this idea. There isn't a great deal of wasted material here. Thanks for the input everyone!
 

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Is there any downside to having an overall thinner top bar in a Langstroth frame?
Which frame?
The large one or the small one?
Clearly, there is a difference.

This guy switched to the simplest possible way to make his smaller frames.
This included 1)the thin top bars 2)straight side bars; 3)mostly foundation-less - he was quite happy about this approach per the last report.
 

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here's a Nuc I inspected this morning with two standard frames, two 7/8 top bar and one 3/4 second from the right. I like the standard and 7/8 but not the 3/4. The 3/4" uses man lake end bars and the 7/8 frame top uses dadant end bars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Which frame?
The large one or the small one?
Clearly, there is a difference.

This guy switched to the simplest possible way to make his smaller frames.
This included 1)the thin top bars 2)straight side bars; 3)mostly foundation-less - he was quite happy about this approach per the last report.
I was planning this for the medium supers, not the brood.
 

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I was planning this for the medium supers, not the brood.
Well, people can say what they want, but I posted what a commercial guy has to say and show.
That's what he does. Clearly, it works.
Importantly - he uses a large radial extractor (if this makes any difference for you).
 

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My advice to her is to junk most of it and buy frames and supers, She has not parted with her home built frames and supers and I avoid going into a hive to help her. She is out of bees other than a mating NUC I gave to her this summer.
Though I have to say - her being out of bees most likely has nothing to do with the frames in use (not to spook the people as if frames somehow to blame for being bee-less).
:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, people can say what they want, but I posted what a commercial guy has to say and show.
That's what he does. Clearly, it works.
Importantly - he uses a large radial extractor (if this makes any difference for you).
I'm a newbie and I really don't want to get out in front of my skis. I may do a super of purchased frames and one of my idea? Or would a divider in the super, so it's 4 and 4 be a good way to minimize risk here? I'm a hobby woodworker so adding a feature like that isn't intimidating.
 

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I'm a newbie and I really don't want to get out in front of my skis. I may do a super of purchased frames and one of my idea? Or would a divider in the super, so it's 4 and 4 be a good way to minimize risk here? I'm a hobby woodworker so adding a feature like that isn't intimidating.
Certainly, you should get your own feet wet before making too much of an investment (of your time mostly).
But I say go for it and see for yourself.

I, for one, am totally happy with my own frame design (of custom sizing, to be sure).
I too like cutting up junk wood into something useful.
It does make sense as long as the process is cheap and efficient and produces good enough frame for your needs.

Every extra additional optional cut makes it less and less reasonable to bother with the entire project.
IMO, makes no sense whatsoever to copy those industrial frames - that it pushing it in the cost/benefit sense (unless you really really enjoy the process - that's different then).
 

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if you extract the thinner top bar may help with decapping.
to thin and the 3/8 bee space could get bur comb, which I trim off when decapping.
My dad made his own frames most variants worked fine, for supers, no dado needed at the bottom. butt joint would work.
could do a saw blade out of the top bar and hot wax a starter strip in.
use a V shaped top bar and go Foundationless.
lots of options.

several Utubes on making frames, on sale they are 95 to 110 cent per if you go by the 100, sales in Jan and Feb normally. if you need lots and have the wood and time and equipment go for it.

GG
 

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I wouldn't take any short cuts if you choose to build your own frames. One needs to manufacturer their own frames to pretty much match what you purchase

I also standardize on purchasing frames from one manufacturer. Different manufactures have somewhat different dimensions.

GregV, the problem she got into was that there was way too much bridge comb and she stopped doing a periodic inspection. They swarmed because ???. Had she been able to do an inspection, some proactive swarm prevention needed to be done - open the sides of the brood nest, remove some bees and brood by making up a NUC, etc She then went into fall/winter not knowing if she had a viable queen because inspection was such a daunting task. I avoided helping as it is a bit of a nightmare digging through and there was not a lot of learning going on. Her mite treatment was on the late side but did feed syrup and sugar blocks and wrapped. At any rate, hive was dead in early spring. In her isolated case, I think the crappy frames and supers have a fair bit to do with her being bee-less.

I know of another instance where a new bee keeper needed help. There was lots of wonky comb and he was not using glue on frames. We were looking for a queen which is really tough there is wonky comb. And the nailed frames were pulling apart. I haven't been back to help!

She had taken a course, however, not a lot of bee keeping stuck. The five frame mating NUC has been quite educational for her.
 

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Mgolden,

so I "partly agree" if you build the frame wrong/poorly and fail to inspect,, there are issues, however that is really for any frame. however here the bees would have shown you the dimensions issues. the bees will show you if you look, or listen.

Both my dad and grandfather built their own frames , A) they did not have the $$ and B) My grandpa could not read or write English and frames would have been way down the list to order, like the kids did not all have shoes.... he did have a sawmill so lots of wood. They did it that way for 50 years, and before the "Root/Lang" inventions every one built what they needed / used. to now say it cannot be done with the nice compact cheap wood working toys we have today is silly.

follow some bee space rules and fasten in a manner where they stay together, then they will work.

Also agree the 5 frame boxes I got a few years ago has really offered a lot, easy to work, basically a small colony.
have 8 NUCs going into winter this year, so that is a first, tried one last winter.

Greg V has frames without bottoms , he inspects fine.
I guess a better way to say it is the road to crap frames need paved with experience. Many never get far.....

GG
 
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