LAST UPDATED ON MARCH 20, 2012.
I built 20 honey comb frames for my first bee hive today. It was Zenfully tedious but satisfying work.
Again, I used the photo-illustrated instructions from Bees-and-Beekeeping.com as a guide before I got started. I’ll build another 20 frames next weekend.
The larger box on the left (below) is what I call the brood box. I call it that because when you hear “brood box,” it doesn’t take much thinking to understand what it is: It’s where the queen lays her eggs, her brood. It’s the nursery for baby bees and the winter home for the hive. The brood boxes are also called deep hive bodies or deep supers, and all the honey in them is left for the bees. They gotta eat something to stay alive.
The box on the right is a medium honey super. (Super is short for super structure.) It’s placed above the brood boxes and it’s where all the excess honey is stored — it’s the stuff we get to eat. Both the brood boxes and the honey supers contain 10 frames of honey comb. Here’s what a medium frame looks like unassembled:
The white plastic piece on the left is called foundation. It’s coated with beeswax and has a honeycomb pattern impressed on it. It fits inside the frame. The bees will build their honey comb by following the pattern on the plastic. Many bees seem to do fine without the foundation (watch the Backwards Beekeeping videos), but just to play it safe, I plan to use foundations in my first hive because that’s what I know works for Newfoundland honeybees.
Anyway, you can read the captions on my Picasa photo page for more details on exactly how I assembled the frames. Basically I glued and nailed them together with little nails and carpenter’s glue. But here’s what’s bugging me:
My supplier sent me some defective pieces that won’t fit together properly with the other pieces because they’re cut wrong. The notches in the two pieces in the photo on the right should be identical — they’re not. I may order from another supplier next time — just to compare quality. Some of my hive pieces weren’t precisely cut either. Who knows, maybe these little pain-in-the-neck defects are commonplace. (UPDATE: I had to chisel the pieces to make them fit. It was a big pain. The resulting frames aren’t as sturdy as the regular ones. I got it done, but I’m not entirely impressed with my supplier on this one.)
The empty space between the frame and the foundation is normal:
The next photos shows how much space is usually left over in the super after placing in the 10 frames. I first thought it was a lot of space, but apparently it’s okay.
UPDATE (Mar. 20/12): Basic carpentry skills are an asset to beekeeping. If you have the means to make many of your own hive components, you are way ahead of the game. Those like me who don’t have basic carpentry skills are definitely at a disadvantage. But here’s something even I can make: A frame jig. It’s handy for making frames, a process that is normally a very tedious and time-consuming. Anyway, here’s a video that demonstrates the use of the frame jig based on these plans: