Super time with frames

Building a super frame

As a newbee, when it comes to buying frames for the brood and super boxes, do you go for ready assembled or roll your sleeves up and do a bit of DIY? Having never made up a frame before, it was a really valuable lesson David Packham, our tutor, went through during one of the hands-on practical sessions at the apiary towards the end of the Beekeeping for Beginners course. He showed us first how to knock up a frame, which only seemed to take minutes. Simple right?

Well, some of us had a go and we were a little fingers and thumbs, but then again it was the very first time so didn't do a bad job at all.

Just a week earlier I had dropped into the local beekeeping suppliers and decided to buy both ready assembled and put together yourself kit. My reasoning was that it's the best of both worlds. The brood box would have the ready-made frames. My thinking behind this is that this is where all the action would be happening so the girls needed good, strong frames. This left me to practice my self-assembly technique on the smaller frames that sit inside a super which they wouldn't need a use for straight away.

With foundation, pins, wax and frame parts all laid out I tried to remember the sequence we were taught. Remove the strip of wood from the top bar and put to one side. Lay the top bar on a level surface and push in the two side bars keeping nice and square. Two thin wooden bars fit along the bottom. Push each in carefully lining everything up. Drop in the wax foundation down between these two bars. Turn the two parts of the wire frame in the foundation so they sit flush with the top bar. Place the strip of wood put to one side earlier over the top and push down firmly.

I couldn't remember when to tap in the pins, but for me I found it easier to do once I had everything assembled. Nine pins is the magic number needed to hold it all together.

My very first frame took quite a while but I soon got into my stride and had a little production line going. One of the problems I found was that the 3 pins holding the wooden strip supporting the wax foundation came through the top of the wooden bar. I couldn't work out where I was going wrong. What do you do when you're not sure? Ask another beekeeper of course! And that's just what I did when over at the Annual Nosema Testing Day last weekend (read Bees and Microscopes). So my thanks to Cliff who sat me down at the frame-making corner and went through it all with me with some useful tips and techniques too.

Looking at a video from the professionals, I'm on the right track!