Assemble a Frame

This video shows assembly of a frame and fitting of the foundation. Although frames can be made up at any time the foundation should only be fitted when you are ready to use the frame.  Until then keep the wax indoors in its plastic wrapping.  The foundation is beeswax and will melt if too warm, direct sunlight is enough, or brittle if too cold.  The frame being assembled is known as a DN4 which stands for Deep National 4 and is used in the brood box of the hive.  SN1, Shallow National 1, frames are usually used in the honey boxes which are known as ‘supers’.  Sometimes the queen is given extra space to lay in by putting a super on top or underneath the normal depth brood box.  This layout is known as ‘brood and a half’.  The queen excluder is placed on top of the brood and a half.

The numbering indicates the type of end bars.  The 4 in SN4 means that the bars are of the Hoffman self spacing type while the 1 in SN1 means that the side bars of the frame are narrow and will need to spaced using: plastic end spacers or  be put onto castellated spacing supports or if used in a brood box, or when using foundation in a honey super, be fitted with Hoffman spacing adaptors.  But it possible to buy DN1 and SN4 frames so make sure you are clear what you are buying.

Bees use the wax sheet as foundation, hence its name, and build their own bees wax comb on both sides.  In the wild bees build their comb in vertical sheets with about 32 mm between the central ribs.  When using foundation it is important not to space the frames too widely or the bees will start to build extra comb where the beekeepers will not want it.  Using twelve frames in a national hive is the correct spacing to begin with.  In the brood box the spacing will be left at twelve.  In a honey super, the frames can be spaced more widely once the comb has been ‘drawn out’, or built, by the bees.  As few as nine frames in a honey super is common and the bees will build deeper cells to store the honey. For the beekeeper this gives more honey for less work when extracting the honey.


4 thoughts on “Assemble a Frame

  1. Thanks for the handy video. I had it playing in my B shed whilst looking at the kit of bits. Didn’t realise so many panel pins were needed!

    • Hi Connie

      Glad to be of help. Assembling a frame properly is simple enough once you get used to it. I make sure that the whole thing is squared up by eye – look at the alignment of the side bars by looking from one end to see if they are parallel before nailing. I have seen some twisted examples which cause problems in the hive.

      Almost all foundation I’ve come across recently also needs a sliver of wax cut off from one side to help the foundation fit neatly into the grooves without bulging which, once again, will cause problems in the hive once the bees have built on it.

      Hope you weren’t using panel pins which will split the wood but gimp pins sold for the purpose.

      Have a good season.

  2. Thank you so much for this. I have just received a swarm & urgently needed clear simple instructions on how to build the frames up. Many thanks!

    • Hi Helen, glad we were able to help. Cannot take credit for the video but glad you found it on our site.

      Good luck with the swarm. Hope they stick around. Leave them for a couple of days during which they will use up the honey they brought with them and which may just be carrying disease. Then give them a good feed of 50% sugar syrup solution and keep feeding they have ‘drawn out’ the foundation into comb.

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