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.