FRAME ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS
Please read all of these instructions thoroughly, even if you intend to watch the video.
Each frame consists of four parts:
A. One top bar with wedge cleat (cleat is the long, thin part that breaks out of the top bar)
B. Two Side bars
C. One grooved bottom bar
You will need the following tools/supplies:
A. Water resistant wood glue
B. A tack hammer
C. A Simpson speed square or other small squaring tool
D. A brad driver
1. First, hold the top bar horizontally with both hands in front of you and use your thumbs to break the wedge cleat out of the top bar. Often times it will be about to fall out on its own, but other times this may require a bit of force. Once the top bar and cleat are separated into two pieces, you will see that the cleat, or the top bar, or both have remnants of the wood that used to connect them. This extra wood must be removed from the top bar by hand or with a utility knife (don’t cut yourself or get a sliver). The side of the top bar that has the place for the wedge is the bottom of the top bar.
2. Now, take one side bar and put glue in the cut out at the top (wide end). Holding the top bar in one hand and the side bar in the other, push the side bar into the grooves at one end of the top bar until it is bottomed out and glue is pushed from the joint. Do the same with the other side bar at the other end of the top bar. Turn the assembly over so that the bottom of the side bars are against the work surface and the top bar is up. Drive one 1.25” nail through each end of the top bar into each side bar so that the parts are firmly nailed together. If any of the joint areas have a lot of excess glue, wipe it off of the frame with a paper towel before proceeding.
3. Place the top bar with the top down on a flat work surface so that the bottoms of the side bars are pointed upward. Take the bottom bar and place glue on each end of the grooved side. Turn the bottom bar so that the glue is down and place each end into the cutout at the end of a side bar. Take two 3/4” nails and drive one of them through each end of the bottom bar, so that the bottom bar is nailed firmly to the side bars.
4. Use your square inside the frame to check that the side bars are exactly 90 degrees perpendicular to the top bar. Use both hands to tweak the frame into square. You may have to over-compensate so that when the frame snaps back slightly it will be square.
5. Now lay the frame on its side on the work surface. Use one finger to push on each bottom corner of the frame, one at a time to see if the frame “rocks” on the work surface. If the frame does rock, pick up the frame and while holding it by the sidebars with both hands, carefully twist the frame as needed (a very slight twist makes lots of change) and then place it on the work surface again and recheck it for flatness. Once you have the frame in shape so that it doesn’t rock when either bottom corner is pushed down, double check the squareness again before continuing.
6. Place the completed frame off to the side with the top down and the bottom up. After assembling another frame, place it this same way directly against the first frame. Check to see that the wide portions of the side bars are touching through their entire length or are at least very close. Do this with each successive frame that you build. It may be necessary to double-check frames or tweak them as you go so that they will fit next to each other very neatly. When you are done you should have 8 frames that look nearly identical and fit together without spaces between the side bars and with equal spaces between the bottom bars. The bottom bars should all be very close to parallel to each other. Leave these frames where they are for at least an hour while the glue sets. All of this is very important in order to maintain proper bee space within the hive.
7. Your completed frames can be used with or without foundation. Foundation is highly recommended because it prevents cross-combing (when the bees build their comb in a way other that straight and centered inside the frame). When bees cross-comb a framed hive, it causes lots of headaches for the beekeeper. Foundation with pins can be purchased from our beekeeping store. If using foundation, make sure that the ends of the wires that make the “L” shape are bent at exactly 90 degrees. Otherwise the foundation sheet will distort when the cleat is installed over the wires. The foundation sheets are cut to the proper length, but you will need to cut them to the proper depth, so that the bottom of the sheet just goes into the bottom bar groove slightly when the “L” end of the wires are against the top bar. You will need a good pair of tin snips to do this because the wires are very hard. Once the foundation is sized and in place in the frame, use your brad driver to install the wedge cleat using three 1/2” wire brads, and then install the foundation pins though the sidebars (2 per side) to further secure the foundation sheet.
If doing foundationless beekeeping, simply turn the wedge cleat on its side and secure it in place for the bees to use as a comb guide. After you apply wax to this guide, hopefully the bees will follow it and build their combs correctly. Even if you plan to use foundation, we recommend that you have one frame in each box that remains foundationless. This is so the bees have somewhere to raise drones and also so you have a place to put the queen cage during the bee package installation (on the bottom bar of the blank frame in the top box). It’s also the reason we sell foundation in sets of 7 sheets instead of 8. Any blank frames should have a comb guide installed and waxed.
Instructions for applying wax to wooden comb guides
Please read all of these instructions thoroughly before you proceed.
To help ensure that your bees will build their combs where it will make beekeeping easier for you, a narrow bead of beeswax should be applied to each comb guide.
CAUTION: Bad things can happen if instructions are not followed exactly! Teakwood Organics L.L.C. is not responsible for any injury, death or damage to person or property when you are working with beeswax, as we cannot be present to oversee and/or control the processes used.
· Never leave beeswax unattended when it’s on a heat source that is turned on-not even for a minute!
· Always use only the lowest possible temperature setting on your hotplate when melting beeswax. If you ever hear popping or see smoke, you have the heat too high!
· Use a quality sauce pan that has a thick bottom. The thick bottom will help to prevent overheating of the wax and will keep the wax temperature stable longer, giving you a longer working time without having to reheat. We use a 1 qt. sauce pan that has pour spouts on each side (priced between 25 and 40 dollars). This is a nice pan to own because if you decide to use your own beeswax later on for making candles or other crafts, you will be able to use this same pan to melt the wax and pour it into the molds. The pan will be difficult to clean after you have used it to melt wax. The easiest thing to do is allow it to cool completely and then put it away somewhere, hardened wax and all, ready for use the next time you melt wax.
· Give yourself plenty of space and time to work. Don’t be in a hurry.
· Keep small children away from your work area.
Follow these steps to apply beeswax to each comb guide. Again, this is only for frames that will not have foundation.
1. Select your work area. Ideally you will be working on a work bench and using an electric hotplate for melting the wax.
2. Put all of your beeswax (one bar per hive body) into the sauce pan and place the pan on the hotplate. Use the very lowest setting to melt the wax very slowly. Be patient and do not leave it unattended.
3. Once most of the wax has melted and there is just a small portion of unmelted wax remaining, turn off the heat. The remainder of the wax will melt in the next few minutes.
4. Using a 3/8” flat artist’s brush, apply a small amount of wax onto the wide side of one comb guide. The wax should harden almost immediately. If it doesn’t it’s too hot. Stop and let the wax cool for a few minutes if necessary.
5. Once your wax is at a temperature that you can brush it on and it hardens quickly, get to work putting a coat of wax along the wide side of each comb guide. Do not coat the entire bottom of the bar with wax. This will cause the comb-to-bar connection to be weak. Apply wax to one side of the guide only.
6. If the wax becomes difficult to work with because it’s hardening too fast, turn the heat on to the lowest setting once again until it’s back up to a good working temperature, and then turn the heat back off.
Feel free to call us with any questions you may have. Be careful and have fun.