Beehive frames and foundation

Lets talk about Beehive frames and foundation:

These are the most important components for your honey producing machine so it pays to know what the options are to choose what works best for you.

The width of the frames is a variable.  Most frames are 33mm wide giving you room to move them to one side when lifting them out. Some use 35mm to get extra comb depth and consequently more honey per frame but this makes them more difficult to remove.

Plastic frames:

The advantage of the plastic frame is that it is very robust and also will not blow out when extracting.  The plastic frames need to be wax-coated to entice the bees to use them.  Most commercial beekeepers use plastic as they last longer.  Waxed plastic frames can be placed in the hive with no further preparation:

Timber frames:

New Zealand pine is best – it is stable and will not warp if it is dried correctly.  Frames are not normally treated with any type of preservative so they will have a finite life span. The wire holes can be fitted with brass rivets to prevent the frame wire cutting into the timber and the wire becoming slack. The other option is to place a staple beside the hole ( see attached photo).  The frame wire needs to be tight as this makes it easier for embedding the foundation, it is preferable to use a wiring jig for this task.

Embedding wax foundation:

Embedding can be done with an embedding wheel however I find it better to heat the wire.  Use a battery or a battery charger to gently heat the wire after you have placed the foundation into the top and bottom grooves and with practice this is much quicker than using an embedding tool.  Most frames have two wires for the 3/4 frames and three wires for the full depth. Our frames have one extra wire on both – ensuring the foundation is better supported in the frames.

Foundation options for timber frames:

The options are wax coated plastic, these need no wiring and are a compromise between convenience and totally natural.  Wax foundation comes in different thicknesses:

  • Thin for comb honey production
  • Medium brood (suitable for most applications)
  • Heavy brood and Manuka special for manuka extraction.

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