Beverly Bees

Backyard beekeeping for the love of bees and honey.

Frame pieces.

How To Assemble A Frame – A Beginner Beekeeper’s Guide

How To Assemble A Frame For Beginners

by Anita Deeley at BeverlyBees.com

There are many different types of frames you can use in your beehive depending on your hive configuration and what you are trying to achieve.  This article describes how to assemble a Wedge Top Bar / Grooved Bottom Bar wooden frame for a Langstroth Hive. 

A wedge top bar frame has a piece of wood, called the wedge cleat, which runs along the top bar.  The wedge cleat is removed prior to assembly and then reinstalled after the foundation is in place.  The grooved bottom bar has a groove running along the bottom that the foundation sits inside.  This frame can be used with both wax and plastic foundation, or with starter strips, which makes it a versatile option.

The top bar in the top of this picture has the wedge cleat removed.  The middle piece is the wedge cleat. The top bar in the bottom of this picture still has the wedge cleat attached. Click any picture in this post to enlarge it.

How to Assemble A Frame

1. First you need the following tools – Hammer, Razor Blade, Carpenter’s Square, Wood Glue, 1-1/4″ Frame Nails (aka 18 x 1-1/4 wire nails) and Paper Towels.

Tools needed to assemble a frame – A Hammer, Razor Blade, Carpenter’s Square, Wood Glue and 1 1/4″ Frame Nails.  A paper towel or rag is also helpful to clean up glue spills.

2. You also need the 4 pieces that make up the frame.

The four pieces that make up one frame.

3. Next, take your razor blade and cut off any slivers / extra pieces of wood from your frame pieces.  If you are assembling a large number of frames it is easier to do this to all of your frame pieces first before continuing further.

Cleaning up wood pieces with a razor blade.

4. After the frame pieces are cleaned it’s time to remove the wedge cleat.  Take your razor blade and run it along the groove on the side of the top bar to remove the wedge cleat.

Removing the wedge cleat from the top bar with a razor blade.

Removing the wedge from the frame.

5. After the wedge cleat is removed, use the razor blade to clean off any left over wood pieces from both the top bar and the wedge.  Put the wedge cleat aside and save it for later.

Remove the extra wood pieces with your razor blade.

6. Pick up one side bar and put a tiny dab of glue in the top upper groove, located on the thicker section of the side bar as seen in the picture below.

Put a small amount of glue on the top of the side bar.

7. Take one top bar piece and fit it inside the side bar (where you applied glue) as shown in the picture below.  Push down so the pieces fit together tightly.

Fit the top of the frame and the side bar together.

They should fit snugly.

8. Glue the other side bar in the same manner and attach it to the opposite side of the top bar.  You should now have a 3 sided frame made from two side pieces and a top bar.  Turn the partially assembled frame upside down and apply a tiny bit of glue to the bottom grooves of both side bars.

Gluing the bottom of the frame.

9. Now you can put the bottom bar of the frame in place with the groove facing the inside. Push down until it fits snugly.

Putting the bottom bar in place.

10. Next, use a paper towel to clean up any glue that has leaked out.

Cleaning up the glue spills with a paper towel.

11. Now it is time to nail your frame together.  Do not wait for the glue to dry first.  The frame should be nailed immediately after gluing.  A total of ten 1 1/4″ frame nails will be nailed into the frame. Four on the bottom, four on the top and one nail into each side of the frame.

Hammer the first nail into the bottom of the frame as shown in the picture.

Hammering the first nail into the bottom of the frame.

Hammer the second nail in place as shown.

Hammering the second nail into the bottom of the frame.

12. Check if the frame is square.  If it is not square gently muscle it into place.

Check if the frame is square.

13. Repeat the same steps to nail the other side of the frame bottom.

Nail the other side on the frame bottom.

Hammer the second nail into the other side on the frame bottom.

14. Check if this side of the frame is square. Adjust if necessary.

Check if the other side is square.

You should now have four nails on the bottom of your frame.   Both sides of the frame bottom should look like this.

There should be two nails in the bottom of the frame on each side.

15. Flip the frame over and nail the top of the frame in the same fashion with two nails on each side.

Nail the first nail into the top of the frame.

Hammer a second nail in the top of the frame.

16. Now hammer two nails into the other side of the top of the frame.

Hammer the first nail in the other side of the top of the frame.

Hammer the second nail in the other side of the top of the frame.

17. Check to see if your frame is still square, muscling into place if necessary.

Make sure the finished frame is square.

You should now have two nails on the top of the frame on each side.

You should have two nails on the top of the frame on each side.

18. Now that your frame is nailed together, hammer one nail into the side of the frame near the top bar as seen in the picture below.  Be sure to align the nail with the thick side of the top bar, not the side the wedge was removed from.

Hammer a nail into the side of the frame underneath the top bar. Align the nail with the thick side of the top bar.

The finished nail on the first side.

19. Now flip the frame over and hammer the last nail into the other side of the frame underneath the top bar.  Align the nail with the thick side of the top bar.  These two nails on each side of the frame help it last longer and keep the top and side bars from separating.

Flip the frame over and hammer a nail into the other side of the frame underneath the top bar.  Align the nail with the thick side of the top bar.

The finished nail on the other side.

Your finished frame will look like this. Save the wedge cleat for when you install the foundation or starter strips.  You will use it to hold both plastic and wax foundation in place.

Finished Frame and wedge cleat.

Congratulations!  You’ve completed a frame!  Now it’s time to assemble the rest of them.  If you have numerous hives and are making many frames you should build or buy a jig which allows you to make many frames at once.  But for a backyard beekeeper with only a few hives this is a cheap and easy way to build all the frames you need.

Copyright © 2011-2016. Anita Deeley, BeverlyBees.com. All rights reserved.

To see more beginner beekeeper posts please click here.  Click here to learn How to Wire a Frame.

I have additional beginner beekeeping posts including How to Install a Package of Bees.  If you are interested in these stories and more beekeeping tips you should subscribe to this blog right now with RSS Feeds or click here to Receive Our Free Email Newsletter.

This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

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  4. How To Set Up A Beehive Video – A Beginner Beekeeper’s Guide
  5. How To Assemble A Hive Box or Super – A Beginner Beekeeper’s Guide
  6. How To Paint A Beehive – A Beginner Beekeeper’s Guide

4 Comments

  1. Good tips on the razor knife and square for such an unfavorite task. Have you ever used those frame assembly boards? I’ve always been curious about one, but didn’t want to spend the money for something I ended up disliking.

    • No, I haven’t tried those. I wanted to make a jig to do 10 frames at once but Brian does most of the frame assembly – he is better and faster at it. He said he could make the frames faster this way. By the time he made the jig he could have all the frames done. If we were doing hundreds of frames at once I would definitely make the jig first.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday! I’ve talked to many who are interested in backyard bee keeping, so this post is just what we needed! 🙂

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