Bee Culture: Frames

The public frequently refers to them as “racks”, but we know them as frames. They are the wooden structures in which honey bees build comb thereby making a piece of comb rigid enough to handle without fear of it breaking. Sounds simple enough. I mean how complicated could it be to put four pieces of wood together? In fact, it would not be very difficult if there were only one style of frame requiring one way of assembly. You know that is not the case. Frames come in different sizes and styles – all requir ing their own little quirks of assembly.

Early frames were simple rectangular casings. The very earliest frames were nothing more than top bars with wavy pieces of comb attached which would break off very easily. It was a short step to add a stub on each end (later named end bars) and then final ly, a bottom bar to add rigidity to the whole contraption. From that point, every conceivable shape and style seemingly has been tried. Of that total number, only a few have survived and they are available from bee supply consortiums today.

Up until about twenty years ago when plastic frames made their debut, one thing all frames had in common was that they were made of wood. Plastic frames are common now, but they have not quite replaced wood in popularity.

Though I have seen foundation and artificial comb made from aluminum, I donít recall ever having seen frames made from any type of metal. Aluminum comb was a failure because wintering bees could not keep it warm. From its exposed edges, aluminum comb drew coldness into the cluster area. No metal frames have been tried of which I am aware. If any readers should know of such an experiment, please let me know the particulars.

Next to read:

  1. Frame Components
  2. Assembling A Frame
  3. Pneumatic Equipment: The Good and The Bad

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