Wiring Frames

Thursday 10 February 2022

This week, we will pick up our discussion from last week’s blog by preparing our Langstroth frame to hold foundation. Foundation is important as it ensure that bees draw comb within the frames and reduces the amount of drone comb production.  This means a more productive hive with a greater number of worker bees and frames which can easily be removed for inspection. We are using wax foundation in our frame, so we will start today by adding wire support!

Wiring Frames

As always, we will begin by gathering our materials. We have our frame from last week, a sheet of wax foundation, a homemade wooden frame jig, frame wire, eyelets, ¾ inch nails, a loaded brad stapler, hammer, and optional needle nose pliers and razor blade. We also have a larger nail to take the place of an eyelet punch.

Start by adding one eyelet to the outward facing side of each of the holes in the sidebars and securing them into place. This can be done simply by pressing them in with an eyelet punch, or, if you have misplaced your punch, use the head of an upside-down nail and a hammer. Eyelets protect your wood from the wire that runs through the holes.

Now you can place your frame on the jig. A jig is a useful tool for securing the frame as you tighten the wire, although frames can be wired without one. First, add two nails which will secure the ends of the wire. One nail can be positioned just below the bottom hole of the side bar and the other can be positioned just above the top hole.

Feed the wire, directly from the spool, through the top hole of your frame. Draw it horizontally across and through the opposing hole, then down, through the next hole, and across again. Follow this pattern through to the final hole where the end of your wire will end up next to the bottom nail. A jig will likely have pieces to loop your wire around as you move down each level. 

Once your wire has gone through all eight holes and you have four lines across your frame, the wire can be secured around the nails. Wrap the end piece around the bottom nail and hammer it flush. Cut the wire, leaving some to grip, and wiggle the remaining tail free to create a clean break at the nail.

With one end secure, you can now tighten the lines by pulling down on each level with your hand and rolling excess back onto the spool. Start with the bottom row and work your way up. Firmly rotating the spool can also help to create taut lines. The wires should be tight enough to pluck a tune. Once the wire is tight throughout the frame, you can secure the other end around the top nail in the same manner as the bottom.

Now your frame is ready for a sheet of wax. In next week’s blog, we will add the foundation, embed the wires, and discuss some good reasons to keep your comb fresh!

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