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Beekeepers have been relentless in their effort to make the business of keeping bees easier by the day. The bee frame wiring jig makes your work easier, quicker, and better when you are adding horizontal wiring to the beeswax foundation. It helps run horizontal wires through the sides of a frame easily with the help of wheels, a tensioner, and a spool of wire that is held by the jig for dispensing as the wire is pulled through the frame.
What is a Beehive Frame?
The beehive frame is designed for holding and supporting the foundation of a hive. The beekeeper can install completely independent frames and foundations and simply pop these into the beehive and allow the bees to make their own comb on the foundation.
The second option is the use of purchased or DIY wooden frames that are fitted with the beekeeper’s foundation of choice. The beekeeper can also install top bars without the need for a traditional frame.
Frames that are used in Langstroth hives are usually available in three standard sizes, namely, shallow, medium, and deep. The width of these frames is 19-3/16 inches but the depth will vary. The shallow is 5-3/8 inches, the deep is 9-1/8 inches and the medium is 6 ¼ inches.
Deep frames are used in brood boxes and are also popularly used in honey supers. The medium frames are used for brood boxes as well but are more commonly used as honey supers. The shallow frames are rarely used and only work best as honey supers and not as brood boxes.
Beekeepers have the choice of mixing or using single frames on their hives. The majority standardizes the frames on an individual box across their hives, for instance, using only mediums or deeps in their hives. This is a practical choice since it maximizes utility and allows for re-use of the components over the long haul.
On the flip side, some have a box with both deep and medium honey supers. This is done with the aim of creating sufficient space for the brood, making it easier and less tasking when inspecting and removing the upper boxes.
Beehive frames are available in two types of materials, that is, wooden and plastic. Plastic frames are used by some beekeepers and these are quite successful as the frames are supplied with plastic foundation.
The beekeepers that prefer natural materials opt for wooden frames that are available as unassembled or assembled. The quality of wooden frames should be top-notch to withstand the heavy load of brood and honey.
The wooden frames for beehives are mostly made of pine given its quality and durability. In other cases, you will find frames made of cypress, cedar, or poplar though these are lighter wood. The types of wood chosen for the frame tend to attract bees and are easily accepted by the bees.
The Bee Frame Wiring Jig
The bee frame wiring jig is required by those wiring their own frames. It is designed for the traditionalist beekeeper and the DIY beekeeper that utilizes 100% natural wax as foundations. It helps keep the frame steady and unmoved when the beekeeper is threading the wire through.
Features and Benefits
The bee frame wiring jig helps guarantee desired tension effortlessly.
- Quickens and streamlines the process of frame wiring.
- The frame wiring jig works as proposed with no unnecessary fiddling.
- It is easy to use and professionals and amateurs alike can use it without struggle.
- It is affordable and within reach for everyone.
- It is ideal for getting the work done for those that have several frames that need to be wired within a short time.
Should Beehive Frames be wired?
Beekeepers have varying opinions when it comes to wiring beehive frames. Some agree it is necessary while others see it unnecessary given the fact that frames that will never be extracted do not require wiring. Examples of these include the frames used in deep brood boxes. These beekeepers find it unnecessary to tighten these frames that will never be removed from the hive for purposes of extracting honey using the extractor.
Secondly, those against the idea of wiring beehive frames believe the foundation is sufficiently strong to hold itself in place. Nonetheless, beekeepers are encouraged to use wired frames since these frames remain intact even after being subjected to honey extraction using an extractor.
Drawbacks to Wiring Beehive Frames
If you decide to wire your frames then it becomes difficult to cut away combs. You will not be able to remove a queen cell or simply harvest comb for any other use in your hives. The wires in the frames prevent you from cutting off the combs. You can only harvest small sections of combs in a frame. Fortunately, the wires never obstruct honey harvesting and will never come into contact with the uncapping knife.
Minimalist Bee Frame Wiring
This is a common practice with some beekeepers where only two strands of wire are used no matter the size of the frame. This may look economical in the short run, but is it not the best practice and not desirable for most climates.
Warmer areas where honeycombs tend to sag due to the heat require more wiring and minimalist wiring will not be practical in these areas. You can only minimize the wiring if situated in cooler areas such as the northern hemisphere where prevailing temperatures are never high within the hive.
Alternative Materials for Wiring Frames
The most common material in beehive frame wiring is of course a stainless steel wire. But this is not the only usable material for wiring frames. You can use any practicable material having in mind the essence of the practice.
A fishing line is used by some beekeepers in place of stainless steel wire since it is strong and durable. This also helps strengthen and hold wax combs in their place. Unfortunately, this cannot be used with wax foundation and the bees will build a comb around it with time.
How to Use the Bee Frame Wiring Jig
With the top and bottom bars well positioned and stapled into place, you are ready to wire the frames. The staples should be placed 1/16 inch from the holes where the wire will go through. This should be well-secured to prevent the wire from cutting through the wood when it is tightened. You can staple the bottom bars and top bars before assembling the frames. Alternatively, staple the assembled frame after it has been glued about 24 hours earlier.
Place the frame into the jig. Clamp it into place with the bottom bar and the end bar perfectly placed into position.
Using a hammer, cautiously drive a ¾ inch nail into each of the bars’ lower sides, approximately 3/8 inches from the bottom bar. The snails should remain sticking out by about 3/8 inches.
Pass the wire through the holes and over the spools. The wire should pass through the central groove of the ceramic spools. The wire should be left protruding by about 5 to 6 inches from the last hole of the bottom bar. Keep the wire properly aligned and straightened at the tip by using a wire cutter or sheers to make it easy to push it through the hole.
Hold the loose end of the wire and twist this in 4 revolutions around the nail that is close to you. With the wire held tightly with your left hand, use a hammer to drive the nail flush into the wood. Rotate in a circle as you pull the loose end of the wire so that it can break off. This will secure the wire into the frame and you can begin to tighten it.
You will tighten the wire in several stages. They will rotate the wire spool backward as the right hand manipulates the wire. This way, the excess wire is fed back into the spool.
- To pull the wire, rotate the wire spool backward and release as much slack as required.
- Remove the wire from the last roller and remove slack by rotating the wire spool back.
- With the wire spool firmly held in place, pull the second wire that is closest to you towards you to tighten the wire that is close to you. Release your hand as you rotate the spool backward so that the slack is removed.
- Pull the wire from the second roller and remove slack by rotating the wire spool back.
- With the wire spool firmly held in place, pull the third wire that is closest to you away from you to tighten the wire that is the second closest to you. Release your hand as you rotate the spool backward so that the slack is removed.
- Take the wire from the remaining roller and remove slack by rotating the wire spool back.
Twist the wire around the nail. Hold the wire between the frame and the eye screw and pull it, while ensuring you pull only the required wire from the spool. Pull the wire towards the nail and over the bottom board and while pulling, twist it around the nail in four rounds. Use a hammer to drive the nail in and spin the wire until it is detached.
Your bee frame wiring project is completed and ready for use. It sounds like a harp when completed. Make two to three or more of these and you can be able to get the task done within 90 seconds.
Wiring Foundationless Frames
This is one of the easiest to do, for both the professional and beginning beekeeper. The foundationless frames are easy to use and you need to follow the steps outlined earlier on how to wire your frame. Once the frame is wired, you can add the foundation wax to your frame. You will use the foundationless frames as they are after wiring. The bees will build comb around the wires in the frames.
Foundationless frames should be wired when new and not used in a beehive. Wire the frames that will be used in honey supers and brood boxes. Your work will be easier if wiring frames that do not have a comb or foundation when compared to the frames that have the foundation. The latter will create a mess.
Cross-wiring of beehive frames refers to the practice of having both vertical and horizontal wiring in a frame. This is aimed at boosting the strength and support provided by the frame. This is common among beekeepers that have deep beehive frames.
Cross-wiring of frames takes more wire per frame and is not recommended for medium and shallow frames. You will need the same materials and follow the same process of wiring as mentioned earlier on how to wire the frames.
During the cross-wiring of frames, beekeepers start by wiring the same frame from the top to the bottom. This is done after they have completed the right-to-left wiring. The wires are never twisted around each other when cross-wiring. Instead, they are alternated to move on top and under the right-to-left wires. The final outcome of the frame is wired that intersects at 90 degrees angles. On a view, the wires exhibit square and rectangular shapes depending on the number of wires that have been used.
You can use a bee frame wiring jig to get the work done in less than 90 seconds. Other methods of wiring frames take up to 30 minutes to complete. Beginners might find the task challenging initially, but through practice, they can perfect their skills and get the work done within a shorter time. The jig is particularly beneficial to the beekeeper that has many frames to the wire. It will make the work less tasking and quicken the process of wiring. Furthermore, the wired frames span on a honey extractor remains in good shape even after extraction. Wiring of frames can be done for different hives including the top bar hive, Langstroth hives, and many other types of beehives.