Dad, How Do I…? Make Bee Frames

NORTHERN LIGHTS, UKAHALA–The blog continues the series called “Dad, How Do I…?” in which Prior Bumble, i.e. “Papa Prior,” the Father of RFCP, walks you through how to do things a dad would teach you. The series is inspired by a YouTube channel with the same purpose and is especially aimed at helping our soldiers who do not have fathers, have unideal relationships with their fathers, or just need a father figure’s love and guidance.

Hey, kids!

I’m excited to post the next “Dad, How Do I…?” blog, because there is nothing more important to me here than being your father when you need me. And today, we have a super cool topic. I’ll be teaching you some woodworking and carpentry–specifically, how to build bee frames for bee hives. Yes, yes, I know you may not have beekeeping in your immediate future, but these skills apply to working with tools and hammering a good nail. Things you most certainly will need to know as you grow older.

As you read and learn, remember that I always want you being safe with sharp and blunt objects. Watch those fingers!

Later, if you’re good, you might even get a real-live video (never before posted!) of me hammering.

But first, what is a bee frame?

Bee frames are inserts that fill the bee hive. They are where bees lay their brood (eggs) and store their honey. In this above illustration, there are three sizes: small, medium, and large. I use mediums in my hives, and for any size, 8 frames fits into one hive body (but you can stack multiple hive bodies on top of each other). See my hives:

Yep! You’re looking at the Commander’s actual bee hives. In fact, there is one other hive out of frame. Notice that the hive on the right has 3 hive bodies–that means there are 24 frames in that hive! The girls (my bees, which are all female, save a few drones) go through a lot of frames, so I’m constantly building them in the summer.

Let’s buzz into how to get started (that pun was for you, Commissar). We’ll do this in steps.

1. Assemble Your Materials

You’ll need:

  • A knife
  • Wood glue
  • Wire nails
  • Tack hammer
  • Bamboo straws (for applying the wood glue–optional though)
  • Tweezers
  • Marker (purple)
  • FIJI Water

2. Lay Out The Wood

Bee frames come in unassembled kits. You’ll need 2 of the long shafts and 4 of the short, connecting ones. Make sure they’re the same brand, otherwise they won’t fit (I’ve tried to force it–it’s annoying and stubborn).

3. Apply Glue

Bee frames will go through a lot of battering in their lifespan, especially if you’re going to harvest honey from it. Frames with honey get put into a cylindrical device that spins them really fast to extract the honey. It’ll also have to hold about five pounds of honey when fully capped, and be lifted in and out of the hive. For this reason, we use multiple methods to secure the pieces together. Glue is the first method. So we will use the bamboo straws to apply glue where the piece connect, like so.

4. Connect the Pieces

After applying glue to both sides, we are going to connect the pieces.

5. Hammer Pieces In

We’ll use a hammer to make sure the pieces are as good and in as they can be, with no space between them. (Don’t worry, the hammer video is coming in another step…maybe…).

6. Hammer in Nails

Now the fun part. The next method we use to reinforce the frames is to hammer in wire nails. Wire nails are super small, so they shouldn’t splinter the wood. But if the nail gets whacked into the wood on even the slightest angle, it’ll bend, and you increase the odds of splitting the wood. For that reason, kids, I suggest using metal tweezers to keep these little suckers in place. See how I did it:

There will be a total of 8 nails in each frame, on each corner of the frame, front and back.

Be very careful when using a hammer.


  • Keep your fingers out of the way
  • Hold down the object your are hammering to steady it
  • Hammer on a flat, non-wobbly surface
  • Make sure the head of the hammer is hitting the nail head in a flat manner, not on an angle (one way to check is to lay the hammer over the nail head to orient yourself before starting)
  • A few hard hits is better than a bunch of little hits
  • In the (possibly…) upcoming video, I couldn’t hold down the frame because I was filming with one hand, so please note not to skip the holding-it-down step as I had to
  • If the nail goes in at an angle and starts to bend or splinter, just pull it out with the back of the hammer and start over at a different hole. You can only do this a couple times, though, before the wood starts to weaken and it defeats the point. If that happens here, just skip that corner and reinforce the other sides

Run your thumb over the nail head once it’s in to make sure it’s flush against the wood. Those little bees will nibble at the nub constantly if you don’t.

(Video time? Hmmm….I think I’ll make you wait to the end 😉 )

7. Remove the Interior Wooden Flap

I don’t know what else to call it. On the underside of the top piece is a loose piece of wood. Wedge the knife into the loose flap and pry it apart to remove the wood, like so:

Once it’s removed, we add into the frame some wax foundation. It looks like this, and it provides, well, a foundation for the bees to build out their comb.

Idk why I forgot to take a picture of putting it in, but it’s not super exciting. You add it in, then re-hammer on the wooden flap you removed. Sometimes I use a nail gun to do this part, because the angle is awkward. The beeswax smells wonderful, though. I know beekeepers who use plastic foundation instead of real wax, but my bees reject anything not primitive and natural–much like their master. During this step, you might also decide to add some fishing line through the holes of the frame and tighten it around the wax for TRIPLE reinforcement. I usually think that’s overboard, though, so I skip it.

8. Mark Your Frame

Now you need to mark your frames! I use a purple (of course) Sharpie. There are 3 things you need write: a) The year (This tells you how old the frame is, and indicates when it might need to be retired), b) Some sort of reference number (I choose a random letter and number. This allows you to refer to the frame in your notes or call it out if you’re working with a partner. Ex., “Bob, can you remove frame L1?”), c) Who made it 🙂

9. Have a Drink

The final step? Take a swig of that FIJI Water.

And here, kiddos, is what a completed frame looks like, full of capped honey, ready for harvesting!

Well, sons and daughters, I think that’s everything…time to wrap up this post…


I’m forgetting something?


Oh, yeah.

I love you always, kids.


Did YOU learn a lot, and are YOU excited for more from this series? Let us know in the comments!

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