Thursday, August 12, 2010

When I put the honey super on Demeter I wanted to see what the bees would do if I used foundationless frames only.

They knew exactly what to do and had a jolly good time building beautiful comb.  The only thing that went "wrong" was that the bees did things their way - comb every which way instead of straight up and down and parallel.  "Wrong" from the honey harvester's point of view, and perfectly natural to them!

I puzzled and worried over this for quite awhile and even asked my Backwards Beekeeping friends in Los Angeles what they would suggest. I woke up at 2.00 am on Monday and thought "bee escape"!  The folks in LA suggested that as well!  On Tuesday I went to Harvard Robbins' Honey Farm and purchased two Western supers (also called honey supers), frames, plastic foundation, and a frame puller.  Mr. Robbins, who could be anywhere in age from 75 to 85 and has a nice "down home" accent, loaned my his bee escape.  He made it about 30 years ago and it's the type with a triangular maze on the underside of the escape.  He has a great shop, full of beekeeping supplies and is as fascinating as a great bookstore!

These are the bits and pieces before assembly.

These are the parts needed to make the frame.

Top: the top bar. Center: the bottom bar.  Center right: the end pieces.  Bottom: the nice waxy plastic foundation.

The frame of foundation all put together with the joins reinforced with little brads to help hold everything together.

I glued each dovetail with waterproof wood glue and used my rubber mallet to pound the joints tightly together.

Then I used the battery powered drill to make pilot holes for the wood screws.

I used a different, heavy duty battery powered drill with a Phillips screw head to screw in the 1.24" wood screws.

The supers after two coats of cream colored exterior paint and a pretty bee stencil in black, a frame of foundation showing how the frame pulling tool is applied.

Next: the bee escape!

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