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Author Topic: Your thoughts on dowel-rod frames?  (Read 1043 times)
ugcheleuce
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« on: January 28, 2014, 04:30:33 PM »

Hello everyone

This week (!) I'm thinking about making my own frames.  The frames that are used in my region (Holland) tend to be a rather simple affair, compared to some of the sophisticated designs that I have seen used in the UK and US.  Here is a picture of the typical top-bar and bottom-bar of such a frame (the lugs are 4 cm long, the planks are 10 mm thick on all four sides of the frame, and the planks are 22 mm wide on all four sides):





I'm not sure what kind of wood is used.  Two types of wood was used in the frame that I took the pictures of -- the top-bar and one of the side-bars is from a finer grain wood than the other side-bar and the bottom bar.  I suspect it doesn't really matter, and the shop that made the frames simply used left-over wood cut to size.

Anyway, I thought it would be simpler to use dowel-rods in the making of frames.  What I mean is that the top-bar and probably also the bottom-bar would be made from normal little planks but the side-bars would be made from dowels.  Attaching the dowels would be quite simple -- simply drill a hole into the plank and stick the dowel through it (glued), and optionally drive a nail through the top or bottom of the dowel to make it expand a bit.

What are your thoughts about this?

I've only ever seen two hive designs that use dowel-rod frames -- the one is the Jackson hive that uses a very thick dowel-rod for the side-bars and a thin dowel-rod for the bottom bar, and the Golden hive that uses two dowel-rods instead of side-bars (and sometimes also a vertical rod in the centre of the frame), but with a standard little plank for the bottom-bar.  The frames in the Golden hive seemed to use about 9 mm thick rods, whereas the rods in the Jackson hive look like they could be 15-20 mm thick.

At first I thought that I could use 7 mm thick rods, but once you hold the rod in your hands you realise that there is a big difference between 7 mm and 9 mm, with regard to strength!  I'm not sure how big the hole must be that I should drill if I want to fit a 9 mm rod into it -- can anyone give me some clue here (i.e. what size drill bit)?

The boxes that I'm thinking of making these frames for are quite small, so the frames don't need to carry as much weight as the Jackson hive frames (i.e. Langstroths), for example.  My frames will likely be 33 cm x 22 cm (it's not a standard sized box, hence the making of my own frames).  Oh... and they'll be lugless (don't say it!).

Seeing that I'm a lazy mutt, I sought out ready-cut wood for this project (instead of cutting scraps to size, which would require tools that I don't have).  At the local wood store I'm presented with a choice of four types of wood for the top-bar and bottom-bar, namely:

7x18mm norway spruce (vurenhout)
MOR 63.0, MOE 9.7
EUR 3.19 / 2100mm

8x26mm rubra oak (eikenhout)
MOR 99.2, MOE 12.14
EUR 4.79 / 2100mm

8x26mm european beech (beukenhout)
MOR 110.1, MOE 14.31
EUR 4.79 / 2100mm

15x20mm scots pine (grenenhout)
MOR 83.3, MOE 10.08
EUR 4.49 / 2100mm

The rods are scots pine and they're cheap:

7mm dia = EUR 1.79 / 2700mm
9mm dia = EUR 2.39 / 2700mm

Now the question is: would you trust a frame whose top-bar is only 7 mm thick?  What if that top-bar was made not from pine or spruce but from beech or oak -- would that make you more likely to accept a top-bar that thin?  Or should I just go for the thickest wood I can find, i.e. 15 mm thick, even if it's the weakest wood?

These frames won't be cheaper than frames made from the usual materials -- they'll be about three times as dear, in fact.  But since they're a custom size, I might as well investigate the options.

Finally, something not quite on-topic here, but: these frames will likely be lugless, and to make them easier to handle, I was thinking of doubling up the top-bar so that it consist of two little planks with a bee-space sized space between them.  Theoretically the bees won't build anything in that long hole, and it would make it much easier to handle the frame.  If you know that the top-bar would be doubled-up, would that change your feelings about the thickness of the wood being used for the top-bar?

Thanks for reading my random thoughts.  What are yours?

Samuel
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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
6 hives in 3 locations (4 x Buckfast F2++, 2 x Ligustica F1+)
flyboy
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 05:27:55 PM »

Looks like they used hot melt glue in putting together the frames in the pics. Hmmm, I wonder how that would hold up on a hot day in the summer?
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Al
First packages - 2 queens and bees May 17 2014 - doing well
edward
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 06:37:26 PM »

no it probably dried Wood glue  Wink



mvh Edward  tongue
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2014, 05:52:03 AM »

Looks like it will work. My father in law makes his own frames. They are similar to those frames.
Jim
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ugcheleuce
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2014, 06:14:39 AM »

My father in law makes his own frames. They are similar to those frames.

Are they similar to the frames in the images, or are they similar to the dowel-rod frames that I describe?

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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
6 hives in 3 locations (4 x Buckfast F2++, 2 x Ligustica F1+)
Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2014, 06:40:17 AM »

>Anyway, I thought it would be simpler to use dowel-rods in the making of frames.

The Jackson Horizontal Hive uses frames with dowels for sides and bottoms.  Dowels are just too expensive, but they work.

>Now the question is: would you trust a frame whose top-bar is only 7 mm thick? 

It's not a question of trust.  Thin top bars lead to burr between the boxes.  The reason they make them thick is to eliminate that.  If you don't mind the burr between the boxes you can do that.

>What if that top-bar was made not from pine or spruce but from beech or oak -- would that make you more likely to accept a top-bar that thin?

Any wood will do...

> Or should I just go for the thickest wood I can find, i.e. 15 mm thick, even if it's the weakest wood?

It doesn't need much strength.

>These frames won't be cheaper than frames made from the usual materials -- they'll be about three times as dear, in fact.  But since they're a custom size, I might as well investigate the options.

That's my only problem with your design.  Expense.  Frames are one of the more abundant things you buy and it helps if they are cheap...

>Finally, something not quite on-topic here, but: these frames will likely be lugless, and to make them easier to handle, I was thinking of doubling up the top-bar so that it consist of two little planks with a bee-space sized space between them.  Theoretically the bees won't build anything in that long hole

I've noticed the bees often don't read the same books we do... but in theory...

>, and it would make it much easier to handle the frame.  If you know that the top-bar would be doubled-up, would that change your feelings about the thickness of the wood being used for the top-bar?

I like thin top bars... I like lugs...
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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ugcheleuce
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 06:55:43 AM »

Thin top bars lead to burr between the boxes.  The reason they make them thick is to eliminate that.  If you don't mind the burr between the boxes you can do that.

Why would that be?  Is it because the bees have to walk a greater distance from the comb under the top-bar to the top of the top-bar?

I don't mind burr comb that much -- it's fairly common to have it in the boxes that I've seen used by local, experienced beekeepers, and scraping it off during inspections seems to be just another part of local beekeeping.  Of course, if one can eliminate or reduce burr comb, then that is always a bonus.

Quote
That's my only problem with your design.  Expense.  Frames are one of the more abundant things you buy and it helps if they are cheap...

True, and using this method is only cheaper if I don't ever make more than about 50 frames.  After 75 frames, the cost of buying an appropriate electric saw is completely covered.  Still, making the dowel-rod version would seem to be the easier option.

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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
6 hives in 3 locations (4 x Buckfast F2++, 2 x Ligustica F1+)
flyboy
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 12:06:44 PM »

Could you possibly post a picture of the full frame, not just the joints?
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Al
First packages - 2 queens and bees May 17 2014 - doing well
ugcheleuce
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 04:54:25 PM »

Could you possibly post a picture of the full frame, not just the joints?

The purpose of those two pictures is to show that the normal local frames are simple.  I don't intend to make them.

I googled a bit for an image similar to the one that you request, but could not find a nice-looking example.
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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
6 hives in 3 locations (4 x Buckfast F2++, 2 x Ligustica F1+)
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