Salvaging Old and Broken Frames
By: Blake Shook
Repairing old frames can be challenging. It’s often easier to dispose of old frames and purchase new ones. If an all plastic frame breaks, it is almost impossible to fix. However, if a wooden frame breaks, and you do want to fix it, here are a few methods depending on the condition of the frame:
The wooden ear has broken off –
This is a common issue! Dropping full frames of honey into the box is a common cause of the ears breaking off. The best thing to do is purchase a “frame saver.” This is a piece of metal shaped like the ear of the frame, designed to replace the wooden ear. Or, if you are in a hurry, a few large nails partially driven into the top bar as a hanging bracket works as well.
The top bar has separated from the rest of the frame –
This often happens if the bees have glued the frame down with propolis, and when prying it up, it pulls apart. Next time, try using your hive tool to pry the frames apart before trying to pry it up. If this happens, hammer the top bar back in place, and add a few extra nails to help hold it in. Be sure you have the most critical nail in the frame- the end one nailed through the end bar into the top bar. This helps hold the top bar in place.
The comb has become damaged, and you need to scrape off the old comb, and start over. This can often happen with severe wax moth damage. The quickest and easiest option is to pop out the old foundation and insert a new sheet.
f you want to keep the old sheet, use your hive tool to scrape off the old comb, then use a pressure washer, or wire brush to remove all possible comb and residue. Once it is removed, you will need to recoat it with beeswax to encourage the bees to draw out the foundation. Melt beeswax in a double boiler at a very low temperature. Then, use a foam roller to apply a thin coat of wax onto the foundation. Be sure to store the newly coated frames in an airtight container, or sealed trash bag to ensure they stay dust free until use. A thin layer of dust will discourage the bees from drawing out the comb.
What if a frame breaks and there’s still brood or honey on it?
If a frame breaks and has honey on it, the best thing to do is extract or scrape off the honey for use immediately, and repair or throw the frame away. If it’s a frame you don’t want to eat the honey out of, you can set it 20-30 feet away from your hive, let the bees rob the honey out, then discard, or fix the frame.
If the frame has brood on it, the best thing to do is attempt to fix the frame temporarily with frame nails, or wire, or just let it rest in place between two other frames. Place the broken frame on the very outside of the broodnest and allow the brood to hatch out. Once the brood has hatched, remove the frame, and replace it with a new one or drawn comb foundation.