People have been keeping bees and collecting honey since as long as 4,500 years ago. Ancient Egyptians used simple hives and smoke to collect honey that they stored in ceramic jars. These jars appear inside the tombs of Pharaohs, including the famous Tutankhamen himself! Although the practice of beekeeping comes from ancient times, the practice is still very popular today. From hobbyists to major industries, keeping bees and collecting honey can be accomplished with various differing hive setups. Whether you are starting on your first bee hive, or looking for bee hive frames that will be suitable for your colony expansion, one of the crucial questions is "Which bee hive frame is right for my hive?"
Bee hive frames are one of the primary components of a healthy bee hive. Since the bee hive frame and box is where the majority of honey cultivating activity occurs, every experienced beekeeper understands the importance of using quality frames and foundation for their hives. Providing an ideal environment for a bee colony to flourish is the first step and one of the most critical investments in the beekeeping journey. The first step is weighing up the costs and choosing bee hive frames that best fit your needs and budget. With many variants and frame options out there, narrow down your search by reading on to discover the best frames for you and your hive.
Bee Hive Frames FAQs
At first, beekeepers face many different components required to build a successful hive. Therefore, starting out as a beekeeper can be quite daunting at first. Below we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to answer all queries relating to bee hive frames.
What Are Bee Hive Frames?
A hive frame is the structural element of a bee hive that surrounds and secures the honeycomb. This frame is usually removable for inspection and sits inside the hive enclosure or box. The boxes typically come in industry standard sizes for Langstroth style hives.
What Do Bee Hive Frames Do For My Hive?
The bee hive frame allows for a modular structure to the hive. That means that you can remove the individual frames to inspect the honeycomb for disease or to harvest honey.
What Are Bee Hive Frames Made Of?
Frames are made up of a top bar to hang them in the hive box, and a groove for the wax foundations. The two sidebars of the frame usually have more holes where you can attach the foundation. Similar to the top frame, the bottom frame has another groove in which the wax foundation fits. Typically, bee hive frames are plastic or wood.
Where Can I Buy Bee Hive Frames?
Frames come from a variety of sources including directly from the manufacturer or online retailers such as Amazon.
How Much Do Bee Hive Frames Cost?
Costs range anywhere from $$ to $$$ for sets of 10 hives. The final price depends on the material make-up, features, and sizes. Read on to find out more about specific prices.
How We Reviewed The Best Bee Hive Frames
We used professional research coupled with overall features and customer reviews to build our lists. Although there are several types of hives, in order to provide an unbiased and fair record of the best bee hive frames, you'll find only the standard Langstroth-sized equipment. It is the industry standard for vertical, modular beehive setups. To determine the best bee hive frames on the market, we looked for frames that provided versatility, minimal bee disturbance, design, ease of setup, material quality, and of course, affordability. The below frame options are in no particular order.
The Best Frames For A Happy, Healthy Hive
A bee colony can't flourish without a healthy and sustainable hive. Bee hive frames are a crucial component of the hive that will allow your busy bees to stay healthy and produce sweet, quality honey.
Mann Lake is a very well known and respected company within the beekeeping industry. They supply high-quality frames catering to varying budget options. These wooden frames come in a 10 pack in 2 different sizes.
Mann Lake assembled wooden bee hive frames are constructed using wooden materials and are both glued and stapled to ensure maximum frame integrity. They also have standard outside frame and foundation dimensions that come in 6-1/4-inch and 9-1/8-inch variants. What's great about Mann lake frames is that they are budget friendly, and come with their unique and very popular natural wax-rite cell foundations already installed on the frames.
Pros And Cons
The Mann Lake commercial frames are a great option for a budget or entry-level beekeeper. These bee hive frames are easy to install with a quality foundation already attached to the frame. That means that all you have to do is put it straight into your roundup box with no assembly required. The included was-rite cell foundations are also high quality and easy to use to start your working colony.
These frames are unfortunately only available in two size options, so they may not be useful for all hive setups. These frames are also quite basic with no special automatic flow features or handle options. Due to these frames coming already assembled, they do cost a little more than the do-it-yourself wooden alternatives but still sell at a competitive price for basic frames.
Pricing And Where To Buy?
These bee hive frames are available on Amazon or directly from the Mann Lake website. A set of ten, fully assembled wooden frames with plastic foundations will cost between $$ and $$.
Mann Lake provides a 30-day money-back guarantee for all of their beekeeping products. That means that if for some reason you want to exchange your bee hive frames, all you need to do is pay to ship the products back to their factory and receive your money back.
Another bee hive frame option from Mann Lake is the plastic version of assembled frames. Similar to the wooden variety listed above, this 10-pack plastic variant contains already assembled frames complete with foundation installed.
Although bee hive frames traditionally use wooden materials, many commercial and hobbyist beekeepers are switching to plastic varieties. This particular plastic bee hive frame is covered in 100% beeswax coating to create a more natural environment for your bees. Beekeeping enthusiasts can also enjoy these frames in natural beige and black color options.
Pros And Cons
Although many traditional beekeepers still prefer to use wood for their frame materials, many are starting to use plastic. A plastic frame means that your bee hive is impervious to wax moth or rodent damage. Similarly to Mann Lake's wooden variety, Waxed Standard Plastic Frames come already assembled, saving you time and energy.
Similarly to other bee hive frame variants from Mann Lake, the Standard Plastic Frames are only available in two sizes; 6 ¼-inch and 9-1/8 inch. It is important to consider this to ensure that this bee hive frame will be suitable for your hive box. Furthermore, some traditional beekeepers prefer wooden frames as they are a natural material. With plastic frames, you miss out on the sweet combined aroma of pine and honey when opening the box for extraction.
Pricing And Where To Buy?
All Mann Lake bee hive products are available directly from their website or from Amazon. These frames are also slightly cheaper than their wooden counterparts, costing between $$ and $$.
The Waxed Standard Plastic bee hive frames from Mann Lake also fall under Mann Lake's 30-day money-back guarantee.
The Flow Frames from Flow Hive are revolutionary bee hive frames that simplify the honey extraction method. These frames are becoming very popular for beekeeping enthusiasts due to a much cleaner and simpler beekeeping experience.
These bee hive frames are a revolutionary new technology invented by Stu and Cedar Anderson. The high-quality plastic design uses cell technology that automatically drains honey into collection pots. With a simple turn of the flow valve, a beekeeper can collect pure honey straight from the hive with minimal disturbance to the bees.
Pros And Cons
Using Flow Frames allows a much easier and pleasant beekeeping experience by eliminating the need to open the hive box to extract honey. Using Flow frames also means that there is no need to purchase extra equipment for honey extraction since the frames do the job for you. This revolutionary technology is also much cleaner to use, meaning a less sticky and messy honey collection experience and of course -- less sweet, delicious honey gets wasted. Flow Frames also come in all four standard bee hive box sizes. That means that Flow Frames can be an upgrade in existing hives or to create new hives.
Although honey extraction is much simpler with the Hive frames, there is still a need to use protective gear when working with or around bee hives with Flow frames. Many beekeepers also prefer traditional wooden frames and collection methods. Eliminating the need to open the bee hive box also means that beekeepers will not be able to inspect the health of their hives when collecting honey. Installing Flow Frames to existing hive boxes means you'll need to modify your existing box. That can take between 1 to 2 hours of time. The Flow frames also come at a much steeper cost than traditional wooden or plastic bee hive frames.
Pricing And Where To Buy?
Flow Frames are becoming widely popular all over the world. However, they do come at a cost. These frames cost $250 to $270 for a set of three frames, and $$$ - $$$ for a set of seven and come directly from the Flow website. However, due to the high demand worldwide, some of the bundles and sizing options do temporarily go out of stock. Make sure that you contact Flow to ensure that they have your size in stock.
Flow Hives are building a strong reputation for a quality product and quality customer service. All of their bee hive frames and beekeeping supplies include a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will also benefit from a 12-month warranty period whereby they promise to replace your frames if there are any unexpected defects.
Honey Keeper Beehive Frames are a popular frame option for budget beekeepers who want to assemble their own frames and foundations.
These bee hive frames are made of New Zealand pine wood and include a kit for installing a foundation. This frame kit requires assembly, meaning that you will need to screw and glue the frames together yourself. Inside the kit includes the frame, foundation, screws, and instructions on how to assemble them.
Pros And Cons
Many beekeepers prefer a DIY approach to building their hives and colonies. Honey Keeper Beehive frames are easy to assemble with finger joints and included screws. They are quality New Zealand Timber at a fraction of the cost of other frames on the market. They can also make excellent replacements for broken or damaged frames.
Of course, building your own frames isn't everybody's cup of tea. Although the assembly process is simple with pre-cut joints, there is still room for error and accidental damage. The included foundation is also unwaxed, which means that it may be harder for bees to take to the hive. Therefore the Honey Keeper frames would best be suited for beekeepers on a budget who want the bare minimum.
Pricing And Where To Buy?
These frames are available internationally on Amazon, eBay and at Walmart. The 10 pack of frames at any size will cost anywhere between $$ to $$. Therefore, this budget option comes close to the higher quality Mann Lake versions but is still the cheapest wooden honey frame on the list.
For a budget price, you often miss out on warranty perks. That is still very much the case for these particular frames. You will need to rely on your re-seller's warranty and returns policies for any potential defects.
So, What's The Buzz About Bee Hive Frames?
Although all of the frames compared in this roundup are great options, it is clear that the best option for you is dependent on your own personal budget and application. For entry-level beekeepers on a budget, the Mann Lake Waxed Standard Plastic Frames are a great option. These are easy to install and the cheapest frames available. For experienced beekeepers, or for those who want a less invasive honey collection method, the Flow frames by Flow Hive are a great option if you are willing to spend the extra money to save time and effort.
So, what do you think? What are your favorite bee hive frames on the market? Or do you prefer to build your own frames? Let us know in the comments.