Did you know that many state apiary laws require that beekeepers use framed hives? Fortunately, it’s easy and affordable to comply with the Honey Keeper Beehive 10 Deep Frame Kit with Foundations for Replacement Langstroth Beekeeping.
Langstroth hives have long been the most popular beekeeping hive in America. Getting replacement frames and other parts and accessories couldn’t be easier today because so many beekeepers use the Langstroth method. We’re sure that would make the inventor smile were he around to see it today.
Like another popular beekeeper system, the Warre hive, it was developed and perfected by a man of the church. Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth came up with his new innovative methods in 1851.
The Massachusetts pastor and women’s school principal took up beekeeping to help ease bouts of depression. He used his well-trained mind to examine the prevailing beekeeping wisdom of the day. The Reverend saw room for innovations, with “room” being the keyword.
That’s because Langstroth recognized the vital importance of leaving an exact amount of room or space between the component of the hive. He called it, “dead space.” Today, it has a more endearing name: “bee space.”
Langstroth found out that a bee space of one-centimeter could change everything. The bees will build a honeycomb if the space is wider than one-centimeter. If that space is just a tiny bit smaller, the bees fill it with the sticky glue called propolis.
Bees create propolis by mixing saliva, pollen, plant resins, and wax. What a sticky mess, but it’s essential for bees when they create their hives in nature.
The perfect bee space
After discovering the one-centimeter rule, the beekeeper built on what he learned from Swiss naturalist, Francois Huber, who had devised one of the first movable frame hives made like leaves of a book. He recognized that movable frames resulted in easier access to the hive without disturbing the entire colony.
That’s a huge plus for the bees and beekeeper alike. Langstroth went one step further, devising the wooden frames still used today, with the magic number of one-centimeter between. No sticky mess between the frames, and honeycombs that were easily taken out, inspected, interchanged, and replaced. Brilliant!
These frames can use foundations, which is a board inserted into the frame. On the other hand, they can be used without such a backing, letting the bees create their combs from the top down without restriction.
Ever since Langstroth’s innovative design went public, it took off and spread around the world. Now it is required by law in some areas. That’s in part because it’s so much easier to inspect hives for unwanted pests and other problems.
Image via Amazon
Let’s look at the key features of the Honey Keeper deep frames.
The Honey Keeper frames are beekeeping industry standard sizes used worldwide. So if you have a Langstroth hive, there is no guesswork if it will fit. You know it will automatically. Langstroth boxes are 19 7/8 inches long.
Traditional boxes are 16 inches wide, but some people opt for the lighter-weight boxes of a 14-inch width instead. Apiarists call traditional boxes “10 frame” and smaller width boxes of 14 inches “8 frame.”
The boxes come in three standard depths: deep, medium, and shallow. The Honey Keeper frames we are reviewing fit the deepest boxes, which have a depth of 9 5/8 inches.
Thus, the individual frames you want are slightly smaller at 9-1/8 inches tall. Since they fit the deep boxes, you can expect the most honey yield per frame. Unfortunately, that also means the most weight for the box and all of those honey-laden frames. A full box laden with honey could weigh upwards of 80 pounds.
The replacement frames in the kit consist of New Zealand pine wood, known for being strong and a sustainable source of lumber. Pine is more prone to rotting than would be cedar, however, since the frames stay inside the boxes, they aren’t to the elements. The pine frames come with pre-cut finger joints to help them easier to assemble.
Honey Keeper provides pre-cut plastic frame foundations for sliding into the frames. They have an unwaxed hexagonal shaped foundations surface. Many beekeepers suggest applying a coat of beeswax over the foundations, which is a simple but messy job. Applying a coating of melted beeswax could encourage bees to start building combs faster. You could use an estimated 1lb. of melted beeswax to coat the entire group of foundations.
Although Honey Keeper plainly states that the ten frames are “easy to assemble,” some people may assume they come already made due to the finished frames pictured. They do not come assembled. Assembly time will vary considerably, based on how comfortable you are with working with your hands as well as occasional imperfections in the wood.
If you find simple woodworking enjoyable, you will probably be able to assemble the frames with relative ease in around fifteen minutes or less for each one. The kit comes with heavy duty nails included. Of course, some prefer to use their own nails, which is perfectly fine, or you could use an airgun which would be even faster.
The price ranges from $31 to $65. They are affordable and easy to buy online at many trusted sources like Amazon, Walmart, or eBay. The affordable price makes it easier to replace frames as needed.
These Honey Keeper frames received a rating of 4.2 out of 5-stars. Some people complained that the frames didn’t come assembled and that they weren’t pre-waxed. However, the product description clearly states these facts.
Let’s take a look at some of the top competitors to compare with the Honey Keeper kit. We reviewed the competition by picking out well-established sources that offer similar Langstroth deep frames in a pack of ten. Some offer similar plastic foundations, while others prefer to go foundationless.
Using the Langstroth method means that you could buy frames from any of these sources and use them interchangeably with what you already have. Wherever possible, we included a customer review summary.
Betterbee, from Greenwich, NY, offers many options for Langstroth frames. They have deep frames without foundations in the pack of ten. However, you may also buy individual or groups of frames with various types of foundations, including the plastic ones that Honey Keeper provides. You may opt to buy them unwaxed, or waxed for a higher price.
They make their frames exclusively from Eastern pine, which they say is less brittle than Western pine. The company claims to use thicker wood for “added strength and longer life.” Grooved style top bards allow the use of plastic foundation.
The Betterbee Deep Frame pack of ten of unassembled frames without foundations range in price from $12 to $ 18. You can also buy deep frames with plastic Pierco foundation that are pre-coated with beeswax. They come pre-assembled. You may choose heavily waxed foundations for an additional cost per frame.
If you buy ten frames, the cost ranges from $4 to $6 per frame. The cost for ten heavily-waxed frames ranges from $5 to $7 a piece. The heavier wax may entice bees to use them faster.
There is no customer review available on the website for these particular frames. However, Betterbee staff is always available to answer any questions.
Mann Lake has locations Minnesota, California, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Their hub is in Hackensack, Minnesota and they started in 1983. This well-established and trusted source provides a wide variety of frame options for Langstroth hives.
Choose a pack of ten unassembled frames with or without holes in the end bars. The company claims the bottom bar is 33 percent thicker at 1.27 cm. You can buy the Rite-Cell® Foundation separately. The price for a pack of ten without foundations ranges from $14 to $18.
Packs of ten pre-assembled deep frames with waxed foundations are available and range in price from $4 to $7 a piece or $34 to $50 for a group of ten. There is no customer review at the company website, but Mann Lake is a well-known and trusted source for beekeeping supplies of all kinds.
Image via beebuilt.com
Bee Built is located in Portland, Oregon and provides quality beekeeping supplies using FSC Certified® wood to ensure sustainability for many of their beekeeping supplies. They offer foundationless unassembled frames with nails included. The frames feature “molded top and bottom bar comb guide design to encourage straight comb construction.” The frames are made of Ponderosa pine.
The company believes in foundationless beekeeping, stating that this method “provides honeybees with an ideal environment to thrive in, one which draws upon their instinctive behavior and methods.” A pack of ten unassembled frames ranges in price from $26 to $36. The customers gave these frames a 5.0 out of 5-stars.
Now that we’ve considered several competitors, let’s narrow down some of the best and worst attributes that factor into making the best purchase for your money.
Image via Pixabay
If you decide you want to use foundations with you Langstroth frames, then Honey Keeper has a competitive price for a pack of ten unassembled frames. If you don’t mind or even enjoy putting together your own frames, then it might be the perfect choice for you.
Not to mention, you’ll have everything you need when the box arrives at your door. However, keep in mind that you may want to apply a coat of beeswax to the foundations. For a beekeeper who enjoys a hands-on-approach at a low cost, and doesn’t mind that the quality isn’t going to be perfect, it would be a sound purchase.
Other busy beekeepers might opt for the pre-assembled and waxed foundations offered by the competitors we reviewed. Example: For not too much more cash, you can order directly then Honey Keeper and receive a box of waxed frames that you won’t have to bother putting together.
They are ready to go out of the case, and you can save more if you buy a case of 20. Keep in mind that you still might want to apply more beeswax to the light coating that is standard on the foundations.
Hopefully, we’ve given you a great start at deciding which Langstroth deep box frames you will consider purchasing. Since so many beekeepers prefer this traditional method, it is relatively easy to find good sources for all of your beekeeping needs.
Featured Image via PIxabay