Wiring your frames is a necessary step to ensure your precious honey frames come out of the extractor in one piece and your gorgeous frames of brood remain tightly in place (especially on hot days!). The following example illustrates the steps required to wire a western frame.
It is easiest to prepare your frame for wiring before assembly. Using your eyelet punch, insert eyelets into each of the predrilled holes on your frame side bars. In addition, place two tack nails to the sides of the eyelets on one side bar. If you have already assembled your frames, hammer the eyelets and tack nails into the side bars with something underneath the side bar to serve as a shock absorber and to prevent breakage.
Continue to assemble the frame (see our Frame Assembly Tutorial).
To begin wiring, cut a length of wire roughly double the length of your frame, plus a bit more (52″ or so should work). On the side bar with the tack nails, thread the wire from the INSIDE OUT through the topmost eyelet, and fasten the end by wrapping it around the adjacent tack nail. Secure in place by nailing down the tack nail. Trim the excess wire.
With one end now secure, thread the remaining length of wire through the topmost eyelet on the other side bar. Then thread the wire to the outside of the side bar, and back through the lower eyelet. The trick here is to thread the wire across your foundation on the OPPOSITE SIDE from which you started, meaning that your foundation will be sandwiched between two lengths of wire, one running across the front side of your frame and the other running across the back.
A wood clamp is a handy tool to get your wires guitar-string tight. Make sure you place the clamp on the side bar adjacent to but not covering the eyelets. You want the wire to be able to move through the eyelets when tightening.
Without removing the clamp, re-tighten the wire around the bottom tack nail as tight as you can wrap it, nail it into place, and remove the clamp. Your wires should now be so tight that they sing (see above). Trim the excess wire and you are done! Notice in the picture above that one wire runs in front of the foundation, and the other runs behind. Also notice that I dated my frame. This is a helpful way to keep track of the age of your frames in the hive – frames should be replaced after a few years of use by the bees.
The process is exactly the same for deep frames. The only difference is that you are placing four eyelets on each side bar. You would still place tack nails beside the upper and lower eyelets. Thread your wire back and forth across the frame, remembering to alternate from front to back. Tighten with the clamp, pull the wire tight, secure the tack nail, and you are done!
Some people choose to embed the wire into the foundation. Spur embedders are useful tools for this. It is helpful to do this on fairly warm wax to prevent cracking, and make sure you place the foundation flat on a surface to provide resistance. Our method of choice is to use the amazing and life-changing form board. It accommodates all three sizes of frames and works like a dream. Run the embedder across the wire until it sticks into the foundation. Congratulations on taking the extra steps needed to ensure solid frames for your bees!