My purchase from Mann Lake included the 8 Frame Traditional Growing Apiary Kit. I decided to go with 8 frames because I want to pre-protect my back. 10 frame is customary. Part of me wanted to get the 10 frame and “prove” that I could easily heft those extra 2 frames around – or at least get some additional strength training exercise.
However, one of the speakers at my first beekeeper’s association meeting talked about how if you didn’t have back problems prior to beekeeping that you eventually would. He then explained some ergonomics about beekeeping and ways to protect your back. So, I quickly changed my mind and decided that all I would “prove” is that I should have bought an 8 frame kit instead of the 10.
My initial set up is to have two brood boxes – 8 frames per box. I purchased 8 frames of bees from my mentor – enough to fill one brood box. I provided one brood box to my mentor in the evening and the next morning picked up my ladies. Once I received the 8 frames, this became my bottom brood box. I moved two of the bottom brood frames to the middle of the top brood box. My 1-gallon sugar feeder was placed in the top as well – to encourage the ladies to move to the top. Once in the top brood box, the ladies should see how much room there is and start drawing more comb up there. The goal is to encourage them to increase space vertically and then spread horizontally.
- Bottom Brood Box : 6 frames with bees + 2 brand new Rite-Cell Foundation Frames
- Top Brood Box: 2 frames with bees + 1-gallon sugar feeder + 5 brand new Rite-Cell Foundation Frames
As mentioned, my kit included Assembled frames with Rite-Cell foundation. The Rite-Cell foundation provides a template/map for the bees to use. The bees will still need to “draw” the beeswax on the foundation sheets – to make the 3-D space needed for a bee to complete its full metamorphosis from egg to adult.
The perforated corner on each Rite-Cell frame needs to be removed. The bees like to travel in this space between frames.
To encourage the bees to draw the wax on the Rite-Cell, the recommendation is to apply an additional thin layer of beeswax to the Rite-Cell foundation. I purchased 16 oz of Beeswax plugs from Dadant (I used maybe 8). I set up a double boiler system to melt the beeswax on my electric range. This may be a “duh” moment for some, but wax burns! You should NEVER melt beeswax over an open flame (i.e. do NOT use a gas stove to melt your beeswax. You may need to purchase a hot plate to set up your double boiler system).
Also, the water does not necessarily need to be kept at a rolling boil – it just needs to be hot enough to keep the beeswax melted. The photo below shows the beeswax still in the process of being melted.
Once the beeswax was melted, I applied a thin layer to the Rite-Cell foundation frames. It took me a few frames before I could easily tell where I had applied the beeswax and where I had not. The goal is to apply a thin layer but not so much that the beeswax fills the cell. There were a few cells that I had to remove the wax from because I had applied too much beeswax. I only applied the additional beeswax to the 7 new Rite-Cell frames that I needed for my current setup.
Below is the final setup. Note the strap to hold the hive boxes on the hive stand. Most beekeepers place a stone on top of their hive. Since the majority of our backyard is hillside (remember we have a great snow-sledding hill) and there are several deer and other wildlife that meander on our property, we decided to strap the hive boxes down.