Boxes and Frames : A Winter’s Tale

I received a call once from a young lady who wanted to see if her husband could “experience a day as a beekeeper” – a birthday present.  Somehow I don’t think she meant: sit in a room in mid-winter with clamps, a mallet, and a staple gun to assemble a small mountain of boxes and frames.  Why, oh why do I think that?

Unassembled bee boxes and frames, Brookfield FArm, Maple FAlls WA

My Winter Work










This is indeed part of my winter chores.  Last November Kelley Beekeeping had a great deal: Free Shipping! Kelley is one of my favorite suppliers, from whom I always buy wax foundation.  Wooden ware, however, has always been a no-go because of the shipping costs.  Kelley’s is in Kentucky and I am in a remote corner of Northwest Washington state, about 2,500 miles apart.  The shipping, as we say, will kill you.  The moment the free shipping kicked in I was on the phone for boxes and frames, lots of boxes and frames.

Bee Boxes to Be assembled

Piles of Unassembled Boxes










As an aside, I always have more frames than would be required for the number of boxes I possess.  This is because  I remove 5-year-old frames, so I always need new frames.  The frame removal is to reduce the build up of pests and diseases in the hives.

I am at that odd place in beekeeping: neither small enough nor big enough to order assembled frames.  Assembling takes time, but costs less than purchasing preassembled wood ware.  Time and money are both scarce, but I can usually find time in the depth of winter.

There is a wonderful device one can make to help assemble boxes, Michael Bush has a nice photo sequence on this bee box jig.  I don’t have one of these jigs.  It always seems to be on the to-make list, but doesn’t get made.  I use two angle clamps, a wooden mallet, and a power stapler. 

Angle Clamps and Mallet : Bee Box Assembling

Angle Clamps and Mallet








Full Bee Box Held with Angle Clamps, Brookfield Farm Maple FAlls, WA

Ready To Staple










Bee Box Assembling, Brookfield Farm, Maple FAlls,WA

The Stapler










Bee Box Assembling : Cold Weather

It’s Just Not Warm Here  Yes, I am wearing two pairs of gloves.  This is normal for me in the winter








My goal: 20 boxes and 200 frames per week; to me, a reasonable goal.   Then the generator broke down.  The farm is off-grid and the surge of air compressor that drives the stapler is way beyond the capacity of our inverter, thus I need the generator.   Last word is two weeks before it is fixed.  Guess I’ll be wiring all the frames that I built.  I do that in gloves as well.

Do note that Kelley’s has just announced that in celebration of the 90th year, they are waving all shipping for all of 2014 (for orders over $200).  If I weren’t already inundated with woodenware, I’d jump on it.

January at Brookfield Farm is also: taxes, book festivals, book farmers markets, register hives, organize the bee notes from 2013 and all the other paper work that has to be done to keep the apiary going.  Those things are truly a little boring to write about.

That’s the news from Brookfield Farm Bees and Honey, Maple Falls, Washington.  What winter apiary activities are you up to…or for those in the southern half of our planet: how’s the summer going?  I bet it’s way warmer than here.


About brookfieldfarmhoney

Brookfield Farm, a small off-grid apiary in Maple Falls, WA focuses on the beauty and bounties of Washington’s wilderness. I sell honey from our bees, whose naturally-treated, antibiotic-free hives are home to bees who fly Washington’s mountains and farmlands. Herbal salves and lip balms from Brookfield beeswax. Delicately infused honeys and vinegars. Varietal honeys from independent Washington beekeepers. Karen Edmundson Bean: beekeeper, photographer. Her love of the wilderness inspires her to discover new ways of bringing the wonders of nature to others. Brookfield Farm : the tastes, textures, sounds, and images of nature.
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