Beekeeping is a hobby that comes with a lot of equipment, and one of the most important pieces in the hive is the frames.
The frames are where the bees will build wax comb, crucial for everything from raising brood to storing pollen and nectar and making delicious honey.
Bee frames are a very basic item with a few different options. Beginner beekeepers can choose what makes the most sense to them and experiment to see what they like best.
Check out this list of the best bee frames for beginning beekeepers to help you get started with your new hobby!
Our Top Picks
BeeCastle 10-Pack Waxed Foundation
Best Budget Choice:
Wedge Top Frames Packs of 10 or 8
Best Assembled Bee Frames:
Honey Keeper 10 Assembled Beehive Frames
Best Half-Size Frames:
100% Pure Honeycomb in Half Size Frame
This kit is a great overall option for new beekeepers.
It comes with 10 deep frames, perfect for starting your first brood box. The black plastic foundation makes it much easier for less experienced beekeepers to spot tiny eggs in the cells during hive inspections.
The foundations are pre-coated with a layer of beeswax, which helps encourage the bees to start building their comb on it right away.
These frames come disassembled, but they are easy to put together. Just pop all the pieces into place, double-check that they’re secure, and you’re ready to go!
Best Budget Choice
Beginner beekeepers especially should always at least consider a more economical option for bee frames. You can make a smaller investment in the earlier stages to help you get your bearings before diving in with a bigger budget.
These frames are foundationless, so you’ll have a wooden frame with no plastic or anything inside. You can use them as is, add wire for support, beeswax sheets, or even plastic foundation pieces. Many beekeepers prefer foundationless frames and feel that their bees do, too.
Having no foundation included makes them less expensive and offers you more flexibility. Because they’re simple, these bee frames are easy to assemble and high-quality. Another benefit of foundationless frames is that you can harvest cut comb if you want to.
These bee frames are available in 8 or 10-packs and medium or deep sizes to fit your setup.
Best Assembled Bee Frames
If you want to skip assembly and get right into it, these assembled bee frames are a great choice.
They’re ready to place in your hive as soon as you open the box. They’re high quality and include plastic foundations for sturdy comb.
These bee frames are medium-sized, so they’re perfect for honey supers or beekeepers who prefer to use medium boxes for broods.
Best Half-Size Frames
If your bees are super productive and you want to do something special, these little half-size bee frames are perfect.
The small size allows you to harvest cut comb or even serve the honey still in the frame straight from the hive. They work just like any other foundationless frame, only miniature!
They’re made from quality wood to last and are very quick and easy to assemble.
Other Helpful Bee Frame Accessories for Beginners
While you can easily get by without any extra items, there are definitely products out there that make handling your bee frames easier. These are all great for any beekeeper, but especially for beginner beekeepers trying to get the hang of everything.
Remove and hold frames securely with a bee frame grip because nothing is worse than dropping a frame! This simplifies pulling out frames and giving them a thorough look during inspections. It’s also great if you like to take photos of your bee frames.
Another convenient piece of equipment is a bee frame stand, and this one is a must for any beekeeper. It hooks onto any Langstroth box and holds bee frames safely off to the side during inspections. This helps you keep them out of the way during inspections and gives you more space inside the hive to move other frames around.
Beginner beekeepers would also benefit from using a frame spacer. This bee frame spacer includes a few different sizes, so you can use it in any setup.
Bees are very particular about how everything is spaced out in the hive. You can sometimes run into trouble if they have too much or too little room between frames. You might find a burr comb or wax comb built where it doesn’t belong.
It takes a lot of time and energy for bees to build wax comb, and they may even start storing resources or broods in burr comb. It’s best to minimize any chance of them wasting their effort.
Bee frame spacers are a great way to make sure everything is lined up just so. If you’re new to beekeeping, it can save you a lot of headaches.
Bee Frames for Beginners FAQs
What size frames do I need?
Boxes and frames for beehives come in three different sizes: deep, medium, and shallow.
The most common setup in a Langstroth hive is deep boxes and frames for brood and medium boxes and frames for honey supers. This gives the bees as much room as possible to raise broods without overcrowding their space and swarming. The smaller medium honey super frames make it much easier to lift the full frames, which can get extremely heavy.
Most honey extractors are made to fit medium frames. Some beekeepers prefer to use mediums for both brood and supers, but beginners usually have more success starting out with deeps for brood. Shallow boxes are pretty rare and are only used in honey supers.
What type of bee frames should I choose?
Frames can come with or without foundations.
Foundations are typically plastic in either black or yellow and are sometimes pre-coated with beeswax to encourage the bees to use them more readily. The plastic has an established raised honeycomb pattern on it.
Many new beekeepers like using black foundations because spotting tiny eggs against a darker background is much easier.
Plastic foundations mean you can’t harvest the whole comb, but they are much more sturdy during inspections and extraction. Foundationless frames are empty inside the frame, so the bees can build the comb however they want.
Many beekeepers find that their bees don’t like plastic foundations and will avoid using them at all. Foundationless frames can be left as is, or you can add wire for extra support to the comb.
You’ll have to be more careful inspecting each frame as the comb can sometimes fall out of the frame as you turn it around. They’re especially delicate in warm weather because the wax is softer.
How many bee frames do I need?
The number of bee frames you need depends on what size boxes you use.
Boxes fit either 8 or 10 frames, which is entirely up to personal preference. Nuc boxes are even smaller and fit about five frames.
Make sure you know what size box you have so you get the right number of frames if you purchase them separately. That being said, it’s never a bad idea to have spare frames available just in case you need them.
Getting the Best Bee Frames for Beginning Beekeepers
While bee frames aren’t super complicated, they’re still a crucial piece of your hive.
You can’t really go wrong in choosing frames, and it’s easy enough to replace any that you decide don’t work well for you. You can also replace individual frames when necessary. Start with what you feel most confident about and see how it goes as you gain more experience with your bees.
Get the scoop on all things relating to beekeeping on our honey bee page!
- About the Author
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Hope Schwartz-Leeper is an avid reader, writer, and lover of all things nature with degrees in English and Philosophy.
Born and raised in the Northeast, Hope has always had an affinity for spending time outside. Growing up and attending college in New York, then living on Cape Cod and finally settling in Rhode Island has given her plenty of experience with the climate and environment of these areas.
She loves growing her own food and plants and is always trying to grow something new. She’s hoping her apple trees will one day bear fruit, but for now she’s excited about anything that comes from the garden.