One of our most common tools among beekeepers is the hive tool. This little pry bar, wedge, hammer, nail puller, is probably one of the most important tools in the wonderful world of beekeeping. American Bee Journal, January 2019 issue did an article on the hive tool and the many different types there are.
The most common type is the one that is about 9 inches long and has a ninety degree angle on one end. Both ends are sharpened. Much sharper when first purchased. The other hive tool that I find very useful is the one with a J hook on one end and is sharpened on the other end. This tool can be used to pry out frames that are propolised . Not every beekeeper is a fan of this model of tool, if your frames are not put together correctly you will pull the top bar of the frame leaving the bottom and comb and a number of very unhappy bees left behind. I will go into more detail later on the construction that I use.
One of YouTubes more recognized individuals, aka; Fat Bee Man say's that if a bee inspector comes onto his property with a J hook he immediately corrects his terrible mistake or asks him to leave. There's a reason for that and I have described it previously. I have followed the previous YouTube celebrity and agree most of the time with his comments. Old beekeepers have a great deal of knowledge and you always want to stop and listen when they talk. Kind of like when E F Hutten talks
But I must admit that I have fallen into the J hook hive tool trap when I am removing frames. Although I also use the standard for splitting supers and removing covers etc. Its always nice to have two hive tools around, so that one of them will always be available while your looking for the other one.
Luckily for me, I have never pulled a frame apart while prying it out of the hive. I have often wondered how much pull a frame can take before you pull it apart.
Years ago, before we had pneumatic nail guns, every frame was hammered together using a small brad hammer and small nails. An old beekeeper in our neighborhood would fill his mouth with small nails and load his hammer from his mouth. I also knew a fellow that did upholstery that used this same method. He always said that you should always make sure what your swallowing. Sounded like a good rule to me. Probably the reason I got a pneumatic nail gun.
The way I'm going to describe, is the way I do it. I use the D style (wedge top bar with divided bottom)
bar). I use a 1/4 x 1 1/4 staple. A word of warning is in line. Watch where you put your hand and fingers. A pneumatic nailer has a tremendous amount of power and human flesh or bone is no match for this equipment.
My assembly procedure is to dry fit the frame first. Then I will nail the split bottom to the end bar first, using 1 inch brads and hand nailing. I have found that using a gun on this will tend to split the end bar. The other reason I do the bottom of the frame first is to seat the end bar into the top more firmly. Then I will flip the frame over and using the gun, put two staples through the top on each end into the end board. I also put one staple from the side of the end board into the top of the frame. This locks the frame together and will prevent the frame from separating in the hive when your trying to pry it out.
Find the way that works for you and have fun.