I bought the frames and wax foundation to replace what the mice damaged. It came to £70. Two mouseguards would have cost £1.08. That's an expensive lesson. Not to mention the honey I will lose whilst my bees expend energy replacing the eaten wax and stores. On the other hand, my bee guru, Arnie, has given me some old frames and hive floors that used to belong to another beekeeper who passed away. I'll clean those up and repair them. The mice would have cost me even more without Arnie's generosity. I know I'll never neglect to fit mouseguards again.
Today I've been busy assembling lots of brand new frames and fitting them with wax foundation. They come flat packed - lots of odd-shaped bits of wood, sheets of beeswax stamped with a hexagon pattern and reinforced with wire, and 19mm gimp pins. You'll also need a hammer and/or pin punch, your hive tool, and probably a pair of pliers for removing any nails that go in wrong.
The first thing to do is to identify a top bar and snap off the foundation-retaining slat using your hive tool. Clean off any slivers of wood that remain stuck to the top bar and the slat.
Then lie the top bar on your work surface flat face down, and find two side bars. Orient them so the foundation grooves face inwards, then gently push them onto the top bar. They should fit snugly. If they are too snug to push into place by hand, tap them into place with a hammer using a waste piece of wood to avoid hitting the slotted ends and damaging them. Pin the top bar to the side bar through the side, not through the top. When the frame is laden with honey a nail through the top may not take the weight, with sticky consequences.
Now take a sheet of wax foundation and figure out which way up it goes. You should have three long loops of wire at the top. If you have two short loops it's upside down. Bend the three loops at right angles and gently slot the foundation into the grooves. If all is well it will fit snugly, but if necessary trim a little wax off the side.
Find the slat you separated from the top bar earlier, and put it back in place. Pin it with three gimp pins through the loops in the wire. Take care not to lose concentration and put your hammer through the beeswax. It's really annoying.
Nearly done. Now find two bottombars and gently fit them into the slots in the sidebar. Be careful not to bend the foundation at this stage. Pin the bottombars through the bottom, not the side. At some point you will want to partly disassemble the frame and remove the wax. If you nail through the sides it will be almost impossible to avoid damaging the frame if the pin goes through the side.
And that's it. I now have one complete bee hive frame. Only 39 more to go. Sigh.