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  1. #1
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    Sep 2007
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    Default 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    I am at 9 inches outside width for a 5 frame nuc. I started this way after making 3 one piece 5 frame nucs from a plan on a website - Honey Run Apiaries if I remember right. They have a built in wire mesh at the bottom for ventilation (which can be closed off) and one auger hole at the end. My experience has been that they do not meet all my requirements, as they can only be a bottom when you expand to two storeys. If they get congested there is no bottom entrance to allow more traffic. They were also a little fussy to make - at least with my woodworking abilities. If I sell 5 frame nucs next year I may sell them off to customers.
    However, they did influence the rest of my nucs as I stayed with 9 inches as the outside width dimension. I have a 3/4 hole three inches from the center of the top and this winter the biggest improvement has been "OD Frank" handles - a cleat on the end of the new boxes I made with a 15 degree slope that really tucks itself into your finger tips.
    I am moving to solid bottom boards as they are easier to make and other successful nuc practitioners don't seem to be using SBB's.
    For tops I use FBIC's (feed bag inner covers), some solid migratory style covers or 2 inch insulation.

    If I were starting over I may have gone to 8 1/8 width 4 frame nuc boxes (Michael Palmer style) as a single standard telescopic cover will cover a pair of them.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    2,489

    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    I've made both 9" and 9 5/8" boxes, both have their uses but the 9" ones are not really suitable for 5 frames if made from 3/4" thick lumber. I'l be using those with narrow frames for swarm catching and making splits from narrow frame hives. The 9 5/8" boxes work fine with 5 standard frames.

    So far they are all simple boxes standing on separate bottoms, but after using one for a swarm retrieval, I'll be making some with solid bottoms attached for this purpose, it's too hard to handle them with the bottom loose (I don't want to spill out a hive full of bees, eh?).

    If you are using thinner material, 9" is probably fine, but I don't want to try to overwinter nucs in "temporary" boxes, I'll stick with tne 3/4" matieral for that. I'm not sure I want to make non-permanent equipment for my own use, but if I were selling nucs, I'd probably buy plastic folding ones and skip making them, too expensive in time and materials to "give" away.

    So far I've had good luck using mine for swarm retrieval -- the bees seem to like them and move right in and stay put. I'm assuming this is because the boxes are quite solid and the standard inner/telescoping covers simulate a proper hive cavity better than a cardboard box does. Of course, now that I've said that, the next six or so will refuse to move in, I'd bet!

    A full width entrance slot is probably better than a hole -- you can reduce it if you need to, but a hole is limited in size to whatever it is. Easy enough to make an excluder if you feel you need one. The more like a standard Lang you make them the better they will serve long term.

    Peter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    I make 9 inch exterior, 3/4 boards, 5 standard frames give you proper bee space. I like detachable bottom boards, (easy to add a second chamber if you want to) migratory tops with hole for jar top feeding. Easy to close off with screen to move. I cut my handles exactly like my 10 frame commercial boxes. (Use a Skil Saw, See my video on how to do it on U-Tube, just search Cleo Hogan, Bee Box Handles) safe, fast, look like commercial handles, anyone can do it. I will e-mail you the instructions, (free).

    I haven't had much success with nucs for swarm traps. I use old 10 framers.

    I sell nucs, box jointed, 9 inch, and I find that lots of people want them so they have a spare nuc on hand for swarm collection, splits, nursing a weak hive etc. 9 inch seemes to be the industry standard, and if you make them 9 inch outside, and preserve bee space inside, these nucs can be used with other nucs, other bottom boards, other tops, and as 2d chambers from your's and other's manufacturing.

    cchoganjr

  4. #4
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    Jul 2011
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    Evansville, IN
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    I don't use them as traps - too small. For retrieving a swarm, they work great unless the swarm is too big. Lots of those this year here. A hint -- 9 lbs of bees will NOT fit in a nuc box.....! Six is probably too many, too.

    I barely have bee space on the sides with 5 frames in a 9" OD box, and it looks as though it would be hard to get the first frame out since it cannot be slid sideways. May just be my frames and boxes, though.

    Peter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    psfred....Not sure of the size of my frames, but, I use Kelly 9D frames. Bee space is right, and frames come out o.k. unless when I start the nuc, the frames of brood, and honey were drawn out too wide. Then have to be careful. I normally sell them as 5 frame nucs, or transfer them to customer hives or to 10 framers before this becomes a problem.

    cchoganjr

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    Peter, My 9 inch boxes work pretty well for 5 frames. One thing to consider when working the nucs is that there 40% of the frames are outside frames, and so there are more opportunities for adhesions to the box. I use 3/4 inch lumber, this leaves 7 1/2 inches for 5 frames versus 14 3/4 when using 10 frames in a standard deep.
    I use Mann Lake PF's. When getting the frames out I usually just pull the second frame and work from there.

    Cleo, I was wondering if there was an industry standard? I see that Mann Lake sell 9 5/8 inch 5 frame nucs, and so I concluded I was the odd ball.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
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    2,071

    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    So far they are all simple boxes standing on separate bottoms, but after using one for a swarm retrieval, I'll be making some with solid bottoms attached for this purpose, it's too hard to handle them with the bottom loose (I don't want to spill out a hive full of bees, eh?).
    Just stick a screw on the short edge of each nuc bb and do the same thing right above it to the nuc. Attach picture frame wire and you have attached the BB to the Nuc body. Does not come apart and you maintain your flexibility.........
    http://OxaVap.com
    Your source for Oxalic Acid Vaporizers

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,889

    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    A lot of dimensions have evolved over time based in converting existing equipment. A typical way to make a five frame nuc is to cut a ten frame box in half and then add a side on the outside of that. That makes it 8 1/8" (half of 16 1/4") plus a 3/4" board added which is 8 7/8". But a lot of them are the width of a one by ten (9 1/4").

    In theory the minimum is 1 3/8" per frame (which for five is 6 7/8") plus 3/8" beespace (3/16" starting off and 3/16" for the last frame) which is 7 1/4" plus the sides (3/4" times two) which is 8 3/4" minimum. Then you usually want a little space to work with beyond that which brings us to 9 1/4" again.

    It's nice to be able to make lids from a simple one by ten without ripping it...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
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    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    Adrian... I don't really know if there is a standard, so I stand corrected, but, Almost all that I have ever seen over the years is 9 inch outside, measurement, 3/4 inch wood. I did not know that Mann Lake's are 9 5/8. Is their wood 3/4 or 7/8.

    Adrian... I will see what my measurements are when I get back to kentucky.

    cchoganjr

  10. #10
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    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    Cleo, Mann Lake's wood is 3/4 as I recall. This is a link to the page of the catalog with the box and dimensions on it. http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeepin...es/page53.html
    Adrian.

  11. #11
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    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    Adrian. I looked at a 9 inch , 5 frame nuc. If it is 9 inch width, and 3/4 wood, that leaves 7 1/2 inside for 5 frames. Using Kelly 1 3/8 frames, if you push then together you would have 5/8 inch left to divide between the 2 outside frames and the two sides. If you put one side at 1/4 that would leave you 3/8 on the other side. (acceptable bee space) I have not had a problem getting frames out unless the nuc was made from frames that are drawn out beyond the 1 3/8 width. Sometimes that happens, especially with honey at the top. But again, I normally transfer them from nucs to customer boxes or my 10 frame boxes before they get overcrowded with bees.

    cchoganjr

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    1,047

    Thumbs Up Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    I've ordered NUCs from Rossman and Mann Lake this year. Rossman is 9 " and the Man Lake is 9 5/8" (width)...Both are 3/4" stock.
    Last edited by Lburou; 06-21-2012 at 09:37 PM.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  13. #13
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    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    LB, if you were selling the boxes that would be OK, otherwise the lack of compatibility would be annoying. Adrian.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    1,047

    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    LB, if you were selling the boxes that would be OK, otherwise the lack of compatibility would be annoying. Adrian.
    Don't I know it. I made a couple more NUC boxes this week. One 9" and one 9 5/8". I'm stuck using them, which is what I intended. I basically used this plan. If you use that plan, careful to use half inch plywood. I used 3/4" (it was cabinet grade and on sale at HD) and had to make the box a bit longer than the plan.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: 4 and 5 frame nuc construction - how wide do you make them? Other tips/thoughts.

    For those making their own nucs, You can take a 2X4, rip it with a table saw, glue three pieces together and make the nuc from that. Often there are lots of places you can get short pieces of 2X4 for free, or at reduced prices.

    I regret saying that 9 inch is a standard, (in reality I guess there is no standard), but that is the width I make all mine, and most of what I see are 9 inch. All pieces will interchange with other manufacturers. For your own use, I guess make them whatever width you want.

    cchoganjr

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