I would push you toward the Russian foam design.. more or less the same as the comerical ones, witch realy had a lot of thought put into them
After a few seasons, my thoughts
You want 2 combs minimum for thermal control, 3 is better. The more square the brood chamber the better
You need an easy way to provide enuff feed for 2 weeks, internally! I like liquid as the bees are locked in the 1st 3 days dark and cool.
Drawn comb isn't needed, and is often in the way when your dumping in bees. The cup of bees has time on thier hands waiting for the virgin to harden and mate out, they will draw plenty of comb
I build 5 two 1/2 comb comfort types last year cost me maybe $4 eachPicture1.jpgPicture2.jpg
but the thin walls and elongated shape held me back early season.. and feeders always seem to be a battle on homemades, cups, bags, soda bottles what ever
Next up I did twelve 1/2 length 8 frame super shallows (5.25") as there was a large amount of 1x6 in the home depot 70% off pile at the time. but making 100 scratch built frames... that got un fun quickly
but you can stack 2 on a 8 frame hive to fill them up and they split fast
mini frame.jpg mini hive stack.jpg
they had a center division board so they could split into two 3 frame units with internal feeders, stack up to over winter, had enough space in an empty box placed on top to hold three 1 quart deli containers of feed when I came time to combine and fatten for wint
then I built six 2f nucs out of a $10 sheet of OSB... but in other then prime weather the shape caused issues, as did the need of an external feeder. I ended up using them to grow nucs using mated queens. But if some one was not using portabul cells (ie swarm cells on plastic foundation) they may be more useful
And of coarse I have some standed 2 and 3 frame queen castles, they work fine and are a little more weather robust then the 2f stand alones
Next year my wood 1/2 framers will be the 1st in to use as right now there are 4 units stacked 3 high going into winter. So I have a high likly hood of at least one making it and providing the resources to restart the rest.
followed by the 10 foam minis, likly building some comfort hives and then move on to using queen castles, and last the 2f nucs
I found the commercial foam ones easy to work, easier to load etc. a few more bells and whistles that makes my time in the field quicker and easier . sure they cost me more a unit.. but if I were to put a price tag on my labor to build, that gap would close. As would every year of time saving..
for some one who just wants a few the $11 price tag isn't a huge hurdle, and it stops the "good idea fairy" from poping into peoples heads as often happens when people deside to "just build it" them self.. When learning a new skill, its often best to use the conventional ways and equipment and then after success branch out in the unknown.