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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is an excerpt from a FB live webinar I did last nite for the local clubs
I made over 50 pre-cut kits to donate and was going to have a train the trainer night and then have them bring kits back to their club to run a test workshop.
but things as they are the only way to get this out there before queen season was to do distance learning and have them pick their kits up "curbside"

The idea is they can easily copy it if it the club likes it and do a bigger workshop, just takes someone to pre rip the 5"X4' strips and then only a few screwdrivers and miter boxes (or knife and straight edge to score and snap) on-site for a club project.
Mini's paired with push-in cages around cells can help people make the most of a swarmed hive.
Thought mabey some of you here might find it useful, its a bad video, but a good project :lpf::lpf:
https://youtu.be/taf9-oMmF90

For my own use I am building them in to 4 packs with a center feeder DSCF1255.jpg
 

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Nice. I especially love the simplicity of the feeder. I've got two questions:

1. That looks like a pretty hard foam. What foam are you using?

2. Are you not worried about comb being attached to the sides making inspection for a laying queen and queen extraction more difficult?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
its foam core board I salvaged, signage from a large convention. much stronger then it looks DSCF1278.jpg
but the standard house stuff from HD or lowes works here is the 1" DSCF1281.jpg
2 you just cut it with a knife, cut up not down.. after you do it once or twice they kinda give up, old top bar guy so it doesn't bother me
I am going to run 6 of the 4 pack this year and see what happens
 

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This is an excerpt from a FB live webinar I did last nite for the local clubs
I made over 50 pre-cut kits to donate and was going to have a train the trainer night and then have them bring kits back to their club to run a test workshop.
but things as they are the only way to get this out there before queen season was to do distance learning and have them pick their kits up "curbside"

The idea is they can easily copy it if it the club likes it and do a bigger workshop, just takes someone to pre rip the 5"X4' strips and then only a few screwdrivers and miter boxes (or knife and straight edge to score and snap) on-site for a club project.
Mini's paired with push-in cages around cells can help people make the most of a swarmed hive.
Thought mabey some of you here might find it useful, its a bad video, but a good project :lpf::lpf:

For my own use I am building them in to 4 packs with a center feeder View attachment 54207
msl; Any update on these little mating nucs? If someone were making up something similar would slightly larger dimensions be any advantage? Seems like a way of getting some queens mated with very little resources even if they only had so so success rates.

I have thoughts about making some up using Oriented Strand Board. and narrow crown stapler. Cheaper and quicker than screwing. I have made some mating nucs out of foam and my bees seem to think styrofoam is snack food!

Thoughts?
 

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I was seeing the styrofoam mini mating nucs advertised for $25-40 and my grandpa’s voice kicked in my head “they make that in China for 16c”. I even went to a Chinese distributor (where I’m sure American companies purchase these) to get a quote. They still run ~$7 even in bulk and burn you alive on shipping. Ultimately decided just to build something. What you have here looks great!

I’d really like to know where to buy the heavier polystyrene in sheets (the core stuff you mention). I really like my Lyson 6-frame boxes, and they have toys, whistles, latches etc. But something similar could be built for less, particularly just the boxes. Thanks for posting.
 

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I was seeing the styrofoam mini mating nucs advertised for $25-40 and my grandpa’s voice kicked in my head “they make that in China for 16c”. I even went to a Chinese distributor (where I’m sure American companies purchase these) to get a quote. They still run ~$7 even in bulk and burn you alive on shipping. Ultimately decided just to build something. What you have here looks great!

I’d really like to know where to buy the heavier polystyrene in sheets (the core stuff you mention). I really like my Lyson 6-frame boxes, and they have toys, whistles, latches etc. But something similar could be built for less, particularly just the boxes. Thanks for posting.
;tldr; You get what you pay for.

I've got a few of the Lyson 6 framers, love them. 6 frames, follower, can be used for 2x3 for mating queens over the season, then 1x6 frames for wintering a tiny colony which we refer to as 'spare queen' in March. They have ventilation cutouts, and plugs to fit those cutouts. They came with assembled frames, and the big plus, top feeder. I paid the equivalent of $35usd each for them. We first saw them at Apimondia in Montreal and I ordered 5 to try them out over the 2020 season, they worked well enough I ordered 20 more for spring 2021. 25 of those units will allow me to mate 50 queens per round in the styro boxes, with more in the 4 ways.

For a mating nuc, if it's something you plan on using once in a season, then a jury rig box from scraps is probably ok, and, all the 'fiddling details' probably dont matter to you. We will place our first round of cells around May 1, then continue placing cells into the nucs thru till end of July. With the lyson, for the last round I move the follower to make it a 6 frame unit, then that colony stays in the unit till the spring. IMHO, the lyson units with the top feeder pay off in a big way when it's time to put on feed. If you want to see robbing in a big way, go thru a line of 20 or 30 tiny nucs where you have to lift off the lid to put in the feed during a dearth. You will see a frenzy at the little ones as the larger colonies realize there is syrup available there. With the lyson mini plus units, I lift the lid and only expose the top feeder for a few seconds while I pour in syrup, we dont expose the bees. We dont get a massive round of robbing starting. We are feeding the mating nucs all thru the season, so this is a big deal for us, and I credit the top feeders as playing a big part in our success rates mating queens. Between the styro and the 4 way boxes I have here, we did over a hundred queens this year, and only one of them was not mated and laying 2 weeks after placing the cell. That one was mated and laying a week later.

There are a couple of big differences I have found between my 4 way boxes and the little styro mini plus units. In the 4 way I have to look on 5 half size frames to find a queen. With the mini plus, while it's split, I just have to look at three, so it's much more time effient on my part. Likewise for feeding. With the mini plus, lift the lid and pour syrup into the top feeder to feed both halves. With the 4 ways, I have to take the lid off a bottle fill it and put the lid back on for each quadrant. Sometimes I have to fuss with unplugging the holes in the lid as they have got plugged up with propolis.

In getting things ready for winter, we have historically used jar feeders on the 4 way boxes, and those are a PITA to refill constantly. The top feeder on the lyson units made the job trivially easy, but also inspired me to try something different on one of the 4 way boxes. I use a shim for wintering, it's made of 1x2 and we pack damp sugar in over the frames using the winter shim, usually in early October. This year I put the shim on one of them in early September, then a pie plate with straw on top of the frames inside the shim, fed them by simply pouring syrup into the pie plate. No more fussing with lids and plugged holes on jar feeders, worked really well, going to do that with all of them next year.

Wintering mating nucs we have always had excellent winter survival, over the last 4 years, any mating nucs with a live colony on Nov 1 has had a live colony at the end of March. The timeframe we do have attrition is September and October, inevitably some of the small units succumb to wasp predation. With the little 6 frame units, in a case like that I can take the box and stack it on another one of the units then pour the feed to them. The bees will protect the comb over the winter, and in the spring expand to populate both boxes, so they will be populated again by the time we are ready to start placing cells. The ability to stack the boxes is a big help when it comes to populating or re-populating some of these units.

I guess where this long ramble ended up, for me at least, it's a case of 'you get what you pay for'. There is just no way I can assemble an inuslated box, 6 frames, follower and top feeder for the equivalent of $35usd ($50cdn) to get the functionality I get from the mini plus units. Not sure what this years price will be, exchange rates are volatile these days so time will tell. Either way, once I've sold 2 queens out of one of those boxes, I've recovered the cost of the box and all the feed in there, with a little left over, and I will still be able to do 3 more rounds in it.

FWIW, this is what one of the mini plus units looked like on Oct 12 this year, the day I took off the top feeder and closed it for the winter. It wont get opened up now till mid February which is when we start our first round of spring feeding.

61529
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have thoughts about making some up using Oriented Strand Board. and narrow crown stapler. Cheaper and quicker than screwing. I have made some mating nucs out of foam and my bees seem to think styrofoam is snack food!
For sure, these certainly aren't the best mating nucs out there. With the right tools and skills some one can build much better!!! as Grozzie said " For a mating nuc, if it's something you plan on using once in a season, then a jury rig box from scraps is probably ok, and, all the 'fiddling details' probably dont matter to you "

They were designed to be the easiest to make! Measuring tape, straight edge, knife, screwdriver. Make an pair of nucs anywhere any time with a $6 2'X2' sheet of foam
They were my answer to "I can't raise my own queens because...." There truly isn't any excuse, even someone starting with a package could raise some queens by the end of summer... Its either an education issue, or a motivation one... So I went after the education in the words of sam comfort.. I wanted to "return the means of production to the people"

I don't know about bigger... If you wanted bigger I think Sams mating nucs (11"x11"x6" box with a divider) would be the way to go so you could pull the divider and stack up to over winter...

Were the minis come in to there own is when you need/want to mate out a lot of queens in one fell swoop, be it to maximize the 1st round or 2 of queen rearing when the demand for queens is high, or your a back yard beekeeper with a dozen swarm cells... a mini takes 1/10 the bees of a 2 frame deep mating nuc, stocked traditionally with a 60% frame of brood and a frame of food and ahearingbees.

I have been eyeballing the quads done out of OSB with 3d printed ladders for the feeder made out of a quart deil container... was going to do it as winter project but with covid,boarding up windows for the election and hurricanes the price jumped from $7 to $24 ... the fall storms usually only make the price jump to $15 (right when we are buying lumber for the haunted houses lol) I Picked up a damaged sheet in the home depot 70% off pile yesterday, but its likly going to be used for a 6F "one rip" lang project (with a divider so it becomes 2 2f nucs with extra space to help people not roll the queens.) I have in development

The nucs worked" well enuff" for people... by mid summer I was givening kits away to anyone who bought a virgin for $15 (Lock down boredom driving sales) about normal non return / absconding for a mini... I want to say maybe a 65% success rate which is darn good for 1st timers

It worked realy well for what it was intended for, saving swarm queens that would otherwise have gone to waist
Beekeeper with a few years experience goes to help a 1st springer whos hive swarmed, insead of culling cells they use small pushin cages. Come back and cage the virgins, leave one.
take them home to put in minis and mate out...
The experienced beekeeper gets "free" queens for helping out a new beekeeper!! The new beekeeper gets some education, there hive doesn't after swarm, and if the virgin fails to mate the experience beekeeper as a extra mated queen for them... a win win win


only a few people did the above, but they were quickly over run with extra queens!!!


@Joe the foam core isn't something you would want to buy for this project... its like $28 a 4x8 sheet min order of 12 kinda thing Foam Board, Foam Core Boards, Black Foam Boards in Stock - ULINE
it was a great upcycled item as it was free, but I don't know witch brand I ended up using, some are better then others
 

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For sure, these certainly aren't the best mating nucs out there. With the right tools and skills some one can build much better!!! as Grozzie said " For a mating nuc, if it's something you plan on using once in a season, then a jury rig box from scraps is probably ok, and, all the 'fiddling details' probably dont matter to you "
Exactly. My case is different, I'm placing a fresh cell in each unit every 3 weeks, sometimes it's only 2 weeks, then I'm wintering a colony in them. In my case, the upspend for a commerical product that adresses all the fiddling details is money well spent. BUT, it may be a bit on the extravagant for somebody just doing one or two queens in a year, for their own use. For that example I point to Ian Steppler. When he was still a regular contributor here, his first season doing a large number of queens for in house use, we all saw lots of photos of his mini mating nucs. But he quickly realized, they are a lot of extra work, so he just started putting cells into 6 frame units and 'call it done', those are his replacement stock for next year.

only a few people did the above, but they were quickly over run with extra queens!!!
This was the enlightening part for me. The first year I took on raising my own queens, I used 5 frame nucs with standard deep frames and had 8 lined up on a stand. I placed cells in them in mid May, planned on just growing them out that year. A few weeks later one of the old time keepers in the area was knocking on the door, 'do you have any spare queens?'. We walked out to the back, I opened one of those nucs, caged the queen then left the now queenless box to raise one on their own. A huge light bulb went off in my head at that point, queens are no longer precious, I just gave one away.

61530


Different folks have different issues that become limiting. Our move to 4 ways was for efficiency of use of space on the stands. In our area over the winter we often have standing water in the back, so the hives must be up on stands. I can hold twice as many colonies in 4 ways for the same stand space as 2 5 frame units. Now that we have moved from just raising queens for our own use, to raising significant numbers for sale I am taking a different route for stands for the mini plus units. I can buy little plastic stepstools at Canadian Tire for under 10 bucks, and they often show up on sale for 5 or 6 bucks. The next time they have a good sale (I do check the flyer every week), we will go in and buy 25 of them to use as mating nuc stands. We have used them in the past for hive stands when we put colonies in a friend's back yard in town, two of them will hold one 10 frame unit nicely.
 

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I was seeing the styrofoam mini mating nucs advertised for $25-40
Just to complete the prospective - the mini nucs can be made from free Styrofoam coolers (which you pull from a local recycling dumpster). Of course, you have to have the dumpster - the real limiting factor.
I just pull more coolers last weekend.
Different sizes too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No one reported it
I think I saw it once on the few I ran
all and all no big thing, shake the bees off and toss the comb. Your after queens the rest is more or less disposable
 

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Just to complete the prospective - the mini nucs can be made from free Styrofoam coolers...
My workplace bought a warehouse close by the plant/office. I think there's a ton of insulative foam board in there that I'm reasonably sure they would give me. However, I would like to get the hard stuff like the Lysons are built from. Like the core stuff mentioned by the OP. When I put these Lysons together a few screws went in with some angle. Any type of styrofoam I have ever used would have chunked out a corner but this stuff, although hard, just accepted the screws. No idea what it's actually composed of, may just be the catalyst/curing agent or whatever. Wish I had a pallet of it.
 

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It worked realy well for what it was intended for, saving swarm queens that would otherwise have gone to waist
Beekeeper with a few years experience goes to help a 1st springer whos hive swarmed, insead of culling cells they use small pushin cages. Come back and cage the virgins, leave one.
take them home to put in minis and mate out...
The experienced beekeeper gets "free" queens for helping out a new beekeeper!! The new beekeeper gets some education, there hive doesn't after swarm, and if the virgin fails to mate the experience beekeeper as a extra mated queen for them... a win win win
Nice. :) And yes, $28 x 12 is more than I probably want to invest at present. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So build them at $2 or so with the 1" foam insulation from HD/lowes.. ya sure the bees may chew it up or what ever after a few rounds/years... bu at that point you have had a huge ROI.
 

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Is there a first part to the initial video you posted? It seems to start in the middle after you’ve made the cuts. I am going to graft queens this season and might. Well sell some mates queens while I’m at it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
all the cuts/parts are below the video
You will need 4 feet of ½” foam 5 inches wide (can be two 2’ pieces)
Eight 2” dry wall screws
Eight 1.25” drywall screws
Screen for the bottom, #8 hardware cloth or package screen preferred. Window screen works in a pinch
8oz plastic cup
Bamboo BBQ skewers
Philips head screwdriver
Cut the 5” strip into three 8.5” long pieces and five 4” wide pieces ( If you use 1” thick foam it’s a 5.25” Rip cut stip cut into Three 9.25” X5.25” pieces, Two 3.25”x5.25” pieces)cut the feet to whatever you feel is right after the box is assembled
There is no cutting video as it was a training webinar for some of the local clubs to go with the 50 pre cut kits I distributed you can see the full webiniar here (it came out poorly witchis why I just youtube the pre recorded build section...witch of course the audio didn't come out on the webinar....ahh technology

the concept was that after this they build they were trained enuff they could cut thier own stips and run as in person work shops (maby next year...lol dam covid) at their local clubs. that's why it was set up as one 4' rip cut so you could just use a miter box or even a square and score and snap the foam with a knife and then just assembly with a screwdriver... simple cheap too for a fun group project


I have thoughts about making some up using Oriented Strand Board. and narrow crown stapler. Cheaper and quicker than screwing.
I wanted to swing back to this 3/4" OSB has an R value of 0.91 1/2" foam is a 3, 1" is a 5. So there is a massive improvement in even the 1/2"foam.. when your using so few bees its important
 
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