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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know it is crazy, but was straightening up the shed and I remembered seeing a few notes of homemade Styrofoam hives. So I grabbed a sheet closed cell blue one inch foam (from lowe's) and started cutting. Heck I am better with a box cutter than a skill saw :scratch: and honestly the first nuc's attempt is much better than my first few home made hives.

Has anyone tried to use home-made Styrofoam nucs? I know bees will chew through foam when trying to block their access, but what about nuc walls.

Was thinking for making splits in spring and probably during goldenrod (at least here) use these and within 3 months my nucs have been big enough to move into a 10 frame box. So just use these for cheaper increases. They can then be stored away thru the summer and winter.
 

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My bees chew through foam insulation boards when used in walls. After one try, I gave up.And woodpeckers made holes from the outside!
 

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Bees love to disassemble Styrofoam unless you protect it with something. Short term til it gets a hole in it, shrink wrap works well. Duct tape it on. Foam mating nucs work well and keep small clusters warm at night.
 

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You could line it will coroplast or Luan, but your construction time is going to be greatly increased if you start adding do-dads, and the cost goes up as well. I use coroplast and 3/4 inch foam for outer covers on top bar hives, but I have a lot of coroplast so my cost is low. If I run out I will use something else, probably Advantec.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
\Foam mating nucs work well and keep small clusters warm at night.
I was thinking they would be great for something like that. Or like I said to get a split established and get a queen raising brood for a month so I can make a judgement on new queens or until it is time for them to move into something bigger.
 

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I use home made foam nucleus hives with waxed cardboard boxes inside and milk crates outside, with Coroplast covers. I get the materials for free at DumpsterMart ;)

The only cost was building the heat controller for the hot wire bow to cut the foam. I bought a variable AC transformer ("Variac") and mounted it inside a 4" aluminum tube with an isolation transformer, a lighted rocker switch, a fuse, and a +- plug for output to the bow. The funky plug is so someone doesn't plug the bow directly into the wall socket and melt the wire, lighting the barn on fire, etc.

A smarter setup is to make a Wheatstone bridge with the variac in the middle - you can put out more constant heat at the wire very easily that way, leaving beautiful surfaces.

The hotwire bow is made with a frame that looks like a big, wide letter "H", with a hinge connecting one leg to the middle cross bar. A cable, a turnbuckle, and 50-lbs spring scale add tension across the top. The .020" stainless or Ni-Chrome wire spans the bottom (I made pointed, 1" diameter x 1.25" long Teflon beads for hand-holds), and is electrically connected by alligator clips (wires run up the legs and one goes across the cross-bar) to the heat controller through the +- plug.

Another good feature is an elastic band suspending it from the ceiling so it holds most of the weight and gives you just the right amount of control. We make plywood triangle templates for cutting straight edges ("dicing" is the term).

Many other foam cutting devices exist - bandsaw types made with a rat trap for a spring, a planer type makes sheets out of blocks much more efficiently than dicing, etc. Many other tools, such as: a deadman wire holder; shaped cutting templates; hot tubes and hot rods for "drilling" holes; etc., can increase the versatility of a foam cutting shop as well, which is getting off-topic, but not if you can figure out how to use it for bees...

Please beware that some foams (not polystyrene) give off toxic fumes. Wear safety glasses, a face shield, and light cotton gloves when operating hotwire equipment. Use a minimal amount of electric current when cutting - hotter is faster, but it breaks wires, and creates less fumes. Stainless .020" wire takes about 55 lbs tension at low heat and cuts relatively well. It sees a lot of breakage at 60 lbs tension. Tension is not super-important when cutting straight, flat cuts, so set it at 50 lbs and go slow.

There are many other designs, and many of them work quite well. Need help? Someone at a model airplane club or model store should have one, and plenty of ideas, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
After I was messing with glueing some the Styrofoam for something else I came up with a thought about how to protect the inside of a Styrofoam nuc. I was thinking a thin coat of gorilla glue spread with a bondo spreader across the inside would create a hard shell and bees couldn't get to the Styrofoam. Since my original project is coming to an end and I have leftover Gorilla glue, it might as well be used for something before it goes bad. Will post a picture when done. Rainy weather makes too much time on my hands. LOL
 

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You may want to put in a rim or ledge or something made of wood at the top. With a 5 frame nuc the foam may be stout enough to hold together for a while at least with 5 full frames, but pulling the frames out may damage the rest if there isn't something stout in there. I have seen those metal frame rests in some hives, maybe you could use that. Then again you could use wood on the ends and foam on the sides and that wouldn't be a problem.
 

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bees will chew the frame rests in both EPS and foam hives. Only solution is put wood in those spots. I've given up on homemade foam nucs. too much trouble and the bees eat them up after a while, no matter how much paint they get.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
LOL Should have asked and waited rather than asked and jumped.

Well I already have several medium nucs cut out and ends assembled. So I may just cut some coroplast signs to line the inside of the nucs and use these boxes for stuff later this summer like splits or smaller cut outs. Will keep bees in them to spring and jump them into something larger.

Thanks everyone for the info.
 

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Repost to this with your results, I'm curious how you like them. I made a coroplast/foam top bar nuc but I put a wooden frame on the front and a wood rim on the top edge and wood on the bottom. Still very light, but I have never used it, since I have a bunch of other nucs. It is very sturdy due to the wood in the thing. But I spent way more time building it than I do a wooden box. I don't think they are a bad idea, but since you can't just wood glue and nail it together it takes longer to build.
 

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Anybody tried the deck restoring type of paint that is being advertised as a protection coating on foam nucs? As a guess, it would probably have to be a foil coated foam to survive the application.
If you have any paint left over how about trying a dab on some foam scraps for me?
 
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