How To Build A 5 Frame Nuc Beehive

 

 

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Building a nuc box is really no different from building  the boxes for a standard Langstroth hive.  It’s really just a smaller version.  It’s also not a complicated project and is fairly easy for the DIY guy or gal.  I chose to make my own nuc boxes for the following reasons:  First,  I didn’t want to buy a cardboard nuc box from my bee supplier and end up tossing it into the recycle box.  Second, I’ve built everything else for my hives, so why stop at this.  Third, I’m planning on either using these boxes for future swarm traps or creating additional colonies by “splitting” my original colonies in the future.

So…..lets get started.  But first, lets talk about safety.  Make sure that you read and understand how to SAFELY operate your power equipment.  In  some of the pictures below, the safety guard has been removed so that you can get a better understanding of the photo.  NEVER operate your equipment without a guard in place!

Nuc Box

In order to begin, you are going to need some 1×12 lumber or some glued up  1×6.  I choose the second option because it was what I had available in the shop.

Begin by cutting the pieces of the box to the required length and width.005

The front & back are 3/4″ x 7- 1/2″ x 11″.

The sides are 3/4″ x  19- 7/8″ x 11″ .

The bottom is 3/4″ x 7- 1/2″ x 18- 3/8″.

Using a 3/8″ countersink bit, drill the holes for the screw locations on each piece to a depth of 3/8″.

Using a 7/8″ forstner bit, drill the hole for the entrance.  The center point for this hole should be 1-1/4″ from the bottom of the front.

Now, cut the rabbet joint on the inside of the front & back.  This joint will support the frames..  This joint can be made in two passes on the table saw.  First, set the rip fence to 3/8″ and the blade height to 3/4″.  Use a feather board clamped to the table saw top in order to help stabilize the stock as it passes over the blade.

 

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Next, lower the blade to 3/8″ and adjust the rip fence so that there is 3/4″ from the left side of the blade to the fence.

 

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Now assemble the box using 1- 1/2″ galvanized screws and glue.

Fill the screw holes with wooden plugs, trim to flush and sand the box.

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If you would like to make handles for your nuc box, CLICK HERE to see how I made them for my standard hives.

Top

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Material List:

Plywood – 3/4″ x 9-1/2″x 20-1/2″.

Front & back strips –  3/4″ x 2″ x 9-1/2″.

Side strips –  3/4″ x 2″ x 22″.

Metal covering – 14-1/2″ x 25-1/2″.

Begin by cutting these pieces to the required width & length and countersinking screw locations in the front, back & side strips.

Just like the nuc box, glue, screw, plug and sand the assemble top.

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Next,  paint the top before securing the metal “roof”.

Once the paint is dry, evenly position the and trace the circumference of the roof on the metal sheet.  These pencil lines will become the 90 degree edges that must be bent for the top.  Using metal shears, cut a 45 degree angle from each edge of the metal sheet to the outline edge of the top.001

Using a 90 degree edge (like the end of your table saw) begin bending the metal along the two sides.  Take your time and only exert a bit of pressure as you move down the line.  Continue repeating this process until you have a nice crisp edge.

Now screw those edges to the sides of the top with #6 x 1/2″ pan head metal screws.

Next, fold the 45 degree edge (from the side) on to the front/back and begin bending the edge for the front/back. 004Fold the 45 degree edge (from the front/back) to the side and secure these areas with screws.005

Inner Cover

Material List:

Plywood – 1/4″ x 7-1/4″ x 18-1/8″

Front & Back Strips – 3/4″ x 1 – 1/4″ x 9″

Side Strips- 3/4″ x 1-1/4″ x 19-7/8″

Using a 7/8″Forstner bit, drill two holes in the center of the plywood so that the distance is 3 – 3/4″ in length from the outside of each circle.  Cut out the rest of the shape using a scroll saw, jig saw or coping saw.

The front & back strips of the inner cover are connected together by creating a lap joint.  It’s a fairly easy joint to make and consists of removing half of the thickness of stock on the opposing face of each piece.  In order to make this joint, set the table saw blade to 3/8″ and remove 1-1/4″ from the opposite ends of each strip.  This will be done in several passes if a dado blade is not used.  Never cross-cut stock with a miter gauge when it is butted up to the rip fence.  This could potentially bind the stock and cause kick-back.  Instead, use an auxiliary fence for this procedure.006 007

Using the table saw, cut the 1/4″ slot in the front, back & side strips which will receive the plywood.  Set the table saw blade to 3/8″ for height and the fence to 3/8″ from the left side of the blade.  Using a feather board for additional support, rip this slot in the above mentioned pieces.  Adjust the rip fence (depending on the thickness of your blade) to make a second pass in order to complete the 1/4″ slot.  Don’t forget to alternate your strips for this step!

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Next, cut the entrance in the inner cover.  I made mine 3/8″ x 3/4″.016

Finally, glue the pieces together and sand after the glue has completely cured.

If you would like to learn how to build your own 10 frame Langstroth hive CLICK HERE.

Best of success.

Regards,

CB

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How To Make A Beehive:Building Honey Bee Boxes

014 - CopyIt’s been pretty darn cold up here in Southern Ontario this week and I can’t stop thinking about honeybees.  Maybe it’s because the Winter allows for time to finally get around to some other interests that seem to get crowded out during the warmer months.  Anyways, this winter I am bound and determined to make 2 Langstroth honey bee hives from scratch.  The drive to do so comes from 2 forces.  First, I’ve been working with wood for the better part of 25 years and secondly, I definitely became smitten with “the bees” last year when I got my first introduction to beekeeping up near our cottage.  So….over the next few months, I’m going to post  different segments on how to build your own hive.  I don’t mean assembling purchased parts.  I mean building the real deal.  By the end of it all, I’ll have built 2 complete hives.  I hope that I’ll inspire you to do the same!

Making your own honey bee hive can be rewarding on a number of fronts.  First, there is a cost savings (around 30 %) which will really add up if you want more than 1 hive.  Second, there is the personal satisfaction in knowing that you built your own beehive.  But, if you acquaint time with money and/or have little or no basic cabinetry skills, than purchasing a beehive may be the right choice for you.

My version of the Langstroth hive differs from the traditional hive body in that I do not use a box joint or notched hive handles.  Instead, I use a rabbet joint and screws to assemble the boxes and “homemade” handles which are screwed onto each box.  It’s a whole lot easier, a whole lot safer to make and requires a lot less experience for the “home-hobby” guy or gal.

So…..lets get started.  But first, lets talk about safety.  Make sure that you read and understand how to SAFELY operate your power equipment.  In  some of the pictures below, the safety guard has been removed so that you can get a better understanding of the photo.  NEVER operate your equipment without a guard in place!

The only difference between the honey bee boxes is depth.  For the purpose of this post, I will be making a box which is 6 -5/8″ deep.  If you want to make a shallow box, it will be 5-11/16″ deep and a deep box will be 9-5/8″ deep.  All parts are 3/4″ thick.

Start by ripping the boards to width.  This is best done at the table saw. Note* If you have a jointer, it would be best to make a few passes on the board edge before ripping.012

Now cross-cut your pieces to length.  This can either be done on a table saw with a miter gauge or  a miter saw that is larger than the 10″ standard saw.  Either way, make sure to use a “stopper” so that every piece is exactly the same.  For the fronts and backs, cut them at 15-1/2″.  For the sides, cut them at 19-7/8″.  Note* When using the table saw, never butt the lumber up to the rip fence when cross-cutting. Make sure to have an axillary fence or scrap of wood clamped to the fence for this operation.  This will definitely prevent the wood from binding between the blade and the fence preventing dangerous kick-back. 016

Now, cut the rabbet joint in the sides.  The rabbet will be 3/8″ deep and 3/4″ wide.  This can be done with a router and rabbet bit or 2 passes on the table saw.  For the purpose of this post, I am doing the rabbet on the table saw.  First, start by cutting the rabbet to its correct depth with the workpiece facedown on the table saw. Once again, use an auxiliary fence or a scrap of wood clamped to the fence in order to prevent kickback. 019 Next,  stand the piece on edge to cut the rabbet to width.  Make sure to use a feather board to help keep your piece straight and cover the exposed blade.026

In the picture below, the feather board was only removed for the benefit of the picture.

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Now, cut the 5/8″ x 3/8″ rabbet for the tops of the fronts and backs (these will hold the  honey bee frames). This is done the same way as the previous rabbet.028

Now, using a homemade marking jig that was ripped to 3/8″ thick, mark the screw locations on both sides.  By using this “jig”, you will only have to measure out one time for all of your sides.  Simply place the jig on the edge of your board and mark the screw locations with your pencil.031

Using another template, mark out the two screw locations for each side of each box.  You will notice that there are 4 holes in this template.  That’s because it can be used to mark the handle screw locations for the front/back & the sides.   Just make sure to consistently mark your pieces from the same side.033

Now, pre-drill your sides and handle locations using a hand-held drill or drill press equipped with a countersink bit.  Note* It’s essential to pre-drill so that you don’t split the ends of the board.037

Now, make the handles for the boxes.  I like to use 2×6 for this part.  First, rip the 2×6 into 1-1/2″ width strips.  Then tilt the blade to 8 degrees and rip the strips again. (The 8 degree angle will allow for rain run off from the handles.) 039 Next, lower the blade to a 3/4″ height and set the rip fence to 3/4″.  Run the strips through the table saw making sure that the angled surface is positioned on the left side of the strip. 040 Next, turn the strip so that the angled surface is “facing up” and rip again.  By the end of the “rip”, the waste from the handle will fall away from the strip.  042Next, set up a stop block on the miter saw or table saw and cross-cut the strips to 6-1/4″ lengths.  Make sure that the 8 degree beveled face is not resting on the miter gauge (for the table saw) or the fence (for the miter saw).044

Glue and screw the handles, using 1-1/4″ deck screws,  to the outside of each box part.  I made a jig out of some scrap plywood which allows me to position the handle on to the exact spot of the box side.  I just reverse the jig for a hive body because it is wider.048

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Now, assemble each box using 1-1/2″ deck screws and exterior glue.049

Finally, carefully rip a few strips of that “waste” from the handles to 3/8″ x 3/8″.  Fill the 3/8″ spaces at the ends of the rabbets on the inside of the front and back pieces.  I used a Japanese flush cutting hand saw for trimming the “filler” piece.050

And…Volah!  You’re on your way to making your own  beehive(s).  To see how I built my hive stands CLICK HERE.  To see how I built my ventilated gabled roof, CLICK HERE.  To see how I built my ventilated bottom board CLICK HERE.053

How Do Bees Make Honey?

063Have you ever thought about how bees make honey?  The thought crossed my mind a while back and I didn’t have an accurate answer.   I figured that since I was going to become a beekeeper, than I’d better become educated in this process.

Step #1 The Need For Pollen and Nectar

Bees and blossoming plants need each other in order to survive.  Bees seek out flowers for their nectar and pollen and in return end up pollinating (fertilizing)  the flower as they transfer pollen grains from within each flower or from one flower to another.

In order for pollination to occur, pollen must be transferred from the stamen (male part of a plant) to the stigma (female part of the plant). When pollen from a plant’s stamen is transferred to that same plant’s stigma, it is called self-pollination. When pollen from a plant’s stamen is transferred to a different plant’s stigma, it is called cross-pollination. Anybody else feel like they just got teleported back to grade 5 science class?

But, this doesn’t tell us how the bees actually transfer the pollen grains from one part of the plant to the other?  Well…bees are pretty hairy and the pollen grains stick to the 100s of hairs on their bodies.  Some have even argued that bees actually carry an electrostatic charge which helps the pollen grains to stick to the hairs on their bodies. These grains attach and then come loose as the bee moves within each flower or from flower to flower. Thus, pollination  (reproduction) is completed.

But,  the bees also intentionally collect pollen from flowering plants.  It is this protein packed food which is used to nourish their larvae.  Believe it or not, they actually transport the pollen back to the hive by way of tiny baskets (scopas) that are attached to their rear legs.  No…I’m not joking!  Take a look at the picture below from one of my bees.  Do you see the yellow stuff on her back legs?  That’s pollen!  It’s a great sign for beekeepers because it signifies that the Queen is laying eggs which are developing into larvae who need to be fed. 055 - Copy

So, how do the bees get the nectar back to the hive?  Well, first they have to draw it up into their body by way of a giant tongue (proboscis) which remains rolled up (kinda like one of those party favors that you blew on as a kid) until it is need to extract nectar.  This tongue, when fully extended, is around 1/4″ long.  Considering that a honey bee is between 1/2″- 3/4″ long that makes for a freakishly long longue!  To make a comparison, a 6 foot human would have to have a tongue somewhere in the 2-3ft. range .  These bees make Gene Simmons trade mark tongue look like a joke!

Below is a picture of my bees drawing up some honey that I accidentally spilt while inspecting my hive.  Check out the length of the tongue on the bee who is hanging upside down in the rear of the picture.  And still, that tongue is not fully extended!078 - Copy

Once the bee begins drawing up nectar via its tongue, it is deposited into her “honey stomach”.  In fact, bees have two stomachs; their honey stomach which is like a nectar backpack and their regular stomach.  The honey stomach holds almost 70 mg of nectar.  When it is full, it weighs almost as much as the bee, herself. Now……That’s impressive!   Imagine picking up and carrying a load which is equal to your body weight?  But to make it even more outstanding……..we want you to fly to between 100 and 1500 flowers in order to gather that weight.       I don’t know about you, but I am TOTALLY impressed.

Step 2: Back At The Hive

Once the honeybees return to the hive, they  pass the nectar on to other worker bees.  These bees actually suck the nectar from the foraging bee’s honey stomach! This is definitely one bit of info. I’m not sharing with my kids.  If they ever found this one out, our honey consumption would drop to near zero!

The “transfer” bees then “chew” on the nectar which helps to break down the complex sugars into a digestible food source which can be stored indefinitely within the hive.  Incidentally, did you know that the honey which was found in King Tut’s tomb is still considered edible after 2000 years. Talk about a natural preservative!

The bees then deposit the nectar into the honeycombs where it continues to evaporates into a thicker syrup.  The bees make the nectar dry even faster by fanning it with their wings.  Once the honey reaches a moisture content of around 18%, the bees seal off each cell of the honeycomb with some wax.  The honey is then stored until it is consumed by the colony.  Incidentally, did you know that honey bees need to store around 100 pounds of honey in order to survive the winter?  Talk about the ultimate Prepper! As for the honey that you and I eat?????  Well….that will have to wait for another post when I will show you how I took off some honey from my own hive.056 - Copy

Honey Bee Trivia: 

Did you know that one honey bee will only make about 1/12  teaspoon of honey in her entire six weeks of life?  Maybe I’ve been taking that teaspoon of honey for granted that goes into my tea each morning.  Considering the above calculation, I consume the entire life’s work of 12 bees in a few gulps of tea.

Cited Work:

1) http://www.mbgnet.net/bioplants/pollination.html

2) http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/073097.html

3) http://animal.discovery.com/insects/question300.htm