Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nuc Building Part ?? Our Bread and Butter Deep Nuc Revised.

I love the nuc that I designed with lots of help and from internet and other influential parties, as a nursery for future hives.  This original 6-frame nuc was originally highlighted here and had a number of advantages:
  • Used stock 1 x 12 lumber without ripping so needed nothing but a handsaw and screw driver;
  • Cost only about $22;
  • Was quick to build;
  • No fancy joinery;
  • Can hold FIVE FRAMES PLUS A ONE GALLON FEEDER, so great to overwinter nucs;
  • Long lasting with a painted finish.
The negatives were few, but one that I identified was the requirement to add the plywood inserts that act as a shelf for the deep frame. 
These inserts added weight, construction time, and expense (buying an additional sheet of plywood at the Home Depot).  Thanks to some online suggestions, and the resources to purchase an inexpensive router table from Harbor Freight, and I was able to refine the design.

Was it worth it?  Well, it is always fun to play with new power tools, and given that I built 20 of these nucs last year and will build at least that many this year...sure!

Here are the steps I documented.  Please feel free to crib and adjust with abandon!

We start by cutting blanks, for each of the six sided of the box.  Measurements are in inches.
Note that these measurements are only of the length of the blank...the nominal width of the 1 x 12 (11.25 inches) is not adjusted.

For the ends, we need to rabbit out the ledge for the deep frame, similar to the one you find in commercial hives.  The dimensions of this void are 3/4 inch deep, by 3/8 inch wide (half the width of the 1 x 12).  One can use many methods to cut out this wood:  saw, table saw dado, prayer.  I chose a router.

Here is the outcome (thank you Buster for your help):
 This woodworking is the key differentiating factor between our old design on this one.

The next step is to create an entrance for the hive, and we do that by ripping about 1/2 inch from the side of one of the blanks (the end opposite the rabbit, of course).
At this point all the cuts are complete, and we can withdraw to the air-conditioned comfort of our workroom, otherwise known as my kitchen.

Assembly is next.

We simply butt-joint the sides to the ends, as shown.
You can see that the ends are located BETWEEN THE SIDES.  We use screws to assemble, which also helps in straightening any cupping in the wood.

On one end you will have the entrance, as shown:

Now we turn the box upside down to attach the bottom.  One of the benefits of this design is that the bottom and cover do not need to be ripped to size as their dimensions are exactly the width needed for a perfect fit.  And since we know that the bottom is square, we can confirm the square-ness of the box when screwing it into the sides and ends.  The bottom is designed to rest flush along the back and sides, and provides a landing area at the entrance.

You are in the home stretch now.

The cover is simply the remaining 21 1/2 inch blank with 11-inch cleats create an closure overlap, with the added benefit that using screws to attach the cleats to the cover removes any deformation (cupping) of the wood.
 This cover will fit snugly on the box.

Finally, some handholds out of scrap cleat material (1 x 2).  We fit the cover on, the adjust the handhold to butt up against the cover cleat, and screw in with 1-inch drywall screws.
Two of the benefits I have found in having the handhold attached in such a way make moving the nuc while securing the cover with my grip simple.  More important, when the cover is glued down by the bees, a hive tool between the handhold and the cover cleat creates excellent leverage and an easily accessible spot to pry, especially if your nucs are butted up against each other to keep warm in winter.

There you have it.  Here is how the interior looks, with the gallon feeder in place:

Not bad for less than $20 worth of lumber and a modest shop investment.  Now we just need some bees!!



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