Yesterday I mentioned that I started to prepare for a new project but failed to mention what the project will be. A couple of days ago my neighbor who is working as a beekeeper and beeswax candle maker asked me if I would be able to build them to build brood boxes and NUC boxes for the beekeeping business. Naturally, I said yes but then was confronted with the thought that I do not know anything about bees and what the requirements are for a Building a bee NUC box or a brood/super box. So onto Youtube I went and downloaded an iBook on beekeeping for dummies.
Armed with my new knowledge on what bee space means and with an example of a NUC box and a brood/super box off I set to build my first NUC box.
Starting with a pile of pine dressed wood (with no knots, a client requirement) and an example NUC box.
Building a bee NUC box
Step 1 was to back engineer the NUC box.
At first glance, the design seemed simple enough but on closer investigation, it was obvious that it would be possible to simplify the design and more than half the time to manufacture and assemble the box. If you zoom in onto the diagram the design includes a series of risers which have only one function and that is to create a 10 mm gap in the front of the box (the front door for the bees to enter the box). In this case simplifying the design will be the difference between making the project financially viable or not.
A second issue I had with the design was that the box needed to be 250mm deep (standard depth for the boxes) and the closest standard plank width is 235mm (why the standard wasn’t set to the standard plank width is mind-boggling) which means that I had to upsize the plank width to the next width which is 285mm. Strangely the odd sizes presented an opportunity to cut the sides widths to 250mm, removing the need for the risers. The design was also changed to cut a slot in one of the side panels to replace the bees front door.
The next step was to cut the side panels and lids to the correct widths and lengths. Easy done with my miter and table saws. Due to the design change, I decided to build only one box and to seek the client’s approval before proceeding to build the remainder of the request.
Following cutting the panels to size, I set my router to cut the rabbit rebates on my router table (in my opinion much easier than to do it on the table saw)
For future reference, I kept a record of the settings and to speed up the setup process I have developed a jig. If my neighbor needed large quantities in the future then I will develop a more advanced jig to further speed up the process of building a bee NUC box, but for now, the setup jig will do.
Only the two smaller side panels need to be rebated, which was easily done after the router table was set up.
A slot was cut using the router in one of the sides to allow the bees to enter and exit the box.
The last thing to do was to test the joints to check for a snug fit. Very pleased with the outcome.
The client requested a flatpack design and therefore the box wasn’t fully assembled. A mock assembly was done to evaluate the overall build. The client also didn’t want recessed handles. Instead, two handlebars were cut which will be fitted to short sides of the box.
On approval of the design by the client, the wood will be treated with copper naphthenate to make it insect resistant and will be painted white.
My aim is to further develop the NUC box to include an aluminum floor section and to have the option to add recessed handles. A more advanced lid, clad with aluminum will also be added to the design. I will add an update on these in a future post.
From a woodworking perspective, not a hard build. The challenge with this one was to make sure that the design fits the beekeeper’s technical needs while keeping the manufacturing time down to make it financially viable to build.
Keep in contact to the followup in: Building a bee NUC box