Don't want a heavy wooden nuc or just want the fun of recycling/re-purposing something that ends up at the recycling plant? Make these light-weight 5-frame nucs from political signs (or other) after they are no longer useful for their original purpose.
You may see some metal duct tape in these photos, but primarily the purpose of the duct tape was to hold a hinge or corner in place while I burned holes and zip-tied it solid. I left the tape there, but could have removed it. However, metal duct tape is good if you wish to seal a seam or join panels that are too small to allow folding of all corners and bends.
This is my first prototype. I will be making improvements on then second one I make. You can modify these to suit your purpose... add porches, nuc entrance dials, landing pads, or however you wish. I chose a hinged lid, you can just make a separate/loose lid, etc. etc.
If you have ever seen old political signs discarded, you will notice that they hold up very well to the elements and probably will last as long as unpainted or painted wooden nucs.
On this 3-Frame version I left a little bit of a landing flap at entrance end.. plus I made a little slide gate to close off (or open) the entrance hole.
As part of the Florida State Beekeepers (FSBA) Convention (Amelia Island, FL), we were given a tour of Executive Sheve, Daven Wardynski's bees and hydroponics (fish farm and organic sprouts). During our stay and cocktail receptions, we were treated to many first class dishes prepared with the honey from the hives on the property.
The apiary (above) was in a beautiful secluded area of the property accessed by a small foot bridge, but only a short distance from his "The Sprouting" Project, where he has a fish farm in conjunction with hydroponics for sprouting seeds and growing organic veggies served at the resort. My wife, Virginia (below) stands at one of the two fish farm tanks inside the greenhouse.
I was called to remove a swarm from high in a tree. They had not yet moved into tree and I was able to capture and confine the queen. The captured queen was used to capture the entire swarm. However, this post is not about the removal, but more about the homemade candy, caging, and marking success of the bee removal. I am trying a new "simple" candy recipe to see how it works. I pulverized sugar in a coffee grinder, mixed the pulverized sugar with powdered sugar and honey until it got thick enough to not slump or ooze. Click for RECIPE.
After caging and marking her, I reintroduced her to the swarm, to prevent the swarm from leaving for a few days. Below is a short video clip of the colony getting their queen back.
It is more natural. It lets the bees decide what cell size to make without any man made stamped blueprint (as if bees need a guide). It gets you away from plastic (bees seem to resist plastic) and away from recycled purchased wax foundation. Wax foundation almost always contains contamination, since it is recycled bee's wax (contaminates from hive chemicals, medications, toxins, get absorbed by wax).
Letting the bees build their own cells results in a "natural" cell size which is smaller (4.7mm) than standard (5.4mm) purchased printed/embossed foundations. Even if you purchase "small cell" foundation, it will still only be 4.9mm. Bush Bees explains the implications that "natural cell size" had on beekeeping and Varroa mite stabilization which may help you become "treatment free".
How to do it?
The simplest method for me is using the breakaway bar of wedge top bar frames. Whatever starter strip method you use (Popsicle sticks, 90-degree corner molding, cut-up foundation strips, etc.)... just make sure not to be tempted to wast your time and coat, pour, or rub wax onto the starter strip. It serves no purpose and may even result in a weaker connection than just letting the bees do it.
What do the bees think... do they like it?
See for yourself. Below is one of many filled out frames by my bees. Notice that they strongly attach at key points and allow the hive to be inspected like a standard hive with foundation, without a lot of fear of breaking off the comb during an inspection. Also notice that the bees make their own communication holes and voids as they feel they need... where they want them.
These bees, as with all my current colonies, are treatment free. Very enjoyable doing beekeeping more naturally.
This is intentionally a very short post. I don't have time to go into all the benefits of foundationless beekeeping and what it can do for you; however, if you would like much more information, visit my favorite resource for natural beekeeping Bush Farms Bees (Michael Bush).