Mini Mating Nucs may be the most wonderful part of modern beekeeping. I say this, because so much of modern beekeeping has become completely standardized – yet there doesn’t seem to be any standardization of the mini mating nucs. This gives the beekeeper a chance to experiment and discover without reinventing any wheels.
As I plan to breed queens this year, I looked online for a set of mini nuc blueprints but I didn’t find much.
The Beekeeper’s Workshop (TBW) had very nice plans for a four chambered mini nuc. You can find these plans on their website and on YouTube. I do plan to give these a try sometime but for now I wanted single nucs.
Don the Fat Bee Man has a great design as well (see his YouTube Channel) but in his video, the dimensions don’t add up – and the plans are for a medium deep nuc (which might save a lot of wood).
Mann Lake sells a Styrofoam mating nuc but they cost $20 and are very small.
What I like best about the TBW four chamber nuc was that it could be stacked on top of a standard hive super. What I like best about Don’s mini nuc was that it is made from scrap wood. I also like Don’s better than TBW because it uses a half size 9 1/2″ frame rather than 9 1/4″ – this allows you to place two end-to-end in a full-size hive to draw out the wax. (You can do the same with the 9 1/4″ but it makes a bigger gap.)
In my first attempt I divided the length of a full supper by half, I used 1×4 material, and used TBW 9 1/4″ frame but this made the inside dimension of the nuc too short and didn’t leave room for bee-space.
On my second attempt, I used the same outside dimensions but I used 1/2″ lumber on the two ends (still used 1X4 material on the sides) and then I was able to use Don’s 9 1/2″ frames with just the right amount of bee-space.
I’m building these out of scrap wood. I use (3) – 1X4 on both sides (These are of course 3/4″X3 1/2″) and I use (4) – 2 1/2″x1/2″ boards on the front and (4) on the back (I ripped these boards from some 2 1/2″x3″ stock I had). The staggered pattern locks all the boards together and makes a pretty solid box. I also use nail and glue on all my joints.
Now some beekeepers will freak out because all these little boards leave gaps and cracks. Relax! I found that if you brush each crack with a thin layer of glue and then just rub sawdust over them and into them, it all seals up tighter than Dick’s Hat Band – I didn’t invent this process but I like it!
So here is my blueprint – I drew it with Microsoft Excel and then imported it to Paintbrush so you will have to play with your print scale if you want it to be to scale. Otherwise, here you go:
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Yes, Yes, THANK YOU so much for the offer of emailing me your plans for the Mating Nuc. Looks wonderful… Any thing else you may have would also be great. Thanks again. Greg
I hope you can reply to my question on mini-mating nucs. I can’t find good information on how often to check these. I’m used to normal sized langstroth and 5 frame deep boxes. But I don’t see a lot of data out on what you should do differently with mini mating (styrofoam) nucs. People say 2 frame deep frame boxes should be checked more often because they can fill up fast. So this made me think I should check with people how often and what you should do differently w these, rather than risk a swarm.
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I never used a Styrofoam nuc so I can’t say for sure, my nukes had a combined surface area of about one deep frame and there was always room for growth… I would suggest checking them at least every 2 to 3 days UNTIL you place the virgin queen inside. Queen cells hatch at 16 days and she will mate on around day 22/23, then she will start laying around day 27, so check on her on between day 28 and 30. If she’s laying take her out and start over.
As far as opening the hive, it’s best to let her alone while she goes through the process but give a quick look when you feed them. I doubt this has been very helpful and my even less helpful advice is to just use a little trial an error and see what works.