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Author Topic: Bluebees Styrofoam Nucs  (Read 12622 times)
VolunteerK9
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« on: August 07, 2011, 10:52:21 PM »

Sorry if youve already posted them somewhere, but I cant find them. Do you have any detailed pics on your R-10 nucs and how you put them together?
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BlueBee
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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 11:29:05 PM »

Hey K9, I was just thinking of starting a thread for homemade foam nuc designs.  It would be cool to see what other creative beeks have come up with too.  I’ve posted some photos of mine here and there in various threads, but not any detailed design photos.  Let me take some close up photos and I’ll post them here probably tomorrow.
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nella
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2011, 09:40:18 AM »

What is the inside surface of the hive made of? Dose wax or proplis stick to the surface? What kind of styrafoam are they made from?
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brushmouth
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2011, 11:22:09 AM »

Blue or pink styrofoam.?
Be sure you use the HIGH density stuff (extremely fine grained)or the bees will chew it,
and may anyway.
I use 3/8 plywood on both ends for a frame ledge with 3/4 styrofoam outside of that.
You then have something to attach the entry disc to and frames are well supported.
I also spray paint latex both inside and outside of the nuc to help prevent the chewing.
Be sure to let it dry very well, I leave parts in the direct sun for a week.

I have 10 of these and overwintered 7 of them last year in my garage
(5 frame mediums, outside entry and feed)
Only problem I had was around the top lid they chewed the styrofoam up, I have corrected that with a
hot glued 1/4 wood strip on the top. It added the proper beespace and covered the softer edge.
All of my nucs were made with a hot glue gun only no nails or screws.
This year trying 6 frame wood (no more chewing)
Styrofoam nucs can't be beat for cost and you get the added advantage of insulation.
For shorter term use they can't be beat.
BM 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2011, 12:09:03 PM »

I’m just getting around to the photos and plans today…

Nella, my hives have an inner surface made of a thin wood material called lauan.  That’s about the lowest cost thinnest type of wood you can buy.  I gorilla glue pink foam onto that thin wood core.  That keeps the bees from chewing through the foam if they have the inclination to do so.  Like Brushmouth, my bees have only tried to chew around the top of the hive, but having a thin wood core is a guarantee against chewing.  

Derekm and Brushmouth, we’ll love to see some photos of your work.  It doesn’t take too many posts before you can post photos.  If you PM buzzbee he can add your photos sooner.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2011, 02:35:22 PM »

I like a little more thermal insulation in my hives than the average bear so I have resorted to using a lot of low density (high R value) foam in my bee keeping.  I know that’s not everybody’s cup of tea and it’s not perfect, but for those interested in homemade insulated hives, I’ll share how I made mine. 

I have two basic designs I use for insulating hives/nucs.  One design essentially uses foam glued to the outsides of a thin inner wood core made of lauan.  These are light weight and the thin wooden core keeps the bees and pests from drilling through the foam.  My other design approach utilizes existing wood hives and covers them with a removable foam shell for insulation.  Each approach has its pros and cons. 

For my nucs, I prefer the foam glued to a thin wooden core design.  That results in the most compact design with the smallest volume for the bees to heat in the winter. 



More photos of this design are in the following photobucket album.  I plan to add dimensions and comments on top of some of the photos as time permits.  Check back later for more photos and dimensions written on the photos.

http://s1082.photobucket.com/albums/j365/MichiganBee/Foam%20Nucs/

Obviously you can scale this basic nuc concept to your needs.  My basic nuc configuration consists of a 5 frame deep bottom and a 2nd story medium body if the bees get too big before winter.  If I were doing only mediums, I would go with 6 to 8 frames for a nuc. 

For my full sized hives, I’ve tried to come up with a system for winter insulation, summer sun shielding, and the durability of wood.  Here I’m using a standard wood hive within a removable foam shell.



More photos of this design are in the following photobucket album:
http://s1082.photobucket.com/albums/j365/MichiganBee/Foam%20Shell%20Hives/
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VolunteerK9
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« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2011, 04:31:35 PM »

Very nice. Thanks for the trouble.
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AllenF
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2011, 04:38:44 PM »

Great pics.
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derekm
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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2011, 11:29:20 PM »

One of the biggest challenges I found was trying to get the hives to look nice. You have certainly managed that! I have used 2" 50mm foil covered low density polyurethane foam, then coated the cut edges in polyester resin and fibre glasstissue. No chewing to date. The foil covered PU is used I
in the building trade here and plentiful and cheap. It's easily worked with table saw,  chop saw and routers. As regards thermal values it quite a bit better than polystyrene (styrofoam) 2" being the equivalent of 3" of polystyrene. In the UK this material is known by the trademark Kingspan
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 11:44:41 AM by derekm » Logged

If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
BlueBee
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« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2011, 12:00:39 AM »

Can’t wait to see your work Derekm, it sounds like you’ve got some interesting hives over there! 

I have used some foil coated 1” polyurethane for a plant propagator experiment about 5 years ago.  The stuff is still holding up outside exposed to our elements.  I’ve never seen 2” thick PU here.  I believe the PU here is open cell, but I could be wrong. 

The stuff I used is the lowest cost, most common option locally available.  People here will know it by its color:  “the pink stuff” or the “blue stuff”.  They are both closed cell expanded polystyrene with a R value of 5 per inch.  Not sure if you use “R values” for thermal conductivity over there in the UK or not.

The “blue” stuff is a generally a bit more expensive than the “pink” stuff because it is rated for a higher mechanical compression strength (higher psi).

Too bad Aerogel isn’t more affordable  grin
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2011, 05:09:16 AM »

Blue bee.  Can you show how you make your boxes. 
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derekm
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« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2011, 11:43:13 AM »

...  I’ve never seen 2” thick PU here.  I believe the PU here is open cell, but I could be wrong. 

...  Not sure if you use “R values” for thermal conductivity over there in the UK or not.
...

We have upto 6" thick PU in building yards.
W/mK  is used 0.021 for PU 0.03 for PS and 0.14 for oak.

I have an excel  spreadsheet that will give the max and min outside temps  that the bees can maintain at 34C without clustering or fanning for any hive type and material.
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
windfall
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« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2011, 02:56:47 PM »

Those look great blue bee.
Your just applying the luan skin to the interior...correct? I didn't realize the foam would glue and paint so cleanly.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2011, 10:23:08 PM »

Derekm, I prefer to work in SI units too.  Unfortunately, here in America, we’re still stuck in some old (English?) ways of doing things grin   Love the Brits, just not the British units!

Windfall, yes there is only lauan on the inside of the nucs.  The outside surface is pure foam.  I paint them with a latex primer (I’ve used ACEs and 1-2-3 Bullseye, both work fine) then top coat with semi gloss latex, 2 coats.  You do have to paint the low density foam if you want it to last.  The UV rays from the Sun quickly turn the stuff to dust without paint.  If you really want to be impressed with how Foam can be worked, check out some of the videos on Youtube about making Halloween cemetery markers.  Just amazing what those folks can turn foam into.

Bee-Nuts, I am hoping to add some comments and dimensions to the photos on my photobucket link, but haven’t gotten to it yet.  If I was going to build new ones, I might first laminate the foam to the wood and then simply cut out “sides” and cut out “ends”, butt joint, and glue with a polyurethane glue (ie  gorilla glue).  That would certainly be a strong enough joint for a nuc.  

However my original assembly process was:
1.) cut sides out of lauan
2.) cut ends out of ¾” stock lumber.
3.) cut frame rests into ¾” stock ends.
4.) Butt joint and glue the lauan sides to the ¾” stock ends.  I air stapled the lauan to the ¾” ends.
5.) Let glue dry.
6.) Cut foam on the table saw to the same height as your wood core.  (i.e. deep or medium height).
7.) Chop the foam slices to the length you want to cover the sides and ends of your inner wood core.
8.) I used Polyurethane glue (like Gorilla glue) and glued the foam to the inner wood core.  You need to clamp the foam in place until it dries since the PU glue will expand/move the joints if you don’t.  The clamping part is the real pain in the butt part of the process.  Clamping slows down assembly.
9.) Next I glued and screwed on some ¾” stock vertical boards for pry points (needed if you’re going to super you nucs and want to use the hive tool).
10.) Finally I screwed a ¾” stock horizontal handle on each end into the pry boards on step 9.

I know that isn’t a great description.  Hopefully I can do better annotating the photos.  Keep in mind you can be creative here and construct these things in a fashion that you might find simpler.  I think there probably is a simpler way to construct these things.  The lamination first approach seems like a good idea to me.  Then it’s simply like making any old nuc, but you’re working with 2” thick boards!
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S.M.N.Bee
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« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2011, 10:45:04 PM »


BlueBee

How large a space do you leave between the hive and the inside of the insulation.

John
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BlueBee
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« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2011, 11:17:09 PM »

John, I assume you’re asking about my full sized hive / shell system in your question.

In that design, I leave ¾” space between the foam shells and the inner wood hive.  ¾” on all sides.  I think some space is good for a few reasons:  The gap makes it easier to remove the shells, a little air space is good to prevent mold on the outside of your wood hive, I have screened bottoms boards under my wood hive and they provide fresh bottom air to the bees from the air space between the foam and the wood hive.  The air gap is also very helpful in the summer when you want to break the R value of the system so that the foam just acts as a sun shield and not a super strong insulator. 

In the winter you want a high R value system to hold in the heat.  In the summer, you really don’t want to hold in a lot a heat.  In the summer you want a solar shield to block the 400+ watts of heat that hits the hive from the Sun.  2” of foam will do a lot of blocking. 

In my nuc design, there is NO gap between the inner wood core and the foam.  In the nucs, the foam is glued directly to the inner lauan wood core.
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derekm
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« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2011, 08:49:08 AM »

This my first Nuc in 50mm foil covered polyurethane foam with polyester resin and fibreglass tissue to protect the cut ends. The entrance is angled down at 45 degrees again to retain heat with a plastic mesh alighting ramp. Even allowing for a smaller heat out put of 8.5w the bees in the Nuc should be able to keep this a snug 34c inside  with an outside temp of -3.11 c and not need to start fanning until outside goes above 24c. In the  full size hive they should be ok down to -17C 
.  

The floor section is 150mm high with two resin covered grills to give around 75mm of calm air under the floor. So to give ventilation and allow mite rubbish etc to fall out but preserve insulation.

lower grill


upper grill (floor)


the grills were created using a router. And covered with polyester resin.


The frame rails were cut out of ally angle.  here is the  nuc parts and the full size hive behind
« Last Edit: August 11, 2011, 11:54:32 AM by derekm » Logged

If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
S.M.N.Bee
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« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2011, 11:22:40 PM »


BlueBee.

Thanks for the info. I'm running a larger 1 1/2" space in mine. I also think the air space is key for the reasons you stated. I only had one hive last winter so i won't make any claims here. The bee's did seem to go threw a lot of stores but i don't mind as long as they survive. Good luck and keep us informed.


John
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BlueBee
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« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2011, 09:53:17 PM »

I normally get my foam from Home Depot and they carry the pink stuff.  I believe Lowes carries the blue stuff.  I did a little surfing today to compare pink to blue.  From what I’ve read, they’re the same exact product, just produced by different companies.  

The blue stuff is made by Dow Chemical.
The pink stuff is made by Owens Corning.

They both make versions of foam that are rated at various levels of compressive strength.  Both are the same thing; extruded polystyrene foam.  The just add a pigment into the foam to make it pink or blue.  That's why the marketeers make the big $$$$ Wink

Here’s a link to the data sheet for the Dow foam (aka blue stuff):
http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDOWCOM/dh_0813/0901b80380813717.pdf?filepath=styrofoam/pdfs/noreg/179-02548.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc

Here’s a link to the data sheet for the Owens Corning foam (aka pink stuff):
http://www.tlpinsulation.com/images%20from%20tammy/Foamular400.pdf

Wow, I didn’t know they make this stuff up to 4” thick.  Bees in Barrow, Alaska anybody?
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windfall
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« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2011, 08:16:26 AM »

Hey Bluebee,

I think I will be building a couple of these this weekend, more or less to your design.
How has the glue joint betwean the 3/4 end and foam held up to seasonal movement? I Had assumed you were using ply everywhere you were bonding to foam until I read the photo captions. I am considering using thin (3/16") white cedar instead of luan but was a bit worried about losing bond through expansion contraction cycles.

Also Why do you have the extended entrance on the nucs? I assumed it was on the full sized wood hives to get them past the foam shell when you apply it. What purpose does it serve on the nucs.

I notice the lids apear to function more or less like migratory tops. Have they behaved well in terms of not wicking moisture/rain in along the top/body joint?

Last question, regarding your screen tops...how much do you like them? What downsides(if any) do you see?

Thanks for putting these up.
By the way, you are correct PU sheet foam here in US is primarily open cell and will saturate when exposed to continued wetness
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