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Author Topic: Building supers and nucs  (Read 1553 times)
GSF
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« on: August 11, 2013, 09:21:56 PM »

I am hoping for the best and would like to start building some supers and nucs for next spring. I'm fixing to start on another remodeling project at home and I don't want to get caught unprepared.

The starter kit I have is made from cypress wood. Is that wood necessary or would plain ole treated plywood work as good? Is there a technique to making the supers square? What about when you dado the plywood have you had any problems with it loosing strength?
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10framer
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2013, 11:18:43 PM »

a sheet of treated 3/4 inch cdx is over 30 dollars.  how many supers can you make out of one and how many commercial grade mediums can you buy for 30 dollars?  also, when you make the cut for the ends of the top bars to rest on you've weakened the plywood in a spot where you will apply a lot of stress.  i'd look at 1x pine if i was going to build my own.   it also saves you from making all those long rip cuts.  there's a guy in lee county that is a cabinet maker that makes pine supers with finger joint corners and pre-drills them for a good price.  if your interested i'll get you his information.  i'm probably going to buy a bunch from his this winter.
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rober
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« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2013, 09:06:19 AM »

the new growth cypress available is a waste of money. a good grade of pine will do fine. prime it & paint & it will last for years. the problem with plywood is that it is heavy. the problem with treated plywood is that it is toxic to bees. if you use treated plywood for supers you'd contaminate the honey as well.
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LindaL
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« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 09:56:47 AM »

You guys are giving me a lot to think about as well.   I wanted to build some swarm boxes over the winter.  It never occurred to me that using plywood wasn't a good idea. 
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Santa Caras
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« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2013, 02:28:35 PM »

I heard too that some grades of plywood have voids and holes in them....making for good breeding grounds for SHB.
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GSF
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2013, 03:55:13 PM »

Thanks all,

I was a little leary of the plywood. I have a darn good table saw 220/10" blade but that don't mean I can cut straight.

I was figuring on the pine boards but I didn't know how they would weather. Just need to practice with my router before I go for it.
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forrestcav
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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2013, 04:29:19 PM »

Pine will do fine if you maintain it properly. I only use plywood for swarm boxes and then only 1/4". But those are temporary. Look into a finger joint attachment for the box joints.
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Moots
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2013, 06:31:08 PM »

I use #2 pine for my boxes and Nucs...Single rabbet joint, glue with titebond III and staple, prime and paint.  In my first year, so it's too soon to say, but really believe I'm going to be pleased with the service I get out of them.
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beeman2009
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2013, 06:49:47 PM »

I have the same setup as Moots. I am in my 8th years, they are holding up great. I think I can get another 5 years, maybe more before I have to replace them.
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Beeman2009
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2013, 08:16:22 PM »

I use pine for all mine. for the box joint I use a router and a template. cuts super clean and is plenty fast, I stack numerous blanks next to each other, and go through all of them at once, to the depth of the tail/board which is usually 3/4"
my normal sequence of steps is using my table saw to rip the edge of the board to square it, then rip the other side to size and square it, then cut all the same sized blanks for say the length and then do the same for the width. I then router the rabbit cuts where needed (it is important to do this now.) stack up to 10 usually opposing sides (because they will have the same joint pattern and are the same size) and clamp them together and use the first template and run my router alongside all of them, this makes the first inside cut, then I put on the second template and do the other side. I make 1" joints spaced one inch apart centered to the board. the outer tails are larger and take up the difference. This is why you want the tails of the one side to be at the tops, because you can router straight across for the rabbit cut, then the tail finishes it off square. ok, you do not 'have' to have it square on the rabbit cut it can be rounded if your frames are dogeared, which they should be, because it makes them easier to work with, and there is no reason not to make them this way.

I also made a simple jig that is square and the correct dimensions for the inside of the box. it is two pieces of plywood spaced 6" apart by a block of wood and on a base. All I do when I am assembling is use a glue brush, smear glue in all the joints, put them on the jig, secure with quick clamps, and then use my brad nailer to shoot 1.5" brads into each tail along the side, pop , pop , pop , pop remove it, wipe the joints clean and it's done when the glue dries. it costs around $7 - $10 maybe.

If you do not use a jig, then a simple square will make sure its square.
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2013, 08:41:45 PM »

I have used cedar, cypress, pine, OSB and plywood (and in that order) for supers and nucs. Unless you are using the plywood that they make the migration tops out of, don't use plywood. It comes apart and usually at the worst time. OSB works well for swarm traps. The old stuff used to fall apart but now they use a better glue and it holds up well in the weather. Most of mine are white pine and are painted.
I used to make all of my equipment, except the frames, but I find it is cheaper to buy the supers, especially in bulk, than it is to make them. When you need frames, if you can, buy them 100 at a time and get the foundation in the same amount at the same time. You will probably need it and it is a lot cheaper especially if you get it from a company like Mann Lake, that has free shipping if is over $100. I get 100 of them cheaper than I can get 60 frames and foundation from local sources.

Jim
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2013, 02:11:45 PM »

I always use pine boards. I have access to cypress and other woods but pine is cheaper and it weathers well if kept up. I don't like plywood because if there is any leaking in the paint or finish the plys can delaminate unless you are using marine grade void free plywood (sound expensive? That is because it is. I used to build boats.) Of course I always have a bunch of pine planks laying around so I never figure the cost on the boards. lol I also buy my lumber rough so it is cheaper. Though pine does gum up a planer pretty quick wd40 cleans the blades fairly well.
I have a router and finger joint template but find myself using the table saw and dado blade with a finger joint jig most of the time. It tears out a lot less and I just like the feel of it running through the saw vice having to man handle the router around the template.
I make all my woodenware with the exception of the frames. I have no interest in even trying to make those when I can get them so cheap.
Just make sure you make your boxes to your frames. Not all frames are the same size.
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JWChesnut
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2013, 03:16:04 PM »

For less than about 30 medium boxes, I use 8" fence boards purchased on loss leader sale at some big box lumberyard.  I use a butt joint with cabinet biscuits to reinforce.  I am in my seventh or  eight year and have no box failures.  However, due to all the single piece cutting in this system, butt joint + biscuit slots are slower to construct (about 30 in a short day) than a big stack of finger jointed stock ready to go.  The advantage is it can be done on the fly using small hand tools and requires no dado/router set up.  If you have a dedicated dado saw (well some folks do) I would just go that way.  If you want to make weird sizes (don't ask) - the biscuit-butt joint is useful to quickly prototype a size.

On larger construction efforts (50 or more boxes), I use finger joints.  The key to finger joints is to cut all the pieces to length and gang them up (clamp them together to make a solid bundle) and cut the joints all at once.  I push them through a table saw dado with a key guide instead  of fence (ie a 3/4 x 3/4 strip of hardwood set up to receive the last finished dado of the set of ganged pieces.

I generally wait for some solid, but cheap wood to appear before making deep boxes.  Older 12 inch fenceboards can be scavenged by the unit load, and since the longest piece is 20" you can trim out defect if the wood is free.  Watch for buried nails or your $100 dado set is toast.

Tim Ives FB page has a sweet, sweet  router-jig, custom table  for cranking out frames.  Same principle -- gang the pieces and cut the gang using a router guide that steps off each cut.   I find pushing a big router bit through a stack of old gnarly wood an unpleasant task, and if the gig walks off registration, the whole stack is firewood.  But I gotta say I'm envious of  his set-up, and initiative getting a steel router guide welded up.  See his set up  at --  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=302867513095646&set=pb.100001171991819.-2207520000.1376507577.&type=3&theater
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2013, 02:24:17 AM »

Pine is actually the worst wood one can use for bee hives as black mold is systemic to it.  Leave a piece of pine in the rain and it will have black mold all over and in it within a day or two.  One of my mentors who manufactured bee equipment made his out of cedar and douglas fir for those who wanted a cheaper box but refused to use pine.
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2013, 11:29:35 AM »

I don't understand what you are saying, sorry. Both fir and cedar are pine species. I use southern yellow pine mostly. A good deal of my hive frames are made of untreated yellow pine and I have never seen black mold on them. What pine species has the black mold issue?
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10framer
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2013, 01:18:15 PM »

southern yellow pine will definitely mold but there are thousands of barns and houses scattered across the southeast that were built from pine 200 years ago still standing.  most of them probably haven't seen paint for 50 years or more.  down here in a normal year pine won't be a problem if it's sealed (painted etc.) well.  this year all bets are probably off, we had 5 inches of rain yesterday.
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JWChesnut
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2013, 01:51:11 PM »

I think this is a West Coast - East Coast argument on pine.  Southern Yellow Pine (a mix of  Loblolly, longleaf, shortleaf, and slash)  is rock hard and resinous.   On the west coast, Pine is Sugar Pine as finish  boards (most Ponderosa goes to ply veneer). Sugar Pine is a beautiful wood, but is very soft and, well, sugary.  It does support a black mold on the sugar.  Sugar pine has very little winter wood.  Left out in the weather, sugar pine goes punky and soft very quickly-- it soaks water like a sponge. It is a wonderful interior trim wood.

Ponderosa is a little closer to the SYP -- its summer wood is hard, but the winter wood is soft. It is resinous, and is avoided for boards, as resin drips and closet shelves don't go together.

  Doug Fir (not a pine at all) is much more similar to SYP in hardness and strength.  It is usually not cut to inch dimension, only structural 2x and Ply in knot wood.  Doug Fir inch boards are clear vertical grain masterpieces from the oldest of the old growth-- usually varnished as centerpieces for the rarity they have become- no where near farm box material.

Exterior trim wood on the west coast is typically White Fir -- marketed as generic HemFir.  These are soft, not very workable woods and are seldom available in widths greater than 6 inches.  Eastern Hemlock would be equivalent from Maine.

On the west coast, Cedar means Western Red Cedar.  A premium wood that is mostly cut out -- it is restricted to the coastal rain forests and was slivered into millions of Cedar Shake shingles that sprouted on every building in a 'crunchy granola' style in the 1970's.  Sad end to a beautiful tree.

My fenceboards (purchased on loss leader) are Incense Cedar or Coast  Redwood.   These are soft rot resistant woods that are dimensionally stable (why they are sold as fence boards).  Incense Cedar is weak and has a lot of defect (a characteristic worm hole rot),  while redwood is a beautiful thing.   The east coast equivalent would be Cypress or Atlantic White Cedar.   Redwood rootsprouts and the current fence material is 3rd-4th cutting from stumps that have been yielding harvests since the 1800's.   You cannot buy clear vertical grain Redwood from the residual old growth unless you are a hedge fund capitalist or a Japanese temple builder.

When I lived in Virginia and Kentucky, I tore down old barns built of American Chestnut.  Chestnut is oily and open grain, just will not rot.  I build outhouses out of it (Chestnut Johns by John Chesnut).  It would make a beautiful bee box, and is likely worth salvaging the remaining tobacco barns for material.   

American Chestnut was eliminated by an imported fungus pathogen in 1915.  Part of my opposition to the continual chatter of these "treatment free" cultists is the knowledge that Chestnut was given the so-called Bond Test, and despite millions of parents, no natural resistance was developed.  Only with very directed selection using known resistant species backcrossed into American Chestnut has a resistance been recently developed.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 02:06:53 PM by JWChesnut » Logged
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2013, 10:13:29 PM »

I will qualify my statements.  Yellow pine is more resitant to mold than white pine, anything that is not yellow pine is white pine.  White Pine will hold up for a long time as long as it doesn't get wet, then it molds and beings to rot. That holds true for kiln dried white pine too.
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10framer
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2013, 11:13:13 PM »

I will qualify my statements.  Yellow pine is more resitant to mold than white pine, anything that is not yellow pine is white pine.  White Pine will hold up for a long time as long as it doesn't get wet, then it molds and beings to rot. That holds true for kiln dried white pine too.

southern yellow pine will turn black pretty fast but other varieties become down right slimy in no time.  i should qualify my statement about the old barns and houses.  they were most likely built from old growth trees from virgin forest.  i sell lumber and the syp2 that i sell probably wouldn't hold up to 100 years of exposure to the elements. 
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10framer
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« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2013, 12:01:47 AM »

I think this is a West Coast - East Coast argument on pine.  Southern Yellow Pine (a mix of  Loblolly, longleaf, shortleaf, and slash)  is rock hard and resinous.   On the west coast, Pine is Sugar Pine as finish  boards (most Ponderosa goes to ply veneer). Sugar Pine is a beautiful wood, but is very soft and, well, sugary.  It does support a black mold on the sugar.  Sugar pine has very little winter wood.  Left out in the weather, sugar pine goes punky and soft very quickly-- it soaks water like a sponge. It is a wonderful interior trim wood.

Ponderosa is a little closer to the SYP -- its summer wood is hard, but the winter wood is soft. It is resinous, and is avoided for boards, as resin drips and closet shelves don't go together.

  Doug Fir (not a pine at all) is much more similar to SYP in hardness and strength.  It is usually not cut to inch dimension, only structural 2x and Ply in knot wood.  Doug Fir inch boards are clear vertical grain masterpieces from the oldest of the old growth-- usually varnished as centerpieces for the rarity they have become- no where near farm box material.

Exterior trim wood on the west coast is typically White Fir -- marketed as generic HemFir.  These are soft, not very workable woods and are seldom available in widths greater than 6 inches.  Eastern Hemlock would be equivalent from Maine.

On the west coast, Cedar means Western Red Cedar.  A premium wood that is mostly cut out -- it is restricted to the coastal rain forests and was slivered into millions of Cedar Shake shingles that sprouted on every building in a 'crunchy granola' style in the 1970's.  Sad end to a beautiful tree.

My fenceboards (purchased on loss leader) are Incense Cedar or Coast  Redwood.   These are soft rot resistant woods that are dimensionally stable (why they are sold as fence boards).  Incense Cedar is weak and has a lot of defect (a characteristic worm hole rot),  while redwood is a beautiful thing.   The east coast equivalent would be Cypress or Atlantic White Cedar.   Redwood rootsprouts and the current fence material is 3rd-4th cutting from stumps that have been yielding harvests since the 1800's.   You cannot buy clear vertical grain Redwood from the residual old growth unless you are a hedge fund capitalist or a Japanese temple builder.

When I lived in Virginia and Kentucky, I tore down old barns built of American Chestnut.  Chestnut is oily and open grain, just will not rot.  I build outhouses out of it (Chestnut Johns by John Chesnut).  It would make a beautiful bee box, and is likely worth salvaging the remaining tobacco barns for material.   

American Chestnut was eliminated by an imported fungus pathogen in 1915.  Part of my opposition to the continual chatter of these "treatment free" cultists is the knowledge that Chestnut was given the so-called Bond Test, and despite millions of parents, no natural resistance was developed.  Only with very directed selection using known resistant species backcrossed into American Chestnut has a resistance been recently developed.

cultists? 
actually they figured out a way to splice a wheat gene to the american chestnut and came up with a resistant tree.   
 
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