My plan for this coming year is to do some queen rearing. In preparation I will need mating nucs. I pondered using deep 5 frame nucs, which I have a quantity of already, but for various reasons I have decided to use medium height 5 frame nuc boxes. This plan accommodates nuc hive sales as well as queen rearing. Additionally, the medium boxes are significantly cheaper to build as described below.
Nuc boxes External dimensions:
Deep Boxes: 19 7/8″ Length X 9 5/8″ Width X 9 5/8″ Height (Comment: Different bee supply companies makes these different widths. Some as small as 9″ width. Mann Lake makes them a generous 9 5/8″ which I assume is in order to handle their frame feeder. I use this dimension as I have found that whether with or without the frame feeder it avoids crowding of the frames yet doesn’t seem to cause burr comb against the sides. This may not be true if one used frames from a different manufacturer.
Medium Boxes: 19 7/8″ Length X 9 5/8″ Width X 6 5/8″ Height
The above dimensions, both deep and medium, are different than the actual cutting of the box components due to the corner joints. I use a rabbet joint cut 3/8″ deep on the front and back pieces. Because the front and back then contribute to the side length the board on the side is cut 3/4″” smaller than the external 19 7/8″ (side length is cut is 19 1/8″).
Making Medium Boxes: My initial estimate is that I can make 11 of these boxes from a single sheet of 23/32″ sheathing plywood. at about $23-$24 per sheet of 23/32″ sheathing that comes to about $2.25 per box. Tops and bottoms will add to this cost. Total waste is approximately 9%.
Making Deep Boxes: My estimate is that I can make 6 boxes from a single sheet of 23/32″ sheathing plywood. This results in a price per box of $4. Tops and bottoms will add to this cost. The large reduction in the number of boxes that can be made vs medium boxes is a result of waste which results due to the larger dimensions. Total waste per 4′ x 8′ sheet when deep boxes are constructed from plywood is approximately 28%.
I’m using a computer program called CutList Plus which maximizes layout on the plywood. It’s a fun program and I’d encourage you to give it a spin. http://cutlistplus.com/
Before someone lectures me on use of plywood and it’s longevity, warping, and delamination characteristics please don’t. I have used this particular sheathing and found that with three proper coats of protection it holds up without delamination or warping quite well.