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Nuc box design

 Updated 23 May 2022.    photo P. Armitagephoto P. ArmitageThis approach is heavily inspired by Gerard Smith's design for a five frame nuc box.   See diagram with dimensions and photos below.  Please note that in a previous version of these instructions, I said that I was building the boxes a bit taller (11.5 inches) to accommodate queen cells at the bottom of frames.  However, I soon discovered that colonies would build large amounts of burr/bridge comb at the bottom of the frames that they would then fill with honey, especially if fed sugar syrup.   This is extremely messy and difficult to work with.  I fixed this problem by cutting the boxes down to 10.5 inches tall, which gives an internal height to the walls of 9.75 inches.

I still stock a couple of taller nuc boxes in case I need them for frames with queen cells at the bottom.  However, I'm more inclined to cut the queen cell off the frame and to re-attach it on the wall of the comb.

Whereas I used to feed sugar syrup to my nucleus colonies using a circular Rapid Feeder, I am now feeding lesser amounts of syrup using an inverted mason jar.   The mason jar fits comfortably in the vent box.

You keep the toggle door shut until the colony builds in size.  Also, the vent box can be flipped so that the hole is not covered by the outer cover, when your nucleus colony builds to the point where it can fully thermo-regulate despite cold ambient temperatures outside the box.

Don't forget to strap the nuc box securely to a hive stand, pallet, etc. The Island of Newfoundland is a windy spot, as you know!



There are four components to this nuc box - the brood nest box (5 frames), an inner cover, a vent box, and outer cover. The outer cover is covered with sheet metal.



Note how the top of the ends of the nuc box have been routed to accommodate five Langstroth frames. The sides and bottom of the nuc box proper are 3/4" plywood. The sides of the vent box and outer cover are 3/4" pine. The horizontal surfaces of the inner and outer covers are 3/8" plywood. The ends of the nuc box proper are 1" pine. I purchase quality, clear pine from Swyers in Bonavista and plane it to the desired thickness.


photo P. Armitagephoto P. Armitage


Inner cover showing location of feeding hole and screened vent hole. You screen the feeding hole when the colony is not being fed.


  A toggle door is used to open or close the top entrance.