Styrofoam Boxes

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Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 12th, 2010, 9:26 am

As mentioned in my diary recently, we approached a plastics manufacturer about ther possibility of making EPS (Expanded PolyStyrene) supers. We are unhappy with the BeeMax version and Swienty are too expensive with a high Euro.

After some thinking, I am wondering if we should be considering making eight or six-frame boxes in EPS?

Is anyone else interested?

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » November 13th, 2010, 5:33 am

Since the EPS nucs are so expensive here in the US... I'd be interested in some 5 frame nucs. Supposed to winter much better? I also think there would be a lot of interest after Latshaw's experiments.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 13th, 2010, 5:41 am

The current EPS five-frame nucs are pretty costly, around $30+, as I recall. They are reinforced and have lids and bottoms, so are complete unit, designed for moving and long life. The one problem I see with making five-frame boxes like the ten-frame ones only smaller is that the walls are thick and stacking an excluder and standard supers on top of two side by side might not work as well as with wood.

Six-frame nucs are polular for making splits for next year and are often wintered indoors here in Alberta. EPS boxes might give the splits a better start, but not have much benefit for wintering indoors AFAK.

I am not aware of Latshaw's experiments. Do you have a link?
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » November 13th, 2010, 11:55 am

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 13th, 2010, 12:07 pm

Here is a picture from this diary page. It shows how Meijers ran some of these nucs.

They cut the bottoms off some of the nucs to make suupers for the lower ones.

Quite a few people are using them, but they are a bit small for this latitude.

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by peterdbk » November 13th, 2010, 4:22 pm

Allen Dick wrote:After some thinking, I am wondering if we should be considering making eight or six-frame boxes in EPS?
Image
There is something to be said for standardizing on as few types of equipment as possible. So I would need a really good reason to add non-10 frame equipment to my collection. I've found I can winter 5-frame nucs in 10-frame EPS boxes just fine. I fill out the empty space with undrawn Pierco.

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 13th, 2010, 4:58 pm

There is something to be said for standardizing on as few types of equipment as possible. So I would need a really good reason to add non-10 frame equipment to my collection. I've found I can winter 5-frame nucs in 10-frame EPS boxes just fine. I fill out the empty space with undrawn Pierco.
That is the reason I cut down some jumbos into standards about 35 years ago. I've been regretting it ever since.

You are right, though, having more variations introduces complications. When I introduced the first EPS boxes, it screwed up my splitting and then my wrapping. Unforseen consequences, I guess.

On the other hand, introducing a new parallel system that has known benefits can compensate for the complication factor.

I keep remembering a quote from an old beekeeper who said that when he switched from eight-frame to ten-frame, the last year in eight frame was the last big crop he got.

Bees like to go vertical and unless we run very prolific bees like Italians, perhaps ten-frame is too wide. Personally, I effectively run 9-frame since I have a feeder in each brood box. Going to eight-frame would not be a huge step. The biggest drawback is that the hives get tall and tippy.

I started with the Farrar system -- 12 frames per box and two queens. I had 100 of them and sold them to standardize. Was I a fool? I often wonder.

Considering that my goal is to raise bees, not make honey, perhaps equipment suited to smaller colonies would suit me better.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » November 16th, 2010, 1:35 pm

Does Meijers winter his hive in the 2 nuc configuration? Inside or outside? I noticed my 5 frame nucs this year exploded when I added another deep over them. Had to split them even then to prevent swarming and the splits were the first week of August. I'm wintering my small nucs in a homemade box constructed of 2" Styrofoam w/ a heat tape under them. Got the idea here
http://www.mbbeekeeping.com/index.php?o ... &Itemid=59

but mine are 4& 5 frame, not 2 frame.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 16th, 2010, 1:48 pm

cam bishop wrote:Does Meijers winter his hive in the 2 nuc configuration? Inside or outside?
I believe they wintered the ones shown above outdoors. Not sure, though.
I'm wintering my small nucs in a homemade box constructed of 2" Styrofoam w/ a heat tape under them. Got the idea here
http://www.mbbeekeeping.com/index.php?o ... &Itemid=59 but mine are 4& 5 frame, not 2 frame.
Very interesting. Thanks.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » November 19th, 2010, 6:47 am

Allen,

I'm curious how Meijers deals with swarming in those nucs? Any insight.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 19th, 2010, 8:49 am

It hasn't been a problem that I have heard about. I'll ask them some time, but right now, I am in Syaracuse.

AFAIK, they make the nucs small enough that they do not get big enough to swarm until August and then the swarming urge is past.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by buzz1356 » November 21st, 2010, 12:04 pm

Allen
Thinking outside the box... and inside, the Wallmart coolers turned into a 7 frame nuc

http://www.beebehavior.com/polystyrene_nucs.php

don't know how these coolers would work for wintering bees, could they possibly be made as a standard size super?They may be cheaper and more durable

irwin

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » November 22nd, 2010, 7:09 am

The reason they are so cheap is they are made by the hundreds of thousands for mass-distribution.

The combination of hard plastic and styrofoam is possible, but immediately doubles the cost, plus some.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » January 29th, 2011, 3:53 am

Wonder how these would work? I'm going to build some this spring and try to take some nucs through the winter.
http://comb-bees.org/Documents/Styrofoa ... 100813.pdf
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by honeybee » January 29th, 2011, 7:13 am

My recollection is that this density of board will be chewed by bees. Maybe not.

Also, I have mostly seen 2x8 foot panels, not 4x8.

Still, they look good.

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » January 29th, 2011, 8:07 am

I think I'll coat the inside of the nucs with shellac or something to try and keep the bees from gnawing on them. Any ideas what would work? They are so much cheaper than anything available from the supply houses I think they might be worth the trouble. I also think I'll build them with upper entrances so I can feed on the bottom in the fall.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by honeybee » January 29th, 2011, 8:44 am

What do you figure they will cost each, accounting for scrap, etc. ?

Joe says there is a non-reinforced version of the ones they use for $19.

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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » January 29th, 2011, 9:31 am

I'm going to price the Styrofoam tomorrow. I'll let you know what I expect. I wonder where he buys them for $19.00. Cheapest I've found is $25.00.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by Allen Dick » January 29th, 2011, 6:50 pm

BetterBee, I think, but Joe will buy several thousand, when and if he does.
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Re: Styrofoam Boxes

Unread post by cam bishop » January 30th, 2011, 12:05 pm

I went to Home Depot and priced out components. 2X8 sheet of foam $8.50, tube of Liquid Nails $5.00. I have a couple gallons of exterior oops paint @ $8.00 a gallon and I think spar varnish might be best for the inside of the hives... I have about 1/2 gallon left from some other projects. All-in all, with lots of waste I figure a nuc will cost around $4.50 to build. I have enough of all the above here in my shop and I'm going to build one one of these days to see how long it takes to complete one. I estimate about an hour a nuc. Makes them much cheaper than the Betterbee prices. Especially if one has 20 - 30 nucs to take through the winter. If one doesn't have a good shop with good tools/clamps, I'm not sure how easy these would be to build. But my shop is well equipped and should be an easy task. Question is durability and how the bees do in them. They actually should be better insulated than the EPS nucs. Don't know if that's good or bad.
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