A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Nuc Hive

A nucleus hive, or nuc for short, is a small hive used for rearing new Queens or overwintering small colonies. They are also useful when a hive is wanting to swarm; In the spring a full size hive can have a few frames removed and put into the nuc hive and this can reduce probability of swarming. Due to the reduced volume in a nuc hive the bees find it easier to keep warm and ventilated. Over the last week I have been brave and attempted, with some success, to build one from scratch. I am quite impressed with my handy work as I have limited tools and even less experience. In the future I will borrow some tools from friends and family as I would have created a better product with power tools (due to my sawing not been the straightest at times!).

I started off by looking on the internet for plans for a nuc and found a variety of them, mainly from American beekeepers. In the end I didn't follow any plan exact and just kind of made it up as I went along. The problem with the hive plans I looked at were that they seemed too long and the frames I have wouldn't have reached the edge of the nuc. The plans I was inspired by where from these links here  and  here. The second is a photo bucket account of someones step by step making of the nuc. The nuc I made is approx 2 inches less in length but most of the other measurements are the same. I had a bunch of frames at hand at all times to make sure my box was going to be the correct size. I also made a stand for the hive and plans can be found here. Again with the plans I changed the sizes slightly as the stand in the plans is for a full sized hive. The stand was fairly easy to make and I will make a couple of full sized ones for my other hives at some point soon.

I started off with a sheet of 18mm thick ply wood

A fair bit of sawing and nailing later

The entrance can be seen here and I have made a simple roof

The first coat of paint goes on

The stand is made and then wood preservative added

The finished nuc hive and stand all painted and ready for bees!

The nuc with 5 frames inside. 

Home Made Lager and Other Homebrew

This is my first post of the new year as I have been too busy to write up what I've been up to. You may (or may not) remember that I started a batch of home brewed lager in my last post. Since then I have bottled and started drinking it. I didn't get any pictures of the bottling process as it was a little tricky to keep control of the siphoning tube while getting the next bottle ready and making sure the bottle I was working on didn't overflow! The process was fairly simple and at the end of it I had about 20 bottles with a litre of lager in them. Prior to bottling I had added a teaspoon of sugar to each one to allow it to ferment a slight bit more; this is what gives it bubbles. After that I put the bottles in a box and placed them next to a radiator for a few days then moved them somewhere cooler and like magic a couple of weeks later I had a lager that was not only drinkable but also quite nice!

A box of litre bottles

Bottles after being sterilized

The lids being sterilized

The finished product (and I was worried it wouldn't have enough fizz!)

I have also racked a demijohn of wine and a couple of meads. As it would be a little repetitive posting pictures of it I haven't done so. The wine I racked was my second batch of raspberry. I had a sneaky taste while I was racking and I believe this will be a strong tasting wine, my partner didn't approve too much of it. The meads I racked were a JAO mead and the ginger mead I started in late February last year! The ginger mead is tasting nice but will be better when it has aged a few more months, I intend on bottling it fairly soon. The JAO is looking like the best I have made so far. It is very clear and has a lovely golden colour to it, I didn't taste this one as I have a good idea what it tastes like already. This will be bottled soon also and possibly 1 bottle will be hidden away for 17 years as a birthday present for my daughters 18th!