A hive stand fit for a queen . . . or a swarm
Here is a handy little hive stand I like to use for my mating nuc. My husband built it from just one eight-foot 2 x 4 board for the uprights (in this case Douglas-fir) and two eight-foot 1 x 4 boards for the horizontal pieces (in this case cedar.) Although it would not be stable enough for a complete hive with supers, it is great for the mating nuc which never gets any higher than one deep box.
My mating nuc is just a brood box divided into four 2-frame sections. Each section has its own entrance—one entrance per side. The small hive stand is great for this because I can orient it so each side has plenty of clearance for the bees to come and go. In addition, the stand is just the right height for me to comfortably check on the queens’ progress and look for eggs—I don’t have to climb up or squat down.
Once a new queen is laying eggs, I just move that frame into a regular nuc and add a fresh frame with eggs, young larvae, or queen cells into the mating nuc. It would not be easy to mass-produce queens like this, but it is a great way to produce a few queens for your own use. The dividers in the nuc box are removable, so you can also configure it as two 5-frame sections, one 5-frame section and two 2-frame sections, or just one regular 10-frame box.
This year I’m going to use a second one of these little hive stands for my bait hive. That will put the entrance about two feet high—not great but better than having it on the ground. If I manage to catch a swarm, I will move the swarm into a regular hive and then set up the bait hive again. So just like the mating nuc, the bait hive won’t be more than one brood box high.