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Author Topic: Deep or Medium Hives in Michigan???  (Read 1848 times)
jusme
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« on: January 25, 2009, 02:17:27 PM »

I've not even handled bees yet, that's how new I am.  I'm busy building hive bodies but was wondering if I could use all Mediums.  I'm purchasing 5 frame Medium Nucs in the spring.  Can I bypass using deep boxes or is that a bad idea?   I just wondered if 2 mediums would be enough to feed them through a Michigan winter?  And how do Northern beekeepers supplement their food?  Wouldn't the syrup freeze?  I know, dumb questions,  but my books all seem to deal with warmer climates.
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 02:22:38 PM »

Its not unusual to use all mediums. Thats what I decided to do and there are several people on this fourm that do all mediums.
Look up Michael Bush's website or do a search here on the forum. There is alot of info on this.
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2009, 02:49:23 PM »

Oh thank you.  I just hunted up Michael Bush's site.  Fasinating!!  Thanks so much!!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2009, 04:16:01 PM »

>was wondering if I could use all Mediums

They will work fine anywhere but I think they are a slight advantage in the north as there is better communication between frames because of the gaps between the boxes.
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2009, 07:53:47 PM »

I use mediums now, some are still deeps but this spring they are going to go away. You need three mediums for a winter pass. two will work but you can't really feed much in the winter, however you can feed pure sugar on a peice of newspaper on the bottom medium that helps get them thru winter. farther away they can't get to it cause the cluster holds them down lower. temps are too cold for them to wander very far.
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2009, 08:08:38 PM »

Hi boardplaner,
I'm in Holly Michigan and I started 2 hives last spring with all mediums.
So far they are doing fine and you know how it's been.......well "is"!

I've never used deeps so I can't compare, but I like the mediums.
I was told 3 mediums are somewhat equal to 2 deeps.
My hives were very strong and they filled the 2 lowers and about 30% of the 3rd w/brood.
The outer frames of the 3rd had honey just honey.
They are overwintering w/5 mediums total, but there's very little in the lower.
I kept it there as a buffer to the cold. It is my belief that's the way they wanted it.
I'm using a SBB (screened bottom board) which I left closed for winter.

Hope this is helpful!
There are a few other MI guy's on this forum that have much more knowledge than I, perhaps they'll chime in.
Paul

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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 11:34:53 AM »

>was wondering if I could use all Mediums

They will work fine anywhere but I think they are a slight advantage in the north as there is better communication between frames because of the gaps between the boxes.

Michael, I have a couple of questions for you.
Could you explain what you mean above, I assume you are referring to mediums?  I've actually assumed the opposite because there is the gaps, whereas the deeps will have fewer comb breaks. 
And in the winter, if they don't have burr comb connecting boxes, that would be one more barrier to moving up?  Usually mine start out halfway up, already bridging the gap in the deeps.

As far as deeps and mediums go...
I use deeps and mediums.  As far as weight goes, a deep full of brood is lighter than a medium full of honey, so that doesn't bother me too much.  And when doing a deep-dive hive check, I prefer to have fewer boxes that I have to remove to get in there, because every time I remove a box the bees get a little bit more irritated.

Interchangability is a bit of an issue, but I don't mind popping a medium into a box of deep frames if I have to.

Now if you do happen to get a deep that gets filled up with honey,  hoo boy.....  So if you do have an issue with lifting weights...well it will matter a little bit but you will still have trouble lifting a medium full of honey.

Rick
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Jim 134
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 01:11:56 PM »

   I have use all mediums since 1986 ( 3 mediums for overwintering) not compares. Bee for I use 2 deeps 1957-1986 for overwintering .I live about 70 miles east of Boston MA. This is zone 5 on the plant chart. I use SBB which are open all the time. (SBB screened bottom board)



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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 06:00:38 PM »

I think MB is referring to more than one method of communication.  There is communication amongst bees on a frame and then there's communication between frames.  Either way the communication is swifter with a medium frame because of the surface space is less than on a deep.  In essence all the bees on a frame can be communicated with quite rapidly and then moved up or down to another box before a deep frame would be completely informed.
Since a lot of the communications is from the vibrations of the comb the mass of the frame affects the speed of those vibrations.  Hence a smaller frame resonates more than a large frame.  That's part of the theory anyway.
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 08:54:21 PM »

>Could you explain what you mean above, I assume you are referring to mediums?

Yes.  If you picture a cluster on very deep frames they are divided by walls (combs) and there is no communication without climbing up over the top, down under the bottom or around the ends.  With the smaller number of bees on the edges of the cluster they often get stuck.  With mediums the cluster almost always spans a box.  This gives a 3/8" gap running between the frames that is between the boxes for the outside edges of the cluster to communicate with the space between all the frames.  In other words, there is a horizontal gap that allows bees to move freely between the combs.

> I've actually assumed the opposite because there is the gaps, whereas the deeps will have fewer comb breaks.

Which when a cluster contracts in the cold often leaves bees stuck on the other side of a wall of comb.

>And in the winter, if they don't have burr comb connecting boxes, that would be one more barrier to moving up?

I've never seen them have trouble moving across the gap to move up.

> Usually mine start out halfway up, already bridging the gap in the deeps.

And in the mediums there will be more gaps and more likely to be one in the center of the cluster.

>As far as weight goes, a deep full of brood is lighter than a medium full of honey, so that doesn't bother me too much.

But sooner or later it's full of honey.

> And when doing a deep-dive hive check, I prefer to have fewer boxes that I have to remove to get in there, because every time I remove a box the bees get a little bit more irritated.

And I prefer to have one I can lift.  Smiley

>Interchangability is a bit of an issue, but I don't mind popping a medium into a box of deep frames if I have to.

Been there.  Done that.  But it works nicer when they are the right size.

>Now if you do happen to get a deep that gets filled up with honey,  hoo boy.....

90 pounds.

> So if you do have an issue with lifting weights...well it will matter a little bit but you will still have trouble lifting a medium full of honey.

But an eight frame medium full of honey is only 48 pounds...

BTW three ten frame mediums is, for all practical purposes exactly the same volume as two deeps.  Four eight frame mediums is for all practical purposes exactly the same volume as two deeps.
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Michael Bush
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heaflaw
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 12:38:16 AM »

Would it be a good or bad idea to have a hive of only small supers.  There would be even more communication and freedom of movement with 4 small supers as the hive body and the beekeeper would have more flexibility in adjusting the size of the hive for defensive purposes against hive beetles.  Has anyone tried this?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2009, 05:52:50 AM »

>Would it be a good or bad idea to have a hive of only small supers.  There would be even more communication and freedom of movement with 4 small supers as the hive body and the beekeeper would have more flexibility in adjusting the size of the hive for defensive purposes against hive beetles.  Has anyone tried this?

Mine are all eight frame mediums so the size of the hive is twice as adjustable as ten frame deeps.  Yes, I try to adjust the size to fit the population.  But then I haven't had hive beetles, but probably will soon.
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Michael Bush
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2009, 10:34:18 AM »

I see...
Well, I don't want to make this a philosophical discussion of the advantages of deeps vs. mediums but suffice to say that deeps work great for me and I've worked through any disadvantages Wink.  I think I missed the original questions though...

Yes, you can bypass the deeps (although you will need to make 30% more boxes  Wink ).  Yes, you can overwinter in 2 mediums, I overwinter some hives in 1 deep, although I think 3 mediums (2deeps) would be considered "traditional".  No, you don't usually have to worry about supplimental feeding in the fall, depending on the summer honey flows, as long as you leave enough honey on.  You will probably want to feed initially though, to get them going.

You don't actually feed them in the winter.  By the time November gets here, if they don't have enough stores, feeding them syrup is pointless (they're clustered and won't take it).  You may rescue a hive using dry sugar or full frame, though, but that is a last ditch effort and better not to get to that point if possible.

Rick
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2009, 08:53:59 AM »


   I have use all mediums since 1986 ( 3 mediums for overwintering) not compares. Bee for I use 2 deeps 1957-1986 for overwintering .I live about 70 miles east of Boston MA. This is zone 5 on the plant chart. I use SBB which are open all the time. (SBB screened bottom board)
 

Just a couple of questions...
I have 2 hives and their overwintering w/5 mediums the 2 top supers are all honey.
The lower had some pollen stores and when they went down for winter all three mediums were packed w/bees.
Did I make a mistake in any way....what should I have done differently?

I have read some folks remove the lower super if its light so they have less to manage.
If the lower is empty what's to manage?

This was my observation...the lower was packed w/pollen at one point in early fall then it was gone in a couple of weeks.
But there was lots of pollen (freshly packed and visibly moist) in the 2nd super.
I looked liked they moved it up to me....
which I reasoned they wanted to stay out of the lower and use it as a buffer to the cold at the entrance.

I would appreciate your opinions on this huh
Paul


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MustbeeNuts
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2009, 06:15:34 PM »

Well there are a couple things to consider , one,  the bees cluster so if there is honey 4 supers above they may not be able to get to it, end reuslt they die anyway, even with lots of food. Now when I went into winter I pushed my bees, down into the three boxes from 5 I then filled in some honey down in the brood body. so they could get to it. just to be safe. I checked the other day and so far so good, but one thing I noticed a few bees in the hives that I left a couple extra supers  of honey that had moved up, were dead. I assume too cold . they had left the cluster. However below in the next box there were live bees in a cluster.  In a few weeks I am adding dry sugar just to make sure they make it the last few weeks till spring. Anyway thats my two cents as a newbie, this is my first winter. But so far thats what I have seen.
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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2009, 09:59:02 PM »


   I have use all mediums since 1986 ( 3 mediums for overwintering) not compares. Bee for I use 2 deeps 1957-1986 for overwintering .I live about 70 miles east of Boston MA. This is zone 5 on the plant chart. I use SBB which are open all the time. (SBB screened bottom board)
 

Just a couple of questions...
I have 2 hives and their overwintering w/5 mediums the 2 top supers are all honey.
The lower had some pollen stores and when they went down for winter all three mediums were packed w/bees.
Did I make a mistake in any way....what should I have done differently?

5 Mediums?  Thats more than they need and it is likely the bees will never use what's in that 5th box.  Bees will usually cluster in the top brood box.  If you have honey stores above those that have never had brood in the comb the cluster will stay below that level.  If you have at least 2, but 3 are better, days of warmer weather during winter the bees will break cluster enough for cleansing flights and moving honey stores from the outer reaches of the hive to the comb at the edge of the cluster.  If it stays too cold for too long and the bees don't break cluster for a few days at a time they will die of starvation still in cluster.

Quote
I have read some folks remove the lower super if its light so they have less to manage.
If the lower is empty what's to manage?

I try to make sure that all 3-4 medium boxes are full of pollen and honey stores and that each box has brood comb in it.  If it doesn't I rearrange things a bit after the final harvest.  If light by Oct 1 I will feed until I see the beginnings of burr comb.  The burr comb is an indicator that the combs are full and the bees are now filling in the nooks and crannies with the excess.  An empty lower does make a dead air insulation barrier but a slatted rack works as well and serves as a break room and fanning station during the summer.

Quote
This was my observation...the lower was packed w/pollen at one point in early fall then it was gone in a couple of weeks.
But there was lots of pollen (freshly packed and visibly moist) in the 2nd super.
I looked liked they moved it up to me....
which I reasoned they wanted to stay out of the lower and use it as a buffer to the cold at the entrance.

I would appreciate your opinions on this huh
Paul

The bees will cluster, as I stated previously, in the upper portion of the brood chamber.  From that location the bees will break cluster as weather permits and move the needed food supplies to where the cluster can make use of it.  People talk about the cluster moving up, but in reality the cluster stays stationary and the bees move the food supplies around.  Usually they start at the bottom and work up as evolution has taught them the dead bees fall to the bottom of the hive and if the honey at the bottom isn't used first it maybe unreachable by the time it is needed.

Another point, worth mentioning, is that a large cluster can have so many holdover forager bees from fall that their die off completely covers the bottom board to the point that the bees can get out.  This is one of the other reasons a small top vent/entrance can make a big difference on the survival of the hive.  Suffication can mimic starvation to the naked eye.
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2009, 10:39:02 AM »

5 Mediums?  Thats more than they need and it is likely the bees will never use what's in that 5th box.  Bees will usually cluster in the top brood box. 

Brian,
Thanks for taking the time to respond..great Info!
I just went out and put my ear on both hives and took a quick peek under the outer cover.
The east hive sounds like the cluster is in the 4th super (1st being lowest)
There are bees hanging from the ceiling of the outer cover through the center hole in the inner cover only.

The west however they are in the 5th super, at least that's were it's loudest.
What is really blowing my mind is, the space between the inner and the outer cover is "full" of bees!...and it's 10 flippin' deg's out!...no sun!!!
I couldn't get dry sugar to them if I wanted to.
Before winter.. in both hives they only had 3-4 frames of brood in the 3rd super and the "hum" of the cluster has been above that "all winter"....Yikes

We've had very cold temps and only 2 day's above 50 degs, one day in late Dec. it almost hit 70. The east hive came out in a giant pooping cloud!
But, it looked like the west hive had half the number coming out.

I'm thinking about drilling a upper entrance hole in the 3rd super so they don't have to travel so far to get out???
They sound strong still and the death rate has been reasonable....

I now know I made a mistake not consolidating them down for winter, but I know you folks will help me make the best of it,  embarassed

What do you think?

Quote
I try to make sure that all 3-4 medium boxes are full of pollen and honey stores and that each box has brood comb in it.  If it doesn't I rearrange things a bit after the final harvest.  If light by Oct 1 I will feed until I see the beginnings of burr comb.  The burr comb is an indicator that the combs are full and the bees are now filling in the nooks and crannies with the excess.  An empty lower does make a dead air insulation barrier but a slatted rack works as well and serves as a break room and fanning station during the summer.

That makes perfect sense to me.....I don't have a slatted rack I'm using a SBB.
I did not know why they created burr comb, but thanks to you I understand now  Smiley

Thanks,
Paul
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2009, 03:32:19 PM »

I use all 10 frame mediums for over wintering 3 boxes for overwintering

I try to make sure that all 3-4 medium boxes are full of pollen and honey stores and that each box has brood comb in it.  If it doesn't I rearrange things a bit after the final harvest.  If light by Oct 1 I will feed until I see the beginnings of burr comb.  The burr comb is an indicator that the combs are full and the bees are now filling in the nooks and crannies with the excess.  An empty lower does make a dead air insulation barrier but a slatted rack works as well and serves as a break room and fanning station during the summer.

 Can you see the upper entrance in the rim of the inner cover ?


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« Last Edit: January 31, 2009, 04:12:22 PM by Jim 134 » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2009, 07:57:26 PM »

I don't use an inner cover except as a feeding platform for the feeding buckets inside the hive when feeding internally.

I use a bottomless hive set on a slatted rack (also serves as mouse and varmit barrier) and for a top I use a reversable bottom board used upside down with entrance reduced installed.  This puts a one inch long vent/entrance at the top of the hive.  I have mite board ability built into the hive stands for use when monitoring mites, reducing the entrance, or starting new packages.  So far this winter I've had temps down to 8 F and have left the bottom completely open and the top entrance/vent unobstructed and still have a live cluster of bees in the hive.  Did the same thing last year and over wintered 5 of 5 hives and then lost 3 to starvation when we had a re-occurance of winter in Late March to Early May and the bees had dedicated all resources to brood development.  As a result I lost 3 of those 5 hives.  So when I say you can still lose hives due to starvation during the spring I speak from experience.
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2009, 03:49:51 AM »

  I use all telescoping covers and inner covers.




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