>I am also in the process of standardizing equipment. We run about 25 hives and I have all 3 sizes. I run 2 deep brood boxes. (makes it easier to do splits and usually keeps the queen out of the supers laying brood)
I'm not sure I see the logic here. I run all mediums including the brood chamber. It's much easier to manage than deeps. Easier to make splits because you have smaller unites to deal with to get what you need to make a split. Easier to keep the queen out of the supers because I dont' have any distinction (no exluder and all the same size) between a super and a brood chamber. I don't care. If she lays some brood in the "supers" it's just another box with frames to me. I can move that comb down, if I think I need to or leave it where it is.
>I still have some shallow supers that I am using but only buying medium supers now. When the shallows wear/rot out.
You can also add to the bottom of a shallow and turn it into a medium. It's not difficult. But the frames are more difficult. I cut all my deeps down and the frames aren't hard do cut down (converting deeps to mediums). But they are hard to add on to (converting shallows to mediums).
>I am thinking of standardizing on medium supers for everything other than brood chambers.
I'd standardize on them for everything (I already did), but the less different sizes the easier your life will be. Of course if you use ALL the same size then you can steal honey out of supers to give to weak hives for winter stores... etc.
>Since I am starting out, I thought it would be easiest to provide unwired foundation and then - if I have a harvest - use a cutter to cut squares of comb, crush comb, and otherwise extract as possible. Am I right in thinking this means unwired foundation?
I know some people who use plastic and then cut the comb off of it. I think it's much easier to use no foundation at all or starter strips or a comb guide, but if you want to use foundation, I'd get some 7/11 from Walter T. Kelly. The queen won't like to lay in it. It's unwired so you can do cut comb or crush and strain.
Just remember when using any unwired foundation (and surplus is thinner so it's worse) you have to put it in just before you give it to the bees and you have to give it to the bees on a flow, or the foundation will buckle. Heat and time are the two factors. The hotter it is the more it buckles. The longer it's in the more it buckles. It will all buckle eventually. So don't put it in ahead of time. Put it in just before you add the supers.
Which brings me back to foundationless frames where I don't have to worry about it buckling. www.bushfarms.com