>I will be putting out my first hive this spring. I have purchased a large super for my brood chamber.
Large? Deep? 9 5/8"? You'll probably need two deeps to make a healthy brood chamber, but I would have prefered three mediums, because the deeps are way too heavy. But it's not a super. Super is latin and means "above" but in beekeeping it generally refers to somewhere you expect bees to put honey, not somewhere you expect them to put brood. Try just calling them boxes if we are talking in general terms.
>Minus bottom, top boards, covers etc.. How many supers will I need.
Some hives take off and really fill a lot of boxes. Some go at a medium pace. Some barely get started. Some die. You don't want to run out. I figure whatever the brood chamber is (which I would make three mediums) plus four supers (which I would also make mediums) to make up a booming hive in a good year. Once in a while you'll run over that, but seldom. Usually you won't need that, but what if you do? What if they swarm? Where will you hive a swarm? You really need an extra bottom and top besides.
>I was thinking maybe a large brood super (The one I purchased above) and maybe 2 foundationless and framed medium supers.
The generally will fill a little more than a deep with brood, so I'd want two deeps (if you really insist on deeps). Then I'd go with mediums for supers. What exactly do you mean by "foundationless and framed"? If you want to not use foundation you will need to do one of several things. Either a guide (a triangular piece on the bottom of the top bar or a piece of wood in the groove) or a starter strip (a piece of foundation cut about 3/4" wide).
>I am sure the bees will use the large (bottom) super for brood, and maybe draw out comb in the mediums (placed 1 at a time as needed) use the first added super for brood (if needed) or for honey storage (if not needed for brood).
The bees will make the brood chamber where ever they decide within the space you give them. If you give them a deep and a medium on top when you put the package in, I'll bet they'll put the brood in the top box. If you put them in just the bottom box, they will put it in the bottom box and then when you add the medium on top they will spill the brood chamber over into that too.
>Once the second super is nearly drawn, place the third medium on top with foundationless frames. What really dictates how many brood supers are needed?
How prolific the queen is and whether the bees decide to move up or out.
>I know the number of bees does, but from what I see on the internet and in books is that, 2 large supers are usually needed for brood. Can I use a medium on a large?
You can. But then the frames aren't interchanable between the top and bottom boxes.
> Will I need 2 brood supers?
> I guess the question is this, on average, how many supers will the average beehive need during a year?
Besides the brood nest, probably four. Maybe more.
> My goal is to prevent swarming, but since I will be "small scale" i will have no extractor for honey. I only really plan to "pinch off" what I need from the bees. 3 - 5 pounds per year. So, fondationless frames are what I really want in the honey supers, just to see the bees draw out wax comb, and be able to crush up some comb on occassion for the occassional honey need.
If you check and harvest often you might get by with two. One you're harvesting and one they are drawing.
>Any flaws in going foundationless with all but the large bottom super?
As long as you have some kind of guide and you keep an eye on them to make sure they don't get off. Once they get off they stay off. So if one comb is really curved and spans two frames, all the rest will too. If you catch this early you can straighten it or pull it out and harvest it.
But the brood nest is where foundationless pays the most. Because there you'll get natural cell size and Varroa control. It's also where they are the least likely to mess it up. They like to make honey storage thicker (and more inconsistant) than brood comb. Brood comb is very consistent in thickness. Pretty much an inch thick all the time. Honey comb varies from 1/2" thick to 3" thick with 1 1/2" or so the most common.