Monday I set up the split off of my survivor hive (Russian, Caniolan, & Italian Cross)into a 3 tier medium nuc which is the configuration it will overwinter in. Three 5 frame brood boxes that will be expanded in March 2014 into 3 medium 8 frame brood boxes. I will take the B B B B B frames from each nuc box and transfer them into the 8 frame box in a B F B F B B F B, where B=Brood frame and F=foundation frame, so that each F frame gets drawn out as a brood frame. Once the frames are fairly well along and have brood in the new frames I will pull one or two frames from each of the 3 brood chambers to make a fourth one using the same B F B F B B F B configuration in all 4 brood boxes. 4 medium brood boxes is my standard overwinter setup and is called an unlimited brood chamber because it is larger than the standard 2 deep, or equivalent, brood chamber.
I should note that my survivor hive (so called because it has survived every disaster it has encountered over the last 10 years including spending a week broken apart in the snow) at one point this summer it had 7 medium brood boxes and only one queen. That is 56 frames of brood. That was at the 1st week in June, since then it has slowly begun to decrease the brood chambers from the top down, backfilling each box with honey as it does so. Monday I harvested 3 supers of honey after re-configuring my survivor hive and 2 NW Carniolan hives into the 4 medium brood chambers for over wintering and setting up the nuc. I dropped all brood frames down into the 4 boxes and also replaced any frames without brood with frames of honey while consolidating into the overwinter setup.
If you want to take a 2 tier deep brood box and convert it into a 3 tier brood chamber do the following:
1. Take one deep super of foundation or drawn combs to the hive.
2. From each of the 2 existing brood boxes remove 2 frames of brood and replace them with frames from the 3rd box so frames 3 & 8 in a 10 frame or 3 & 6 in an 8 frame are the new frames. These frames will be drawn out and used as brood frames.
3. Setup the 3rd brood chamber so that it is configured F F B F B B F B F F so that frames 2, 4, 7, & 9 are drawn out. then rotate frames 1 & 10 into the 4 & 6 location, moving all but the 2 center frames outward.
4. If medium boxes are used the same manipulations can be done to increase to 4 medium brood boxes.
This late in the year it might be necessary to feed some simple syrup to get the frames drawn and maybe not all of the new frames will have brood this year, but next year you will a 3 tier brood box that will build super fast, stay strong, and produce lots of honey.
More Bees make more honey.