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Author Topic: Which would you prefer: smaller frames/more boxes, or larger frames/fewer boxes?  (Read 486 times)
ugcheleuce
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« on: December 23, 2013, 08:05:55 AM »

Hello everyone

If sharing frames with other beekeepers was not an issue and frame availability was not an issue, which of the following two situations would you have preferred:

Option 1: A hive whose brood nest consists of two standard brood boxes on top of each other.
Option 2: A hive whose brood nest consists one single brood box that is the same size as two standard brood boxes, using frames that are twice as big as standard brood frames.

I realise that beekeepers in the UK and US also often use jumbo sized boxes, but my question to you would be the same: would you prefer two separate boxes or would you prefer a single "double storey" sized box with matching frame size?

A single, larger brood box would have the advantage that you only need to check half as many frames during inspections and manipulations.  Two boxes, however, make it possible to manipulate the hive by switching the boxes around (is that a common thing to do?).  Two boxes also make transporting the hive easier if you can't carry heavy weights, although a single box might also be easier to transport since you don't have to worry about the brood nest separating.

Are there any other advantages/disadvantages to either of these options that you think is useful to know, for a new beekeeper who wants to decide which option to use?

Thanks
Samuel
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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2013, 08:11:51 AM »

I guess the question is are you asking from a usability perspective or the bees preference?

If you are talking usability, then it come down to how much weight you are comfortable lifting.  Most people prefer less weight, but as you stated,  more frames equates to longer inspections.

If you are talking about the bee's preference,  then it is one large brood nest.   I have never seen a feral colony intentionally break up a brood nest. 
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derekm
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« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2013, 08:38:18 AM »

I guess the question is are you asking from a usability perspective or the bees preference?...
My guess is The bees would go for a few very tall narrow frames... Smiley
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ugcheleuce
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« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2013, 09:12:05 AM »

I guess the question is are you asking from a usability perspective or the bees preference?

I think my question relates more to a beekeeper's perspective.  It is very difficult to determine what the bees want.  I can't imagine the drones telling the workers "Hey, girls, the other hives in this apiary are so much better than this one, you ought to down tools!".  The bees will make do with what they have.

Quote
If you are talking usability, then it come down to how much weight you are comfortable lifting.  Most people prefer less weight, but as you stated, more frames equates to longer inspections.

True, frame weight would be one thing.  It would mean that one can't wave the frame about like a smaller frame, and would have to inspect it while holding it diagonally, or by hanging it off a frame holder.  The time saved on inspections would be useful to me personally and I won't be working with hundreds of hives, so the weight issue ought to be okay.

But do you mean to say that you would personally not be bothered by the fact that you can't manipulate the brood nest by e.g. switching brood boxes around, or by e.g. adding a super or another brood box inbetween two existing brood boxes, to encourage the bees to increase the brood nest size?

Quote
If you are talking about the bee's preference, then it is one large brood nest.  I have never seen a feral colony intentionally break up a brood nest.

Yes, although I can't help but wonder whether a "hole" in the middle of the brood nest isn't useful for the queen, to get to more frames quickly, thereby having the possibility to increase the amount of brood quicker (this would be for the beekeeper's benefit).

Samuel
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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2013, 10:01:53 AM »

But do you mean to say that you would personally not be bothered by the fact that you can't manipulate the brood nest by e.g. switching brood boxes around, or by e.g. adding a super or another brood box inbetween two existing brood boxes, to encourage the bees to increase the brood nest size?


I would not be bothered by it at all.  I ran a double deep hive and never found a need to split it to give them more room.   As long as you don't let them get honey bound, they will be fine.
http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/beekeeping/double-deep-frames/
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BlueBee
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2013, 12:14:22 PM »

I can’t think of ANY good reason to use small frames for brood.  More work for the bee keepers and the bees build up much bigger colonies on my jumbo frames than on small frames.  That said, you still want to be reasonable; if the frames get too huge they do become a bit stressful on your fingers when inspecting.  My jumbo frames have 10,000 cells each.  A 10 frame box has a cell capacity of 100,000.  That is a capacity for a LOT of brood; maybe even more than you want! 

Personally I think about 10,000 cells per frame is a good number, I wouldn’t go any bigger as the frames do become heavy.  You can vary the number of frames in a box as a function of how prolific your queens are.  I have some jumbo boxes that use 12 frames.  Not all queens are that prolific though. 

The queen doesn’t need any holes in the nest to go from frame to frame.   She simply crawls over the top, sides, or bottom when she’s filled up a frame and ready for the next one. 
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edward
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2013, 12:45:49 PM »

A single, larger brood box would have the advantage that you only need to check half as many frames during inspections and manipulations.  Two boxes, however, make it possible to manipulate the hive by switching the boxes around (is that a common thing to do?).  Two boxes also make transporting the hive easier if you can't carry heavy weights, although a single box might also be easier to transport since you don't have to worry about the brood nest separating.

One large box makes it easier to look through the hive.

Yes it can make the bees expand faster in the spring by switching the boxes, but you can achieve the same result by putting empty frames in the brood nest to expand the brood nest size. A horizontal switch insted of a vertical two box switch.
You can also put a frame of uncapped honey/sugar in the middle of the brood nest, the bees will not want food there and they will move it, this can stimulate the hive in the spring when an abundance of food is circulated in the hive. (if you do this late in the season it will have the opposite effect and shrink the size of the brood nest)

A broodbox is normally filled with brood, the brood don't weigh that much and are easy to lift.


mvh Edward  tongue
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Vance G
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2013, 03:29:08 PM »

If I was a young and well built youngster I guess the large equipment would be my first choice.  My norm has always been two 9 5/8 inch ten frame boxes.  I seldom reverse them as I have feed on top and bees normally build down I believe.  I think reversing got popular because it made sense when cleaning out the dead in the bottom box in spring.  Just set the upper on a clean bottom board and clean out the winters dead and debris and put that box on top.  Mostly just done for our convenience and probably harms the bees more than helping anyway. 

I am experimenting with 6 5/8" for brood boxes but that is just because beekeepers are inveterate tinkers.  I question whether the bees really care or are all that much affected after they settle down from us disturbing their brood nest and are able to re rationalize it.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2013, 07:39:03 PM »

>I can’t think of ANY good reason to use small frames for brood.

I can't think of any good reason not to.  I can scan a medium frame from left to right, flip it, left to right and be pretty sure there is no queen.  A deep takes me about three or four times around because I can't see all of it clearly enough from top to bottom and the queen might have moved while I was scanning.  I really didn't notice how much easier it was until I spent a day helping a friend find queens on his deeps.  I MUCH prefer to find queens on my mediums.  It's much faster and besides, I seldom find queens.  I manage my hives mostly by the box and seldom even pull frames out.  I cannot manage them by the box in deeps.  I also can't lift a deep full of honey and no matter what anyone says, they are sometimes full of honey and you don't really know that until you've already hurt yourself finding out.  I very much like all the same size frames.  Life is SO much simpler.  I kept bees in deeps and shallows for 27 years or so.  I kept them in 10 frame mediums for a couple of years and now I've converted them all to 8 frame mediums.  I have never regretted it.  I have decades of deeps to compare it to...
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Michael Bush
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BlueBee
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« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2013, 12:26:41 AM »

It hasn’t taken me decades to realize bigger is better. Smiley  Dadant realized that 100 years ago, Brother Adam 75 years ago.  I don’t move my jumbos, so the weight is not an issue.  How many hobbyist beeks move their hives around on a frequent basis?   Is weight really an issue?  If I was commercial, I would invest in machinery to move hives, be it jumbos or all mediums.  One Jumbo or a stack of 4 medium boxes is still a back breaker. 

Personally I DREAD breaking apart a hive with a bunch of medium boxes.  My bees don’t like their boxes broken apart and they let me know it. Sad
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2013, 08:54:35 PM »

>Personally I DREAD breaking apart a hive with a bunch of medium boxes.  My bees don’t like their boxes broken apart and they let me know it.

Going through frames is what upsets them.  When I split by the box I don't pull a single frame...
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Michael Bush
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