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Author Topic: How many boxes...?  (Read 482 times)
Variable
House Bee
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« on: January 06, 2014, 10:06:47 PM »

As I get ready to start my hives this spring I have have a nagging thought in the back of my mind on the number of hive bodies I will need.

My question to all of you is how many medium boxes do I need for each colony?  I plan on running all 10 frame mediums. I know that 3 mediums are about equal to 2 deeps. So right there I need 3 (best case) per colony. How many (best case) do I need for honey. I do not want to be "short" when and if I need them. As my wife will only let me have 2 hives (for now) I planed on 10 boxes total but keep thinking I may need 12 total (best case) 3 for brood and up to 3 for honey.... Set me straight... What am I missing?

For those who are not aware I live about 40 miles south east of Seattle. It is colder here in the winter and warmer in the summer (than Seattle) being closer to the mountains and away from The Puget Sound. It is wet and damp a lot of the year.

Thanks!
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WA Apiary ID WA14-077
3 Langstroth Medium hives, 1 nuc.
See data on one hive at http://twolittleladiesapiary.com/hivedata.php
https://www.facebook.com/twolittleladiesapiary
sawdstmakr
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 10:20:19 PM »

If you are buying packages, you will have some great bees if you can fill 5 mediums the first year. It really depends on the flow and the bees.
If this were existing hives, I would have at least 7 medium boxes per hive ready. One way to use less is to extract the honey several times during the year. This also reduces swarming. When a hive gets too large, the sees are not able to spread the queen pheromone to the upper portions of the hive.
Jim
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Moots
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 10:24:08 PM »

Variable,
It's a great question, unfortunately...there's no way to know the answer.   laugh

It's like asking how much money will I need for retirement, I don't know, but I know the more i have....the better.  grin

It's better to have them and not need them, then need them and not have them.  Smiley

That being said...
Do you plan on harvesting honey multiple times, or are you hoping to do one harvest.    If you're going for one harvest, and conditions are right, and your bees boom....I could see you stacking on 5 or more supers on each hive.  Not necessarily likely, but possible!
If you don't mind doing multiple extractions, have a couple of supers for each hive, when they finish capping one, pull it, extract it, and get it back on the hive.  This could even be done with a few frames at a time.  Personally, I think it would be a pain, but it can be done, and I'm sure some do it that way.

Another issue to consider....I know your wife says she's limiting you to 2 hives.  But, if both hives are booming and you walk out and check them one day and find half of one of your hives sitting in a clump on a low hanging limb 20 feet from your hive because they've swarmed.  What are you going to do?  Are you really going to just let them fly away, or do you want to grab a hive box and get them hived.  You have to have the equipment to deal with that....It will happen at some point.  

You might decide to keep them, you might sell them, you might give them away, you might eventually combine them with a weak hive.....But you have to have the equipment to deal with them at that moment.

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Joe D
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2014, 01:02:39 AM »

Really there are numerous variables.  How good your bees do, work and make it.  Five could bee plenty for each hive.  Also depends on the flow where your bees will be.  A couple of years ago I had five hives and got 18 gal of honey, first I had harvested.  A friend had ten hives, he moved his to a place that had a lot of popcorn trees
and got 165 gal.  Mine was spring and summer extraction and his was just the popcorn flow. 
So I would agree with Jim and Moots.  And you will want some for those swarms, unless there is no room for anymore hives.  you can't stand there and watch em fly away.  I can extract at any time, I have double deeps for brood chamber, no excluder, and usually have two or three supers per hive.  I also have a dozen or more boxs ready to go.  Good luck


Joe
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2014, 01:17:49 AM »

Sawdstmakr, Moots and JoeD,
Thank you. I am hearing 5-8 per colony . About what I was thinking for a good year. I know that I probably will not see a drop for me this year and that is ok. I am not doing this for the honey... My math so far is 2 deeps plus 2-3 supers.... that makes 5-6 mediums. I am building now for 5 but will probably build 2 more for each hive based on what I am thinking and hearing. That would give me 7 mediums max per hive before I had to extract or put on a non matching super (it would fit but would look funny)

To answer your other questions.

Harvest(s)?
I would like to do just one at the end of the season. Leaving enough for the bees for winter of course.

Swarm? I will put them in a 5 frame medium nuc box(s) and will keep a few in reserve and sell any extra next spring. (I know I am probably just dreaming) Maybe I can make back a few of the dollars I have spent.... I should have been more clear. My wife will only let me keep two full size hives. I can get away with a few nucs as long as I keep it to a minimum. We have talked about the need for backup bees and one of her friends is looking to get into bees in spring 2015 (they just moved to a house out in the country) maybe I can sell or give it to them... I may be able to have a full hive ready for a large swarm but it will not be one of my custom hives.... too time consuming and expensive to sell or give away with some bees and I would have to get rid of it right away.

I do plan on having a few extra boxes but because I am building insulated boxes for my 2 main hives I want to make sure I build enough so it is all the same size when stacked. Again I am looking at best case and not a minimum. Heck I saw some blog where a guy was up on a ladder and had probably 15 boxes stacked.... I do not think I will ever see that, and I do not think I would want to manage that pile of boxes!!!

On a side note: The insulation finally arrived today!!! (I will be doing a long post on that build when I am done  evil ) I am glad I did not build the boxes based on the specs of the product. It is closer to 13mm not 10mm unless you compress it. Compressing it would have been a pain as the blanket is a little stiffer than I thought it would be. Now I can cut the trim to fir out the box and then measure and cut the outer box. I have everything to build 10 boxes and 2 tops/bottoms this way.

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I want to beelieve.
WA Apiary ID WA14-077
3 Langstroth Medium hives, 1 nuc.
See data on one hive at http://twolittleladiesapiary.com/hivedata.php
https://www.facebook.com/twolittleladiesapiary
Moots
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2014, 11:15:35 AM »

Variable,
Sounds like you've given it a lot of thought and have a good game plan.

Not to complicate things for you Sad, but one thing to consider...If you haven't already. There's probably no need for your honey supers, or at least certainly not all of them, to have to be insulated since the majority of them won't be on in the winter months. 
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"We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
                                                                                                                   - Ronald Reagan
sterling
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2014, 11:24:25 AM »

It's kinda like ordering a pizza. Do I want a medium or large pizza. And I would rather have a piece left over as to still be hungry when it's all been eaten. Or need a box and not have one. A five frame nuc is not always big enough hold a swarm.
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stella
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2014, 11:32:59 AM »

I started 2 packages last spring in 10 frame mediums. They took off like crazy. I had 4 mediums allocated for each hive. I needed more and eventually had to improvise with some deeps on top to give them room.
If you plan on feeding sugar syrup out of a chicken waterer, you need to allow 2 stacked empty mediums to accommodate it.
If you get a bumper honey crop year, like I did off first year packages, you will be forced to pull and extract frames as necessary if you only allow 4 mediums.
My advice would be to plan 6 mediums per hive. Then another hive on the side for expansion.
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mikecva
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2014, 11:59:56 AM »

In your planing do not forget your bottom boards, hive covers, landing boards (if you use them), feeders, etc.
The first year you might not get much honey (if any) for yourself. I have seen pictures of the White House hive with its 8 or 9 boxes. To me that is absurd  but it makes interesting PR. I have had bad weather here and only get two honey supers and one Ross Round super per hive. Usually I get 2-4 honey supers and two RRs so in your case I would not go crazy, maybe 15 mediums 16 at most unless you have easy access to an extractor to do more then one extraction.   -Mike
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