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Author Topic: Optimum brood box size/structure  (Read 3796 times)
Ymbe
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« on: February 17, 2006, 01:26:19 AM »

I would like some opinions on the size and structure of brood boxes. No matter what the make/style the options seem to fall broadly into three categories where we are dealing with vertically expanding hives:

1. Overall surface area of the comb provided
2. How that surface area is presented to the bees - fewer bigger combs, more smaller combs - but I think there is little variation here
3. Number of chambers to which the queen is allowed access and which the beekeeper has to inspect

It is this final point I am most interested in...

What do you consider to be the main influences over your choices in these three areas?

Here in the UK, for example, on point 1./2. we have the choice of several types of hive with the following worker cell numbers/comb numbers:

National 50,000 / 11-12
WBC 45,000 / 10-11
Smith 50,000 / 11-12
Commercial 70,500 / 11-12
Langstroth 61,400 / 10
Dadant 85,000 / 11

(I think I have these figures in sq. ins somewhere if anyone would prefer)

The main reason for choosing a smaller number of combs is from a practical manipulation point of view - they are just easier to move.

Personally, I use commercials (on 11) because the larger brood area means fewer swarming considerations.

But, onto the final point...

There are other beekeepers use two National brood boxes (=100,000 cells) for their brood nest doubling up to provide space for expansion. Having a double brood box in this way opens up many options for colony manipulation and management for them, but can be seen by others an inconveniently complex.

It is really this final point I would like to explore: does anyone use a double box for brood - what does this enable you to do that you couldn't with a larger single box? Does it significantly increase your inspection time?
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derbeemeister
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2006, 10:48:35 AM »

> It is really this final point I would like to explore: does anyone use a double box for brood - what does this enable you to do that you couldn't with a larger single box? Does it significantly increase your inspection time?

In the USA the question is not whether to use one or two boxes for brood, but whether to use an excluder. Almost no one uses only one box for brood. I worked for a very large scale beekeeper in northern Calif who did and swore that one box with 9 frames was adequate. But he shook bees out of his hives all spring to sell, so they weren't really allowed to build up to swarming strength.

In southern Calif it is most common to run bees in deep boxes with no excluders, so brood can be in 2 or 3 stories. Finding a queen in a hive with no excluder is much more difficult, of course. The objective is to allow as much brood as possible, with the payoff being more honey.

Keeping the queen in two boxes makes the most sense to me. It is true that 9 or 10 frames are enough for the queen but so often the combs in the first box are clogged with pollen that she can't use them. And the bees need this pollen reserve, so I would go taking it out of there.

Hope this helps.
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Herve Abeille
Ymbe
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2006, 12:14:26 PM »

Thanks for the response, it raises some really interesting follow on questions. When we consider that there will be comparable climatic conditions to the UK somewhere in the USA with comparable cropping in some areas (e.g. Canola prevalence in some area just as we have here) it seems you are highlighting a difference in beekeeping approach. This immediately raises questions of efficiency and effectiveness.

Firstly:

>Almost no one uses only one box for brood.

It seems almost given in the UK to just use one box for brood - can you tell me what brood area we are talking about in your two boxes, is it for example, comparable to one of the larger single boxes in use here?

But perhaps this is regional, though I would expect, living in the South of the UK the two brood box method to be more prevalent here not less as build up is earlier and faster (UK members?)

Second:

>In the USA the question is not whether to use one or two boxes for brood, but whether to use an excluder.

Again, in the UK, at least in my region, it is a given that a queen excluder will be used on top of one box! From a practical point of view it would be great to hear how you deal with honey cropping - do you loose honey because of brood raising in the supers? How much is swarming discouraged by using unlimited brood space vs. confining if there is experience of both out there?

>Finding a queen in a hive with no excluder is much more difficult, of course. The objective is to allow as much brood as possible, with the payoff being more honey.

Absolutely - it must present significant challenges if you want to artificially swarm/make an increase/use a swarm discouragement measure. Where you have unlimited brood space what is the method used to discourage the swarming instinct when it is noticed?
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derbeemeister
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2006, 12:27:12 PM »

> It seems almost given in the UK to just use one box for brood - can you tell me what brood area we are talking about in your two boxes, is it for example, comparable to one of the larger single boxes in use here?

* Two standard US deeps provide more comb area than any single hive I can think of. This is more than enough, but it is the standard hive unit (called in US a "double".) supers are placed over this. Here is where there is variation. Some use excluders, some use medium or shallow supers. Some use all deeps with or without excluders.

> From a practical point of view it would be great to hear how you deal with honey cropping - do you loose honey because of brood raising in the supers? How much is swarming discouraged by using unlimited brood space vs. confining if there is experience of both out there?

The assumption is you get more honey. Sometimes the brood has to be put down, when the supers are taken off. Usually if there are a few brood frames up there are a few frames of honey lower down. When using medium or shallow supers, the queen is less apt to wander up. If brood is brought back to the shop by mistake, it is a simple matter to put it over a colony so it can hatch out.


>  it must present significant challenges if you want to artificially swarm/make an increase/use a swarm discouragement measure. Where you have unlimited brood space what is the method used to discourage the swarming instinct when it is noticed?

No, you make splits the regular way. Unlimited space IS the biggest deterrant to swarming. If they start to raise a lot of cells, pulling some or all of the brood to make increase is the only reliable way to save the hive. Cutting out queen cells is too time consuming to be practical and they are a symptom, not the cause.
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Herve Abeille
ian michael davison
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2006, 02:52:34 PM »

Hi all
Ymbe: I live in the south of England and i must say i know of very few beekeepers who operate on single brood chambers unless of course they use some of the jumbo designs or perhaps the commercial hives.
I see about 100 new beekeepers each year and most start off with the National hive and we get them started on double broods.
I would say that in the north of England there are some beekeepers with the original English bee Mellifera Mellifera that is known for its smaller colonies. This bee is seldom used by any serious commercial men although i know a guy in Scotland who does and has a very restricted following.
derbeemeister: The most common hive in the UK is the National a single brood chamber has a little over 50,000 cells. If a queen lays about 2,000 eggs a day in the peak of lay and 21 days from egg to emerging and allowing for wastage if my maths is right you need in excess of 70,000


Regards Ian
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2006, 03:28:36 PM »

2,000 eggs per day multiply by 21 days equals 42,000 cells

So 50,000 gives four days (8,000 cells) leeway for clean up and reuse.
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Finsky
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2006, 04:22:56 PM »

There is no optimun size for broodbox. At spring optimum is one box. At middle summer it is 2-3 box. And it depends what are your queens.

When I started 40 years ago straw hive was good enough for bees. And when optimum went over, bees swarmed. Hives are now 3-fold compared that time. Modern bee strain cannot live in grandfather,s hives.

Langstroth is flexible system. You may change hive all the time to optimum. Hives system is made for man, not for bees. You you make hive after bees's optimum, it is not handy to nurse.

You may use exluder to change the brood area.

Some use medium super as brood box (14 cm high) some use Langstroth and some use even 30 cm high brood boxes. And they all say that it is perfect (from their view)

http://outdoorplace.org/beekeeping/history1.htm

Bad beekeeping author visited in Hungary http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Beekeeping/chc_hun.htm

And in another places
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Beekeeping/
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ian michael davison
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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2006, 06:14:21 PM »

Hi all
Jerry: What about holes in the frames, honey and pollen storage plus your 8000 in clean up. The figures that I mentioned have been worked out by a beekeeper with many more years of experience than you or even me evil  but are of course open to variation. I'll try and find the break downs for you so you can convert it to small cell cheesy .
Ymbe: Many commercial beekeepers in the UK use double brood and quick inspections can be done by simply spliting the boxes. 95% of the time any hive intent on swarming will be constructing cells on the bottom edge of the top box.

Regards Ian
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2006, 06:46:54 PM »

I have one long Dadant deep hive (22 frames) a couple of 12 frame Langstroth deeps.  A double wide (22 frames) Langstrith deep.  Four long medium depth hives (33 6 1/4" frames).  A bunch of eight frame medium hives.  And I used to have a lot of ten frame medium hives.

I think the  mediums overwinter slightly better than the Dadant deeps and deeps but they all do ok.  The deeper frames seem to be more likely to get some little cluster stuck in some corner of the hive when the cluster contracts on a cold night.  I have considered poking a hole through the middle of the combs on the Dadant deep for better communication between the frames.

The horizontal hives do fine.  The vertical hives do fine.
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Ymbe
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2006, 02:03:19 AM »

Quote from: ian michael davison
Hi all
Ymbe: I live in the south of England and i must say i know of very few beekeepers who operate on single brood chambers unless of course they use some of the jumbo designs or perhaps the commercial hives.


You're not that far from me (I'm over near Wiltshire), but this isn't the first piece advice I've come across which changes over just a handful of miles between local associations/locales and somehow I doubt it'll be the last!
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Finsky
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2006, 02:49:28 AM »

Quote from: Michael Bush

I think the  mediums overwinter slightly better than the Dadant deeps and deeps but they all do ok.

The horizontal hives do fine.  The vertical hives do fine.


It is strange that you think over wintering troubles in your "deep south". Here on northern lines I cannot imagine your troubles connected to frame size. Things go here with routine.

Beekeepers put bees overwinter with those fixtures which they have and bees survive. It needs only learning how.

But what you don't care is insulation of hives . Insulation is good for winter and spring development.  They are really usefull matters.  When we have summer, bees do well in solid tree wall hives.

Would you answer, what is most important in the car
1) motor
2) front wheel
3) wheel valve

Some like that open mesh floor is good for wintering and I do not try it any more.

SO, what is problem you are going to solve or

do you have solution and you need problems?

 
Jerrymac lives in Texas. It is same level as North Africa. I live here and some gyus in England and they not even warm upp they houses.  Tongue  We have all the time 22 C temperature in human rooms.
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ian michael davison
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2006, 11:00:42 AM »

Hi all
Ymbe: If this is not the last bit of conflicting advice you get then I will eat my hat cheesy
Try and offer your services around and see if you can get involved with helping any local respected beekeepers, many associations also run courses. If you get to go and help you can pick up good comparisons between different methods and theorys as well as dare i say it how not to do certain things. evil  
Keep an open mind and try and sift through all the rubbish and i've been doing it this way since 1865 cheesy
Pay special attention to those that rely on bees for there living as they tend to remove a lot of the dross, after all the morgage depends on it.
You will soon start to develop your own methods and style, the amount of trial and error you do will depend on how involved you want to get. Above all take in the advice given but never take it as fact and try a few of your own ideas.


Good luck regards Ian
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amymcg
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2006, 06:54:04 PM »

Finsky -

22C = 71.6F

Most of us northern USA people are keeping our heat lower than that this year because of high oil costs.

My living room right now = 62F or 16.6C

I would love to have 22C right now.
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Ymbe
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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2006, 06:33:38 AM »

Quote from: ian michael davison
Hi all
Ymbe: If this is not the last bit of conflicting advice you get then I will eat my hat cheesy


Hi Ian, thanks for the advice - there are plenty of opinions around and no hesitation in sharing them, but this is surely one of the charms of beekeeping!

So far I have found beekeepers to be very open and friendly bunch: everyone has an opinion and that is expected and respected, even from a beginner (probably because many aspects of beekeeping are based on personal opinion) - it's not an exact science, making finding your own preferred techniques a challenge...ask me again in a decade!
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Jack Parr
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2006, 07:41:30 AM »

Quote from: Ymbe
Quote from: ian michael davison
Hi all
Ymbe: If this is not the last bit of conflicting advice you get then I will eat my hat cheesy


Hi Ian, thanks for the advice - there are plenty of opinions around and no hesitation in sharing them, but this is surely one of the charms of beekeeping!

So far I have found beekeepers to be very open and friendly bunch: everyone has an opinion and that is expected and respected, even from a beginner (probably because many aspects of beekeeping are based on personal opinion) - it's not an exact science, making finding your own preferred techniques a challenge...ask me again in a decade!


I don't see the conflicts.  Climatic conditions will dictate very much how you will keep bees IN YOUR area and that is what you have to learn, how YOUR bees will fare in your area.

I am very interested in Finsky's methods of his beekeeping methods and how he copes with his climatic conditions, 60 degree of lat,  but his methods don't apply very much here where I live around the 30 degree latitude mark in the Southern US. However his drumming on about "bee pastures"  is very important and in fact does apply to everyone keeping bees, so there is value there.

I read, consider everything that I read and then I look at my setups to see if anything applies to me and are my bees doing the same thing good or bad. Everyone has something to offer, good, or, bad or even percieved to be so. I am looking to avoid mistakes if I can.

I suppose that is the fascination.
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Finsky
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« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2006, 07:55:10 AM »

Quote from: Jack Parr
Finsky's methods ....  but his methods don't apply very much here


Why should they?

But I wonder how you have more problems with winter than we have here Tongue  Or perhaps they are beginners worries.
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Ymbe
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« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2006, 08:50:04 AM »

Jack: I agree that not all techniques will be appropriate to all climatic conditions - it is for the individual beekeeper to decide what is best for them (time, cost, skill) and what will deliver most effectively their duty of care to bees after weighing up the options. This is definitely the real challenge and certainly a major fascination aside from the bees.

Coming back to my original post on this topic - you do find that within the same climatic conditions a lot of variation in technique. That is, same climate, different technique: this is where the premise of same climate, same technique becomes a little hazy.

At first I thought it would be interesting to investigate this transcontinentally because of the differing beekeeping histories and equipment developments (bee houses in Slovenia for example) but, following Ian's comments discover that I don't really need to do this as considerable variation is present on my very doorstep (really this should not come as a surprise)!

Just as there are many routes to the top of the same mountain, there are many routes to getting hive products from your bees - it is the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the route that is the interest here. As you say, it is a matter of weighing each on merit and asking whether or not this applies under your conditions.
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Ymbe
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« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2006, 08:55:13 AM »

Quote from: Finsky
Quote from: Jack Parr
Finsky's methods ....  but his methods don't apply very much here


Why should they?

But I wonder how you have more problems with winter than we have here Tongue  Or perhaps they are beginners worries.


Beekeepers local to me have found that in some cases their colonies have carried brood over winter this year contributing to pest maintenance in what would have normally been a brood free period (although 'normal' does seem to be changing with the mild winters we have had recently). Perhaps this is contributing to the winter issues in more southerly climes which are not present further north?
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