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?