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Author Topic: Pros/Cons of Using Medium Supers For Hive Bodies  (Read 7325 times)
ndvan
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« on: November 07, 2006, 08:58:29 AM »

I am thinking of getting 2 hives for my city lot.  I have read several sources that suggest using 8 frame hives that are as deep as medium super boxes.  The idea is that the smaller hives are more manageable and easier to lift and not so big.  I am probably going to buy some hardware from a local guy, and he sells 10 frame equipment, but I was considering going with 10 frame medium supers for my hive bodies.

Here are my questions:

1.  Generally, is this a good/bad idea?  Most people use deep boxes for brood.  Why?

2.  How many medium supers would I need to first start the hive and how many would constitute the brood nest of an established hive?

3.  How many of these boxes would generally be stacked on each other during the honey flow period on an established hive?

4.  How many would I want to reduce down to for winter?  Or do the bees determine that for me?

5.  Does this system make it more difficult to rearrange hive bodies to address swarming?  As I understand it, you do not want to rearrange the hive bodies in a way that splits the brood nest area.  It seems that having smaller boxes increases the chances that the brood nest is in two or more boxes?

6.  On average do hives with deep boxes for brood nests make more honey or does it affect honey production much?

7.  If I want to start out with nucs, will I be able to find any that fit in a medium super?  If not, will I need to by package bees with a queen or catch a swarm?

Thanks for your advice.  Also, thanks for the input in response to my "Residential Beehive Placement" questions. 

ndvan

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Scadsobees
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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2006, 12:46:36 PM »

>>1.  Generally, is this a good/bad idea?  Most people use deep boxes for brood.  Why?
Good idea, conformity in equipment, lighter to move/carry.  I use deeps because it is a little cheaper (only need to buy 2 instead of 3), I don't move brood boxes much, and have ample equipment.  There is some debate about more gaps, unbroken brood, etc, but that isn't really an big issue.

>>2.  How many medium supers would I need to first start the hive and how many would constitute the brood nest of an established hive?
Three would be "standard", equal to 2 deeps for the brood nest.

>>3.  How many of these boxes would generally be stacked on each other during the honey flow period on an established hive?
Depends on how often you harvest.  Plan on at least 3 for the brood nest, 3 for the honey supers.

>>4.  How many would I want to reduce down to for winter?  Or do the bees determine that for me?
That depends on your weather, but at least 3.  80-120lbs of honey.

>>5.  Does this system make it more difficult to rearrange hive bodies to address swarming?  As I understand it, you do not want to rearrange the hive bodies in a way that splits the brood nest area.  It seems that having smaller boxes increases the chances that the brood nest is in two or more boxes?
The brood nest can be split no matter what size box, I'd almost think it easier not to split the brood nest with 3 medium, the spaces in between boxes not withstanding.

>>6.  On average do hives with deep boxes for brood nests make more honey or does it affect honey production much?
No, honey production is more affected by weather, forage, health of the hive and management techniques.

>>7.  If I want to start out with nucs, will I be able to find any that fit in a medium super?  If not, will I need to by package bees with a queen or catch a swarm?
That depends on the nuc provider, I'd imagine that they might be able to work something out with you.  Package bees and swarms are good ways to go, though.  Contact some smaller exterminator companies and ask them to call you if they get swarms.

-rick
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Rick
kensfarm
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2006, 01:04:36 PM »

I'm a new beek this year.. and use all Med. Supers..  I took the advice(this has also been stated by others here) from the beeks that sold me my first nucs. 

1.  I think it's a great Idea..  exchangeability..  move frames from anywhere(honey,brood,pollen).. to where they are needed.. from one hive to another.. from strong hives to nucs.  Less weight to pick up by section. 

2.  Only need one to start..  but order in quantities that give you a reduced price. 

3. I ended the season w/ each hive consisting of 5 Med. supers.. brood area in the first 3. 
(3 Med. Supers = a little more then 2 Hive Bodies). 

4. I pushed my 2 orig. nucs down into 3.. a late nuc(July) I started is in 2.

5. I'd say no..  but I haven't had to do the spring hivebody(whatever size you're using)switch.  A lot of answers will depend on the situations.. weather.. strength of hive.. etc.. and.. your observations of the hive at the time you are performing work.

I actually put my 3rd Med Super(just foundation) in-between the (#1/#3/#2) the Med. Supers when the bee's had the frames mostly filled on #1/#2.(Being a new Beek.. new foundation is all I have)  The bee's finished raising the brood in the #2.. then filled in w/ honey.  Was this the correct way.. no from what I've read.. but the spring flow was on.. and they rapidly filled out the foundation on #3 and started brood in that new Med. Super.  If the hive has the # of bees needed to keep the brood warm when seperated apart.. the brood should be okay. 

6.  I haven't read anything..  most beeks say.. give the bee's all the brood room they want.  I have read a hive of 200,000 bee's will/can produce more then twice the amount of honey then 2 hives having 100,000 bee's.  More bee's.. more honey. 

7.  Yes..  I did from 2 different sources.. call/email ahead of time and ask.

Good luck.. 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2006, 07:53:54 PM »

>1.  Generally, is this a good/bad idea?  Most people use deep boxes for brood.  Why?

Because it's what the books recommend and it's what comes in the beginner's kits.  Remember, when they were "invented" feed came in 100 pound sacks and 35 gallon barrels were unheard of because everything came in 50 gallon barrels.  A full deep weighs 90 pounds.  A full medium weighs 60 pounds.  A full eight frame medium weighs 48 pounds.  Mine are all eight frame mediums.

Standardization is wonderful:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#uniformframesize

Ligher boxes are wonderful:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#lighterboxes
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeseightframemedium.htm

>2.  How many medium supers would I need to first start the hive and how many would constitute the brood nest of an established hive?

3 mediums = 2 deeps.  4-8frame mediums = 2 deeps. Here a brood nest for a hive would be 2 deeps or 3 mediums or 4-8 frame mediums.

I would make sure you always have a couple of empty boxes with frames.   You might need to super more and you might need to catch a swarm.  When you use those, buy some more.  No one can predict how many boxes you might need, but you'll most likely need at LEAST five for each hive total.

>3.  How many of these boxes would generally be stacked on each other during the honey flow period on an established hive?

How ever many you need.  Sometimes you have to harvest early because you can't reach the top box anymore.  Sometimes you don't get past four or five.

>4.  How many would I want to reduce down to for winter?  Or do the bees determine that for me?

I go with the bees.  Some of mine are five 8-frame mediums.  Some are four, some are three and some are two.

>5.  Does this system make it more difficult to rearrange hive bodies to address swarming?

No.  It makes it MUCH easier.

> As I understand it, you do not want to rearrange the hive bodies in a way that splits the brood nest area.

I agree, but actually MOST people PURPOSELY split the brood area to prevent swarming.  Also called swapping brood boxes.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#stopswitching

>  It seems that having smaller boxes increases the chances that the brood nest is in two or more boxes?

Actually it's LESS likely because you have more choices where to split anything with smaller boxes.  With deeps you have less choices where top split anything.

>6.  On average do hives with deep boxes for brood nests make more honey or does it affect honey production much?

No.

>7.  If I want to start out with nucs, will I be able to find any that fit in a medium super?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

>  If not, will I need to by package bees with a queen or catch a swarm?

Or put a deep on the bottom or even put a deep nuc on top of a medium box with a board on the side to cover the gap and let them move down into the medium.  You can always do a cutout to get from one size to another but I'd just buy the package.

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Michael Bush
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My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Zoot
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2006, 09:12:20 PM »

I got back into beekeeping this year and am using 8 frame mediums. I concur with all of the above - I'd never do it any other way now. My intitial reason was to make things easier for my son to actively participate but I'm quite content with the system.

MB is correct on all points as far as this season has played out for us; I am wintering 2 hives, one in 4 boxes, one in 3. At the peak of the early summer flow here those hives consisted of 7 boxes and 5 respectively. Had to use a small ladder.

In comparison to past experience I think that a somewhat more attentive management regimen is required but the numerous advantages outweigh that many times over.

When it comes to nucs, if you have local suppliers, they will sometimes be willing to accept your boxes to start nucs in. Good luck!
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2006, 10:12:13 PM »

I, like MB, use 8 frame mediums exclusively.  All of his points are valid.
If you want to obtain medium deep nucs visit Bushy Mountain.  I try to make most of my on equipment but occasionally buy some because of nire need or to examine a piece of equipment in order to modify it to a specific use or as a template for making more.

If you go with medium depth boxes you will always be glad you did--especially if you ever have to help someone who has all deeps. 

My standard hive make up is 4 medium 8 frames--I consider that the basic hive.  Mid-summer swarms might be wintered in 2 boxes, others 3, 4, or even 5 boxes depending on the volume of bees and the brood nests within them.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2006, 07:38:34 PM »

>If you go with medium depth boxes you will always be glad you did--especially if you ever have to help someone who has all deeps.

I've had that reminder a few times.  You think to yourself "why would anyone do this to themselves?"
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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