Which one to go for?
Which one to go for?
Warre, top bar or skep.
An alternative is the 'Commercial' (aka 16X10) hive which is interchangeable but has a larger brood area (with correspondingly larger frames) than the standard National. A further advantage is that it has short lugged frames rather than the silly long lugs which the National offers. I often hear British beekeepers dismiss short lugged frames because they're 'difficult' to manipulate. This is not because the average British beekeeper has huge hands compared to beekeepers in the rest of the world but simply due to conditioning; they start with long lugs and allow themselves to become blinkered to anything else. You could initially start with a BS nucleus and then at a later date let them move into the 16X10 box, you'll then be left with a National deep to use as a super so long as lifting heavy boxes isn't an issue although even here, on a small scale there are ways around that problem. A further combination is to use National broods and Commercial supers (16X6), quite a nice combination.
That said, the option of Langstroth is one you should seriously consider if you're planning on staying the course with bees. It's commonly available as a competively priced high density polystyrene unit in the UK but be careful to do a lot of research before tying yourself into a specific manufacturer (especially those which offer stand alone designs with inter-locking boxes that are basically going to make your life difficult if you ever need to mix and match with gear from other sources).
As for the modified dadant (I'm now on 'home turf') it's a good hive but as I've written before I'm now questioning the way I use them. The benefit of the dadant is in the fact that it's a single brood chamber hive due to the depth of its frames but I'm now finding that better results are coming from giving the queen access to more than one box -I've still not reached a conclusive management regime but have more ideas to try this year. Also, there's the cost, a single, new flat pack md hive with frames will set you back somewhere in the region of £300 ($480 US) and you'll find it very difficult to source cheap secondhand boxes (especially if I hear of them first!). I also have some over-sized National type boxes (that take 13 BS combs) which are interchangeable with the md but now we're leaving the realms of sanity...
I have nver had National hives. I h ave had something that resembles them (DE Hives). My main reason for moving away from them was standardization and availability of things.
After many years of running National hives, Brother Adam changed to Dadant hives and was much happier with that. But I think some of that comes back to how much you limit the queen more than how big a box is. If you limit the queen to one National deep I don't think you will be very productive. If you let her work two or three, I doubt your production would be much different between the two styles.