Another newbie question:
I have the great advantage this year of starting with an experienced beekeeper nearby who will "show me the ropes."
Among his methods: 3 medium supers for brood instead of 2 large.
Anyone have any opinions on whether this makes a significant difference?
I think your question had to specifically do with 3 mediums not 3 stories so I will give you my opinion.
I started out with the standard format of a deep and shallow for my brood chamber but quickly switched over to 3 mediums. Since I plan on pursuing beekeeping for a lifetime, I figured that I would need to have a good back and deciced that this was going to be a big help.
Many beekeepers are switching over and say they wish they had never started in deeps.
Nonetheless you will be going against the flow. If you ever try and buy a nuc you will find it difficult to find one in a medium format.
As far as everything else I think you will find it quite favorable. You gain interchangeability because mediums are all that you have.
I will say that a deep frame full of brood is a beautiful site. It's your choice. It will be tougher to switch later so be careful what you choose.
I see no significant difference in the bees performance.
Three mediums are exactly equivilant to two deeps. That's what I use. It is a minor frustration finding things like nucs. I can buy medium nucs from Brushy Mt, but it's cheaper to buy deeps from Wester Bee Supply and cut them down. I have to modify a frame (just cut a groove in each end bar) to do my queen rearing becaus those come in deeps only. Small cell foundation only comes in deeps, but I cut it down and only use a starter strip anyway.
A deep full of honey is about 90 pounds. A medium full of honey is about 60 pounds. That last 30 pounds is a real back killer.
There is also research the bees winter better because the cluster communicates better between the boxes.
Also the boxes all the same and the interchangability of all the frames is a wonderful thing.
I think your friend has probably learned the hard way and come to the same conclusion I have.
To be the devil's advocate, there are those who think that the queen lays a better pattern if all the brood is in one box without the space between. Another alternative is to make a 20" x 20" x 11 5/8" box that holds 13 Dadant Deep frames and never move the brood box. That way you don't have to lift the brood chamber at all.
Of course, as mentioned, you will be going against the flow which around here is two deeps for brood and mediums for honey.
I am pretty new to beekeeping, this being only my second winter. On top of that, I am located in N.C., and only 35 miles from S.C.
I only have 2 Mediums that my bees winter in and they did fine last year and so far this year, so good. I'll start feeding them in about 2 more weeks to rev them up, then come early Feb., I'll reverse them. About three weeks after that, I'll reverse them again and then start adding supers. I'll adjust the timing with the weather, but it worked well last year.
A lot of people in that part of the country winter in one deep. Two mediums is about 1 1/2 deeps so I suppose it would work. Around here people usually use two deeps. I used to use two to three depending on the strength of the colony. Now I vary from one medium for a nuc to four for a really strong hive with a lot of them in three.
One point to keep in mind, when working the hive, you have 3 boxes 27-30 frames, posibley to go through, instead of 2 boxes 18-20 frames. But I can usually work a hive pulling only a few frames...
It will also take you longer to extract smaller supers of honey. Usually the reason commercial beekeepers run in deeps. Standardization of equipment, and efficiency in hive work and extracting.