As a newcomer to beekeeping in the south west of England, I'm hung-up on which would be the best hive to go with - I currently have one hive (not enough) which is a British National with a brood chamber of 2200 square inches, all the books I have read seem to support the view that this is too small. I'm seriously considering moving to Dadant hives, but would like some advice please!
First, a question... What kind of hive is most available in your area? I would think that this would be a big factor in your decision. Here in the U.S., the 10 frame hive (Langstroth) is widely available, so I probably wouldn't use anything else. The big factor to me would be availability of equipment and standardizing on one type. Having several different types and sizes of hive bodies and frames will cause more anguish in keeping track of them...
That's my 2 cents worth.
Hope it helps,
I'm in exactly the same position, but I'm sticking with Nationals simply because it's the commonest hive over here.
There are two possible solutions. I'm going to try double broodboxes, which give a bit more space for the broodnest than a Modified Dadant. It's not a technique much used over here as far as I know, but I have a friend in the States who swears by reversing broodboxes as a method of swarm control.
Alternatively, you can get deep broodboxes for Nationals, which give considerably more space than a standard box. Thorne's do an eke to convert a standard box, but this works out a little more expensive. You should be able to get what you need from your local Thorne's dealer.
I'm in Reading England, and am fairly new to this. I am using Nationals...they're definately the most common hive here. I'm using Double broods, with intention to split colonies for heather and multiplication. The commercial farmers seem to prefer bigger boxes...and they're not often wrong. I decided 18" boxes with handles were great to carry, and so far I'm happy. Good luck!
By your question, I'm guessing what I'm about to say will be of limited use to you, but I'd hate to miss an opportunity to make a plug for variety.
Echoing back to Paul B, you might want to consider a variety of factors which you may or may not feel are important to you. What are you wanting from your hives - honey? other hive products? pollination? practicality? esthetics? enjoyment?
Standardization, both with the community and with your other hives, certainly has a number of advantages (ease of obtaining equipment/supplies, drawing from experience of those around you, etc). If you are more independent, and aren't as concerned about what the people around you are doing, you have many more options besides US or UK defaults. If you're wanting to maximize honey yields, there are a number of ideas out there for doing that including "condo" hives (adjacent brood chambers for 2 colonies sharing the same supers). For myself, I'll be making some top-bar hives this winter - they give lower honey and higher wax yields than the frame-box hives and most people on the web who have tried them seem to really enjoy working with them; I'll probably never be able to go into large-scale honey production with them though. There are places that sell very attractive hives (don't know how the inside is structured but the ones I'm thinking of look like they might be a sort of trough hive), others that sell plastic hives (don't recall off hand what the advantages are for those). If you have the time to build your own, you can really get creative (even artistic, though I haven't seen any "living sculpture" hives yet). If I decide I want to crank out the honey at some point, I'll probably go with whatever's commercially in use in my area; until then I'll play.
Regarding the relative advantages between the common box-frame hives on the market (which is where I'm guessing your question was originally directed), I'm afraid I don't have any insight to offer there. George Imrie (http://www.beekeeper.org/george_imirie/)writes a fair bit and has some stuff to say about using two brood boxes and swarm prevention if I remember correctly.
Best of luck to you.
This is the beginning of my 2nd year as a hobbyist. I was given most of my equipment from a retiring uncle. My boxes are standard supers with metal seperators that allow 9 frames per box. This has worked well for me, and even though I got started late(April 22) last year, I was able to get 120lbs of honey from my colony.
I'm starting a 2nd this year, with the same type of bees(Carniolan). They did well over the winter, and began finding pollen as of about the 21st of Feb. Good luck to all, Tom.