If a shallow super weighs 50 pounds, how much does a deep hive body weigh? Can I use a BUNCH of shallow supers instead? I am neither terribly young or terribly muscular, and while I should be able to manage a super, I suspect that the deep hive body will be terribly hard to move!
Box depths pros and cons:
You can actually use any depth boxes for any purpose in a hive.
Here are some things to think about as far as depths.
1. Standardization is very nice. It's nice to be able to pull some frames out of a honey bound brood chamber and put them in a super. It's nice to be able to take some drawn comb that's been extracted and add it to the honey bound brood chamber for the queen to lay in. It's nice to have all your equipment the same for lots of reasons. Only one kind of frame, one kind of box, one size of foundation.
2. Certain sizes have advantages for different uses. This is why they exist.
Brood: Langstroth Deeps (9 5/8") and Dadant Deeps (11 5/8") are nicer for brood. Medium can be used for brood. I suppose shallow could be used for brood but it really breaks up the laying pattern a lot.
The best for this is probably the Dadant Deep (11 5/8"), the norm is the Langstroth deep (9 5/8") and the minimum that I know of anyone using is the mediums (6 5/8")
Cut Comb: Since most people use thin surplus foundation for this, first of all the foundation has to be available. Second of all, since it's not so stiff and you can't wire it (because people don't want to bite into wires) it starts buckling more easily as the frame depth gets bigger. Pretty much this is just done in mediums and shallows. Shallows have a slight edge on not buckling by being shallower. All of them buckle if you put the foundation in too soon and the bees don't fill it.
The best for this is the shallow (5 3/4"). The maximum size for this is the mediums (6 5/8")
Extraction: I personally don't care much for anything but a radial extractor. They are so much more convenient. Radials generally come in 9 frame (only takes medium or shallow frames) 9/18 frame (takes 9 Langstroth deeps or 18 mediums or 9 Deeps and 9 mediums or 18 shallows). So if you are buying a small radial extractor it won't extract deeps. Even with a large one it will only extract half as many. With Shallows you can fit the same number of shallows frames as mediums but that is less honey. You can process more honey using mediums.
The ideal for this is the mediums (6 5/8") The maximum size is the deeps only if you buy the bigger extractors.
Lifting: One of the issues on frames size is lifting boxes when they are full of honey. Different people give different estimates on weights but a shallow full of honey weighs about 35 to 40lbs. A medium weighs about 40 to 50lbs and a deep weighs about 70 to 90 lbs. I think mediums are manageable. Deeps are too much to lift all the way up over your head to get on and off of a tall hive.
The ideal for most people is the mediums. They are large enough to let you handle a lot of honey, while light enough that most people can handle them.
Also, you could try a long hive either a trough with frames or a table or a Top Bar Hive as a trough. Then you wouldn't have to move more than a frame at a time (with the trough hive) or one box at a time when harvesting and never have to move a bunch of supers to examine the brood nest. http://www.beesource.com/eob/althive/bush/index.htm
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited April 14, 2003).]
Also, it occurs to me that Brushy Mt. sells 8 frame medium equipment that they reccomend for people who don't want to lift as much. They have almost anything you could want including triangular bee escapes, queen excluders, screened bottom boards etc.
I also am not quite as young or muscular anymore. Right now I am going with 2 and 3 deep large (9 5/8) Brood Boxes and medium (6 5/8) Honey supers. In midsummer, when they are full and it is hot out, they weigh a ton. How many hives do you have? One or two wouldn't be as bad, I started with 5. If I had thought about it before hand, I think I would have used the mediums for brood boxes as well. How far will you have to move them, and do you have willing voulunteers. Do you have to buy all new equipment, or do you have some already? I also keep something to stand on in my bee yard, because I am also kinda short.
Actually, I am starting on my first hive. I have a wild hive in my back yard, it showed up early last summer between the walls of a cold frame.
The upper edge of the cold frame is slightly warped, which makes it possible for the bees to come and go. I have decided to put a couple of shallow supers on the top of the cold frame where the bees are getting in, in hopes of them expanding the hive into the supers. After a bit, I will take the supers away and set them in a permanant spot.
Speed is important: they are now making comb at the very top of the area between the walls. With good fortune, I will have the supers done and painted by tomorrow night.
As for help, it is best if I do not count on it. My husband only goes into the yard (we have an acre) a couple of times a year, and while he is willing to help if I get stuck with something I have always been aware that the yard is MY project, just as tearing apart computers is HIS!
What can I say, opposites attract!
If we move, I will of course want to take the hive with me, and getting willing help to move something as heavy and as frightening as a bee hive sounds difficult. Most people are afraid of hives: I don't even intend to tell my neighbors that I have them! It would be a very good thing if I could move the hive myself, piece by piece, into the back of the pickup and then to the new home.
I hope to get a well pollinated garden out of this, though so far they have NOT been working the fruit trees, they are getting pollen some place else. I am also looking forward to having honey to use and to give away.
As for equipment, I am building the shallow supers with 1 x 6's. I may buy the next supers, but I had to get the taxes done before I messed with bees. I bought wood today, and started cutting for the supers this afternoon. I will fake a temporary top, and staple cardboard around the bottom of the supers so the bees have to go through the supers in order to leave the hive. Once the supers are on, I can be more leisurely about a base, a permanant top, more supers (I may mail-order those) and so forth!
[This message has been edited by Terri (edited April 14, 2003).]
Terri, I don't know where you are located but try to locate a local beekeeper for help and advice. They would probably be willing to help you move the hive and have the equipment to do it. I helped a friend move a hive this morning and it makes it a lot easier. My thoughts, Dale
you probably won't move the hive alot,when moving the boxes on /off the hive,you don't have to pull it all off at once.have an extra hive body available next to the base of the hive,remove the frames and inspect them one by one,and place them in the empty hive body,then pull off the empty box from the hive and use that for the next box,you never have to lift more than 10 lbs at a time,it's more moving of frames though.
When you have a hive that's two deeps and six medium supers that's a lot of time and a lot of disruption to the bees to move all of those frames. With a trough hive you can get to every frame without moving anything else.
Michael, can you USE a trough hive in the midwest? It is warmer here than in Nebraska, but my part of Kansas STILL gets to -20, on occasion!
How is it in summer heat?
Really, I have always thought a trough hive would be easier to work, I just thought it would be harder to protect in the winter!
Hoosierhiver, thank you I hadn't thought of that!
I have not had a trough hive long enough to go through a -20 degree farenheit kind of winter yet. The last couple of winters here have been pretty mild. I built one three decades ago for an older lady with back problems who wanted to keep bees. I have not heard that she had or did not have problems getting through really bad winters there, but it was working last I saw it.
Bees winter in all kinds of unconventional arrangments in nature all the time.
There are several variations of a trough hive you can run. You can do a double wide brood box that you never have to lift because it's on the bottom. This would hold 22 frames (you gain a couple of frames from two one bys and the space on the ends of the hive). Then you can put shallow or medium supers on top of that for your honey. You could even put three 5 frame nucs (deeps and mediums are available) on top for supers. You can do the long table like I have with the brood chamber in front and supers behind it. You can do something like the "Urban Bee Condo" in the "elements of beekeeping" section. It's a long Dadant deep hive with standard boxes on top.
I do wonder if having Housel Positioning will help with wintering in a long hive. Maybe the bees can keep beter track of where they are in the hive and continue to move toward the end of the hives and more stores as the winter progresses.