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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Larimer County, CO
    Posts
    473

    Question 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    I know there's a rather lengthy thread involving the concept of using deeps & mediums or all mediums, but I want to start a separate thread WRT my situation. A friend is giving/loaning me two complete hives to use on my place this year to see if I really am into beekeeping (complete newbee BTW) before I make the full investment. He's not into keeping bees at his place in town anymore because he's had a hard/near impossible time overwintering his hives. He's only had them come through one year out of 5, the 1st year, and he rarely has gotten honey for himself. His hives consist of all mediums, but I'm not sure if he uses two or three mediums for the brood and honey chambers before putting on honey supers.

    My question is this: would I have a better chance of overwintering bees in my area (northern Front Range of Colorado, USDA Zone 5) if I went with 2 deeps for brood/honey for the bees then began to add honey supers instead of his approach of using all mediums for everything? My thought process is that if I can give them as much space to fill up with honey before adding supers, then the better chance they have of overwintering in this part of the world. Am I all wet there?

    TIA
    I'm the dude, so that's what you call me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    884

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    In 1991 I kept hives in Florissant, Colorado (elevation a bit over 8,000 ft) using B Weaver bees. I had 2 hives in double deeps that were crammed with honey. At one point there was 2+ feet of snow on top of the covers. I was totally green and didn't even know to wrap them. They came through with flying colors despite the -20 degree weather. I don't think they would have done nearly as well in 3 mediums. Maybe I'm all wet, but I think the breaks between the mediums would have affected the size of the cluster and its ability to stay near the honey. (Of course, we didn't have mites to contend with yet, and I'm sure that was a factor, too!)

    HTH

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    butler, ga. united states
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Hills Farm View Post
    In 1991 I kept hives in Florissant, Colorado (elevation a bit over 8,000 ft) using B Weaver bees. I had 2 hives in double deeps that were crammed with honey. At one point there was 2+ feet of snow on top of the covers. I was totally green and didn't even know to wrap them. They came through with flying colors despite the -20 degree weather. I don't think they would have done nearly as well in 3 mediums. Maybe I'm all wet, but I think the breaks between the mediums would have affected the size of the cluster and its ability to stay near the honey. (Of course, we didn't have mites to contend with yet, and I'm sure that was a factor, too!)

    HTH

    Rusty
    that's what i would think too. i think i'd rather go to all 8 frame deeps over 10 frame mediums.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    3,427

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    Was your friend losing hives because they ran out of stores, or was there some reason to think the bees got separated from stores that remained.
    It could simply be a case of needing to have more stores, not the sizes of the boxes. I overwinter with a single deep and two shallows or mediums. It gets cold here, but I've not seen any problems with bees spreading the cluster between shallows, so long as most of that cluster is on frames with stored honey.

    However, I'd defer to somebody who keeps bees in a cold climate.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,487

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    I've heard this story before, sadly. Typically the failure to overwinter is because they didn't have enough stored up. That area, that altitude, you need at least 120 lbs of honey, meaning at least a deep and a half of HONEY, not comb. An extra medium won't hurt. Wrapping for winter will also help (keeps the wind out, hence they use less honey staying warm).

    I lost my first hive the same way -- it's difficult for a package to get up to strength with enough stores unless you have a substantial fall flow, and we usually don't have much after soybeans. That southern queen kept on laying and the ate all their stores before winter!

    The type of boxes is far less important that having adequate stores. Check in August, and if the hive isn't chock full of honey, feed until it's way to heavy too tip up with one hand. You can use 2:1 sugar syrup or HFCS, but if they are light, feed. I have found that Kelley style hivetop feeders work much better than anything else, although feeding in the spring might work better with division feeders that replace some frames.

    I know too many people who have quit beekeeping because the bees won't take care of themselves. They don't, especially newly started hives, and if you don't help them out, the majority will die over the winter.

    Peter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,809

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    I've had bees in Laramie, WY. For a typical Italian cluster, I would want two ten frame deeps, or three ten frame mediums, or four eight frame deeps. But in the end I would adjust to the size of the cluster. I might go as much as three ten frame deeps or as little as one, but my expectations would be a big strong cluster with two deeps or equvilent.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Larimer County, CO
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    thanks for the excellent responses everyone. to answer the question above re: running out of stores, yes i think they were running out of stores before spring, hence my reason to want to look @ 2 deeps to give them as much food as possible going into winter.
    I'm the dude, so that's what you call me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,809

    Default Re: 2 deeps vs 3 mediums

    > or four eight frame deeps.

    Typo... should be "or four eight frame mediums"...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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