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  1. #1
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    For those of you who keep larger hives or are interested in the benefits or potential drawbacks of keeping larger hives, what are your thoughts?

    How does this affect honey production?

    How does this affect survivability?

    How does this affect spring buildup?

    As some of you know, I keep large hives, typically three deeps or better, and I return honey supers after extracting and leave them on over winter. I find this to result in large broodnests, limited swarming, and high winter survival rates. I have not had problems with hives tipping over in winds up to 40 mph, with a cinder block on top. I also find larger hives to be easier on maintenance, not needing to be checked all the time, generally able to keep things in order. In fact this year, due to my schedule, I was not able to inspect any of the hives more than once a month, and still managed a higher average honey production. I probably lost a couple swarms, but as usual, there were no signs of having swarmed in most hives.

    I cannot make a good comparison on honey production but from the limited knowledge of other beekeepers around here, my average is on par even after leaving honey and feeding only if absolutely necessary.

    I have decided I do not like 8-frame hives. Mine swarmed this year and then died out after failing to requeen. It was three deeps and two mediums, high maintenance, always wanting to swarm, though that may have been due to genetics rather than hive size. Those genetics are gone anyway, so that's that. I'll probably get the hive going again, just because it's there.

    This would be a good place to discuss Tim Ives' methods as well, so we don't derail other threads.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Dallas, TX
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    30

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I'm interested in experimenting with the larger hive. I run all mediums, so my base size is 4 boxes, 10 frames. They are all foundationless, started with a bee weaver Queen in one that superseded in her 2nd year and raised the other Queen. I consider both hives to be still establishing, one has a 5th box, the other is at 4. One has a top entrance, and based on the bearding, the other will have one by this weekend. These are treatment free hives.

    If there is a fall flow I hope to see a nice surplus, harvest everything above 4 boxes and place them back on for the winter. Additionally I will pull 3 frames from each to start nucs to over winter.

    I intend to go at least 3 years to hopefully get the full gambit of weather to see how the experiment plays out.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
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    167

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I began wondering about Taller hives several years ago after doing some cutouts. In all of my 2 deep hives bees used to have trouble fitting in there in the summer after the queen really started laying. The brood chamber was constricted at the top of the by honey stores and the bottom just due to a lack of space. In the tree cutouts there always seemed to be comb down below the brood chamber. A lot of times in early summer the comb would be dirty and unoccupied, by the end of summer the bees were cleaning this old nasty comb and were further down, but always had comb below.

    Since going to three deeps (along with using top entrances) I don't seem to have bearding to the extent I used to, they can all get in.

    As far as checking on them, my bees were opened during the 2nd week of April and the second week of June. At those times the only thing done to them was to add supers. I have totally abandoned the idea of opening the brood chamber and taking out frames to observe bood patterns and other trivialities. Out of 30 I have only lost one all summer.

    Many beekeepers are quick to say "that won't work for me!", and they are exactly right IF THEY NEVER TRY. It is working for me.

    Jason Bruns
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  4. #4
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by LetMBee View Post
    Many beekeepers are quick to say "that won't work for me!", and they are exactly right IF THEY NEVER TRY. It is working for me.
    Exactly right, in many contexts. Moreover, we often hear about how it (whatever it is) won't work at all, coming from people who've never tried it.

    Does anyone else leave supers on over winter?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,249

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I'm just a beginner, so all I can say is that I've thought about it a lot, but it seems to me that big hives have certain advantages over smaller colonies. In a big booming hive, certain problems don't seem to arise-- wax moths, SHB.

    Also, you don't need to have tall hives to have a big broodnest.

    colorfulyard.jpg

    The yellow one is my boomer. I started it from a nuc in March, and it has been amazing. Even though I've taken 2 splits from it, and lots of resources for weaker hives, it's still full of bees, a dozen frames of broodnest and a dozen honey frames in addition to the few I've taken already. If it makes it to next spring, I expect to have to super it, and I can get 9 supers on it without the whole thing being more than chin high. It's very stable; it will take a hurricane to blow it over. Of course, we do get hurricanes here now and then.

    Each long hive has 32 frames, so a little more than 3 deeps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Liberty, Indiana, USA
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    167

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Solomon: My two mentors both told me I was wasting my time building 15 swarm traps back in 2010. They said.... THERE ARE NO MORE FERAL BEES THEY ALL DIED.

    I had 5 hives back then and 30 now and give away extra swarms every year. I replace my losses every year with swarm catches.

    What I do here may not work somewhere else, but it is worth experimenting a little. In this time of Experts it is almost as though people are afraid to experiment a little on their own.
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    San Rafael, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I run a few hives that are 3 and 4 deeps tall with no queen excluder. The queen loves to lay all the way up and down the hive. I think this is great for the bees because it replicates a tree and allows the queen to choose where she wants to lay depending on the climate. Last year I pulled 50 lbs of honey off one hive, created 5 nucs and this will be their 3rd year surviving treatment free.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Tineo, Asturias, SPAIN
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    182

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I myself want to try building up larger colonies. I only started last year but I have noticed that in my area (northern Spain) people overwinter in one box, take pretty much all the honey they can, and most colonies die during the winter. It is routine here for beekeepers to bait all their hives in the spring because they are all empty.

    Last summer (before I knew who he was), Oscar Perone visited a town about an hour from me and set up a lot of his "Mk II" hives. But his original hives were just tall stacks of Langstroth boxes, three for the bees, the rest honey supers. His technique have a lot in common with those of Tim Ives - very large colonies, leave a large quantitity of honey/pollen for bees, no feeding, and no treating. The result (from what I have read/understood) is colonies that produce more (a large population brings back more nectar and pollen), are more resistant to disease and mites, and (because weak colonies are allowed to die), have, after a shake out period, higher winter surviveability.

    An interesting figure that Tim Ives stated recently on another thread is that three boxes will sustain a population 300% larger than two boxes. I confess I don't know how he arrived at this figure but I intend to ask him and because he seems to be very meticulous I am inclined to believe him until I find out otherwise.

    Great topic for a thread, thanks!

  9. #9
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,249

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by LetMBee View Post
    Solomon: My two mentors both told me I was wasting my time building 15 swarm traps back in 2010. They said.... THERE ARE NO MORE FERAL BEES THEY ALL DIED.
    That's a surprisingly popular belief. I had some difficulty understanding why some folks wanted to believe this so much, until I realized that it was all wrapped up with the treatment management philosophy. In other words, the notion goes, all the feral bees died because they were not treated. Therefore, if the honeybee is to survive, we must treat.

    You can present evidence of feral bee survival until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't matter.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
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    625

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I'll be trying it on 20 or so hives this winter. Expensive experiment.

    Don

  11. #11
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    Jun 2011
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    Portland, Oregon
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    965

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Expensive experiment.

    Don
    ...if they don't do well.
    But potentially a very profitable experiment if they do.

  12. #12
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    Jan 2011
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    Athens, OH
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Is what we're talking about is 3 deeps with 20+ frames of brood with stacks of supers? 300% as many bees? I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it. Do feral bees in a large cavity have larger populations than in smaller ones? Is a queen that much more productive with more space? Are these hives always populated enough to deter SHB and moths? Etc., etc.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  13. #13
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    Jan 2012
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    Liberty, Indiana, USA
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Bergendo: heck there is no reason for a Beek to go out today and convert all of their hives to 3 deeps. Experiment with a small number of hives and compare to the hives that that you left at 2 deeps.

    The way I look at it 1 extra deep and 10 frames is cheaper than coming up with a new colony to replace a deadout.
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  14. #14
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    You can present evidence of feral bee survival until you're blue in the face, but it doesn't matter.
    I've done that. "There aren't any feral bees. Your bees will be inbred. You're a troll." says the newbee to the ten year veteran of Beesource. </rant>
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #15
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    Jun 2011
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    Portland, Oregon
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    965

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    To read Tim Ives' what/how re: 300% more population in 3 deeps than two, see post #45 on this thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...light=tim+ives

  16. #16
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    To read Tim Ives' what/how re: 300% more population in 3 deeps than two, see post #45 on this thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...light=tim+ives
    The way I read Tim, and maybe I'm wrong, is that the three deep hive produces 300% more bees early, because the bees have the resources to brood up before the first flows of the early spring. Eventually the difference is not as great, but because he gets lots of foragers early, he is able to harvest honey from flows that other beekeepers aren't able to, because they don't have enough bees then to fully exploit the flow. Pollen and nectar have to be there before brooding up, but in Tim's big hives, that stuff is already available to the bees-- they don't have to go out and find it before the queen can start laying a lot.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    I missed that thread. Thanks, that helps. I've been reading his posts with interest for a while but sometimes they seem a little cryptic.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Stillwell, KS
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    625

    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    ...if they don't do well.
    But potentially a very profitable experiment if they do.
    Maybe, depends on what your honey productions most limiting factor is.

    I'm positive I could double my honey production if I just had 4 more weeks of flow.

    Our summer dearth has just started here and I've got great big beautiful productive colonies sitting around with their thumbs up their butt eating through stores.

    Don

    Question Sol, you said you harvest and then put your wet super back on. Do you leave empty supers on over the winter?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Do you leave empty supers on over the winter?
    I do. The only comb I store anywhere else is that of hives that die after freezing starts and are therefore unbothered by wax moths until spring.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #20
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    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Triple Deeps, Benefits of Larger Hives

    does anybody have trouble finding queens that are capable of that? seems to me that less than maybe 5% of the queens will use more space? possibly a certian strain??? My carniols don't seem to get much more than a good solid deep full of brood....

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