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.