I'm a second year beekeeper with 4 hives at my house and 5 that I take care of near by for an older neighbor.
I use all 8 frame medium equipment with a screened bottom board.
A neighbor of mine who I haven't seen in a while and I were talking this morning and he told me about a beehive on his farm next to an old logging road. He said its been there for years even when his father in law lived there and he hasn't known of anybody taking care of it for 10 years or so. He thinks it must have been a neighbor who was allowed to put it on the farm. Anyway, my neighbor says that he has wanted somebody to put a hive or two on his property anyway so I told him I would go take a look at them not really holding out any hope of finding bees.
What I found was a 10 frame deep with a medium on top. Solid plastic bottom board. It was laying on two boards next to the old road. In the summer it would be completely shaded and probably pretty damp. The boxes were in terrible shape. It was low to mid 40's when I stopped by but I took a chance and popped the outer cover really quick and sure enough there were bees that I could see through the hole in the inner cover.
Here's how I plan to proceed. In the next few weeks when it is warm enough I plan to do a better inspection to check condition and then I would probably buy a deep 8 frame to replace the rotted 10 frame one. From there I will initially probably keep the second box as a medium plus a 3rd box as a medium to make up the brood chamber plus however many honey supers they need. I would also leave the board in the bottom of the screen this year. There is a flat spot of ground about 3 feet away that I can put some blocks and get the hive off the ground and out of the way.
The problem is where I find this hive is totally counter to how I have been taught to place a hive but they are survivor bees that have made it work where they are. I want to change as little as possible to their environment yet have access to their genetics. My thinking is why fool with nature if they have it figured out and it works. That's how I treat my current hives as much as possible. This is my plan for the first year. I'm sure they have just cast swarm after swarm over the years due to lack of room assuming this is the same line that started there and not a swarm that has moved in at some point.
Would anybody do anything different? Go ahead and move them to a better spot? Change over to all medium?