Single Box Hive
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Thread: Single Box Hive

  1. #1
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    Default Single Box Hive

    Hi everyone
    I have been watching a Canadian bee keeper’s Blog on youtube. His videos are very interesting. It looks like he is doing a wonderful job running a commercial honey business on a single hive body. This is real appealing to me since it is lot easier to manage single hive box than multiple boxes, anyone has a firsthand experience with this technique?
    Thank you so much in advance
    DP

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    I'm assuming your referring to Ian Keppler? I'm experimenting with running single deep 10 frame brood boxes this year (I use to run double-deeps) and have just split 8 of my hives. I'm going to run a queen excluder above the brood box until I see nectar in the medium honey-supers, then I'll pull the queen excluders. I only do that to keep the queen from laying in the medium frames. I work my hives every 7 to 10 days which I feel is important if you're going to run single deeps. Here in the South, things can go sideways in a hurry. I'm mainly talking about swarming due to bee numbers. Running single deeps means there's less boxes to inspect and if a colony starts building up to the point of swarm preparation, I can always pull resources to give to other colonies, or start new ones. I think I'll find that a single deep brood box will produce just as much honey as a double. Some of my splits were already so strong that I started putting on honey-supers just to give them some room.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    That would be Ian Steppler, posting on Beesource as Ian.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    I was close ; )

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    That would be Ian Steppler, posting on Beesource as Ian.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    I think as everything Bee keeping one has to tray it to really appreciates its pros and cons, Maybe I put one nuc aside as a single box to see how it will pull honey. The only concern I have is how it will winter as a single box, I have seen Ian stacks the boxes and puts it away in his large bee shed. I guess as long as I have even number of single box I could stack them!
    Thanks
    DP

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    I love watching Ian's youtube vids. But if you look at what he's doing your not saving on any equipment. He still is using 3 brood boxes. They winter in 1st box. He then adds a second on or under to make spring/ early summer splits. Now is managing 2 colonies or more if he breaks up into nucs. He then adds another dual purpose box for both brood then eventually becoming a honey super. I promise he works hard and still needs lots of equipment. Its not as much different then running triple deep in some aspects. He has way more control of space, treatments, ect. But he has to always be adding equipment when the bees need it which keeps him running I bet. Where 3 deep setup provides for winter stores and way less moving parts. But the bees are filling the same brood capacity either way you skin the cat.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    I've been running single deeps since I started five years ago. I find absolutely no problem with them having enough stores to last the winter, given I get some syrup into them in the fall. I put an eight pound sugar block on them in December as insurance and they usually don't totally consume that. I have gotten numerous four frame deep nucs through winter with no problem and no supplemental feed except a four pound block. Of course, we have a fantastic fall flow here with Japanese knotweed, I pull supers after the knotweed flow and let them finish off on the aster and golden rod.

    I tried double deeps my first year, but the amount of work and the disturbance to inspect two hives was beyond my beginner capabilities.

    The only downside to single deeps,as DeepCreek pointed out, is swarm management. I still haven't figured this out. I try to open the sides of the brood nest, and even replacing frames of brood with empty comb, but to no great avail. The swarms in the spring cause me to get very little spring/summer honey. My number one biggest loss of hives is due to late summer/fall swarms during and after the knotweed flow,and failing to get a replacement queen.

    My plan is to try double eight frame deeps this year to see if they are easier manage. They make for a more vertical hive so that might help also with overwintering. I'm also going to try Snelgrove boards on my existing 10 frame deeps, to attempt to reduce swarming, allow for increases or at least new queens, and increase spring/summer honey harvest.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    @maudbid,

    While I am big proponent of Snelgrove boards, I don't see them as preventing swarming as much as simply dealing with it (swarming, that is.)

    My anti-swarming tactics: early and repeated reversing, checkerboarding, opening the sides of the brood nest, etc., along with constant vigilance, i.e. tipping up every brood box every five days during our active swarm season to look for cells is what keeps my bees in their triple-deep stacks and not in the trees.

    The way I use SB as a swarm management tool is reactive, in that if despite my best efforts I find cells, I will call a halt to further progress by dividing the colony with a board. Sometimes that results in an additional colony, and sometimes not, depending on what I do after I've put the kibosh on the swarm.

    I also use SB to make increases, if that's my plan for the year on a particular colony, completely separately from stopping a swarm. Mostly I don't want any increase since my apiary would quickly grow out of control if it doubled in size every year. But whenever I do want to make a split, I find a SB are the easiest way to do that. I typically start that process right around Memorial Day so my queens are going out to mate just before the Solstice when my weather is settled, the dragon flies are yet not a problem and the larvae for the both queen and the drones were raised on the rich food resources of late May and early June.

    The only truly swarm-preventive use of a SB that I can see is using them to make a preemptive split on every colony pretty early in the season (making the division in early May in our upstate NY climate, which is not my favorite queen-rearing time as our weather is still a bit fickle then, and the nights cold). If that's your goal, they'll work just fine, as any other splitting technique would do. Maybe marginally better as they are more forgiving of mistakes or bad luck in the division of the parts.

    But make no mistake, if running double deeps is undesirable, using SBs may not fit your style. Because you'll have a deep + super(s)/ SB/ another deep +super iin pretty tall stacks for a month during the early flow. I use a step ladder to tend these colonies.

    Although I only use 10-frame equipment in my own yard, a bit less than half of my beginning students choose 8-frame boxes. And as a group my students with 8-frame equipment have more, and more prolonged, and more out-of-season, swarming issues than my students with 10-frame equipment. The 8-frame box stacks just don't seem to be as forgiving as the 10-frame stacks. And the extra space in 10-frame boxes allows for an additional round of OTSB, if needed. All of my students run triple deeps (no matter which width) so the vertical element is the same. I haven't made any head-to-head tests, so this is just an anecdotal observation but it seems to hold true over different students of differing skill and approaches, and different sources of bees. I have never worked with 8-frame medium stacks, but they strike me as likely to be even more swarmy.

    I am a small woman in my late sixties and I find working 10-frame deeps, even in stacks 4 to 6 boxes tall, do- able. I would never consider lifting a 10-frame deep of honey. I just remove frames until the weight is workable. I use both dummy boxes and nuc boxes when I am working my bees to keep things quiet and safe, both for and my bees.

    Also @ deepster, Ian winters his single deeps in a climate-controlled, indoor shed kept at a constant temperature (I think his stay at 40F, the whole time.) That's vastly different from wintering outdoors in CT or upstate NY where the delta between the night-time lows of minus 10 F to minus 15 F, and common winter daytime highs of 15 to 35 degrees F is huge. And keep in mind, too, that what works for commercial beekeepers doesn't always scale down to smaller operations, because they have different goals and ways of working.

    Nancy

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Single brood box management is not for the faint of heart. Took 6 hives last year through the winter in what I consider the same thing as 1 deep. I have 8 frame mediums. I use 2 eight frame mediums. 5 of the 6 made it. You have to keep on top of them all year and I mean all year timely. From May swarm control- May and June brood box manipulation- June brood above excluder placement and that's just the beginning. These manipulations are easier most of the year because your brood area is smaller but you can't miss a beat.
    If you're a beekeeper who is only in the bees 3 or 4 times a year-- Don't even think about it.
    Beekeeping should Fun! Find the level that suits you.
    Jerry

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Ian has shown a interesting way of beekeeping. For us where harsh winters can be normal indoor wintering has peeked my interest. Since January we have gone through lows in excess of 20 below one week then have 40s the next and this year it has happend multiple times. Trying to scale it to hobby size is going to be tricky but it'll be a nice little experiment.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Roland hasn't poked a post here yet, but I'm planning to try his management approach on some colonies this year. I said I'd try it last year, but the bees got ahead of me and I ended up in the ditch behind them. I've been trying to understand what he does, and have been collecting info from his posts, supplemented by some PMs. The pattern as I understand it (I hope he'll correct this where I'm wrong):

    Single deep brood chamber topped by queen excluder.
    Deep super (I think Roland says 1 -- I may have 2 or 3 -- see below)

    Carry drawn comb frames around with you as you inspect the supers and brood boxes. If extracting continuously, you'll have extracted comb. Roland mentions getting foundation drawn in supers. I read this works best between capped frames -- another reason for leaving an extra box. In other posts he has endorsed foundation between brood frames (possibly at times of year with a flow on).

    Get to every brood box at least every two weeks (!) (seems infrequent, but that's what he said) and raise capped brood up from brood box into super, leaving queen below.

    Refill empty slots with drawn comb from (storage, honey extraction, whatever). It appears to me that he puts the comb in the brood nest to get it laid up quickly, but not so as to risk chilling the brood in too cold weather.

    Take full supers with you to extract, but always leave a box above the QE. Roland in previous posts said that he "hangs up" up to four frames of capped brood on this two-week rotation. With all deeps, no incompatible frame sizes interfere with frame rotation.

    Being a commercial producer, Roland mentions extracting honey and cycling the frames back to his bees, so I doubt that he lets 4 or 5 supers of honey stand on top of the brood chamber. From his description, it may be rare that he has more than one super in place.

    I, however, do not plan for frequent extraction, and don't want to store honey supers indoors with me. So I expect to leave a couple of deep supers on the colony, plus maybe a medium or more until extraction time. Unfortunately, this will mean I have to lift them off to do the brood chamber inspections and brood hang-ups. Hmm. Perhaps a sticky extractor would look good on the kitchen table, after all? It would certainly perk up the kitchen decor.

    I'll refer you to Roland's words from 2010 (two links to same thread so if anyone in later years is looking for the thread, the ellipsis may not kill the reference). The title is "Single deep brood chamber with deep supers":
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?249254
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...th-deep-supers

    and from this thread of 2017 on single deep management where Roland has many descriptive replies
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?335977
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...oduction-in-NC

    Also from 2017 on wintering singles:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?339726
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...tering-Singles

    All info that I've scavenged from Roland's posts as one demonstrated and relatively simple management technique for single deep brood boxes. I hope it's useful. I have found it interesting but haven't "been there" yet. Thanks to Roland and other contributors on the board.

    Michael
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Thanks for the advice Nancy. I have more hives coming out of winter than I want or need, so my intentions with the SB is to reduce chance of swarming and get a spring honey harvest. I plan to use the SB in the beginning /mid of May, and reduce back down to one box beginning of July. If I do end up with a good queen in the top box I'll either give her away or bank her for the summer in a nuc. She'll come in handy for any fall queen replacements, or I'll overwinter the nuc for spring.

    Micheal, thanks for providing those links from Roland. This sounds like potentially a very useful method of controlling both swarming and getting honey without increasing. Just means I have to go to deep supers. ughh... I think I'll start with a couple of hives this year to see if I can get it to work.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    @maudbid:

    Your plan of deploying the Snelgrove board to make swarm-preempting splits in early May sounds like a good plan. I think you'll still have to keep a sharp eye on the lower box to make sure they don't swarm anyway. Particularly if you use the doors to bleed a lot of bees downward from the top., Simple tip ups to look for cells should suffice, but that means you will have to disassemble the whole pile to get to the lower box. I would have a very generous amount of supers deployed on the lower section, too.

    Are you familiar with a paper by Wally Shaw called: The many uses of a Snelgrove board? You can Google it. What you are proposing to do is Method I, maybe the "improved" version described by Shaw. (It's a .pdf so linking doesn't work.)

    I have always found it a very reliable method, without any swarms issuing from below. But this year BeeSource user PSM had a lot of swarms after using a SB in this way. That's why I recommend continued swarm-cell vigilance after making the split.

    Good luck

    Nancy

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Enjambres

    I have downloaded Shaw's Paper. In this paper he refers to diagram! which I haven't seen in mine or any versions of downloads. Have you?
    your write up on Method II (when swarm cells present) was excellent.

    Thanks
    DP

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Try this link

    http://www.wbka.com/wp-content/uploa...Wally-Shaw.pdf

    Nancy, thanks for the recommendation.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Interesting discussion. Northern Beekeepers have been advised to winter their bees in a minimum of 2 deeps for a century or more.

    The U of Minn still advises as many as 3 deeps, along with a required/substantial amount of bees and honey to carry such a large colony through winter that can last 7 months or more.

    After considerable research going back well over 100 years, and the successfully implemented methods used by such well known beekeepers as Palmer, Webster, Seely etc. ;

    The emerging 'trend' for over-wintering in the North is slowly heading toward over-wintering smaller colonies, in smaller, fewer boxes. Colonies which apparently boom/thrive when/if they survive until Spring. Apparently, Even Bro Adam kept bees in NUC's during winter....so it's not a new thing, maybe just a return to an old way? The way Mike Palmer tells it, it was the industrial revolution/capitalism that was in part responsible for our current accepted method of keeping bees alive. The traditional, Bottom Board, DEEP brood box, followed by Mediums and shallows, all designed to create giant colonies, lots of honey and usually if all goes well, healthy winter survivors that can be split for increase.

    That was how it used to bee. That is what most of us were told/taught at some point during our venture into bees and beekeeping, regardless of whether one lived in California, NY, Montana or Florida.

    I guess that system worked just fine for quite a while and for a lot of beekeepers, at least until a combination of factors (from pesticides and pests to habitat loss and poor quality 'industrialized' bees), all began to negatively effect a number of species globally, not just honeybees. Its all been going on for a while now, for as long as everyone posting herein has been alive.

    We tried as best we could last year to keep some of our bee colonies as small as the equipment we had to use (one in a deep, 2 in mediums, separated with Q excl w/ just one medium honey super). Such small colonies DO require more attention, but I don't remember when we had such fun, keeping track of these little colonies, which despite our efforts, did swarm and did NOT survive the winter.

    But we also learned some cool things. Yeah even after messing with bees for 4 decades we still learn something (s) every season...and we are seriously committed to changing direction (only production colonies are allowed to get BIG from now on) for now and we'll see what we will see. It'll definitely be easier on this old man back of mine....and may very well result in keeping more colonies alive. Wish us luck, please.

    We're definitely gonna try again, having been inspired by Tom Seeley, (including Bro Adam) and all the rest, now speaking clearly about the reasons for over-wintering small colonies in single boxes or NUC's, along with the wisdom/logic (Some of it long forgotten) for doing so. We're relatively new to the internet, even bordering on tech-NO-peasantry.

    The manufacturers of beekeeping equipment may not like a reduction in sales (selling less stuff as beekeepers decide to house bees in smaller cavities) but IMO we and our bees may thrive again once we get out of their way.

    Thanks again for opening this topic.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    It will be interesting to see winter loss numbers in singles with the fairly steady cold winter that we just had, and a very late start to spring. There is no way to put syrup on around April 1st, when hives are running low on stores.

    A feed shim seems to be all one needs to supplement honey stores in a double deep hive or double deep NUC. I am wintering 6 NUCS. They all looked good a couple of weeks ago when we had a warm day to open the lids and top up sugar blocks. Insulated with 2 inch styrofoam and pushed tight together.

    One of the NUCs is 7 deep frames in a narrowed down 10 frame deep, with a feed shim. They also had 6 xmas lights on a temp controller in an insulated box below plus 2 inch styrofoam.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    If anyone really wants to see it explained watch Ian on YouTube he does a very good job and is very good time spent.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan the bee guy View Post
    If anyone really wants to see it explained watch Ian on YouTube he does a very good job and is very good time spent.
    Wow, thanks for the suggestion. His operation is a lot different than I was imaging, and a lot of work (1200 hundred hives!). Sorry for any confusion.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Single Box Hive

    @maudbid,

    Actually the reason I send people to Wally Shaw's, The many uses of a Snelgrove board paper is that they get the essence of what that brochure says regarding using a Snelgrove board, but in a shorter form.

    Other parts of that brochure make me feel like I am on hallucinatory drugs, with its instruction to intentionally divide a box-spanning brood nest and arrange things in order to force the brood nest to expand downwards vs encouraging continual upward expansion. Those are two cardinal sins, in my experience.

    (Actually re-reading it today provides a salutary flashback to being a very new beekeeper and struggling to find reliable information. Instead I often found extremely conflicting information, which was bewildering. Since there is no universally correct, perfect way to keep bees, all recommendations should be couched in terms of what works for a specific beekeeper in a specific region. And then any individual beekeeper needs to simply decide which methods to try.)

    Nancy

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