Converting to Mediums
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Covington County, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,600

    Default Converting to Mediums

    This is the year I think I am going to finally do it and get rid of all my Deeps. I have traditionally run a Deep + Medium brood nest. I have several Double Medium brood nests. I have not found a difference yet, but I think I will really enjoy all of my frames being interchangeable.

    I have heard some negatives about it, and I have also known those that converted to all Mediums and then went back to Deeps. I know this has been discussed on the forum several times, but I have not found a good thread that talked about it for any length. If anyone can point me to an old thread, I would appreciate it. Otherwise, what are the experiences out there for running exclusively mediums? I run between 20 and 30 hives. Thanks.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Red Bud, IL, USA
    Posts
    1,809

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    I run a few medium hives just for the occasional customer that wants a med nuc but otherwise find a deep and a medium my preferred base configuration. No hard facts but just feel it works better with the larger uninterrupted brood nest of the deep with the med available for any of the spring brood expansion.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,217

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    I started with all deeps and switched to all mediums and now run mostly deep brood boxes and medium supers. The main drawbacks of all mediums is the cost of all the equipment. You will pay a bit less than 50% more per hive. Instead of buying 2 deep boxes and 20 frames and foundation, you will now need 3 boxes and 30 frames. You will still need the same number of tops and bottoms so there is no change there. You will also spend more time inspecting the hives since there are now more frames to inspect. Yes, the frames are smaller so less time is spent on each one but you still have to spend time pulling them out and moving 2 boxes instead of one to get to the bottom box. The extra time is not much but it really bugged me to inspect more frames than I used to so I switched back. Like Eikel, I believe they brood up better with the larger uninterrupted comb faces. If the weight is an issue, do what I do. I never lift an entire box off the stack, I carry and empty brood box and a garden work table with me. The garden work table stays in the apiary all year long. I pull frame by frame and put them into the empty brood box in the same order. When done I put them back where they came from. No heavy lifting at all. When I pull supers, I pull 3-5 frames at a time and put them into a nuc box. Again, no heavy lifting. None of my hives are in out yards. All 15 hives are at my home so they do not need to be transported anywhere. You can also put the empty brood box on the top cover of hive next to the one you are working on instead of a table. There is also minimal bending over with my system as well and I never have to pick up a heavy box off of the ground.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,060

    Thumbs Up Re: Converting to Mediums

    I have next to no experience with mediums for brood, but this winter I will have a mixed bag of configurations due to dealing with EFB. Some of my honey supers became brood boxes and I have everything from three deeps, to a deep and a medium and one of two deeps and a medium and one single deep.

    I have one set of equipment ready for dadant depth frames but I know it will be single brood box and I will not be lifting it by hand!

    Just this morning I have been diagnosed with a hernia and now I know I have to alter my methods. I do have a hive lift that will pluck boxes off a stack and swing them away but it is slow.

    I am not going to consider 8 frame at the moment because that is too difficult to modify to. Deeps are easy to cut down to mediums.

    I have read about the gap between boxes being a barrier in the winter movements of bees but if that proves not to affect survivabilty in my cold climate, I think I can live with other concerns.

    Decisions will be made when I see whether european foulbrood rears its ugly head in the coming season.
    Frank

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Oklahoma,USA
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    I ran all 8 frame mediums for 4 years. My number one negative is doing a full inspection. Lots of frames, more chances to kill bees stacking the boxes back together.
    It is time consuming going through 20-30 hives. Can be difficult chasing a queen down.
    They can get really tall if you don't use queen excluders.
    You will have to keep on top of them as they will crowd faster.
    Plus you need extra space to store more hive components.
    Do you use swarm traps? Not the best size for space. 2 boxes makes it bulky to move.

    I've only been at this for 5 years and just added some deeps this year. But everything is still 8 frame. I build most of my hive bodies/ stands anyway.

    Personally i like the ability to be able to move frames where needed. Can equal hives out to same size to be more uniform.
    Pulls less bees from a hive if you take one frame to boost another.
    Can make smaller splits if you have multiple frames with queen cells. More chances to get mated queen back.
    Can condense weak hives to less space to protect.
    Better for small swarms.
    Easy to add a frame of honey/pollen where needed without taking too much from donor hive.
    Just some of the things to consider that i can think of right now. I'm in SE Oklahoma so others may have different ideas or experiences. I do not have to worry about wrapping hives.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Oklahoma,USA
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post

    I am not going to consider 8 frame at the moment because that is too difficult to modify to. Deeps are easy to cut down to mediums.
    Use a old blade, cut one end off the hive, rabbit the side piece, glue, screw the side back on to correct dimensions. Little extra work but can be done in the slow winter months should you decide to later. Swap the frames over in the spring.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Bucks County PA
    Posts
    373

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    Alison moved all 6 of our colonies to all-mediums (10-frame) with the exception of one where they "refuse" to vacate a deep brood box. So that box remains on the bottom of that particular stack. We only had four deep boxes to begin with (from the original "kits") so this was a natural transition for us and the mediums are a lot easier for Alison to manipulate and carry. Two of the boxes got turned into swarm traps and the remaining on is reserved in case we "need" to acquire a NUC from one particular local beek who only uses deeps...which is less likely at this point because we're raising our own NUCs on the porch to provide both brood and queens if there's a need for them.
    Humble assistant to beek Alison as well as family purveyor of luxury Bee condominiums and Paparazzi activities...

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    5,604

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    Quote Originally Posted by psm1212 View Post
    , but I think I will really enjoy all of my frames being interchangeable.
    Most of the pros and cons have been addressed above. Interchangeability is most important to me, so I ended up switching over to all mediums several years ago. If I were 30 years younger I would probably be using all deeps for brood and supers. I understand that you can remove deep frames one at a time, but sometimes you just need to pull "boxes" and get down into the stack. I don't have the patience to be repeatedly pulling single frames out of a box to remove it, and I no longer have the physical ability to be hefting full deeps around.

    Either way will work. I've never had an issue with a cluster not spanning multiple medium boxes. They seem to figure it out. Deep brood frames are probably better, but the bees do just fine on medium brood frames.

    Make your decision based on what works best for "you", would be my advice. Everyone's situation and priorities are unique.
    To everything there is a season....

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Woodbridge, VA (But planning to move to NW Louisiana soon)
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    Quote Originally Posted by psm1212 View Post
    Otherwise, what are the experiences out there for running exclusively mediums? I run between 20 and 30 hives. Thanks.
    I've had bees for 2 years, and have only used mediums, so I have no basis of comparison to using deeps. The interchangeability was important to me. Especially just starting out, I figured I would quickly run into equipment shortages if having to manipulate two frame/box sizes. I worked up to 6 hives, all mediums, and appreciated the common frame sizes. When it comes to moving boxes full of honey, the mediums are manageable. I would probably have to break down deep boxes and move them around in stages due to the weight.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Baker, FL
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    Majority of my nearly 40 hives are 8 frames mediums...love the convenience, and ease to work with. Make my own boxes, 1x8s a lot cheaper than 1 x12s. Biggest draw back, if I wanted to sell nucs or hives most people expect the deep frames to be compatible with starter kits or standard hiveware. But for me, it works great.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,824

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    More expensive and inspecting and requeening time goes way up. But as I feel upper body strength go away due to age, those concerns don't speak as loud. Since my hives are stationary, deeps are still my first choice. Medium supers have become my standard.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Winona, Texas
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    Started out using deeps switched completely over to 8 frame mediums.
    Now back to using two 8 frame deeps and a medium for brood chamber,
    All the supers are 8 frame mediums. This combination works well for me, the queens seem to love laying in those deep frames.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Skaneateles, NY
    Posts
    951

    Default Re: Converting to Mediums

    i have been using almost exclusively deeps but after spine surgery last year im going to be changing all the honey supers to mediums. I will leave the brood boxes as deeps. All the spare deep frames i guess i will use for traps and nucs.
    Im guessing it will take a season or two to get all of the medium supers foundations all built out. I have 40 new mediums all painted and filled with foundation frames ready to go next year!

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