Have you ever tried 6 frame hives for your regular configuration? I know that some folks (fatbeeman is one) that use 5 frame hives and super up...but I was wondering if many folks use 6 frames...and if you do, do you think 6 is better than 5?
I've used 5 frame med and deep nucs as well as 8 frame med and deep hives. They all winter fine for me in Michigan. 6 frame nucs would be fine, but you'll either have to make them yourself or get someone to make em for ya. Don't think you'll find these available from a dealer.
This will be my 3rd season using 7 frame equipment, in addition to 8 and 10 frame boxes. Can't tell if theres any benefit. The bees tend to draw out the initial comb a little faster when compared to other size boxes, but by the end i of the season the drawn out comb pretty much evens out with other boxes. I started building 7 frame hive bodies because I had a lot of scrap wood that wasn't long enough for 8 frames.
Walter Kelley started offering 7 frame hives this season.
I don't think there is a "magic" number. For a full grown hive, the issues are weight, stability and being able to manage the space. An eight frame is more stable than a five frame when you get the boxes stacked up to the same volume. A ten frame is still more stable. I make up for the eight frame issue by having them up against each other. Less likely to blow over that way. For a mating nuc, I like two medium frames. For increase, I like to make splits that are two eight frame boxes full of bees and empty supers on top of that. For selling to people starting a colony, I think an eight frame medium (or its equivelant, the five frame deep) works fine. For installing a package, I like a five free deep or an eight frame medium pretty well.
I know of 1 guy that uses 6 frame nucs on a regular basis for making spring nucs. I believe that he uses them in out yards that are a good distance from his place and by using the 6 frame nuc over the 5, he can go an extra few days between checks, thereby reducing the amount of travel on his equipment. I like to use 5 frame nuc boxes for mating nucs, and will super them up if I need to.
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