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A strange question?

2170 Views 13 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  cg3
Alright, so I'm waiting for mid-april to roll around as thats when I get to pick up my first 2 nuc colonies from a local beekeeper. It was not until just recently that I got hit upside the head with the realization that her invoice never listed the nuc box size.

So I called her, and she tells me her nuc box sizes are deeps. Well, okay, not a problem for most, but I had planned on running all mediums. I told her this and she proceeded to tell me that there is no way I can keep a hive in my area and expect them to live. It does not make sense? She said I have to run deeps for the brood area and then mediums for the supers.

Can someone here tell me if this is true or not? I've been going under the impression that it did not matter as long as they had what they needed to make it through a winter? I would be really bummed if I had to run deeps.
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Don't panic. :)

The biggest issue you should expect to deal with is the transition from the deep nuc frames to medium boxes.

I don't live in Sandpoint, but I did spend 17 winters in Pullman WA - but I didn't have bees then. :pinch:

I would say that winter conditions in Sandpoint are no worse than in Nebraska, and Michael Bush has lots of bees wintering in mediums in Nebraska.
you do not need to run deeps. however in the winter the bees cluster densely and crossing the space between supers may not be easy or possible in real cold weather. it is likely easier for the bees to overwinter in deeps in the far north particularly with a smaller cluster of bees. the bees can starve with honey an inch away.
Some people say Mediums won't work up North for winter...some say they work just as well as deeps, some say they winter better in Mediums..Go Figure!

Welcome to the world of Beekeeping! :D

I run all mediums and love it, then again I'm in South Louisiana. But I think there are many folks up North that would agree with me.

Good Luck!
That is what has worked for her. Just as long as you stay to the same area of deeps. Like four med. you should be fine. Personally I have gone form deeps to med back to two deeps for brood. Then med or shallows. In the fall I would leave most of the bridge comb. So that they move up easier. What you could do is make a dummy box that is deep high with a lid. And let them move up to your meds and keep the deep I'm play for the time being.
3 mediums = 2 deeps.

'nuff said.
It really depends largely on the type of winter you have in your area. Have tried both configurations and determined that two deeps work the best for my area (Bristol County, MA near the ocean). During a winter similar to the one we had this year in our area, two deeps worked very well. Whereas the long artic air cold spells this winter would not have allowed the bees to move easily to the above medium super. A milder winter would have allowed the bees easy movement upwards regardless of the configuration chosen. Can't take the chance of the variable types of winter we have here, so I always use two deeps for brood chambers. OMTCW
> It does not make sense?

It does not make sense. They winter fine in mediums. The bigger issue is how to get the bees in the deeps into your mediums. Assuming you don't want to buy new boxes, and assuming five deep frames, I would fill the bottom box with mediums, minus those five frames (in other words, in a ten frame medium box I would put five medium frames) and then the second box. If you have some scrap wood and you are handy, cut something to fill the first 3 1/2" of the bottom box where the frames are missing. If not, then leave it and the bees will just build 3 1/2" of comb on the bottoms of the deep frames. Put the deeps in the second box over the empty space in the box below. Fill it out with mediums. as you add space, move the drawn combs in the 2nd box to the empty space in the bottom box, add a box. Put the deeps back on top. Another option is to buy a five frame nuc and cut the top 3" off and put it on top for a shim and then use any old board as a lid to the shim and another lid to the gap on the side of the shim.
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That happened to me last year, except she had showed up w/ cash in hand. She still wanted the bees, so i took a kinda junk box and ripped a hunk off so she could stack one of her meds on, told her to stack her frames on top so they move into it and good luck! I now am quite clear that I run deeps right from the get go.
Pullman has some pretty WINDY winters! I worked there for a while doing construction on the campus. I'd have to say Sandpoint is a little colder and less wind. But the specific area I live, we did have some pretty nasty wind come through that brought some decent snowdrifts. We do not have any trees on our land, all field!

Isn't small winter clusters better to have for wintering than large clusters? I actually tried to get carniolans for this reason... I do plan on giving them some wind breaks by stacking straw bales around them and putting tarps over them.

I do plan on making up the difference by adding more mediums, like shinbone said.

Thanks for the input on this, fellas. I'm going to give the mediums a try this year and see if they overwinter. If I fail, I will be sure to let you guys know and see if we could determine whether or not it really was from the difference in box size.

I'm happy to see that you gave your input on this one, Mr. Bush! I happened to find your site and have been doing some reading. I've got alot more to read though!

The nucs will contain 5 frames in a cardboard unit. I see what you are talking about Mr. Bush. My question is, how do I eventually eliminate the deep frames from the hive? Do they just eventually quit using them?
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Tell you what stack two of your mediums on top of each other place those deep frames in them letting them hang down into the bottom medium the bees will continue to draw comb from the bottom bar down. I do it all the time. in two or three weeks take a picture of one and send it to her to show her what a real frame of brood looks like.

You will still want more room than that for a brood nest in your area. Michael Palmer has told me a couple of times that he uses 2 deeps and a medium in his area.

Over time your queen will move up and you will find those deep frames empty of brood and you can remove them and replace with fraems of your choice. There is some issue with mediums versus deeps for the brood box. but I have not noticed any that are enough of a problem to worry about. I use both and will find my queens will move up from the deep to use mediums as often as they will stay in the deep and seem reluctant to move up.

Use the equipment that suits you the best. and then you will keep the bees that do best in it. that is my advice. You have a long ways to go in finding the best queens reproducing form them and that sort of thing for your apiary.

I use deeps and mediums. the only real problem I see is adding a deep frame to a medium box. adding a medium to a deep has never been a problem and is actually a great source for starter comb. As my apiary grows and I have more hives to work with the deep fraems in two stacked mediums works well also. Just have it hang down between two frames below so the bees keep the comb straight. Fill the rest of the lower box with medium frames.
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3 mediums = 2 deeps.

'nuff said.
I do not know of anyone who sells medium nucs in this area. I know you do not want to use a bottom deep, but if you only have a single deep you do not have to move it very much like you would a double deep. I am assuming less weight is the reason you want all mediums.
Let them build up into med. nuc boxes on top of the deep. Later in the year, when the queen is working in the meds, put a queen excluder between the boxes. After any brood has hatched out in the deep, remove it.
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