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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for info from those who have successfully swapped their deep frame hives to mediums on what method you used. My 6yo is showing real interest in helping me with my current hives and I'm looking into making the swap in order to make things a little easier for her while/when she's helping me. Any thoughts and ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
 

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First, I would say if you are changing frame size and combs then I would also change cell size to either natural comb or small cell at the same time. It will be the same amount of work. It just requires that you use either small cell foundation or foundationless frames.

The concept, of course, is to get to a point where all of the old combs (deeps, large cell etc.) are out and all of the ones you want (small cell and mediums) are what you now have. So first, you need to view all of what you don't want as a liability to be eliminated and all of what you do want as an asset. During a flow anything but brood is fair game to remove. During a dearth, honey and pollen are assets. At any time brood is an asset. At any time you can remove empty frames. There are several ways you can deal with any given deep frame. You can leave them in a deep and any excess that can't be filled with a deep (because you pulled them out) you can fill in with a medium. This is what I tend to do if there are more deeps than mediums. If you have more mediums than deeps, you can put the deeps in two medium boxes (it will hang down into the medium box below). If you have only one or two deeps with brood you can cut the comb to fit a medium frame and rubber band it into the medium frame. You can also get the queen and a couple of frames of brood on the other side of an excluder from the frames you wish to remove and wait for the brood to emerge in those frames and then remove them from the hive. These are the concepts.

So now to begin. The easiest time to begin is probably the first warm flying day in the spring. On a warm day you can look in the hive and pull any frame that is empty. You may have an entire box worth of empty deeps. Early in the spring there has been no flow to start refilling them and brood rearing is just getting into gear probably. The sooner you get the queen on the other side of an excluder from the combs you wish to remove, the better. If you have drawn medium frames, then try to get the queen on those. It's kind of early at lest in my part of the world to expect them to draw comb but they will be in about a month. So if you just keep removing empty frames until then, and after the flow gets into full swing you can steal any deeps with pollen and honey and harvest the honey. The pollen you can feed to the chickens (assuming there are any chickens) or cut them out and tie them into mediums (rubber bands probably...). Then applying the principles above you juggle things until all the boxes are full of frames. Later if you had comb on the bottom of a medium frame that was in a deep box, you can cut it off and rubber band it into a medium frame. If you have comb on the bottom of a deep (that was in two medium boxes) you can cut that off and rubber band it into a medium frame.

I don't know how to just make it a step by step unless I make assumptions about some brute force method, but that is also a possibility. You can simply do a "cut out" where you cut every frame of brood to fit a medium and rubber band all the combs into mediums and harvest all the honey and scrap or cutout all the pollen. If you have thin strips of brood left over you can put several in a frame to fill it out. This would be a "brute force" method and you could do it in an afternoon as long as there is a decent amount of nectar and pollen available.

A scaled back version of this is to cutout two combs of brood and put those with the queen on them on the other side of an excluder and wait for all the brood in the deeps to emerge and then pull them all.

If you don't want to do any cut outs of combs, then you could pull empty frames, replace with mediums and wait for the queen to be laying in some of the mediums and then pull those above an excluder.

All in all, I play it by ear and juggle it the best I can without stealing brood from them.
 

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Alison started with the typical "two deeps and some supers" setup that often comprises the "starter" sets from suppliers. She quickly realized after reading a lot of things here and on Mr Bush's site and in his books that going all medium was probably the best way to go. A) she's not very tall and B) deeps can be heavy...the combination when standing on a step stool can get dicy. So other than one colony who refuses to leave behind a single deep (that now just lives at the bottom of their stack), we're all medium boxes and happy with it. The only time it might be an issue is if we had to, for some reason, buy a NUC from one local supplier who only does deeps, but I have a 2" shim available that can be used with a medium box to make it a deep if absolutely necessary. (The same shims get used for when we want to "bottle feed" with a telescoping cover) We did stay with 10-frame boxes, but knowing what we know now at the beginning, we probably would have embraced the 8-frame boxes to make the weight even easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alison started with the typical "two deeps and some supers" setup that often comprises the "starter" sets from suppliers. She quickly realized after reading a lot of things here and on Mr Bush's site and in his books that going all medium was probably the best way to go. A) she's not very tall and B) deeps can be heavy...the combination when standing on a step stool can get dicy. So other than one colony who refuses to leave behind a single deep (that now just lives at the bottom of their stack), we're all medium boxes and happy with it. The only time it might be an issue is if we had to, for some reason, buy a NUC from one local supplier who only does deeps, but I have a 2" shim available that can be used with a medium box to make it a deep if absolutely necessary. (The same shims get used for when we want to "bottle feed" with a telescoping cover) We did stay with 10-frame boxes, but knowing what we know now at the beginning, we probably would have embraced the 8-frame boxes to make the weight even easier.
Do you have any pics of the shim you reference by chance? I have thought about taking a medium box and make some type of shim of sorts to let the bees move up from the 6 frame nucs coming and into the medium box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
First, I would say if you are changing frame size and combs then I would also change cell size to either natural comb or small cell at the same time. It will be the same amount of work. It just requires that you use either small cell foundation or foundationless frames.

The concept, of course, is to get to a point where all of the old combs (deeps, large cell etc.) are out and all of the ones you want (small cell and mediums) are what you now have. So first, you need to view all of what you don't want as a liability to be eliminated and all of what you do want as an asset. During a flow anything but brood is fair game to remove. During a dearth, honey and pollen are assets. At any time brood is an asset. At any time you can remove empty frames. There are several ways you can deal with any given deep frame. You can leave them in a deep and any excess that can't be filled with a deep (because you pulled them out) you can fill in with a medium. This is what I tend to do if there are more deeps than mediums. If you have more mediums than deeps, you can put the deeps in two medium boxes (it will hang down into the medium box below). If you have only one or two deeps with brood you can cut the comb to fit a medium frame and rubber band it into the medium frame. You can also get the queen and a couple of frames of brood on the other side of an excluder from the frames you wish to remove and wait for the brood to emerge in those frames and then remove them from the hive. These are the concepts.

So now to begin. The easiest time to begin is probably the first warm flying day in the spring. On a warm day you can look in the hive and pull any frame that is empty. You may have an entire box worth of empty deeps. Early in the spring there has been no flow to start refilling them and brood rearing is just getting into gear probably. The sooner you get the queen on the other side of an excluder from the combs you wish to remove, the better. If you have drawn medium frames, then try to get the queen on those. It's kind of early at lest in my part of the world to expect them to draw comb but they will be in about a month. So if you just keep removing empty frames until then, and after the flow gets into full swing you can steal any deeps with pollen and honey and harvest the honey. The pollen you can feed to the chickens (assuming there are any chickens) or cut them out and tie them into mediums (rubber bands probably...). Then applying the principles above you juggle things until all the boxes are full of frames. Later if you had comb on the bottom of a medium frame that was in a deep box, you can cut it off and rubber band it into a medium frame. If you have comb on the bottom of a deep (that was in two medium boxes) you can cut that off and rubber band it into a medium frame.

I don't know how to just make it a step by step unless I make assumptions about some brute force method, but that is also a possibility. You can simply do a "cut out" where you cut every frame of brood to fit a medium and rubber band all the combs into mediums and harvest all the honey and scrap or cutout all the pollen. If you have thin strips of brood left over you can put several in a frame to fill it out. This would be a "brute force" method and you could do it in an afternoon as long as there is a decent amount of nectar and pollen available.

A scaled back version of this is to cutout two combs of brood and put those with the queen on them on the other side of an excluder and wait for all the brood in the deeps to emerge and then pull them all.

If you don't want to do any cut outs of combs, then you could pull empty frames, replace with mediums and wait for the queen to be laying in some of the mediums and then pull those above an excluder.

All in all, I play it by ear and juggle it the best I can without stealing brood from them.
Thank you for the full explanation. I would prefer to not use "brute force" to accomplish this. My only reason behind considering this is due to my 6yo daughter showing strong interest and I'd like to make the equipment easier for her to handle now, even though I am always right there. Add to that my wife is an Ag teacher and 3 of her students are showing interest and I am going to help them as well.

I saw the 2 medium method you mentioned somewhere ( can't remember what forum/group) and have thought about do that and just keeping the bottoms of the deep frames clean as the process goes. Removing the frame on the outer edge and replacing with a new medium for as long as it would take the process to complete. I would then depending on what kind of frames come with these nucs, either cut the comb out and rubberband into new frames or possibly cut down the old deep frames and install a new bottom bar.

Or, I've thought about building a "shim" setup of some type to attach a medium box to the top of the 6 frame nuc box that I'll be getting. Thank you for the response and I'm sure I'll be putting 1 of these methods to work. Just have to decide which one and the the doing it.
 

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Do you have any pics of the shim you reference by chance? I have thought about taking a medium box and make some type of shim of sorts to let the bees move up from the 6 frame nucs coming and into the medium box.
Do you have a table saw, or access to one?
Take one of your boxes, either a deep that you're eliminating, or a beat up box, and cut your shims from that on the table saw, making a pass on each of the four sides. Quick and easy.
 

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Do you have any pics of the shim you reference by chance? I have thought about taking a medium box and make some type of shim of sorts to let the bees move up from the 6 frame nucs coming and into the medium box.
All it is comprised of is a 2" tall "box" the same dimensions as a regular box outside of height. For what you describe, we move the frames into the larger box directly. Putting a larger box on top of a smaller one might present some stability issues unless you tie it down or something. But a simple flat piece of plywood with a "NUC" sized hole in the middle would do what you want I suspect...
 

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Alison started with the typical "two deeps and some supers" setup that often comprises the "starter" sets from suppliers. She quickly realized after reading a lot of things here and on Mr Bush's site and in his books that going all medium was probably the best way to go. A) she's not very tall and B) deeps can be heavy...the combination when standing on a step stool can get dicy. So other than one colony who refuses to leave behind a single deep (that now just lives at the bottom of their stack), we're all medium boxes and happy with it. The only time it might be an issue is if we had to, for some reason, buy a NUC from one local supplier who only does deeps, but I have a 2" shim available that can be used with a medium box to make it a deep if absolutely necessary. (The same shims get used for when we want to "bottle feed" with a telescoping cover) We did stay with 10-frame boxes, but knowing what we know now at the beginning, we probably would have embraced the 8-frame boxes to make the weight even easier.
Correct me if I am naive, I understand about the weight issue but I don't understand about the height. Let just assumed the brood nest is either 2 deeps or 3 mediums so the height is almost identical on both case. Now a medium super is added on top of that. How does a person height makes any difference unless you talking using the deep for super too?
 

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It's a good question, Tom, and I can see that perhaps it's less significant than I might have represented. The height comes into play in that my lovely partner-in-life has to use a step stool to service her colonies when they get above a certain height...like 6 mediums. Mediums are easier for her to maneuver in that respect because they weigh less and that's true even when they are the bottom boxes and the step-stool isn't needed. Standardizing on a single box size makes things simpler across the board and made sense for us. This was our third year and things went extremely smoothly as it was the first year with all mediums across all colonies except for that one "opinionated" stack that will not give up their bottom deep.
 

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Blue Tick, lots of great ideas laid out here. When I transitioned from deeps to mediums years ago I cut down my deep frames to medium size over a period of time. I re-used the bottom bars that were cut off by nailing them back onto the bottom of the end bars on the "inside". Just cut the removed bottom bar so it will fit on the inside. If you are careful the comb will stay intact.

I don't know how many hives you have but it might make sense for you to begin to separate your hives as you transition to mediums. As deep frames are removed in the spring or whenever possible and cut down to mediums, begin to set up some hives that are all mediums and some all deeps for now. It may take a couple seasons but the transition might be smoother. Your 6 year old will be able to work the medium hives with you, and for now you can save the deeps for yourself.

Something else I did that helped was to put medium boxes above a consolidated single deep in the spring and let the queen move upward into the mediums. As the brood nest expanded upward it was much easier to find deep frames below that could be pulled and cut down. In the bottom box just replace the pulled deep frames with medium frames. If you can keep the queen moving upward there is less chance they will be building comb in the space below the frame.
 

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As an option, would it work to Nadir in the spring with medium, foundation-less, or with Foundation small cell?.. IE Place the empty medium box on the bottom board. stack the hive back on.
As the colony builds up place another empty on the bottom board. In a tree the bees start at the top and build down so this would not be to far off their natural tendency. As the top boxes, either the wrong size frame or wrong size cell fill up with honey just extract them. I would think in 2 years by doing 2 or 3 boxes a year you would be converted. If you use a Queen excluder I would think all your old frames could be used for supers, a drone cell or a 5.9 would be filled with honey just the same. the only 2 issues would be keeping the Queen out of it and the weight of the deeps as honey supers. If my primary objective was to transition to small cell, and the secondary objective was to transition to medium frames, would this work? seems to me it would be just as easy.
 
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