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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question: Which is better for the hobbyist? Double deeps or 1 Deep with mediums?

I'm a hobbyist beekeeper thats been keeping bees for 5 years. I've always run all 8 frame mediums but I recently had a large die off and I had to buy a couple nucs for this spring. I bought from a local guy that only sold deep nucs. Now that I've got a couple deeps in my yard I was considering running those hives in double deeps year around and then supering with mediums during a honey flow. Is that better or should I stick with the traditional single brood chamber?

I've always overwintered my hives in 3 mediums, one of them full of honey.
 

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Welcome to the forum beedawg. As you know, beekeeping is local so it would be helpful if you put in your location. I am assuming that you are in the south considering your present configuration, but fellow beeks can give better advice knowing a more specific location.
Here in Vermont, a "traditional" configuration is 2 deeps and medium supers. I run 3 deeps and medium supers. So traditional for me is certainly not traditional for where you live. J
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I live in Georgia, a couple an hour or so east of Atlanta.

The rule of thumb I was always told starting here is that a medium of honey is enough to get them through winter. I'm just thinking that moving forward it may be simpler to used double deeps.
 

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What ever you decide do all mediums or all deeps. Mixing is a pain when you need to move them around moving a frame from an upper box to a lower or visa versa. I run all deeps even supers all deeps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What ever you decide do all mediums or all deeps. Mixing is a pain when you need to move them around moving a frame from an upper box to a lower or visa versa. I run all deeps even supers all deeps.
All deep honey supers! I'd rather not handle those. That might whip me during a big flow.

I agree it's simpler, that's where my head is right now. When I started out I was told that all mediums is the way to go. In my mind the double deeps might be simpler. I'll still super with mediums since I've got all these medium hive bodies already.
 

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I run a deep and a medium brood chamber. I do rotate them a bit but I try to end up with a medium on the bottom and a deep on the top. I’ve been doing this a couple years now. I think the deep on top makes a better unbroken brood area. I’ve already rotated the to put the deep on the bottom. I’ll switch them back in a month or two. I run medium honey boxes with excluders. From October/November until March I remove excluders and leave at least a box of honey on. They will move into the supers over winter but I don’t mind that. I’ll move the queen down once she starts laying good.
 

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I just checked on mine today. I am testing out 1 deep/1 medium configuration. As of today in my overwintered hives, I see no difference between two deeps and deep/medium. It's a small sample size and not yet a full year, but I'm happy so far.
 

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I vote all mediums. Mixed frame size causes issues with hive manipulations to prevent swarming. My strongest hive has been expended twice already and is not making queen cups. Nucs however filled up faster than I kept up with and have produced some queen cells. Moving to all mediums was one of the best things I've done.

To help make that decision, you probably want to have an idea on how you plan to prevent swarms. Checkerboarding is much more flexible with all the same size frames. Besides, it keep you from having to store different sized equipment because you need the other size to do xyz.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I vote all mediums. Mixed frame size causes issues with hive manipulations to prevent swarming. My strongest hive has been expended twice already and is not making queen cups. Nucs however filled up faster than I kept up with and have produced some queen cells. Moving to all mediums was one of the best things I've done.

To help make that decision, you probably want to have an idea on how you plan to prevent swarms. Checkerboarding is much more flexible with all the same size frames. Besides, it keep you from having to store different sized equipment because you need the other size to do xyz.
Only switching off all mediums because I had to buy some new nucs and went with a guy from my local bee club. He only sells deep nucs.

I was thinking double deeps because it’d still give me room to checkerboard and move things around if needed, then again I do all have all these mediums laying around. Most folks around here run a deep and a medium.
 

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If you have a few deeps, use them to transition the deep nucs to all mediums. I wouldn't let a few nuc frames change how I do things. I had to buy deep nucs and just transitioned to double mediums, half filled with the deeps and the other half with medium frames. As I moved the deeps up and they filled with honey, they were extracted and then thrown away. I have my original deep box still. This year I've started moving the deep up and putting mediums under it. As soon as they fill it with honey and cap, it is gone. Frames cut or trashed, and the hive body cut down to a medium. It is a process, but those that have mixed frame size are a pain to manipulate. Worth the transition.
 

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I am in North Georgia and use double deeps and use mediums as honey supers. I haven't ever seen any nuc supplier sell them with medium frames. Deep brood frames work very well when you have to swap frames with another hive. The only downside I see with having a medium as a brood box is that it will take the bees longer to fill the deep frames before you can add a honey super.
 

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Most folks around here run a deep and a medium.
same for around here, including myself. the double deep is overkill for down south.

i sometimes have a double deep set up for queenrearing, and sometimes i'll let a caught swarm build up in a double deep. these are always split up for making nucs however and don't stay doubles.

if i overwinter a double deep it gets split into 2 singles as early as possible.

it's possible to make most any set up work. i started with single deeps and medium supers because everyone else was doing that. since then i figured out how to make them work in terms of effective swarm prevention and good honey production.

have you considered making up and overwintering a few nucs of your own?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
have you considered making up and overwintering a few nucs of your own?
I tinkered around with overwintering some hives in 8 frame mediums a couple years ago. Mixed success, it was my first try and I did some things wrong.
I’ve lost 8 hives in the last year and I’m down to 1 so basically I’m starting over. Seems like a good time to change configuration if I need to. You make some good points.
 

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Squarepeg does great swarm prevention and has taught me some tricks that are working.

The local guys must love getting to sell you nucs every year and for some people they don't want the fuss of wintering hives. However, in Georgia, you should be watching some of fat bee man's videos. He is in GA as well. I started late last year after a complete loss. Mid-March with two purchased nucs. In comparison, I've already been splitting hives a month ahead of when I purchased them last year. I've made a lot of mistakes, but keep learning from them. When seeking advise on timing and winter preps, be sure to adjust for your local climate. What works up north is different for us. You look closer to Squarepeg's latitude than mine. However, you are welcome to read my thread and get a heads up on what may be coming your way in the future weeks. I'd have to check, but i think I saw my first drone cells in late January this year. My guess is your area is starting to see them. I think squarepeg mentioned that I may be running 6-8 weeks ahead of him this year. My area's winter was a typical mild winter. JWPalmer is north of you. Many others on here as well. Just look for who is in your area. FWIW, I went into winter with 7 hives, one died due to a failed queen and the others are going strong. I did a lot of splits on many of them, which probably helped. No chemical or organic treatments. This year I hope to go into winter with 15-20 colonies and cross my fingers to come out with 10-15.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The local guys must love getting to sell you nucs every year and for some people they don't want the fuss of wintering hives. However, in Georgia, you should be watching some of fat bee man's videos. He is in GA as well. I started late last year after a complete loss.
These are the first nucs I’ve purchased in years, I’m sure they’d sell you one too when you need it.
My first couple of years I was very lucky. I had very low losses and I was slowly making splits and growing. From 1 to three to eight...... Had a bad year, made some management mistakes; we’re all still learning.

To quote the fat bee man: “You’re not a beekeeper until you’ve killed your bees”

Maybe this year I’ve graduated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am in North Georgia and use double deeps and use mediums as honey supers. I haven't ever seen any nuc supplier sell them with medium frames. Deep brood frames work very well when you have to swap frames with another hive. The only downside I see with having a medium as a brood box is that it will take the bees longer to fill the deep frames before you can add a honey super.
Medium nucs are hard to find. Fat bee man has them sometimes.

Do you overwinter in the just the double deeps and judge stores by hive weight?
 

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I switched to all mediums for pure simplicity of everything interchangeable. 2-3 mediums for wintering here in OK has been great, so far no problems.

Medium nucs seem impossible to come by here, but what I done when I bought deep nucs was remove the queen, cage her and then shake/brush the bees off the deep frames. Then took the frame over to the table saw cut it down to size and put it into a medium and put the queen back in. Lost a little bit of brood, but nothing major. Worked out great and I have not looked backed. I understand why commercial is deeps, singles or doubles, but for hobbyists 2 mediums work great for my location.

If I decide to sell some nucs I will just simply put my extra in a medium nuc and put a deep nuc on top of that. Then divide them off and now I will be able to offer medium and deep nucs for anyone that wants them. All the mediums that dont sell I can just use to keep building and incorporate them into what I have easily. For the deeps, no bigger than I am right now, I dont think the deeps will be to hard to sell off. If they dont I will just simply cut them down to size and cut the 3" off the deep nucs and back to mediums. Use the extra 3" for a quilt/feed box on top and no big deal.

Deep and medium frames are the same price so no difference there. A deep box is about $3 extra. All my hives have a quilt/feed box on top that I use year round. Found out the extra 3" on a deep box makes for a perfect quilt box filled with burlap in winter and holds a rapid round feeder in spring and fall. So for $3 I get a quilt box out of it. Now all my hives I buy 4 mediums and 1 deep and cut the deep
 

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The thing I hate about wintering with a medium on top is that the early brood will be in the medium, or spread between the medium and the top of the deep. This really messes up my coming-out-winter manipulations. I get really annoyed (with myself as all mistakes are my own) when I have that config, though I know it's popular. I just noticed that I have two stacks with a medium in place on top this year. What was I thinking (or not) at closeout last year? That medium should be the lowest box.

I run all deeps, too, for supers and brood. But I almost never lift a full box that's been assigned to use as a super, except perhaps to install it with all-empty combs. I simply remove as many combs as necessary, individually, and then lift the box. I make very liberal use use of spare and quiet boxes, so it's by far the easiest way to go.

Nancy
 

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Neither configuration has a solid advantage over the other. Both have 16 frames to inspect for a queen. Double deeps are too much honey for winter i.e. a waste of salable honey. I agree with the statement that it is better to have all frames a single size.

This diffugulty is why I chose to convert to square Dadant equipment over the last 2 years. I have 14 frames to inspect for a queen and all the honey needed for winter can be stored in a single box.
 
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