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A question on the 2-deep brood boxes practice. Is it necessary or is it just desirable from a commercial pollination point of view to build up a hive to a 2-deep size? Will a hive with 1 deep brood box be able to make honey in a hobby situation around the Los Angeles California area? I want them to survive through winter and of course a little honey would be nice.

Last year I built up two nice 2 deep-box colonies but they did not make it through winter due to robbing, predation (bad hornets/yellow jackets) and perhaps a late swarm. I have moved the location (out of the wind), captured the wild hive and have started over. Is it possible I gave them too much space last year? They did a great job of building comb and making honey (didn’t take any because I fed them most of the time) but by November one was gone and the other just a fist full of bees. The bees were Italian and have been told that they tend to over-breed, but they had plenty of stores in the hive. Even after significant robbing by wild bees there was almost 10 frames of honey (some full, most partial). This year I was thinking of keeping the breeding area to a single box and adding supers (~ 50% drawn) with an excluder and not forcing them to do all the colony building they did last year. Is this bad thinking?
Jerry
 

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My mentor has been keeping for almost 60 years here in Southern Oklahoma. All of his hives consist of one hive body and a shallow super. I did not think that would be enough but when I moved the hives they were manageable and full of healthy bees. The bees seem to be doing fine and are mite free and haven't needed medication in about 10 years. It still took 2 people to move them but I bet they weight around 90lbs. Our area is different than yours but it works around here.
 

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I run all my hives in single deeps then add medium and shallow supers during the flows.
It really all depends on your winter. If your winter is mild, then a single deep is totally fine. I have not lost a single deep to winter loss in years. My only winter losses have been 5 frame nucs.

btw...our winter here in Alabama see maybe once or twice where the temps get into the teens for more than 2-3 days. The rest of the winter it averages lows in the 30's and highs in the 40's.
 

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You can absolutely do this. You will need to manage it like you would a nuc. Lang hives get huge because of all of the space the bees are given. If they have a smaller place, they will utilize it like that is all the space they have. Like with nucs that are left, swarms are more likely. And, as someone else mentioned, you may need to be more attentive to your winter preparations. Maybe in CA that's not needed, but it sure is here in MD. Good luck!
 

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Jerry,
A retired commercial beek that I spoke to here in Lancaster CA said that all he ran was a deep and a medium for the brood chamber. No excluder! I am planning on two deeps for the brood chamber. I just want to be sure not to get brood in my honey this summer (fingers crossed!). However, experience may allow me to figure out the best configuration for my area/tenure.
When I was driving to NorCal for Easter I saw a lot of palletized single deep hives out in the almond fields. Maybe they will expand to two deeps later on? I do not know if they are really after honey, They get paid per frame of bees. I could be wrong.
 

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I will caveat this that I have never kept bees in a warm climate, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. But I can't imagine trying to keep them from swarming with only one deep for brood... it certainly would not work here. Wintering is another thing, but just swarm control would be tough, I would think.
 

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I dont think you will be able to produce honey with a single deep, plus you will have to remove frames every day to keep the queen from swarming, stick with the two boxes and concentrate on keeping the brood box open to avoid swarming, if you do anything this year to advance your knowledge do a search on swarming on this site. good luck
Bob
 

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odfrank,
Sorry to get off topic, newbie question here. Is that your harvest ready for extraction? How many colonies did it take to produce?
 

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odfrank,
Sorry to get off topic, newbie question here. Is that your harvest ready for extraction? How many colonies did it take to produce?
That is at time of crop removal. Each stack of boxes is a colony.
 

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I guess I'll defend myself...

I run 1 deep brood chamber and then add supers during the flow. Here's how I manage swarms, honey, etc...

1. During "swarm season", I check hives once a week for swarm cells. If I am not wanting to grow my number of hives, I pinch off the cells. If I want to grow, I take the frame with the swarm cell and place it in a 4 or 5 frame nuc(after making sure the Q is not on that frame, of course) By flow's end, they have usually built out all the frames in the nuc.
2. I do use an excluder....and I get plenty of honey. Usually 2-3 supers during the tulip poplar/clover/wild flower flow here in AL. I add one super back on after extracting and allow them to keep all of the honey from the goldenrod flow in late summer.

Why do I do it this way?
1. I learned this from my father, a 40+ year beekeeper.
2. One deep keeps swarm cell checking simple. They still make them on 2 deep set ups.
3. 2 strong single deeps make as much honey as a 2 deep.
4. Finally, to be honest, have single deeps allows me to watch how different queens work. It's just a quirky joy I have.

Blessings to you...
 

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Yes, OD, but 12 Dadant deep frames is actually enough room for a queen... where 10 deep frames, in my experience, is not. Yes, a single Dadant deep box with 12 - 11 1/4" frames is about the right amount of room for a queen to lay... even with 11 it's pretty good...
 

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Michael - how tall are you? This is an amazing stack!

I work with one FS brood plus an excluder and one FS honey box and have done this for many, many years. I averaged 150 kg per hive last year ( a good year) Looks like different ways in different climates.
How do people handle any size box from such a stack full of honey? I would love to see a video.
 

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One deep and one shallow for the bees is the standard around here. Except for a few folks who want to "keep bees like the big boys". I'm sure you have to be a bit more careful regarding swarming and stores but I prefer the smaller brood nest by far.
 

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Wasn't it Allen Dick who said "Run them as singles, winter them as doubles"? In Alberta. Also had a calculation at some point showing that a queen can only keep 5-6 frames full of brood?
 

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I run about 850+ single deep hives this way for years and only produce about 150 lb avg. per hive. Yes that is about 60+ ton each year in singles. If you want to winter them, you will have to feed heavy after the harvest. Before the mites I had winter a lot of my bees in singles.
 

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When I was a commercial beek I used single deeps exclusively. I made tons of honey, literally and had very few swarms. Every region is different and some genetics are more prone to swarm. A smaller space gives the bees the advantage against intruders and is a key factor for queen breeding and comb honey production - go figure!
 

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Wasn't it Allen Dick who said "Run them as singles, winter them as doubles"? In Alberta. Also had a calculation at some point showing that a queen can only keep 5-6 frames full of brood?
Yup. I said something like that. The standard box was designed to provide adequate space for the brood produced by a good queen, but not a lot of feed.

Do the math and post your calculations.

Consider, though that some standards are used with only nine frames and that Pierco, for example can carry 20% more brood per frame than most wooden frames with standard plastic foundation, so the specific instances can vary.

I ran plenty of singles, both as comb producers and as honey producers. I never cut cells or worried about swarming. Supering early was my swarm control.

A word of warning, though, you have to know what you are doing and be there when the bees need you. If you are off a few days in spring, in one box only, they are gone. In fall, in one box, they'll be starved days after the supers are pulled if not fed or on a good flow.

I never had any luck wintering singes, either on floors or above other hives. If, though, I placed a box under early in fall and fed, they did as well as doubles and by spring, I could not tell the difference.
 
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