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Hello All - I apologize in advance if this should be in the equipment forum, but thought the topic overlapped.

I am a fairly new beekeeper (6 years, but a took a couple years off in the middle due to bee yard location issues). The person who got me started in bees was an advocate of following the George Imirie "school of thought" as we are all Marylanders. Aside from the information on the internet, I took his advice to heart and have been running all Mediums (both brood and supers), reversing brood chambers, trying to be a beekeeper and not a beehaver, etc.

I know this may come with some groans, but I recently started watching Korean beekeeping videos and find it absolutely fascinating. Mostly, the posters are commercial beekeepers where some "chase the flow" and some remain in static yards. There doesn't seem to be a big market for pollination, so the ones that move their hives are chasing the Acacia blooms from the southern part of the country to the north (you can drive from the bottom to the top of the country in about 6 hours). A couple interesting things I noticed was that everyone uses poly/foam hives, runs single deeps, and uses this automated tube feeder system (imagine an IV going into each hive with a centralized sugar syrup dispensing system). Also, in what seems to be bizarre to me, some of their single deeps only have 2 or 3 frames and they use some form of follower board (essentially making a nuc using a full size deep - I can see the need for less hardware, etc.). Also, I have yet to see a pair of leather gloves, everyone uses kitchen dishwashing gloves LOL. One last interesting thing is that they take their honey very seriously - there is a national honey grading system where if you want to sell your honey at a commercial level, it must be lab tested and they provide unique serial codes/stickers to place on the bottles. I wish my Korean were better, but i'm viewing mostly for the video and to see how other folks in other countries care for their bees. All of this background is to ask a simple question:

In Maryland (very similar climate to South Korea) where summers are hot/humid and winters are fairly mild with temps rarely going below 0-10 degrees F), is there a huge risk converting my medium hives to single deeps? I can see the pros/cons for both sides, but for me, having a single deep seems to be easier to manage (less frames to inspect), less equipment, and less "quantity" of stuff. I know the commercial guys use singles for ease of transport/weight, but is there a huge risk that I am not thinking of (especially overwintering)?

I'm considering running single poly/foam deeps hives like they do in Korea, but I realize that each location (even a couple hours away) should be managed differently. Their major issue seems to be the giant "killer" hornets, and less so on varroa and hive beetles. I sincerely appreciate any and all feedback, I'm not saying one way is better than another, and think that in this digital age we can learn/leverage what others are doing, even if they are on the other side of the planet.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I keep bees to make honey and more bees. I would not consider trying to run single deeps as the flow is too short. I need a full two deeps of bees by mid April if I want to get a harvest. I have no issue with poly hives, but if you already have a bunch of mediums, why change? Three mediums makes a nice sized brood nest.
 

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With single deeps you'll have fewer frames to dig through when finding the queen or inspecting the brood best, but on the other hand you'll have a smaller margin for error when it comes to keeping enough space to prevent swarms in spring and having enough honey to get through winter -- basically, more inspections, but they're easier.

If you do it right, the bees will be fine either way. Google "canada single hive management" and watch Devan Rawn, Ian Steppler, and University of Guelph for ideas on running singles. (They even speak English in Canada!)

Another slight management difference is that it's possible to run large brood boxes (2 deeps or 3 mediums) without ever feeding (at least here in central NY). Whereas with a smaller overwintering brood area, you'll get to take more honey off, but that also means you'll probably have to feed most colonies in fall as they won't store enough in just that bottom box.

Personal recommendation: If you just want things to be easy, stick with what you know and one consistent type of equipment. But if you like trying new things, go for it. If there was a clear best choice all the commercials would already be doing it that way.

Poly vs wood is a totally separate decision. I use poly but I don't think it really matters.
 

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I keep bees to make honey and more bees. I would not consider trying to run single deeps as the flow is too short. I need a full two deeps of bees by mid April if I want to get a harvest. I have no issue with poly hives, but if you already have a bunch of mediums, why change? Three mediums makes a nice sized brood nest.
Thanks JWP, you have a valid point with our short nectar flow (I tell everyone that MD has the shortest flow of anywhere in the world) :D

That said, I totally get the more bees = more honey logic, makes complete sense to me. It leads to me to wonder about the following metrics assuming a deep 10 frame brood box: 3,500 cells per side at 20 sides = 70,000 cells. Queen lays 2,000 eggs per day with a 21 day emerging time = 42,000 cells filled on day 21 with 2000 hatching that day. Theoretically, that leaves almost 50% of a single deep box empty for pollen and nectar/honey. Add in some drone cells which will slightly reduce that number, but again, on paper, the queen should never run out of space as long as there are supers on top for the nectar? Am I missing something with my math?

And please, I'm not trying to be argumentative, as someone who deals with analytics, it seems that based on the numbers of a standard deep lang, maximum bee population can be reached and maintained. Now, overwintering, that's another story...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
With single deeps you'll have fewer frames to dig through when finding the queen or inspecting the brood best, but on the other hand you'll have a smaller margin for error when it comes to keeping enough space to prevent swarms in spring and having enough honey to get through winter -- basically, more inspections, but they're easier.

If you do it right, the bees will be fine either way. Google "canada single hive management" and watch Devan Rawn, Ian Steppler, and University of Guelph for ideas on running singles. (They even speak English in Canada!)

Another slight management difference is that it's possible to run large brood boxes (2 deeps or 3 mediums) without ever feeding (at least here in central NY). Whereas with a smaller overwintering brood area, you'll get to take more honey off, but that also means you'll probably have to feed most colonies in fall as they won't store enough in just that bottom box.

Personal recommendation: If you just want things to be easy, stick with what you know and one consistent type of equipment. But if you like trying new things, go for it. If there was a clear best choice all the commercials would already be doing it that way.

Poly vs wood is a totally separate decision. I use poly but I don't think it really matters.
Thanks CF, would you mind sharing which poly hive you use? Like you mentioned, digging through 10 frames is a lot easier than going through 20-30, and based on my track record, the queen is typically on the last frame I check. Then again, unless I'm doing a full inspection, I usually just find some eggs and call it good and move on.

I'll check out the search you mentioned, they are obviously doing it up north where it's colder but to your point, may need more inspections and more splits to prevent swarming (I don't mind free bees). I'm a bit of a tinkerer and think that there are more efficient ways to manage hives, hopefully I don't end up reducing the bee population :)
 

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As I gained more hives (still at a small 9), I learned that usually I don't have to spend time looking frame y frame through the hive. If I see healthy brood and eggs and an active population, I know most of what I need to know. I also verify the hive is "right sized" for expansion or conraction, depending on the season, and in swarm season I tip the boxes up to check the bottoms of the frames for swarm cells.

So, number of frames doesn't really matter all that much, most of the time.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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The math of which you speak is based on perfectly drawn comb, all of which is worker sized. Reality is that comb does nat always go to the bottom, some is not suitable, lots of it is drone sized, and in a healthy colony there is a boatload of pollen scattered throughout, not to mention that the outer two frames are usually honey. I am not saying that it can not be done, I just think it is harder to manage. But give it a try. Half the fun of keeping bees is trying different things with them until you decide what works best for you in your area.
 
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