I am wondering if it would be OK, for the bees sake to have medium size brood hives and not deeps? I quess if it is, would it be better to stay with mediums all the way up or go to shallows for supers?
>I am wondering if it would be OK, for the bees sake to have medium size brood hives and not deeps?
"Friends don't let friends lift deeps" Jim Fischer
The hardest thing for me about beekeeping is lifting. Boxes full of honey are heavy. Deep boxes full of honey are VERY heavy. There may be some disagreement as to the exact weights of a full box of honey, but in my experience this is a pretty good synopsis of sizes of boxes and typical uses for them:
Extra Shallow, ½ 4 ¾" or 4 11/16" 40 - 50 pounds Cmb
8 frame boxes:
Jumbo, Dadant Deep 11 5/8" 80-88 lbs
Deep 9 5/8" 64-72 lbs
Western Bee Supply 7 5/8" 56-64 lbs
Medium, Illinois 6 5/8" 48-56 lbs
Shallow 5 3/4" or 5 11/16" 40-48 lbs
Extra Shallow 4 ¾" or 4 11/16" 32-40 lbs
If you want a grasp of these and don't have a hive yet, go to the hardware store and stack up two fifty pound boxes. This is approximately the weight of a full deep. Now take one off and lift one box. This is approximately the weight of a full eight frame medium.
I find I can lift about fifty pounds pretty well, but more is usually a strain that leave me hurting the next few days. The most versatile size frame is a medium and a box of them that weighs about 50 pounds is an eight frame.
So, first I converted all my deeps into mediums. It was a huge improvement over the occasional deep full of honey I had to lift. I still got tired of lifting 60 pound boxes, so I cut the ten frame mediums down to eight frame mediums. I'm really liking them. They are a comfortable weight to lift all day long and not be in pain for the next week. Any lighter and I might be tempted to try to lift two. Any heavier and I'm wishing it was a shade lighter.
I'm wondering how many aging beekeepers have been forced to give up bees because they hurt themselves lifting deeps and it hasn't occurred to them there are other choices?
> I quess if it is, would it be better to stay with mediums all the way up or go to shallows for supers?
The frame is the basic element of a modern bee hive. Even if you have various sized boxes (as far as the number of frames they hold) if the frames are all the same depth you can put them in any of your boxes.
Having a uniform frame size has simplified my life. If all your frames are the same size you have a lot of advantages.
You can put anything currently in the hive anywhere else it's needed.
1) You can put brood up a box to "bait" the bees up. This is useful without an excluder (I don't use excluders) but it's especially useful if you really want to use an excluder. A couple of frames of brood above the excluder (leaving the queen and the rest of the brood below) really motivates the bees to cross the excluder and start working the next box above it.
2) You can put honey combs in for food wherever you need it. I like this for making sure nucs don't starve without the robbing that feeding often starts, or bulking up the stores of a light hive in the fall.
3) You can unclog a brood nest by moving pollen or honey up a box or even a few frames of brood up a box to make room in the brood nest to prevent swarming. If you don't have all the same size, where will you put these frames?
4) You can run an unlimited brood nest with no excluder and if there is brood anywhere you can move it anywhere else. You're not stuck with a bunch of brood in a medium that you can't move down to your deep brood chamber. The advantage of the unlimited brood nest is the queen isn't limited to one or two brood boxes, but can be laying in three or four. Probably not four deeps, but probably in four mediums.
I cut all my deeps down to mediums and then all my ten frame mediums down to eight frames.
> or just let the bees work those 8 frames in a reg sized med super?
No. I DO put 8 (or 9) frames in a ten frame super when I'm running ten frame boxes sometimes, but I'm not doing ten frame boxes anymore.
>If the latter then the bees must draw really deep comb right?
When I put eight in a ten frame super, yes, but that wasn't my point.
>How many mediums do you stack up for winter?? I use 2 deeps for winter, what does that equal in mediums.
3 ten frame mediums exactly equals two deeps.
4 eight frame mediums almost exactly equals two deeps.
But in reality I adjust for the size of the cluster. When you have four eight frame boxes as the typical, you can vary from 2 to 5 boxes depending on the size of the cluster. When you have three mediums as typical, you can vary from 2 to 4 boxes depending on the size of the cluster.
I know some beekeepers who believe the winter better in eight frame eqiupment. They do seem to make better use of the stores in the eight frame equipment since with the ten frame they tend to chimney up the middle and often leave stores on the outside frames.
My motivation was lifting. 48 pounds is still nicer than 60 pounds, and that 12 pounds doesn't come from the middle it comes from the outside. In other words it's the two frames the furthest from your body that go away and those are the ones with the most leverage against your back. So the weight is not just less, but better distributed.
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