I have prepared a new hive for this year with two medium boxes for brood and two shallows for supers. I chose mediums to reduce the weight--but now I'm wondering whether there are any drawbacks to using mediums. Does it matter?
I run all mediums now except for the occasional deep that I often get when I buy a nuc. The mediums are fine. I run 3 mediums for the broodnest and anything over that is medium supers. Shallows are fine if you like to use them. I like running all the same sized frames.
I would have at least 1 more medium for the brood nest - 3 total. That would be comparable to 2 deeps which is pretty common in the northern half of the country. You might get by with just 2 mediums for brood but without manipulation and constant attention during the spring build up, swarming could end up being a real issue with a limited area for brood expansion.
I run all mediums too, and I like the option to move the frames and boxes wherever they are needed whether in the brood area or supers. Looking ahead you should consider having at least 4 mediums with brood frames for each hive. That extra box of drawn brood comb will be invaluable, especially in the spring months. Not so much for this year but for the following spring.
>I chose mediums to reduce the weight--but now I'm wondering whether there are any drawbacks to using mediums.
In my opinion, no. There are some people who believe bees have to have deeps to have enough room for the queen to lay. In my experience she moves quickly from box to box with mediums. Not so much with deeps.
We are all mediums with the exception of one deep on the bottom of a stack that the silly bees refuse to abandon. 3 for brood plus whatever else is needed. They are easier to manage for Alison and being standard on one size box just plain keeps things simple. We made this decision in our first year after lots of though and extensive consideration of Mr Bush's helpful and thorough printed and online materials, as a matter of fact.
I use three 8 frame mediums for brood with a qe and medium supers for honey. In mid August I remove the excluder and add another brood box. I winter with 4 boxes and then start all over again in April. For me having all my equipment interchangeable keeps things simple.
All 8 frame mediums here...therefore no hassles with interchanging frames, lids, bottom boards, etc. I use 3 boxes for brood nest then QE with supers above. Reduce to 3 mediums for winter.
I often buy 8 frame deeps, put them together and then cut them down. The remaining “shallow” is used for insulation shim during winter or feeding shim. Most have had 1-1/2 inch holes drilled in them that are covered by screen. These are used all year on top of the inner cover for ventilation.
As a reference, I'm currently at 30 hives, all 10 frame. I use to run double deeps for the brood nest. I started thinking that if I went to single deeps I'd have enough equipment to start 30 more hives. It also seemed like I was spending more time trying to control the urge to swarm in the doubles. Last year I started running single deeps. I run all mediums for supers. Coming out of Winter I initially add (1) medium on top of the deep to expand the brood-nest. Prior to the nectar flow I ensure the queen is in the deep and then put on a queen excluder between the deep and medium. Any brood in the medium will hatch out and once nectar starts filling the majority of cells in the medium I remove the queen excluder. At that point the Queen will rarely cross from the deep to medium. So... in the Spring I have (1) medium that's a brood box and a honey super, for those that say a box is a box is a box.
As I approach 70 I see more logic in mediums for the infirm, but In any other world, deeps are cheaper real estate and much easier to inspect as fewer frames means less lifting not more! I have almost quit using deeps for supers and have gone to mediums for surplus. I also have several colonies in one deep and one medium which works for me also. This can be done many ways. I am pro choice on bee boxes.
I think there's probably two times as many ways to skin this cat as there are beekeepers. I have one hive in three mediums and hate it. Granted you don't have to look at all thirty frames to do an inspection, but there's still thirty frames there. I really like the western/intermediate depth. It's an oddball size but I can easily winter in two boxes here and wintering in one is pretty easy. If weight was an issue I'd just put them in 8 frame boxes. If you have any number of hives uncapping and extracting the shallows starts to get old pretty quick. Really, if lifting is a big issue and you only want to keep a few hives, you can make honey in supered nucs. The bees don't care, just don't let them run out of room
A lot of beekeepers use medium only gear. There is something to be said for having only one box size and only one frame size. Because of weight and geezer back, for a while I tried running all mediums for a while. But a medium frame is 64% of the area of a deep frame and I found that my brood chamber was expanding to 3-1/2 boxes. That's 40 frames to inspect, twice as many frames to buy. I went back to deeps for brood. I now run two 8 frame deeps for brood with medium 8 frame supers. Hive boxes with the recessed handle notch in the middle of the box face are also not very ergonomic. I attached exterior cleat handles that run the full width of the box, the bigger handle allows me to grip the hive box with my hands close to my body and center of mass and that makes lifting a lot easier since I'm lifting along my body's natural line of strength instead of trying to lift with arms that are extended out away from me.
It's actually half again as many frames to buy and search. But it takes a lot less time to find a queen on a medium frame than a deep. I can scan left to right without any circling and circling back. I didn't realize how much I liked finding queens on medium frames better until I was helping a friend find queens on deeps all day one day and couldn't figure out why my arms ached and my wrists hurt until I thought about it and realized how many more times I had to circle back and how much more the frames weighed. I would much prefer to find queens on mediums.
All mediums here , started out with two deep brood box's and medium supers but they were just to hard on my back but the real advantage is being able to move frames around from all box's , love 10 frame mediums
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