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Moving bees up from deep to mediums

3687 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Virginia
Hi all, first-year beek here.

In May, a friend gave me a swarm in an 8-frame deep. The rest of my equipment is 8-frame mediums. This hive is doing very well - one deep and 3 mediums. They are beginning to draw the top medium.

Problem is that the gifted deep is falling apart at the seams - I'm holding it together with a ratchet strap. I would really like to get my ladies into all mediums before this old deep crumbles. What's the best time of year to do that? I haven't dug down into the deep to see if there is still larvae/brood in there - partly because I am afraid the deep will fall apart if I pry off the mediums and then I have a mess. Queen is laying in first and second medium. I don't want to risk killing her because I can't find her from all the bees. Recommendations?

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1) put the deeps in two mediums and live with the burr on the bottom.
2) shake the bees off and run the frames through a table saw at 6 1/4" and put them back in a medium. Cut the comb out of the cut-off part and tie (rubber band) two of them into one empty medium frame.
3) do a cutout and rubber band all the comb into mediums.
4) wrap the deep box with some bailing wire and use a Spanish windlass to tighten it together and worry about it in the spring.
The best time to do it is very early Spring. During the winter, the bees gradually move up and probably won't be in that bottom deep at all. You could take it away then if it's empty. But in the mean time since the wood of the deep is rotting: stack 2 empty mediums together, then transfer the deep frames one by one into the mediums. Yes, there will be a gap at the bottom, but any paddles they build down from the frames can be discarded (or kept and rubber banded into new frames) in that first inspection of early Spring. I suspect that if the bees are busy working those upper 3 mediums you gave them, they won't bother with building onto the bottoms of those deep frames. Keep the boxes containing the deep frames on the bottom of your hive stack, for your best chance of them being empty come next Spring.
I've never tried it so take what I say with caution.
First, replace the gifted deep with two mediums, put the deep frames in them, with our meds above.
Second, after confirming the queen is NOT on the deep frames, put a queen excluder on, between the deep and meds.
The queen will be in you mediums. Once the brood from the deeps have emerged you can remove the double meds and frames, shake/brush any remaining bees into your meds. Take the deep frames away from the hive (at least 50 yards) and let them rob any honey they may have stored.
Hopefully someone with experience will give their advise.
Let us know how it works out!
4) wrap the deep box with some bailing wire and use a Spanish windlass to tighten it together and worry about it in the spring.
I vote for option 4. In Spring, they will probably have moved up out of the deep and you can just pull it.
Thank you all for sharing your wisdom. Option 4 it is. Duct tape and baling wire have saved my butt more than once around the farm - why not with the bees too. :)
I'm betting it doesn't work like the guessers suggest.
Is there an advantage of putting deeps in 2 mediums as apposed to using a 3 in shim? I used a 3 in shim below a medium box this yr to house a deep nuc in my all med equipment and it works great very minimal bur comb below the frames.
That sounds ideal. But the advantage to using 2 mediums is that the ordinary beekeeper has mediums on hand rather than shims!!
Makes since in that aspect, I make most of my own equipment and can whip a shim together quicker than a box but this time I just used a candy board shim that I previously had and ripped an inch off.
Hi there, I need to get that held-together-with-duct-tape-and-ratchet-strap bottom box off the hive. I saw in the most recent KYBA newsletter that "last week of February/1st week of March" is the time swap boxes. Or when temps get to 50s. Well, that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Are the bees still in hunker-down mode? or will I have swarming issue as soon as it does warm up? How long can I wait to swap boxes if the weather keeps being so uncooperative? So far, anyway, my 2 hives are still alive.

I'm betting it doesn't work like the guessers suggest.
How do you think it will end up?

What is your recommendation?
Almost responded to her #11 post on the night shift with a "Depends on" what happened in the fall.
If they got the broodnest backfilled after closeout, the broodnest will still be in the deep. The bees don't mind rickety - they plug the holes they don't like and use the holes big enough to use for a shortcut entry.

If they did not get the deep backfilled in the fall, they may have relocated up on solid capped honey in the mediums. and left old rickety basically empty. No problem there - just remove it.

She settled on option 4, Wait til spring and now wants to know when in spring. The advice to do it early comes from awareness of the buildup schedule. In our area, the month of feb is generally used filling the basic deep with brood. By the 1st of Mar, they are ready to explode the expansion into the upper deep (when wintered in the lower) If reversing, you want to precede brood across the box joint to avoid separating the brood.

Last season, with an extra cold Feb, starting expansion was delayed by about a brood cycle of three weeks, so any time in Mar would have been fine. Who knows where we are this season? Have not even had many opportunities to take a peek.

Have never moved from deeps to mediums. I consider that going in the wrong direction. Most colonies prefer a deep for brood, when the alternative is a medium. The preference is more acute when the alternative is a shallow. We moved to a single deep and shallows quite early in our beekeeping to keep the basic broodnest in the deep year round.

If I wanted to move to mediums, getting rid of a deep in use, I might use another colony preference buried in their instincts. They "want" to have the broodnest at the bottom of their overwinter honey stores. We used this technique to move from double deeps to singles. It has the advantage of not having to mess with freestyle comb on the outside of frames.

When there is substantial brood in the mediums, consolidate that brood at the bottom. On a normal schedule, that would be about mid Mar. Raise old rickety with brood to the top, above 2 or 3 mediums. No excluder. With the brood separated, they will cycle brood both top and bottom for a while, but will eventually stop brood rearing at the top in favor of the bottom. Harvest any honey in the top deep.

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Walt, thank you for the information.
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