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Discussion Starter #1
I'm in SW Ohio. I've not worked with queen excluders before and am using them on some hives this year as a trial - but am not sure if I'm packing the bees in too much if they only get three medium boxes for brood space. I am not using deeps much because I prefer having interchangeable boxes in my hives - easier with all one size. Should I give four mediums or just keep opening the brood nest and pull a portion of the capped brood up above the QE, to make sure they don't get too jam packed below?

I know this really depends upon location, climate, type of bees, etc. So even though there aren't any hard and fast answers, just would like to hear people's experience with number of boxes left below a QE.

thanks for feedback/opinions.
 

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Karen:

Like you, I run all Mediums (8-frame to be exact). While you acknowledged that the answer may be dependent upon many factors (including your management approach), I have found that three 8 frame Mediums is a volume that many colonies I am acquainted with are perfectly content with. I have also had a couple colonies the past two years that will gladly fill up 4 or 5 boxes full of brood if given the opportunity and managed accordingly.

Another way you might think through this is to consider what most successful beekeepers in your area run for their brood set-ups. For simple math I like to consider that an 8-frame Medium is approximately half the internal volume of a 10-frame Deep. Thus, if you live in an area where most beekeepers run double deeps this would be equivalent to 4 8-frame Mediums.

So while I am not sure I have answered your question, maybe I have at least got the discussion started to let some of the more experienced beeks offer their thoughts.

Russ

p.s. You may be running 10-frame Mediums, so if you want to think through the volume math the following article has the internal volumes listed for reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langstroth_hive
 

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I use 4. Ten frames.

I like to have that extra box filled with honey.
This spring, for instance, the weather has been such that when the maples were blooming we got a snowstorm that killed the blossoms.
Then we got another when a few fruit trees were flowering.
So the insurance of that extra honey has paid off.

Where you are the weather may be more forgiving.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
These are all helpful responses. My mentor when I started beekeeping (2008) said 2 deeps as a basic. Then a man who manages 1000 hives told me the other day that if I used two boxes, it was too much space. Clearly the management practices will be very different for someone who makes a lot of nucs and transports bees for pollination (as the latter does.) I have tried different approaches over the years. I even tried the unlimited brood nest approach. But I'm wanting to pare the hives down to keep them as compact as possible. Clearly it's all an experiment and I'll learn from my effort. But I also like to learn from others.
 

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If you look at Ian steppers videos (Canadian beekeeper) I think he uses a single deep brood nest all year. Also good videos from UoG honey bee research center. They also use a single box brood chamber. Both of them are in Canada so presumably harsher climate than you
 

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I use four 8 frame medium boxes for brood year-round. Queen excluder on top of them during nectar season, with supers on the excluder. I overwinter with one super on as a precaution when weight is questionable or lower than I want.
 

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Do the math!! Rough averages here.
3100 cells per side med frame X 2 sides X 10 frames equals 62,000 cells per box or 186,000 cells in 3 meds

1500 ( avg per day egg laying rate of a Q) X 21 days(egg to adult) equals 31,500 cells in use

Deeps have 4500 cells per side.
So 4500 X 2 sides X 10 frames equals 90,000 cells per box.

Of course we all have above avg Qs and prior to a flow egg laying increases and bees surround the brood nest with pollen and nectar, but is easy to see that with good management,a single deep or 2 med have more than adequate space.Poor management will give you plenty of swarms!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks Jack. That's helpful. I think I've erred on the side of giving too much space since I started keeping bees. I'm not motivated by efficiency so I have not done this kind of quantifying before. That's good!
 

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A medium frame is 64% the size of a deep frame.

To equal one 10 frame deep you need 16 medium frames.

A three stack of 10 frame medium boxes is the same as 19-1/4 deep frames.

A four stack of 8 frame medium boxes is the same as 20-1/2 deep brames.
 

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I use 3 eight frame mediums as a brood chamber from April until mid August with a QE and supers above. In August I remove the excluder and supers and add a fourth brood box for winter stores.
 

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What one Can do and what one Should do are often different. I have a really nice looking nuc I made beginning of last July. I did not have comb to give them so they started only with a few frames split into an 8 frame medium. Sometimes they don't do so well and I have to add frames of honey or a box of honey on top from another hive. These ones, however, looked great come fall: packed tight and well organised, so I left them alone. Added upper entrance and 2 inch foam on top. Coming out of winter They are above average. Generally I winter on 8 deep frames or more, but there are always some small ones ....
I think the double deep for northern climes is oft misunderstood. A booming hive of prolific bees will need 100# honey for winter. But you don't need to leave them that much space all year, esp if you are using an excluder. I have had fine success making honey on top of 8 deep frame brood nest.
Hopefully Bernhard will chime in. Or you can see if a search brings up his thoughts on brood nests....
Have fun!
 

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Thanks Jack. That's helpful. I think I've erred on the side of giving too much space since I started keeping bees. I'm not motivated by efficiency so I have not done this kind of quantifying before. That's good!
You may want to look at Devan Rawn's quantifying on using a single (10-frame deep) brood chamber. He goes into the numbers bigtime in this 11 minute YOUTUBE video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjyNcyVvbEI

This year I am trying to use 2 7-frame mediums as a brood chamber with a QE on top. It may be too little space.

Phil
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This thread was really helpful, along with the advice from a commercial beekeeper - it pushed me over the edge to go ahead and feel confident in keeping to three mediums or one medium and one deep for brood space. I think I've always erred on the side of giving too much space. I'm using QEs for the first time too.

So I have one incredibly productive, booming hive. About 10 full frames of capped brood in there. The math doesn't seem to capture this kind of productive queen's laying: she's definitely outlaying what's in the three mediums. I know this hive is going to explode with bees once all that brood emerges. So I've taken two or three frames of capped brood, twice now, to feed other , smaller hives. So maybe the arithmetic in Devan Rawn's (above comment) quantifying is for an average queen laying capacity, and this queen is above average. Still, instead of increasing the space below the QE, I'm just swapping out frames. I will need to figure out what kind of split to do with this hive though. I'd love to get this hive to make me some queen cells for my other hives.
 
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