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Discussion Starter #1
I had a bunch of hive boxes from 20 years ago and thought I'd set up a minimum hive for my garden and maybe a little surplus for gifts etc.

Can I set up a brood deep with a deep and a shallow super for their winter food and then just ride it out and take some surplus from a 3rd deep maybe and a shallow for comb to assure them space from year to year? I don't want to mess with them much and if they swarm, so be it, as long as a group stays behind to take care of business for me.

Is this a bad plan or poor bee management?

Fog
 

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If I read his description right he will have 2 deeps and a shallow for overwinter and will have honey supers on top of that. That is sufficient.
 

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I saw the word 3 deeps. So I would go two deeps and a shallow or super for you. Winter with 2 deeps. You are all good to go with that.
 

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I ran one deep 10 frame and a medium for honey for many years but I managed that hive real well. I would split off a few frames in a nuc every year to control swarmng. I could always count on pulling 5-6 full frames from the honey super every year, good for 2-3 gallons. You could possibly get away with an 8 frame similar setup. Perhapes 2 mediums for brood and a medium for honey, again with some management. Oh yes as others have said watch that they don't run out of food in the early spring. I did feed regardless when it was to cold to check them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just a note to clear things up some. My planned winter stack would be a deep (The brood box) on bottom, a deep next plus a shallow on the top, both full of honey of course for a 3 box total. I do live in northern Michigan but I figured this should carry them. What do you think?

Fog
 

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You should be fine with a double deep and a shallow for your area. You will have to have some bee management though. I would say that if you were maintaining them and you needed to make a split because of swarming, i could almost GUARENTEE a local beek would help you do so at no cost to you(give him the fake swarm of bees). You have to remember that just because they swarm, that doesn't mean the parent hive won't have issues with a queen. I would hate for you to lose the entire colony just because they swarmed and you didn't get a new queen out of it. But hey, thats just me.
 

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IMHO, and this has been covered in a few recent threads the "hands off approach" and "lack of management" technique with bees either hobby , sideliner, or commercial is irresponsible. Years ago it was possible to keep a fairly hands off approach and just harvest some honey. Fast forward to the present with the advent of mites, beetles, AFB, EHB, nosema, AHB, chalkbroood, DWV, CCD, and a host of other parasites, viruses, and problems hives should be properly managed and inspected on a regular basis. Failing to do so not only endangers YOUR hive but many many others. That being said I applaud your interest in getting some bees, and it sound like your setup will be just fine for your location but please take the time to properly manage and inspect the hive rather than just throwing them out there and letting them do their own thing, properly managing one hive will not bite into too much of your time and provides a great experience, education, and satisfaction second to none.
 

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I think your plan will work just fine. They should winter okay in your two deeps. My warre hives (8" deep and 12" square, per box) wintered in Alaska in just two boxes. Two deep langs give almost twice that volume.

Incidentally, hands-off, is only irresponsible in the sense of swarm control. You don't need "your" bees taking up residence in the wall of a neighbour's house. Lots of beekeepers have gone treatment free; some with more success than others. Don't let Big AgroChem tell you otherwise. They're YOUR bees. Within the limits of local law, keep them how you like.
 
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