How large can one hive be??

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by ASTMedic, May 1, 2013.

  1. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    How many deep bodies can make up one hive before problems start? I always see 2 deeps with a super or two on top.
     
  2. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    how many deeps do you desire....there are keeps here that keep them in 3 deeps, then add supers. it depends on what sort of problems you are referring to? right now my concern in any hive, would be; do i have a laying queen, how old is she, is she a good layer with a solid brood pattern, do i have a weak hive or a strong hive, and management of swarming. aside from that, any pests, mites or diseases.
     

  3. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    You only want as much hive as your bees can patrol and protect.
     
  4. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Ok so with both those statements I obviously wouldn't want to make the hive larger than they can occupy. Just wasn't sure if a larger colony was more prone to infestations or other problems they/we try to combat.

    I was thinking of working up to 3 deeps.
     
  5. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I think I have read that if the hive gets too large the queens pheremones get thin enough that another queen gets made in the suburbs. Could that be a possible limitation?
     
  6. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    ast, in short, no colony is exempt from any infestation, disease, pests or mites.
    are you interested in building up and overwintering in 3 deeps? or are you wanting to use 2 deeps for brood, and the 3rd for honey production for yourself?
     
  7. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Can I overwinter in 3 deeps for brood? Gets into the low 20's at night is the lowest we have at the house.

    I was thinking of doing say 2 hives and was just wondering if 3 deeps of brood is a productive hive size for each? I realize that all hives run risks of infestation and such but would going with a larger hive run into an increased odds of pest and other problems?

    On the flip side would it better to have at total of 4 hives with 2 deeps for brood and add supers to that for honey. Would that allow better all around honey production? Rather than 2 hives with 3 deeps of brood.

    Just picking brains to learn, nothing critical.
     
  8. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I'm experimenting with 3 deep systems.
    On the first day of Spring I added a third drawn out deep to my strongest overwintered colony. Three weeks ago I added a undrawn medium honey super and 2 drawn honey supers to this same colony. Yesterday I inspected them:

    The supers are being woked on only slightly. The brood boxes are packed full of bees, brood, and stores. The best way I can describe it is a giant football, 3 deeps tall and 7 frames wide in the middle. The area around the football is nectar and pollen except for an outside frame in the bottom box and 3rd brood box which is empty. There are about 15-17 frames containing brood.
    I'm excited to see what will happen now that our May/June/early July flow is starting.

    I also took my strongest over-wintered nuc and have it in 3 deeps be it an eight frame configuration. They are just now expanding into the 3rd deep. They have alot of capped brood so I gave them an undrawn medium super with a drawn super on top to give the wax builders something to do once all that brood hatches out.
     
  9. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Let us know how it goes. I might take a crack at it next year.
     
  10. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "Can I overwinter in 3 deeps for brood?"
    yes you can overwinter in 3 deeps for brood, and still make a good honey crop, the key is to keep that colony strong with younger, prolific queens. a 3 deep hive will make just as much honey and more vs a 2 deep brood box, with good management. as far as 2 deeps vs 3 deeps, this is a personal preference. if you have a 3 deep hive that produces honey in a good year, under ideal conditions....how tall is your ladder? :grin: (i have kept and managed 3 deep hives in the past).

    if you would like, i can post some links to the management of 3 deep brood boxes. google dr. basil furgala, 3 deep hive. dr. marla spivak at the university of minnesota practices some of his methods, and teaches his methods of a 3 deep hive in her classes.
     
  11. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Thanks. I'll read up on it
     
  12. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Ok so I started reading up on building up to 3 deeps. I really like the concept of this giving you the ability to do a early split and having a larger colony to do the split. Think I'm going to try for this this year and see what results I get so I can get a good split next year.

    Really interesting info.
     
  13. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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  14. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Three deeps could throw an awesome swarm! Seems like the numbers could be brought up quicker in a cold spring if you have more bees to cover brood. It seems like a hive inspection would be a chore and the height issue would make it difficult for me. Is the idea to make more honey with a given amount of equipment or that it gives better winter survival?
     
  15. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Better winter survival and of course more honey is just a by-product. Tim had a bad year last year and only managed 12 supers of honey from the hive in the videos lol.
     
  16. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    typical winter configuration for the southern US is a story and a half (one deep and one medium).... in the north winter configuration is more like two deeps.

    a large part of the challenge of keeping bees in managing space over time. that is as the season varies you may need more or less boxes and the challenge is to keep enough space but not too much.

    I was tossing around a few triple deeps today and my back hurts.

    ps... the largest hive I have ever seen a picture of is the world record for honey production in one year and I would guess it toward up to about 8 feet which meant you had to have step latter to remove the top boxes. The number that sticks in my head is that it produced about 800 pounds of honey and it was (believe it or not) a scutella queened hive in South Africa.
     
  17. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Poached this off a blog. Could be someone off here but I like this process.

    "Here are the steps I took:

    I put each colony in the center of a single deep on six frames of drawn comb flanked by two frames of honey on each side. I fed no syrup, but relied on the honey to get them started.

    After two weeks I added a second deep. I prepared these deeps by alternating drawn comb with empty frames—five of each. Before I added the second deep to each hive, I removed two frames of brood from the middle of the first deep and put them in the middle of the second deep. This is called pyramiding and it encourages the queen to expand her nest upward.

    After three more weeks, I added a third deep using the same method of pyramiding. At the time, it seemed premature because the second deep was nowhere near full. But I had a plan and I stuck with it.

    Each hive was outfitted with a screened bottom board, a screened inner cover, and a fully open entrance.

    By mid-June there was substantial activity in all boxes. I added a comb honey super to all colonies, just to see what would happen.

    After three weeks, I added a second honey super to each colony. One colony got a third honey super."
     
  18. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    The effective upper limit to population in a given colony is the laying speed of the queen. A queen can lay around 2000 eggs/ day if she has the room. That means that 2000 bees are hatching out every day. Since an adult summer bee lives about 3 weeks, you are not likely to get a population in excess of 60 000 bees no matter how large the brood area is. From my understanding of it, 2 deeps are enough to make this happen if they are not clogged up with pollen and honey. I've read about the 2 queen / 3 deeps management system and that makes a lot of sense. Last year I had 2 deeps for brood and 3 deeps for supers with no queen excluder. there was a little bit of brood in the first super at the beginning of the summer, but that quickly got pushed down with honey.
     
  19. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    My little hive is 3 deeps and 2 med boxes and I will start adding supers any day. They have been building up brood since the first of March. I am kidding, that is really my largest hive but it really is that big. I have seen photos of hives so tall you need a ladder to reach the top. I prefer to keep them managable while keeping my feet on the ground and I am just about to that limit. The two med supers are intended for honey and I might add one more. After that I start harvesting if they get full.

    As for the queen pheromone getting diluted becasue the hive gets to large. I spent a lto of time this last winter looking at the swarm issue what might cause it and how it might be managed. I will start by saying my attempts this spring have not been impressive. Mainly do to lack of resources in the way of drawn frames. but much of what I read seemed to have some validity to it. better management more resources and better timing I think would improve my results. Those area all manager issues not bee behavior issues.

    For the most part my stratagey was based around Walts writings in Nectar Managment. Bees start in late winter to build up brood. will expand brood using up all honey stores to a minimum reserve of honey that they keep on hand. once they reach this reserve they begin to refill the hive with nectar until they get the brood nest back down to a normal size. at that time they will swarm. That is the general highlight of what walt describes.

    Walt says that if you can delay this progression of events past an indefinite date called the reproductive swarm cut off date. (that date varies form location to location). that swarming will be prevented.

    One of the problems I gound in this method is that I only have so much honey to work with in the spring. The idea is you keep moving up fraems of honey into new boxes of drawn foundation. increasing the space for egg laying while delaying the consumption of the honey. This works as lang as the frames of honey hold out. after that you are stuck with adding boxes of jsut empty frames and the bees may very will just ignore it rather than continue to expand the brood nest.

    Once they decide to stop expanding and start restricting the brood nest in preperation for swarming they can and will do so with extreme speed. they will not so much fill every cell to the brim with nectar. but will put just a bit of nectar in the bottom of every cell. and they can fill a 5 box tall hive in a week and then swarm. So much care an emphasis needs to be given to managing the build up correctly and at the right time. If the build up starts to early such as I did you have no chance of delaying the backfilling long enough. I was around two weeks to short on delaying swarming this year with my first attempt. getting better at knowing when the build up should start is the key there.

    I did notice that as the nest expanded upward itnot the third deep that the layign pattern became more patchy and spread out. as if the queen could not keep up with all the space needed to be filled. I am considering how this patchy brood might have effected swarm impulse. I do think it may be to little brood that effects swarm commencement rather than brood space or restriction. my bees had tons of room. lots of places to build comb or store nectar. but still swarmed. So not crowded definitely did not work for me.

    I am toying aroudn with thought of the same buid up walts book directs but adding a double screen board and and ading a second queen above the second deep. let her fill two more deps above and keep the brood population very strong. not sure it will make a difference. But I will probably play with that idea.
     
  20. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Pistolpete, I woudl tend to agree that 2000 eggs a day is a good number to look for in a good queen. One thing I would like to point out though. build op is not done when foraging is heavy and bee losses are high. I have written quite a bit about my observations on the build up this spring in various thread of this forum. I don't have time and my post woudl get to long if I tried to repeat it here. but in short this build up is packing the hive full of lounging bees. and this I found to be very true. we are talking about a build up of a lot of bees that are not immediately needed. they are long lived and a colony gets far beyond that 60,000 bees. What happens to your numbers if the bees actually live 3 months. Foraging I agree will decimate this population I agree. but foraging will not start happening for a while. That is the purpose and need of this build up. In fact if a colony swarms they will repeat the build up a second time according to Walt. they will have that overwhleming population to meet the most dangerous portion of their year.

    A honey bee I have observed is a creature that for the most part lives in a dark confined box. not so much a bouncing buzzing bug on a flower somewhere. very little of the population forages at any given time. Life on a blossom is very short.