Thinking Outside of the Box(es)

Just when I’ve built up a lot of equipment, my beekeeping philosophy evolves. I guess if you simply “keep” bees, the equipment doesn’t matter so much. But if and when you get more involved, some off-beat equipment makes more and more sense. Figures.

Here’s what I’m thinking: I currently own and use two different sized boxes and frames. I use two 10-frame deep brood boxes per hive, and then, for honey collection, I add however many shallow boxes I need on top of the two deeps per hive.  I want to switch to 8-frame medium boxes and use those for both brood rearing and honey collection.

Why is that, you ask, Reader? Because the bees almost always leave the two end frames empty, so there’s no reason to use 10-frame boxes. And the 10-frame deep boxes are very very heavy when they’re full of honey and bees—they weigh about 100 pounds each. Try lifting four of those every week…you might be inclined to stop raising bees altogether. It’s also easier for the bees to heat and cool and defend a smaller-size box.

Interchangeability is another reason to switch over to medium-sized boxes. If all the boxes are interchangeable, then I can begin to move frames and boxes all over the place to increase colony success. As it is now, I’m limited by how and where I can move my bees and brood…right now, I have to keep shallow frames in shallow boxes and deep frames in deep boxes. If they were all medium depth, it would give the bees the room they need to raise brood, and I could still use them for honey collection…the medium-depth boxes are liftable.

If you don’t often manage or think about how to manage a hive of bees, what I just discussed won’t make much sense to you, so skim over it. Suffice it to say that medium boxes make more sense for the beekeeper, and they’re easier for the bees to manage and defend, too.

But I can’t quite figure out the logistics of how to shift over to the new sizes since all my hives are active and healthy right now (so I’m not gonna mess with them at all)…this is when my creativity often fails me. I have a hard time thinking outside of the box (get it?!) Nor am I sure of what to do with the old equipment. I guess I can hang onto some of it and devise another type of hive. Or I could sell my larger boxes and frames to someone who’s only beginning.

Reader, do you want some nicely painted boxes?