Medium-Depth Bee Hives

Medium-Depth Bee Hives

(Photo by Lizzy Parker) 

Bee hive equipment is heavy, and good beekeeping practices require us to manipulate the heavy boxes from time to time through the beekeeping year. A Langstroth deep hive box weighs about 90 pounds when full of honey. The same box of a medium-depth weighs about 60 pounds. A bee hive needs to have a volume of about 84 liters to adequately accommodate the brood nest of a large colony of bees and the food stores that the bees need to have nearby to feed the brood. A Langstroth deep hive box has a volume of 42 liters, so a pair of Langstroth deeps meets the 84-liter needs of the bee colony nicely. The same 84-liter volume can also be obtained using three medium-depth boxes for the brood nest. Many beekeepers are finding that using medium-depth boxes and frames for both the brood area and the honey supers is a very workable arrangement. They can reduce the weight of brood boxes and simplify the beekeeping operation by using the same size frame throughout the bee hive.


A beekeeper is converting her apiary from hives using deeps for brood boxes and mediums used for honey supers to an all-medium depth arrangement. She is doing this to reduce the weight of boxes making it easier to conduct seasonal management and simplify her hive equipment needs. Having plenty of spare equipment, she got the assistance of a carpenter to cut down her spare deep boxes to the medium-depth size. After carefully measuring the boxes, they cut three inches from the bottom of the 9 5/8-inch-deep hive body boxes making them the 6 5/8-inch depth of a medium-depth box. Cutting from the bottom of the box left the frame rest undisturbed at the top of the box in place.


The beekeeper found that the three-inch pieces cut from the bottom of her hive body boxes resulted in useful shims to be used in her hives when needed for emergency feeding or placement of mite treatments. To complete her new all-medium depth hive arrangement, the beekeeper sorted through her spare medium-depth frames. She replaced old and damaged natural beeswax foundation with new plastic foundation that she coated with a heavy coating of melted beeswax. Finally, she checked each frame and made sure that they were assembled properly. Some were missing the nail on each side of the frame that attaches the side bar to the top bar. This nail is necessary for securing the top bar when prying the frame from the hive. Her spare hives are now ready to accommodate colony divisions in the spring.

Author: Richard Underhill



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