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What Size Hive Should I Buy?

Information on What Size Hive to Buy.

Brood Chamber Verses Honey Supers

Definition: A hive is the box we house a colony of bees.   Some beekeepers will use "bee box" and "super" interchangeably.  Each individual box may be called a super.  You can say box or super and be correct.  You could say brood super or brood box and be correct.  Usually we say Brood Chamber or Brood Boxes for the bottom boxes which house the brood, and Honey Supers to refer to the boxes placed on top of the hive in spring and summer where excess honey is stored.

Brood Chambers are the bee house we leave on the hive stand year round and what the colony should cluster in over winter.  The brood chamber can range from 5 to 20 deep frames depending on the size of the colony.  Brood chambers can be deeps or medium frames in 5, 8 or 10 frame boxes. 

Honey Supers are added above the brood chamber for the bees to store their excess honey.  The honey supers are removed by the beekeeper at honey harvest.  When overwintering in Central Ohio we recommend never leaving more than 20 deep frames on the hive.  You can leave less, and in more northern climates a third box might be left full of honey stores but is not recommended in Central Ohio.

Brood Chambers:  Can be Deep or Medium boxes.  Deeps are 9 5/8 inches tall and Mediums ar 6 5/8 inches tall.

Deep frames: are 275 square inches of foundation per frame (counting both sides)(about 7000 cells)

Medium frames are 170 square inches of foundation per frame (counting both sides)

Standard Brood Chamber is two 10 frame Deep Supers.  This is a Total of 20 deep frames

20 X 275 square inches = 5,500 total square inches of frame space(maximum)

Options for someone looking for lighter equipment.

A Lightweight Option for Brood Chambers:  2 Deep 8 frame supers

                        Total of 16 deep frames

                        16 X 275 square inches = 4,400 total square inches

A Second Lightweight Brood Chamber option: 3 or 4 Medium 8 frame supers

                        Total of 24 to 32 medium frames

4 medium supers 32 frames X 170 square inches = 5,440 total square inches

3 medium supers 24 frames X 170 square inches = 4,080 total square inches

Whatever boxes and frames you buy, stick with that manufacture.  Boxes and frames from different manufacture sometimes don't line up.

If you want the standard, then buy two 10 frame deep supers for the brood chamber and two 10 frame mediums for the honey supers; two of each should get you through the first year. 

If you want something a little lighter them go with two 8 frame deep supers and add two 8 frame medium honey supers. 

If you are wanting the lightest way to go it would be all 8 frame mediums supers.  This is a good setup for kids and beekeepers with bad backs/less strength.  You would need a minimum of 4 and could add 2 more before the year is out for honey supers.  Using all mediums comes with the advantage of one-size frames fits-all boxes.  This way you can manipulate your frames anywhere in the hive.