Why deep brood boxes

First post ! HI y’all.

I was just reading that several medium boxes instead of one or two deep brood boxes is easier because of the interchangeability of the frames, and I’m like, yeah, of course it is!

So here is my question: Why were deep brood boxes ever used in the first place? Is there an advantage to them that I’m not seeing?

P.S. Are NUC’s generally made up out of deep frames or are they made out of mediums?

Thanks in advance for enlightening me (and sorry if the question has been asked before, I didn’t check)

I don’t use multiple boxes so somebody will come along to correct me but I think there is a distinct advantage if you want to work the brood and honey frames to maximise numbers of bees and crop. It is easier to make splits. I’m not one who likes to have her head in the hive all the time so it doesn’t appeal to me. I have a 14x12 BS National which is bigger than a Lang deep and the bees put honey in a shallow/s on top. I don’t need to lift a full brood box so weight isn’t an issue.
Even so this type of box is too big for our national Black Bee but suits the Buckfast I keep.

I understand it’s better to not interrupt the brood nest more than neccessary. So the more area your frames provide the better can the bees attend to the brood. The queen doesn’t have to hop from frame to frame that much, she can just lay her eggs on a quite large area. And the food for the larvea is nearby on a bigger frame.
For traditional honey supers it’s best to use shallow boxes for weight reasons.

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Dear Endless,

There are advantages to deeps n mediums. I prefer deeps as most Nuc’s come that way n give me greater room from the brood.

Other beekeeper like Michael Bush choose to run mediums. Mediums are lighter n a person only has to keep one size frame n boxes (Spares)…

I am use to operating from past experience with double deep brood where I live here in Washington state. We have cool wet winters so it give my bees room to build up adequate/more winter honey supply. I run mediums above for honey supers. I am considering going to 8 frames to reduce size n weight as I am not getting any younger :smiley:

So you see there are different strokes/ideas for different folks. All are okay. It’s a personal thing ! Gerald


To make the Flow Frames as mediums may not have been an economical prospect.

Making a brood area as mediums would mean 2 brood boxes and for some beeks 3 brood boxes in mediums. Spreading out the brood so much would be more difficult to keep them warm and a longer time going through the brood boxes would mean the brood area would be open for inspections for longer periods of time; doubling or tripling the time for inspections and for a commercial operation time is money

For me I think @Cedar got it right - after all it did take 10 years of trial and error to create the Flow Frames and all the little tweaks like being modular, lip on the Flow tube, excess going back to the bees, length of the cell, capacity of the Frames, Depth to discourage Queens, Simplicity of opening and closure, use of ratcheting and channelling of the honey all add up to a well thought out, simple unique and very usable idea.

I has changed the way we think of Harvesting Honey


Thanks for all the responses :smile: It kinda helped me make up my mind.

Best thing for me to do I think is go the traditional way first with deeps. Especially the argument that NUCs come with deep frames is not to be ignored, especially for a noob like me! And then indeed there is the time it takes to inspect the hive. Didn’t really think about that one.

I’m going to start with two standard hives, but for my third hive next year I am going to da a little experiment with mediums. Really curious if I see a difference/advantage or not.

Thanks again for the advice :smile:

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@EndlessFlow You can and probably will add more equipment down the line -

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Part of the idea of all one size frame is interchangeability. The Flow frames are not going to be interchangeable anyway as they will not work for brood and I don’t want the bees overwintering on them because the queen will have no where to lay when late winter comes around. (too deep, wrong diameter cell).

When Langstroth invented his hive he was trying to make boxes out of standard size material and because anything deeper than 9 5/8" would have weighed more than 90 pounds full of honey, he did not go deeper. Since not everyone could lift that (even back in the day of 100 pound feed sacks) he also made shallows for supers. Dadant decided to make them deeper (11 5/8") and Dadant also made his supers deeper (mediums aka 6 5/8").

I’m not saying he is right or wrong but Dadant was the one who came up with the mediums. Here is what C.P. Dadant said: “The brood combs were altogether too large to be used in a super. There was too much danger of heavy combs breaking down, when full of honey, too much trouble in extracting. Besides a deep super seemed to attract the queen, when a shallow super did not. With the Langstroth brood chambers, the objections to a deep upper story were not so flagrant; yet they appeared to us quite sufficient to condemn it. There was often too much room at the time, so much so that a number of people who double the size of their brood-chamber, previous to the honey crop, often think it necessary to add the second story at the bottom, instead of the top. Then these combs were not so handy as those we adopted at that time, for extracting combs, with the advice of Mr. Langstroth. Shallow frames, such as have been offered by dealers, are too shallow. Those that we use are of the right size to be uncapped at one stroke of the knife and yet they contain nearly 100 square inches of comb, or over two thirds of the capacity of a standard Langstroth brood-frame. Although we have often heard beekeepers say that they could not tolerate two different sizes of frames in the apiary, we find less objection to these extracting combs than any one can find to the use of sections for comb honey.”–Dadant System of Beekeeping