Choosing the right beekeeping equipment for you is important. What works for another beekeeper, may not work for you. Prior to buying bees and equipment, educating yourself on the options you have for equipment is essential to your success.
The most common bee equipment in the US is a combination of 10-frame deep boxes and 10-frame medium boxes. Beekeepers will also use 10-frame shallow boxes as well, but not as commonly as in the past. 8-frame hive options have become more popular recently, for good reason.
You should choose to use either 8 frame equipment or 10 frame equipment. It's very difficult to use a combination of 10 frame equipment with 8 frame equipment. They are not compatible with each other without significantly modifying the equipment.
Using 10 Frame Equipment
- Total hive height is lower than with 8 frame boxes
- Bees have access to 2 more frames for honey/brood in each box
- More beekeepers use it and are familiar with managing bees in them
- Less boxes to purchase when considering the whole hive
- Less boxes to work through when inspecting hive
- Most size specific hive accessories are made for 10 frame boxes
- Full 10 frame medium boxes of honey are 15+lbs heavier than 8 frame box of honey
- Bees often opt to move up before using 2 frames on outside
- Full 10 frame deep boxes are nearly too heavy to move by the average person alone
- Lifting one box that is too heavy can easily injure a knee or back
Using 8 Frame Equipment
- Reduces the total weight needing to be moved at one time
- Can fit more hives in a smaller area
- Reduced risk in causing injury to yourself while working hives
- Bees tend to use more frames in current box before moving up
- Honey is more compact inside the hive and more accessable to the winter bee clusters
- Hive stack can be so high, it can tip over in a storm
- Need to purchase more boxes than 10 frame hive
- Not all suppliers will have 8 frame equipment
- Can be hard to find specialized equipment (ie: pollen traps, top feeders) to fit 8 frame boxes
- More boxes to handle during honey removal
Whichever setup you choose to use, stick with it. It's very hard to use both types of equipment in one apiary, causing compatibility problems if you mix and match. 8 frame or 10 frame equipment is one of those decisions a beekeeper should research early before getting bees.