In our previous lesson, we learned about the bottom board. As we work our way up from the bottom board, we are ready to examine the details of the next item, what is referred to as the deep hive body. It sometimes is called a deep super, hive body, a deep, and a hive chamber. Unless you live in the deep south where winters are very mild, you will need two deep hive bodies on your hive or you may use two supers atop your first deep. This is where your bees will live and raise their young. This is where the queen will lay her eggs for new worker and drone bees. This is where the hive will store their own reserves of honey and pollen, their food source and future winter stores.
The standard and common size for a deep hive body is: 19 7/8″ in length, 16 1/4″ wide and 9 5/8″ in height. A deep hive body is heavy when it is full of bees, honey and pollen. Therefore, some beekeepers choose to use the medium size super for hive bodies. The dimensions of the medium super is the same except for the height. It is 3″ shorter, with a height of 6 5/8″. If you choose to use medium supers for hive bodies, you will need to plan on using 3 supers if your winters are cold, and 1-2 supers if your winters are mild.
Here’s what a deep hive body looks like. The hive bodies we manufacture have rabbet joint corners. This reduces the “raw edge” exposed to the weather. We also use exterior glue on all corners and 8-hand driven 8 penny nails- per corner! We also place nice size handle holds on all four sides of our have bodies. Our deep hive bodies have been specifically designed to provide exact bee space needed in the deep hive chamber.
It is a common practice to use 10 individual frames per hive body. Using only 9 frames in the brood nest area will have aid in ventilation, but will decrease the amount of cells for eggs, pollen and honey storage, because instead of 10 frames there are only 9. Our frames are strong, and have full 3/8″ side or end bars. We have found the best frame and foundation combination is what is known as the top and bottom grooved frame. This means the frame has a groove in the top and in the bottom so that a piece of wax foundation cane held securely and easily into the frame.
Wood frames with wax or plasticell foundation works very nicely. The plasticell is a hard plastic about 1/8″ thick and is coated with real beeswax. the foundation we will be using is 100% beeswax. Before we place the foundation and frame in a hive, we spray sugar water (1 part water, 1 part sugar) onto the foundation to speed up the time it takes for the bees to draw out the comb. The foundation already has the comb cell pattern embossed on both sides, making the bees’ job much easier. I suggest you make up a sprayer of sugar water and always have it with you when you inspect and/or work your hives.
Some beekeepers use real beeswax foundation and use wire to hold it onto the frame. This was the common practice for many years. However, today, plasticell is also used by many commercial beekeepers. We will begin with the real wax. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Also the millimeter size of each cell in very important. The larger the size of the cell in the foundation, the larger the cell will be drawn out and the larger the bee will be. So, we use foundation that is specifically around 5 millimeters. This is an average, industry standard.
It is important to remember that where winters are cold, two deep hive bodies are needed so that plenty of honey, around 60 pounds, can be stored for the bees to enjoy throughout the winter months. Here in the North Carolina Piedmont we can get by with one deep and then one super or two supers. I usually use two supers or an additional deep to ensure honey supplies.