Beekeepers Friend

Peaches' Beekeeping Blog

December 4, 2009

Less Frames, More Honey Weight!

I have recently received information that explains the weight issue on less frames/more honey. You can go to my post that touched on this subject and go to the comment section,  so you can follow a little better.

A shallow honey super weighs about 25.30 lbs.

A medium (Illinois) honey super weighs about 30-50 lbs.

A deep honey super weighs approximately 75-100 lbs.

A deep brood super weighs approximately 60-80lbs with bees, brood, and honey.

Now all this is using a 10 frame set up. If you use 9 frames you can count on adding 10 lbs. to the  shallow, 15-20 lbs to the medium, and 20 to 40 lbs or more to the deep. If you use 8 frames in a 10 frame box then double the extra weight

You need to find out for yourself what the weight is by weighing your honey supers before you extract and after you extract to find the average honey weight is per super. Now I cannot tell you the exact weight of the boxes because of the different wood material used to construct them. Don’t forget the  weight difference between nails, screws, and staples. Frames also are made from different wood material. All this has a bearing on the weight of the full honey supers.

For my own use, I just use the 40#, 60#, and 100# figures as examples when I talk to other beekeepers. This is a side note. I use 10 frames in a brood box and 9 frames in my honey supers which are medium (Illinois) supers. I do not use deep honey supers because I cannot lift them by myself. I have to take 5 frames out and use a nuc to transport them to the truck then go back and get the super and the other 5 honey frames. This is the reason I am thinking of going to all Illinois boxes for the complete hive. All of the equipment will then be interchangeable. I am also thinking of going back to the 10 frame honey supers because of the lesser weight.

I have not ruled out using undersized boxes either. By undersized, I mean cut the width down to fit only 8 frames in a box. That will be even lighter and easier to life and carry by hand. Some women and older men have gone this way already and are really enjoying collecting honey and saving their backs.

There are websites already out there that explains the different sizes and frame configurations if you want to research them. I didn’t intend for this blog to be a training site. I started out just telling what I was doing in my bee business. I have found out that the two are inseparable. So please bear with me.

I hope this help some of you out there that really wants to know.

6 Comment(s)

  1. Lois Merritt | Dec 10, 2009 | Reply

    Hey Peaches,
    I was looking thru ebay @ beekeeping stuff and came upon a guy selling nucs. This is a very good description/reason for using a nuc. I guess I never really ‘got it’ before. Makes a lot of sense, nothing u didn’t already know I’m sure. Just something to add to/for newbies. Lo

    1: HONEY PRODUCTION: Bee hives that are more congested produce surplus honey above the brood chamber faster. Our test show that a double deep 5 frame hive will out produce a single 10 frame hive sitting next to it. Another thought, if you compare two 5 frame hives to one 10 frame hive, you have the same amount of frames being used in the two 5’s as the one ten. However, with the two 5’s you are running two queens verses one queen in the 10 framer. Which do you think will be the more productive situation? Also, it is the bees nature to work upwards rather than side to side. Common sense tells us that in nature when bees build natural hives in a hallow tree, the 5 frame hive is more native for them.

    2. DEFENSE: The 1″ entrance hole we use coupled with a stronger hive makes wax moths and the small hive beetle have a difficult time getting in. The chances of being robbed are reduced as the bees can defend the smaller entrance. Thus allowing them to produce brood and honey rather than fighting with other bees. Again, in nature bees can survive for years in hollow trees with a small finger size entrance hole.

    3. LIFTING SUPERS OR MOVING: Need I say more? A lot of us beekeepers are getting a little age on us. Toting a 5 frame deep or medium super of honey is half the load verses 10 frame equipment. Work smarter, not harder. The same is true when relocating your hives.

    4. OVER WINTERING: A lot of our northern customers have ask how the 5 frame hives will overwinter? Very good question. My answer is this. In the fall of the year about the time the drones get the boot, the queen slows down on brood production. The reduction in brood means that not many new bees will be coming on board. So the entire colony of bees are getting ready for winter. They have what they have as far as numbers go. It is this same group of bees that will form a cluster to keep warm during times of freezing temps. In short, that same cluster of bees becomes a heater. Now lets use some good ole fashion common sense. Which would be better? A large room with a heater placed in the middle of the room? Or a small room with the same heater placed in the middle of the room? I will leave that up to you to decide.

  2. ekpeach | Dec 10, 2009 | Reply

    Thank you,Lois. I will probably, in the future, take your commit and make a post out of it. Good explanation for nucs.

  3. susan rudnicki | Nov 3, 2015 | Reply

    A bee friend just sent this to me. In Los Angeles, we are catching and hiving feral (partially Africanized) honeybees, not using foundation, treatments or artificial feeds. We also practice unlimited brood nest in the manner described by Michael Bush–“The Practical Beekeeper—Beekeeping Naturally” I do not usually take entire boxes, but by the frame since brood can still be in some of the frames. Many of my colonies are in all deeps, 3-4 high. These very vigorous, resilient bees make fine honey crops (I had 130 pounds per hive last year on 8 hives—I now have 27) Going to 8 frames is certainly a plus for those with back issues, but they also fill up REALLY fast, especially if mediums. When a beek is foundationless, it takes a lot more observation in having fewer frames in the honey box if we are to not have a lot of crooked mischief going on. My entrances are always reduced, I have 4-2 inch vents in the bottom board (covered with hardware cloth) but in summer, if very hot, must allow even more top ventilation to prevent overheating. The clean combs of self-drawn wax are not to be minimized, however. I would never use foundation and certainly not the common use of plastic!

  4. Jim Hardin | Sep 3, 2017 | Reply

    Absolutely spot on about 9 frame supers. Second year in a row that super weight comes in 45 lbs per average. Read your article several years ago and decided to try last year. In general, my hives seem to be healthier with the 9 frame setup

  5. ekpeach | Sep 4, 2017 | Reply

    I have found that when I put a super of frames to be drawn out, if I checkerboard the frames such as, one frame of drawn out comb and one empty frame, etc., the bees will draw the empty frames in a straight line. I use 10 frames until the bees have drawn out all cells then I would pull one frame so they can pull the cells out further to get their 3/8″ bee space then they will fill more honey weight per super.
    I use a queen excluder in the Spring until the first super is filled and capped. After that, I remove the QE for the rest of the year. I am not sure how the African Bees work, but I suppose they are the same as European Bees and the queen will not, as a rule, cross capped honey. If she needs more room to lay, then she will get the workers to start relocating some of the honey in the super so she will have more room to lay eggs.
    I am sure you know some or all of this information, but since you didn’t mention same, I thought I would include the information for anyone else to read. Your friend is doing a good job and he has a working system that he is comfortable with. I am very happy that he is making good use of it.
    Thank you for forwarding your friend’s comment.

  6. ekpeach | Sep 4, 2017 | Reply

    I am happy that I could be of some service to you. I really need to get back in the habit of blogging more than I have been and much better that I used to be. Good luck to you and your bees.


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