What Size Boxes Should I Use?

You will need to choose either 8-frame or 10-frame components. See “8-frame vs. 10-frame” for more information to help you choose.

Weight is one of the factors when choosing what size boxes to use. The following chart gives an approximate weight of a box full of honey:

Deep70 pounds85 pounds
Medium50 pounds60 pounds
Shallow45 pounds55 pounds

Weight is approximate for honey storage. Brood boxes will be slightly lighter.

8-frame or 10-frame?

Each of your hives must have the same width and length of all its boxes.

Which is easier to handle?8-frame will be easier to handle because the weight per box is less. See the chart with the box weight on page 10. However, the 8-frame hives will be taller overall because there will be less frames per box, which means it will require more boxes to be stacked up.
What is more natural?8-frame is more natural. Feral bees in trees typically have taller spaces with less breadth.
Which are better utilized by the bees?Many beekeepers believe the 8-frame hives are better utilized. With 10-frame hives, the outside frames may not be as efficiently used.
Which is more expensive?10-frame boxes cost about the same as 8-frame. With 8-frame, more boxes will be required, which makes the 8-frame hives more expensive overall.
Which will winter better?Likely the 8-frame will winter better. 8-frame better fits the shape of the cluster, and is less likely to leave behind frames of honey on the outside positions. Plus, with 8-frame there is less unused area for the bees to heat.
Which is easier for the bees?When used without an Entrance Reducer, the 8-frame will have a narrower entrance for the bees to protect, making robbing less likely.

Choosing Hive Depths

Deeps, Mediums, or Shallows?

Your hive can consist of Deeps, Mediums, Shallows, or a combination of depths. Some considerations:

DeepsA hive with Deep boxes will require fewer total   boxes than by using shorter ones. However, a Deep box full of honey can be   very heavy. When Deeps are used, they are typically used for brood which is   lighter in weight than honey. Wax foundation with Deep frames is more likely   to break under the stress of extraction.
MediumsMedium boxes are great for honey or brood, but will require more   total boxes than would be used with Deeps. The weight load of Mediums is   comfortable for most people. Under normal circumstances, wax foundation with   Medium frames should be able to endure the stress of extraction.
ShallowShallows are rarely used except with Cut Comb.

Many hobbyists use Deeps for brood (lower two boxes), and Mediums for honey (upper two boxes).

However, you will find greater flexibility by having all your boxes the same depth. This provides unlimited interchangeability of frames between boxes. In this way, you may move brood up to the honey chamber to “bait” the hive, or move honey down to the brood chamber to feed before winter.