Thank you for you comments and feedback. Let me take a moment to better explain the hive make-up and the Mother’s Day Massacre. When constructing the basics of the hive, a beekeeper has a few options. First, you can have 10 frame hive boxes or 8 frame hive boxes. That only means the number of frames they hold, so a 10 frame box is a square, and the 8 frame box is a bit thinner about 3 inches. I chose 10 frame because they are the most common and I thought it would be easier to get supplies for 10 frame. 8 frame boxes are nice because they are smaller, and lighter. (Now I am thinking that since 8 frames are less popular, they are probably easier to get because most of my orders are often on back order when they are placed at peak beekeeping time).
that has “fake” comb imprinted in it. This encourages the bees to draw comb in like I want them to, in the frame. Other options are wooden frames that have a sheet of wax in the middle that is also imprinted like honey comb. I chose plastic Pierco (brand name) because I think they last longer and you don’t have to put them together or worry about them falling apart. I, however, am not a purist.
The other thing that varies is the depth of the boxes. Generally, a beekeeper will have deeper boxes on the bottom which is where the brood (bee larvae) is laid and hatched. This is because the brood is not as heavy as honey. On top of the hive’s “deeps” there are “supers” which are for honey. Supers come in mediums or smalls and the sizes refer to the depth (height) of the boxes. Supers are generally on top to store the honey. Needless to say that the frames that go in these boxes have to be the same depth as the box. So that was my mistake, I put medium frames in a deep box.
Bees by nature will fill every open area with comb. There is a rule in beekeeping about “bee space”. This was the basic theory behind the whole design of the modern bee hive. Bees will fill any space that is more than 1 centimeter with comb or if it is less then 1 cm, they will cement it shut with propolis, which is like a resin that the bees make with sap and really just a lot of trash they find in the hive, like dead bee parts and leaves. The frames in the hive are designed to leave 1cm on each end and 1cm in between the frames so bees will move around but they will not build excess comb. This is what keeps the frames removable, so it is easy for beekeepers to inspect and the harvest honey. Basically, I gave the bees too much room (4inches) and they filled it with comb, laid eggs, and stored honey.
So you have your boxes in what ever size and you stack them on top of each other and you have 10 frames in each one (making sure they are frames of the corresponding depth of the box). Then on the bottom, you have a bottom board which is like a launching pad (or when your bees get lazy, it is like a stoop). In the summer, bees are often lined up on the outside of the bottom board because they fan the hive to keep it cool, otherwise the wax would melt. On top of the hive there is an inner cover, and an outer cover. The inner cover is really just a board with a whole in the top, the outer cover fits on the outside of the top box. I believe the purpose of the two covers is just ventilation. So the queen excluder that I mentioned in the last post under MISTAKE #4 is supposed to keep the queen in the bottom boxes with the brood and out of the honey boxes, otherwise you might get brood laid next to honey and that would make extraction of honey more difficult (because who wants white little worms in their honey?). The reason Jeff says it is not important is because the bees don’t want to mix the honey and the babies either, so yeah, maybe they will take over a frame or so in your honey box and designate it for babies, but, when you are choosing frames for extraction, you just don’t use that one.
There are a lot of opinions in beekeeping and everyone seems to do it their own way. You can read all the books and then talk to local beekeepers and you will be very confused. My experience is to just try it and see how the bees like it. When the hive is in your back yard, this is much easier to do. Generally, my bees are pretty forgiving. So right now, I am not using a queen excluder and Queen Delilah has free reign over her hive-dom.