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SINGLE BROOD CHAMBERS VERSUS DOUBLE BROOD CHAMBERS
In the late 1990’s, I (Karen) bought into the idea that doubles were stronger than singles. I convinced the guys to run half a yard as singles and the other half as doubles for most of the season. At the time, we estimated the brood area in the hives almost every time that we went into them because so many people were working the hives that we needed a relatively impartial measure to tell us whether the hive was growing or not.
Consistently, the singles had more brood area than the doubles. The doubles had so much extra space to store honey in the brood boxes that they didn’t move the honey up above the queen excluders and even restricted how much room the queen had to lay eggs. It was my only and last experience with double brood chamber hives in Saskatchewan. (Not including the baby nuc hives and experimental mating nuc units.)
After that experiment, I was convinced that singles were at least as strong if not stronger than doubles and that the problem that led people to call a queen excluder a honey excluder wasn’t with the excluder, but rather with the size of the brood nest.
2021, we ended up doing another experiment with doubles though we did
not mean to. We did not want to unwrap our hives too early and
risk chilling brood. However, some of the strong hives needed
extra room. Therefore, we decided not to unwrap the packs, but
instead to just add an extra brood box under the strong ones. We
were quite pleased with the result of not unwrapping the hives too
early. However, we ended up creating doubles with the strong
hives. They had all of the characteristics that we hate about
doubles: no more brood, harder to find queens, wanting to jam honey
into the brood chamber and restrict the queen's laying area rather than
moving it up into the honey supers, but what we really hated about them
is that we lost a box of honey off of each of those hives into brood
boxes. The queens did not tend to move and lay much in them, but
the bees filled them with honey. We did make some splits with
them, but it was a lot more work and we lost a box of honey into brood
seen research comparing singles to doubles before. My objection
to that research has always been that they ignored the basic tenants
that are required to run a single and ran them just like they would a
double therefore biasing the results in favour of the doubles.
Perhaps we bias the results in favour of the singles because we treated the doubles exactly how we would treat singles.
Revised: March 4, 2022.
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