Do bees do better on 14 x 12 ?

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Nick Lang

House Bee
Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
185
Reaction score
83
Location
Pontypool, South Wales
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
Only one
As per the title really.......I've been reading about single BB, double BB and 14x12.

I understand the difference between each....but in reality does the extra space of a 14x12 give the colony an advantage over a standard single BB??
 
As per the title really.......I've been reading about single BB, double BB and 14x12.

I understand the difference between each....but in reality does the extra space of a 14x12 give the colony an advantage over a standard single BB??
It depends on the bee. It certainly gives you an advantage in swarm management.
 
Without saying "experience"..lol...how would you know if there is an advantage to going to 14x12.....and...Does the larger size 14x12 frame allow for a stronger (larger number) colony going into winter and coming through in spring give an advantage?
 
The size of the colony has nothing to do with the size of the box. You can’t make a poor queen better by putting her and the bees in a bigger box and vice versa.
A National is too small for most modern bees. Saying that many beekeepers who keep Amm keep them in one small box.
 
...so how do you know if a 14x12 would be better for a colony....what are the signs.....if most modern bees thrive in a bigger box then is it worth going over to a 14x12 set up for the majority of colonies?
 
Sorry for the questions....I'm just trying to wrap my head around understanding why one would use 14x12 or double BB or single BB....finding I can't quite seem to 'get it'
 
Also.....why isn't a 14x12 standard if modern bees thrive in them???....is it just convention?
 
Also.....why isn't a 14x12 standard if modern bees thrive in them???....is it just convention?

Partly it's "because we've always done it that way", I think. Partly it's because there seems to be quite a bit of variation between colonies which is partially dependent on the local environment.

My bees would seem to prefer a slightly larger box than a single brood and I've used double brood for some years now, but I did consider moving to 14x12 earlier this year in the name of simplicity. Based on comments here when I asked however, I've decided that I'll do something like replace the outer frames in each box with an insulated dummy, effectively reducing the size to something more similar to a 14x12 but better insulated.

James
 
Also.....why isn't a 14x12 standard if modern bees thrive in them???....is it just convention?

Partly it's "because we've always done it that way", I think. Partly it's because there seems to be quite a bit of variation between colonies which is partially dependent on the local environment.

My bees would seem to prefer a slightly larger box than a single brood and I've used double brood for some years now, but I did consider moving to 14x12 earlier this year in the name of simplicity. Based on comments here when I asked however, I've decided that I'll do something like replace the outer frames in each box with an insulated dummy, effectively reducing the size to something more similar to a 14x12 but better insulated.

James
I agree with James; also sometimes 14x12 is not big enough either and they are heavier to manipulate. Two smaller boxes is more flexible and easier to move; for example an 8 over 8 system with appropriate insulation is quite handy, easy to expand as needed too.
 
Last edited:
I like the single brood but a lot of people use double which is an easier to manage for splits, etc. Also it's big frame to handle
 
A bigger box has nothing to do with how well bees will do. IF….Queen/bees require more space add another it’s as simple as that. My big colonies may have 2 or 3 brood boxes at peak season. Personally for me I hate 14x12 and much prefer the flexibility of standard deep boxes.
 
Can I ask if a colony can get to 2 or 3 brood boxes at peak season, how are they set up by winter and how have you managed that?
 
I use 14x12 for most of my bees. The size of the hive was adapted to suit various sub-species.
A National hive will hold about 40,000 bees the size of a AMM colony in summer. 14x12 will hold 70,000.
Dadants and Langstroths hold considerably more and were developed to house more prolific bees of AMC and AML origin.
Brother Adam used a modification of the Dadant because his crossbred bees, (Buckfasts) produced larger colonies.
As most of the bees in my part of the UK are total mongrel mixtures they generally tend to have more than 40,00 bees at peak times.
Using double brood or brood and a half does not make for easy beekeeping as you are removing 1 storey of the brood nest everytime you inspect. The bees do not like it.
14x12 are much easier to handle and there is less chance of a swarm. If the colony is small or slow to pick up in the Spring you can always reduce the volume as necessary using a dividing board.
The other benefit is that all National equipment matches in size and you can move National frames from an overcrowded National into a 14x 12 with no issues.
 
The bees don't care that much about the box. I have collected swarms from all sorts of containers. More important is how the beek feels about the various boxes and frames and the management of the bees.
Before I got my bees I handled standard national, 14x12 and commercial. I felt most comfortable with the standard. As my skills and my bees have improved I have gone from single BB, brood and half to double BB, which all my colonies are on, all year round.
 
Also.....why isn't a 14x12 standard if modern bees thrive in them???....is it just convention?
Well it is "A" standard just deeper than "ordinary" national brood. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice. Some queens are fine in bog standard nationals, some need more space and you can either muck about with brood and a half or use 14 x 12. Beekeeping is a pastime with more of the "it was good enough for my father so it's good enough for me" devotees than most.
 
Also.....why isn't a 14x12 standard if modern bees thrive in them???
because it's the devil's format
Seriously, there are many and possibly better alternatives to 14x12, if you ask most beekeepers, in hindsight, what format they would chose I bet the majority would say Langstroth. Many would say that commercial is a better format, and using double brood is a lot more manageable and versatile than 14x12.
And by the way - whatever the issue, brood and a half is never the answer.
The reason that the 'standard' national brood box is still so popular is that most people in this country start their beekeeping journey by joining a local BKA and most of them are mired in the 'tradition' of using National standard deeps 14x81/2) and as most starter nucs are offered in that format, plod on with using it. the 14x12" format being a variation of the 'traditional is why they then promote the use of that.
I still use standard deeps (bit too late to change now with the number I have) but I use Demarree as a method of swarm avoidance so the extra top box means I manage perfectly well.
 
The only advice I would give, is use a box/system that suits you.
We use std national on fixed sites, but double broods, which then allows allows us to demeree for swarm control.
Migratory sites have always been 14x12 for ease of movement & the bigger box suits the Danish Buckfast & carnies we use.
Have been trialling commercial, which I do find the frames a lot easier to handle, but impossible handholds mean they are a PITA to move.
Everything is on solid floors and using commercial supers has increased the hive average over Last three years.
 
Nick, I have flip flopped over the National/14x12 scenario, and other than helping with swarm control, I'm not sure there's much advantage in it..but I do think there's a lot to be said for consistency of kit...having housed a swarm in a 14x12 nuc, I then faffed around looking for one of my 14x12 hives; minor issue, but had my boxes all been standard national it would have saved me faffing !! Going on to double brood if you've a nice expanding colony just makes life easier...so in my opinion with the benefit of hindsight, if starting again, I'd probably not journey into 14x12 land.
 
Extra space alone will not stop them swarming
It might help but it will not stop them.
14 12 for better swarm management is a poor excuse.
Lots of folk ( who keep bees because they just like bees- fancy that! ,what weirdos...) have colonies of feral swarms that outside peak season will rarely make full use of a standard BB,so double brood lends itself well to splitting boards.
 

Latest posts

Back
Top