This post, I'm going to explain how I have my hive set up, what I'm doing for expansion, and what I plan to change in the future.
I'm running with typical Langstroth 10-frame hives, but spaced for 9 frames. The reason being: giving the bees that little bit of extra room encourages them to draw the comb out a little further, which, in turn, makes it easier to uncap when harvesting season comes up. Inside the hive, I'm using grooved bottom board, wedge top bar frames, with standard crimped-wire foundation. Basically, the only reason for this is because it seemed easiest. Next year, and with my supers, I plan to just use bare frames. This gives the bees the opportunity to draw the comb out with cell-size that's more natural.
Let me back up a little. Typical foundation comes in a sheet, which is pressed with ahexagon-shaped pattern. This makes the bees draw out their cells at the same size as the pattern on the foundation. Unfortunately, the cell size is the size required for worker bees. This discourages the larger cells that drones are raised in. Drones, while not productive, are certainly important to the well-being of the hive. Also, foundation is basically made from recycled beeswax, and often contains high levels of pesticides and other ickies. If you let them draw their own comb, without foundation, they build cells based on the needs of the hive, not on the desires of the beekeeper. An added bonus is that they also become less prone to mites. Theoretically, this is because the bees make the cells the right size, and they can hear the mites bumping against the sides of the cells, which are now crowded with an appropriately sized bee. The nurse bees can then find the right cell, open it up, and toss out the undeveloped larvae, and the offending mite.
As for supers, I'm using medium deeps. The only real reasoning is that I got them cheap when I bought some other woodenware. They will hold a little more honey, which I see as a good thing. I'm in good shape, and should have no problem handling the weight. Maybe when I get old, I'll switch to shallow supers, and just add more, but not yet.
Underneath all this, I'm using a solid bottom board. After doing a lot of reading, I've decided to replace it with a screened bottom board, which I intend to replace during my next inspection. This is to help with mite counts, and also to help minimize the mites. With a screened bottom board, when a mite is pulled from a bee's back, it falls to the ground, and can't crawl back up to the bees. With a solid bottom board, they just hang out on the ground until a bee walks by, and they hop on, and right back into the hive.
In the future, the only real changes I plan on making is to go with all foundationless frames, and maybe eventually go to smaller boxes. Otherwise, I plan on maintaining the status quo, at least until I see something better.
I've recently been asked what sort of pest/ disease management practices I intend to use. As this is a fairly in-depth topic, I'll save that for a later date. As a preview, though, let's just say, I don't intend to. Till next time, click on the post title to check out a cool new site I was told about, it's pretty cool. Thanks for the link, Missy.