Why Not a Warre Hive?

| 12/17/2013 8:35:00 AM

Warre hiveI’ll be honest, the first thing about a Warre hive that caught my attention was the absolutely charming appearance. Any beehive, whether it’s thrown together with spare materials, a beautifully crafted cedar hive or a simple white Langstroth is wonderful to my eyes. Long before I began keeping bees I was tempted to pull over on the side of the road at the sight of a beehive to stop and stare. That being said, there really is a unique beauty to a Warre hive and it’s not all superficial. After some experience keeping bees in our own Warre hives I have gained quite a lot of respect and appreciation for not only the trials and errors of Emile Warre but his ultimate design.

A Warre hive is sometimes described as a vertical top bar hive but it’s not quite as simple as that name would imply. It has several unique features including a quilt box at the top lined with sturdy cloth and filled with wood shavings or straw to help control climate and moisture. Also, the roof is vented which helps to promote favorable conditions inside the hive. The bars that go across the top of the hive boxes for the bees to build their wax from have no sides or bottoms and use no wax foundation. Some beekeepers use wax foundation strips but we just melted some beeswax and painted some onto each bar which worked great. Because the bees obviously need to move up and down through the boxes, the top bars do not rest end to end as they do in a horizontal top bar hive but with space in between them more like a Langstroth. New boxes are added to the bottom.

While our Warre hives have observation windows which I love, I find that I know less about their week to week or even month to month activities. Warre hives are to be opened once a year for harvest after the main flow and really no more than that unless there’s a good reason or you’re adding a new box. Let me share with you a few things I have noticed about our Warre hives though:

As I see steep population booms and drops throughout the season in my Langstroth and some of my top bar hives I’ve noticed a slow and steady rise of the population in the Warre’s.

During the hottest months when I see significant bearding (bees hanging out on the front of the hive) I see very little of it on our Warre hives.

They seem to have a greater population going into fall and slightly larger stores (possibly because of the moderate population during hot months).

12/21/2013 2:14:48 PM

Yes, that's a great site and you can read "Beekeeping for All there too." Thanks for sharing!

Anabell Jones
12/19/2013 1:45:01 AM

This is the site I got my plans from to build mine. warre.biobees.com/plans.htm

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