Warre hives in a nutshell

Discussion in 'Top Bar & other Alternative Hives' started by Big Bear, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    First of all, I really recommend that anyone interested in running Warre or Warre-style hives to read his book, "Beekeeping For All" by Abbe Emile Warre. (you can find a PDF link on my website).

    Warre hives are intended to be a compromise for "best for bees" and "easy for beekeepers".

    Keep in mind that this hive was designed at a time that Varroa mites and CCD were not problems he had to contend with.

    He wanted to design a method that let bees be bees and pretty much take care of themselves. At the same time, it would be easy for beekeepers in those poverty stricken times to get "easy" access to honey and beeswax to use and sell.

    The materials were from common boards and wood that one would find in Europe with little trouble at the time.

    Everything is made by hand, piece by piece, there was no anticipating commercial mass production of these hives.

    Volume was very important to Warre in the design. his design of the box dimensions was his attempt to recreate "natural" space inside an empty tree, etc...that bees would find and occupy.

    The reduction and removal of condensation and moisture was so imprtant to his studies that he introduced the "quilt box" which sit on top the stack filled with absorbent and "screened" in such a way to anticipate the bees propolising or de-propolising holes to control the level of air-flow on their own.

    Everything in the Warre hive and method was meticulously planned for.

    He says that the hives could be "worked" at a minimum frequency of twice a year if necessary. Though, he doesn't tell yuou to only visit them that few times. As a matter of fact, through the book, he identifies inspections and manipulations fo the hives that would, if followed, take you into the hives possibly as frequently as once per month.

    However, he did urge keeping hive openings to as few times as possible because nest scent and heat were of critical important to retain as much as possible.

    In building the hive stack, he uses the process of "nadiring" or adding new boxes to the bottom of the stack. The purpose to allow bees to build downwards as his observations concluded was their "natural" progression. Moving brood to the bottom while backfilling cells in the upper boxes with honey.

    Bringing this hive and method to modern times is to introduce the system to problems that didn't exist for him at the time.

    However, the often described ease of use of top bar hives in general and his intentional desigining in of "natural" behaviors and minimal manipulations make this hive attractive to many people seeking organic or naturalistic approaches to beekeeping.

    I would definitely consider it a niche hobby hive for most people and not something that the modern honey production concerned beekeeper would find practical in their bee yard.

    For the avid experimentalist, "naturalistic/wholistic," and "handy" do-it-yourselfer beekeepers though, they are very fun to use and work with.

    I can talk about Warres methods, hives and principals all day. if I can answer any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Even if I don't know the answer, it creates a learning opportunity for me to try to find it.
     
  2. Steve10

    Steve10 New Member

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    Hello Big Bear,

    Looking for your suggestions to help aim me in the right direction. I have Lang's and a couple of TBH'S and been fascinated by the Warre methods. Got hooked on queen rearing last year, too.

    Do you think I could put a queen cell and a couple shakes of nurse bees in a Warre box. Treat it as a mating nuc until I can confirm the queen is laying, then follow the Warre method after that?

    Really enjoy building stuff for the girls. I'm not very good at it, but the girls haven't complained yet. Building a few Warre hives seems like a fun and easy winter project. If I can tie it into my queen rearing (always have more queen cells than needed), that would alleviate all the nuc conversion issues and uncertainty of waiting for a swarm to stock the hive.

    I'm a little sketchy on how to feed them like I normally do for comb production...guess I need to do more research, but there's a long stretch of winter yet to come!

    Any tips or directions toward information resources would be appreciated. Location is north-central New York if that helps.

    Thanks, Steve
     

  3. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    Read the book "Beekeeping For All" by Abbe Warre. He covers most, if not all, those questions specifically throughuot the book.

    No, I'm not "copping out" on you by telling you to read the book. if you are really wanting to run a Warre hive, it's practically required reading. Then we can discuss anything you didn't find the answer to or ways of accomodating/modifying from there.

    In the book is a full description and plans for the hive itself as well as accessories like a feeder that he designed for the hive and all the relative information regarding feeding from his point of view.

    When it comes to raising queens in Warre hives as nucs I look at Warres not so much as nucs but as "parent" hives and "daughter" hives. You can put a specific queen into a hive by tying the cage to a top bar then let her populate as best she can. The problem thereafter is collecting queen cells from within the nest as there is a lot of brace comb, cross comb and propolising that goes on inside a Warre box.

    Having said that, Warre does include plans in the book for making frames for the hive that would make such endeavors similar to a Lang environment.
     
  4. Steve10

    Steve10 New Member

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    Thank you. I read it a long time ago, but never got around to building any. I'll dig it back out and re-read it again.

    No, I'm not looking to raise queens in a Warre. Just was thinking of setting up some Warre's with a couple pounds of bees and a queen cell and hadn't remembered seeing that in the book, but I'll look closer for that and the feeder. Then, I'll get back with you as I stumble along.

    Steve
     
  5. Big Bear

    Big Bear New Member

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    no problem, anytime. have fun