Green Bee Company
 
 

 

Contact US

Cathy or Buz

39980 Foxtrot Circle

Elizabeth, CO 80107

(303) 842-1291

info@greenbeecompany.com

 

Bee Removal

Contact us about removing and re-hiving your bees instead of exterminating them.

(303) 842-1291

Natural Beekeeping with a Warre Hive

picture of  newly built Warre hive

Feral bees, in their natural environment, are very consistant in they way they choose a location for and construction of their hives.  The Warre style hive takes this into account and provides the bees with a space that is condusive to their creation of living and storage space.

A bee hive is a community in a constant state of labor. The hive is under construction every minute of every day.

The most common bee hive, the Langstroth style, encourages the bees to produce large amounts of honey by manipulating the hive components and forcing the bees to infill the spaces created by these manipulations.

The Warre top bar style hive does not encourage the bees to do anything that is out of the range of the colony's natural behavior. This puts less stress on the colony and  promotes a naturally healthy hive.

picture of exploded Warre hive

We sell Warre top bar style hives in kit form, that you can put together yourself, or already assembled, painted and unpainted. This is an "exploded" picture of a Warre hive.

 

The Warre hives that we build have a plexi "viewing" window so that you can watch the comb production as it's  happening.

A vertical Top Bar Hive is basically a tower of small Top Bar Hives stacked one on top of the other.  Each small bar hive is called a Hive Box.  Each Hive box has its own set of top bars.  When the hive boxes are stacked on top of each other, the top bars in each box provide a foundation for the bees to build on.

The honeybees start building the honeycomb in the top hive box.   They build downwards towards the bottom of the hive.  When they reach the bars of the next hive box, they stop building and start building the comb on those top bars.  They do this because they need bee space between the bottom of the comb and the top of the top bar.  They need about 4mm worth of space to move around in.  The spaces allow you to remove the hive box easily.  Since each box is one unit of honeycomb, each box in a Warre Hive can be worked with, independent of the others.  This make for easy honey harvesting.  If a top bar breaks, you can easily replace it with another one and don't have to build another costly frame.

Most beehives can be time consuming to maintain.  The Warre hive is not.  The idea behind the Warre Hive is to create a natural and bee-friendly home for the bees.  The best way to achieve this is to keep out of the beehive, which means very low maintenance on your part.  When you open a beehive, you destroy the heat and scent environment that the bees strive to maintain.  Sometimes it is necessary to open the beehive to take off honey or to add natural remedies for diseases and mites.  Other than that, the Warre Hive (and any hive) does best when left alone.

The Warre Hive has no foundation.  This is smart beekeeping because it allows the bees to make their own foundation.  Honeybees will make their own honeycomb faster than they make honeycomb on pre-pressed foundation.  Allowing them to make their own foundation is smarter because it allows the honeybees to decide which cell size is best for their beehive.  Cells in natural honeycomb are not fixed sizes.

The honeycomb cell is the womb of the beehive.  It is where the new baby bees develop and grow.  Pre-pressed foundation tries to force this womb size to be an arbitrary size.  Letting the bees engineer their own size and orientation of honeycomb helps create a more "natural" environment, hopefully making them them healthier and happier.

There are very few parts to the Warre Hive.  There is a Roof, Quilt, Hive Box and Floor.  The parts are simple to put together.

  • The Roof covers the hive and provides protection from the elements.
  • The Quilt sits under the roof and is filled with insulating material. ** See below for additional information.
  • The Hive Box forms the basis of the hive, where the bees build their honeycomb.
  • The Floor provides the foundation for the whole beehive.

The Warre Top Bar Hive is a sustainable hive because it has few parts compared to the Langstroth hive, so you end up consuming less material and energy while using it.

The first rule when using Warre Beehives is to not interfere with the rhythms of the beehive.  Leave the bees alone and they will be much better off and calmer, too.

The second rule is to give the bees plenty of room to build honeycomb.  When they build the comb almost to the floor, you need to put in another hive box. Just slip the box under the bottom hive box.  As you add new boxes under the hive, the bees will continue building honeycomb downwards to the floor.

The third rule is to always leave enough honey for the bees to eat during the winter.  When you take off honey, you will want to leave about 26 pounds of honey (12kg).  This will make sure your bees have enough honey to get through the winter.

To harvest honey, just remove the top one or two hive boxes at the end of the summer.  Blow the bees out of the boxes with some smoke.  Cut out the honeycomb and you are done.

Beekeeping with a Warre hive is easy.  You only need to spend a few hours in the spring and a few in the summer for honey harvest.  Other than that, all you need to do is keep an eye on the beehive to make sure the bees are doing fine.

** This explanation by Euli Hoffmann, submitted on a "bee forum", explains the quilt assembly and its function:

There are two elements of the original Warre design that are often overlooked by those inclined to focus on the more visible quilt box. Hessian sacking, (burlap), is used as a top-bar cover and separates the top of the hive from the quilt box. The quilt box bottom is also made from hessian sacking, (burlap).  These seemingly crude cloths actually perform important hive functions.

The outer edges of the top-bar cloth are exposed to the exterior of the hive on all four sides.  In addition, the quilt box bottom hessian sacking, (burlap), extends up all four exterior sides of the quilt box where it is tacked in place.

The combination of their double layer and coarse weave provides a breathable gap around the complete perimeter of the hive top between the hive box and quilt box.  This horizontal venting at the top of the hive is in addition to any vertical air passage that occurs through the quilt box.

The weft and warp of the hessian sacking, (burlap), weave provide a capillary wick from any area of the cloth to each of the hives four exterior perimeters.

Both cloths are exposed to the hives exterior but are well sheltered from the weather by the extended telescoping sides of the Warre roof design.

The subtle yet effective venting of air and moisture can be controlled by the bees, thereby allowing them to preserve the all-important "Nestduftwarmebingdung"!


 


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