What IS a Warre Hive?

 For starters, the name comes from the developer, a  French Abbe, Emil Warre. He did the majority of his work in the early 1900's, passing away in 1951. From a beekeeping standpoint his work is fairly recent. His thought process was simple: Build a hive that mimics the inside of a log, install the bees and get out of the way. His secondary goal was to construct this hive in the most inexpensive way possible. 

What he developed is a simple series of open, stackable boxes. On the top of each box are 8 thin wooden slats from which the bees would draw down their combs and establish their hives. The slats are 24mm wide and spaced 12mm apart. The 12mm spacing is a fairly critical measurement in that it recognizes a proper "Bee Space".  He found that if this Bee Space is too narrow the bees would build one big comb across the adjacent slats. If it is too wide it will cause problems with overall hive management and heat retention which makes for winter warmth problems.

Another important factor in the maintenance of a healthy hive is moisture control. The heat produced by a hive is remarkable. Condensation can be a devastating problem in the hives, especially in the colder weather when ice can form. Warre addressed this issue by building a separate, smaller box that was covered with cloth on the bottom and then filled with sawdust. This "Quilt box" was placed on top of the hive to absorb the warm moist air the bees produced. The whole construct was then covered with a simple (and in our opinion attractive) roof. 

The floor of the Warre hive is a straightforward flat piece of wood with an alighting board and an angled 12mm opening for the bees to use for their coming and going.  

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PBS Technology

In any form of Bee Keeping it is essential to recognize that bees need room to move - but not too much...or too little! The exact amount of space needed is fodder for discussions in the academia of Apiary science. The micro-analysis of this "Bee Space" is often debated (as are many bee keeping topics) based on observations of Feral Hives vs experiences with Langstroth hives. From the macro-analytical view however, there is a fairly strong concensus that the proper Bee Space should be in the vicinity of 1cm (10mm if you prefer).

Why is this important you ask?

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I just give it a kick in the slats!

I wanted to discuss our new design for our Warre slats, but every time I say that word – slats - I picture Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen explaining how he keeps the steam engine running. Ok, back to the Bee Biz. As we have mentioned, and you have undoubtedly heard it is necessary as a bee keeper to register your hobby with your state apiary agency. (Let’s save any discussions here about appropriate levels of government involvement for Social media sites and address what is.)

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Is it to Bee?

 The time to decide is upon us.. well, upon you actually. Whether you are an experienced Bee Keeper looking to expand, or someone mulling the possibility of jumping into this hobby it is now time to decide. Sorry, no more waiting. “But it’s still cold outside… winter and all”, you say. Indeed, but in order to participate in this hobby it is necessary to have Honey Bees (there’s a revelation). So where does one obtain said Honey Bees? Well, dont bother calling Target, or Wal-Mart. You basically have 2 choices: Capture a swarm in the spring - which is actually the best possible scenario, or arrange for a package delivery. There is a 3rd option and that is a "Nuc". The nuc (pronounced Nuke) is largely limited to Langstroth Hive population, so let's forgo the Nuclear option and discuss the prior 2..

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Why Warre?

So why Warre-style hives? I could offer a snarky response of "Why not Warre Hives?" but I'd rather look at some of the reasons why people don't want to get involved in raising Honey bees in the first place. I think it's safe to say that the majority of us are truly concerned with the environmental well-being of our planet. The Honey bee supports some of the foundational health of our planet. The pollination process is essential for the survival of the herbivores and omnivores, making it possible for carnivores to survive as well.... and no single creature can pollinate with the concentrated efficiency of a strong Honey Bee colony. The problem is that the image of "Beekeeping" is one that involves individuals in bee suits armed with smokers and hive tools, pulling apart the hives, inspecting their colonies, risking a myriad of painful stings - often times in bee yards that look ... well, less than asthetically appealing.

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