Friday, 30 October 2009

How to Modify a standard Warré floor

Update - May 2011: Since drafting this page in 2009, I have come to believe that using this method for monitoring varroa is not beneficial. Sliding a piece of card into the entrance works just as well if you want to monitor hive debris. I would certainly never leave a varroa screen and tray in a beehive as they provide an area of the hive that the colony cannot access to clean/sterilise. As such the area below the screen/tray becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and pests. In my view the success of the Warré hive is down to the low disturbance management method. Opening the hive, even at the floor level, disrupts this and disturbs the bees thermodynamic control. Unless you intend to treat you hive with a synthetic miticide then why bother to monitor them? Surely it's better to give them what they need to live hygienically and manage their own mite levels and that means not disturbing them. 

This simple modification will adapt your standard Warré floor into one which will allow you to a) monitor your Varroa mite drop and b) feed your bees from below the colony with syrup/fondant without the need to remove the roof, quilt or take off the bee boxes.

Materials required:

  • 1.5 mts length of wood 100mm x 20mm (why not use an old pallet)
  • varroa screen 300mm x 300mm (YABeeP holds a supply of this for members use)
  • thin material for tray 300mm x 300mm
NB: Click on any image to see it enlarged

1. Block off old entrance
Cut and stick into place a piece of wood to fill the old entrance - shown as yellow in illustration.

2. Add front and sides
Glue and screw 2 sides and a front - shown in blue in illustration

  • Sides 100mm high x length of your floor minus 20mm (to accommodate rear door
  • Front 100mm high x width of floor minus 2 sides
  • Cut new entrance 120mm wide x 20mm deep in centre top of front piece:

3. Add a landing board
NB: This stage is optional as bees don't need a landing board but they do assist observation and photography.
Glue and screw a new landing board to base of new entrance hole shown in green in illustration. Dimensions around 160mm wide x 40mm deep:

4. Add runners for varroa screen
Stick 2 strips to the inside of sides shown in pink in illustration 4.These slope from just below top of side at rear to just below level of entrance hole at front and will support your varroa screen:

5. Add removable door
Add door to rear, shown on red in illustration

  • 100mm high x width of your Warré floor
  • close with catches, clips or ties

6. Add varroa screen & mite tray
Cut a varroa monitoring screen to the size of your box and place onto (pink) side strips. Also cut a second tray made from a sheet of thin material (hardboard, plastic, etc.) and lay this on the floor – see illustration
. NB: mesh size needs to be 8 holes per inch.

How to Use

Varroa monitoring and counting - To use for varroa monitoring open door, slide in varroa screen and varroa tray then close door. You can then access varroa tray to count your mite drop as and when required. You can also paint a sticky medium onto your tray with Vaseline or vegetable oil to trap the mites.

Feeding sugar syrup/fondant – To use as a bottom feeder slide out the varroa screen then place container of sugar syrup or fondant on the bottom - you can use the varroa board to help slide it in. Please note: If you use syrup ensure that a mesh float is used to prevent the bees from drowning in the syrup.

This 'How to Modify a standard Warré floor' guide can be downloaded as a 2 page pdf file here.
You can download the 3D Google Sketchup model here. (Sketchup is a free programme that allows you to view, create and share 3D models. If you upload this file into Sketchup you can view it from all angles, pan and zoom, take detailed measurements and do many other things)

1 comment:

Juley Howard said...

Hi I wasn't paying enough attention to Robin's plans when I made my feeder. Since modifying it (fortunately I noticed at the last minute that the bees couldn't actually get in and out!) and adding fondant I have had mice in the hive eating the sugar, this is despite having a mouse guard.
Yesterday I swept off the mouse droppings - today I checked and they had been back, so I have a double mouse guard in place now.