Sunday, 20 February 2011

2011 Adapted Warré hive

This year we have decided to go back to building Warré hives as our standard model for beginners, just as we did in 2009. Read this page to learn more about these wonderful Natural Beekeeping hives.

Swarm of honeybees
(click to enlarge)
Once built you will naturally want to populate your hive with bees. By far the best way to do this is by using a natural swarm.

But there's a problem.....
Unfortunately though, swarms are getting more difficult to source (see this page for more information on getting your bees). YABeeP members are consequently having to source nucs as the next best alternative. A nuc is, in effect, a temporary miniature hive. The problem we have though is that nucs are designed to populate the much larger conventional beehive that we don't favour using. Therefore this gives us the problem in getting the nuc frames, with their attending bees, brood and stores, into our smaller Warré hives. Whilst it can be done by shaking the bees off or chopping the frames there are problems with this, especially for a new beekeeper.

...... and a solution
Consequently, to get around this problem we are suggesting that you build a adapted Warré so that the frames just, more or less, slot into your hive - easy-peasy. You will note that I did say 'more or less' as you will still have to chop off much of the frame lugs to slip your frames in as standard frames come with long lugs but this is easily done using branch loppers, bolt cutters or a hacksaw.
Standard Warré 
(click to enlarge)
This adaptation is a recommendation we are making, not a requirement; you remain free to build your hive to Warrés original and proven dimensions if you prefer.

Recommended Adapted Hive
If you choose to make the adapted hive then your hive's dimensions increase in plan from the original internal dimensions of 300 x 300mm to 300 x 365mm. The 365mm accommodates a British National brood frame at 356mm1 plus a 4.5mm gap each side to allow for some slack – after all we are not precision carpenters! NB: It is best to keep the gap each end to less than a 'bee space' to allow the bees to plug the gap for their thermodynamic control if they so choose. Ain't natural beekeeping great!

Adapted Warré
(click to enlarge)
Additionally, you need to extend the depth of your top box, the one that the bees go in, from 210mm to 218mm, again to accommodate the depth of the frame. This increased depth only needs to be done on the top box.

Some Warré purists will argue that this small modification goes away from his tried and tested design but we feel that 'needs must' for the sake of gently installing the bees and the minimal increase in volume is a small price to pay for not chopping & cropping or shaking the bees off their brood & stores.

You can download a pdf file (312 KB) showing the Modified Warré hive dimensions here (when the page opens click on the 'download' link in the top left corner).

© Robin Morris - YABeePFacebook smileys
20 Feb 2011

1 The dimensions quoted apply fitting standard UK nuc frames - National or Smith. If you are outside the UK you will need to adapt these dimensions to accommodate your local standard frame size.