Back in February, I listened to a podcast interview with Matt Reed of Beethinking.com. He talked about the Warre Hive. Now I didn’t really want to get into another type of hive, but it sounded so intriguing and easy to use, I decided to give it a try. I liked the idea that the boxes stacked in a vertical orientation, mimicking a hollow tree. It sounded like the most ‘natural’ type of hive that wasn’t actually a tree. I also liked Matt’s approach of not using any chemicals inside his hives. So I ordered a kit with observation windows and a screened bottom in case I wanted to do a mite count.
I didn’t want to order package bees because they might not be acclimated to the wet area we have on the Oregon Coast. I had passed up the ordering date and was nervously waiting for my bait hives to catch a swarm, but nothing was happening. Then I got the call about a swarm that had just formed about an hour ago. I threw everything into the car and was on my way.
A Swarm in a Bush…A made-in-heaven low swarm for my first experience.
A Swarm in a Bucket…I was able to cut branches and shake most of the bees into this 5 gallon bucket.
A Swarm in the Warre Transferring the swarm into the Warre was easy…tap the bucket on the ground once or twice, then pour into the hive. I replaced the bars on top, installed the quilt box and the roof.
Did I get the queen? Bees can be seen fanning the pheramone that the queen is ‘in the building’!
July 7, 2012 This shows how much natural comb they built in about 5 weeks. I wonder when they will start on the bottom box.
I anxiously wait. The bees don’t build into the bottom box. I consult the forums where suggestions are made to add an empty box overhead. “The bees don’t like having an empty space over them.” On July 23, 2012, I add a third box, this time on top.
After I drilled a 3/4″ hole for the bees in the top box, I waxed up some top bars and put the whole thing in place.
July 24, 2012. I like this…I can get a view through the observation window looking down at the occupied middle box or up to the top bars in the top box.
August 3, 2012 A view of the comb in the middle box…still no building in the top or bottom box.
August 20,2012 Looking into the Warre, plenty of bees, plenty of honey,..but they are STILL not building any comb in either the top or bottom box.
I consult the forums…”can a Warre get through the winter on only one box?” It’s getting late in the summer and my efforts to get them to build either on top or in the bottom box have been fruitless. The answers seem to imply I’m a reckless beekeeper if I don’t consider feeding them.
Partially built feeder box for Warre
After looking at the forums, I found the answer. Build a feeder that is accessible from the outside. If it becomes necessary to feed the bees I can do it without opening the hive up to the cold air. The hive is kept intact with no extra holes drilled into it for the sugar water.
I want to thank Colobeekeep for providing photos of how he built this.
Front view of feeder box on right side of Warre
Back view of feeder box on Warre
Lid open, no jar yet. Bees can access the sugar water, but not the feeder box. Bottle can be changed without opening the hive. It’s placed near the rear of the hive to discourage robbing.
I really DON’T want to resort to feeding them. From what I read, sugar raises the pH of the hive making it more susceptible to Nosema, but I also don’t want to lose this little hive. I definitely won’t use High Fructose Corn Syrup because it is made from GM corn which is treated with clothianidin, a systemic insecticide highly toxic to bees. I’ll pay close attention to the honey stores by looking through the observation window. If they get low I’ll be able to supply either 1:1 or 1:2 sugar water without opening the hive.
This short video looks into the Warre hive through the observation window (slight reflection issues) to see waggle dancing and daisy-chaining. The last frame shows the natural comb built as a result of the daisy-chain.
More Waffling…After going to the work of building the ‘side feeder,’ I observed the comments made about moisture in the hive. Well, I’m not going to say we live in a rain forest, but we do get buckets in the winter time. Should I worry about the moisture issues…yes. Okay, I’ll build an over-the-top ‘dry sugar’ feed frame.
This shows the sugar resting on the 1/2″ hardware cloth. After this photo was taken, I dumped out the sugar and inserted a layer of blank newsprint between the sugar and the wire. That should hold up the sugar so it won’t drop down into the hive…I hope.
Sugar pressed into frame ready to slide into place
Installing sugar feeder Oct. 25, 2012. This will let the bees go upward to access the sugar from within the cluster. Quilt box goes on top. Then I wrapped with red tape to seal the cracks.
When I checked with some coastal beekeepers at the bee meeting, they said they feed with sugar syrup, no problem. “Don’t you worry about the moisture issues?” “No.”
I hope this works.
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