Yield of Warré hive

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jantref 

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Hi, i'm not a beekeeper yet but i'm reading a lot in preparation te become one :cool:. As a biologist i have become very interested in the Warré hive. I know there are pros and cons just like any other system. I think it's foremost a personal preference what someone chooses. But there is one thing that's not clear to me. Maybe someone can explain to me. I've read at several places the yield of a colony in a Warré hive is lower compared to a 'standard' hive. Is this because the colony hibernate with their own honey, instead of sugar, so as a beekeeper you can harvest less? Or are they making less honey overall? That last option is opposite to my expectations. Because in theory the Warré hive is simulating a more compact natural situation where the bees need less energy to keep the optimal climate in the hive. So they need less food for winter and more honey is left for the beekeeper. I'm curious to your ideas or experiences in this.
 

ericbeaumont 

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simulating a more compact natural situation where the bees need less energy to keep the optimal climate in the hive.
Though not with similar material found in a natural situation: the thermal efficiency of six or more inches of solid tree cannot be matched by 25mm of sawn timber.

Alternative option is to make your own hives out of 150mm building insulation boards and read thermodynamist Derek Mitchell's posts and research papers.

I agree, personal preference influences choice of hive but thermal efficiency is usually overlooked, especially by beginners. If DIY is not your thing try an Abelo poly hive, one of several designs that serve the bee far better than the trad thin timber.
 

Boston Bees 

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Hi, i'm not a beekeeper yet but i'm reading a lot in preparation te become one :cool:. As a biologist i have become very interested in the Warré hive. I know there are pros and cons just like any other system. I think it's foremost a personal preference what someone chooses. But there is one thing that's not clear to me. Maybe someone can explain to me. I've read at several places the yield of a colony in a Warré hive is lower compared to a 'standard' hive. Is this because the colony hibernate with their own honey, instead of sugar, so as a beekeeper you can harvest less? Or are they making less honey overall? That last option is opposite to my expectations. Because in theory the Warré hive is simulating a more compact natural situation where the bees need less energy to keep the optimal climate in the hive. So they need less food for winter and more honey is left for the beekeeper. I'm curious to your ideas or experiences in this.
If we are talking about a Warre hive in its most common form, with only top bars in (i.e. no frames), then swarm control is very difficult to do. Many Warre users are "natural" beekeepers and will allow their bees to swarm anyway. This loses half of the bees in the hive, and thus reduces the ability of the hive to gather nectar (it also reduces the need for the hive to gather nectar).

I suspect this is among the main reasons for a lower yield in Warre hives.

As you say, it is also true that Warre encouraged leaving 12kg of honey for the bees, rather than extracting it and feeding sugar, so that's another big reason right there. (PS: Bees don't hibernate)

Additionally, in modern hives, the bees are "tricked" into storing more honey than they would ever usually do, via the addition of empty boxes above the brood nest. Bees hate space above their heads so are incentivised to fill it. In Warre hives space is added below the brood nest, so perhaps there is less of a panic to fill it.

Having said all that, I suspect that if you use a framed Warre, and manage the bees for honey, you could get a perfectly good crop. It's just that most Warre users are not that way inclined.

In summary then, Warre hives are just wooden boxes, like every other type of wooden hive. It's not the hive that determines the honey crop, it's the bees and the way they are managed.
 

jantref 

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I agree, personal preference influences choice of hive but thermal efficiency is usually overlooked, especially by beginners.
I am glad i don’t overlook this as a beginner 😊

Though not with similar material found in a natural situation: the thermal efficiency of six or more inches of solid tree cannot be matched by 25mm of sawn timber.
I am thinking of building it myself with 30 or 70 mm sawn timber in an octogonal shape. For me it has to be a wooden hive. 🤓
 

jantref 

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If we are talking about a Warre hive in its most common form, with only top bars in (i.e. no frames), then swarm control is very difficult to do. Many Warre users are "natural" beekeepers and will allow their bees to swarm anyway. This loses half of the bees in the hive, and thus reduces the ability of the hive to gather nectar (it also reduces the need for the hive to gather nectar).

I suspect this is among the main reasons for a lower yield in Warre hives.

As you say, it is also true that Warre encouraged leaving 12kg of honey for the bees, rather than extracting it and feeding sugar, so that's another big reason right there. (PS: Bees don't hibernate)

Additionally, in modern hives, the bees are "tricked" into storing more honey than they would ever usually do, via the addition of empty boxes above the brood nest. Bees hate space above their heads so are incentivised to fill it. In Warre hives space is added below the brood nest, so perhaps there is less of a panic to fill it.

Having said all that, I suspect that if you use a framed Warre, and manage the bees for honey, you could get a perfectly good crop. It's just that most Warre users are not that way inclined.

In summary then, Warre hives are just wooden boxes, like every other type of wooden hive. It's not the hive that determines the honey crop, it's the bees and the way they are managed.
Thanx for your explanation. i might build in some windows to try to do swarm control. But also: I think the first empty box is put below the brood nest. But if that box is almost filled you start putting empty boxes above the original brood box. These are the boxes you will harvest later in the year. This has two advantages. There is enough room to prevent swarming and you stimulate making honey like you describes.
(i do know bees don’t hibernate, but i don’t know the right english word for it ☺ and google translate said this was right...)
Btw i would like to use half frames as a compromise. And i want to build an octagonal hive instead of square and with walls of 30-70 mm sawn timber.
 

Boston Bees 

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Thanx for your explanation. i might build in some windows to try to do swarm control.
How would windows help with swarm control? Queen cells would be unlikely to be adjacent to one.

I think the first empty box is put below the brood nest. But if that box is almost filled you start putting empty boxes above the original brood box.
If you like, but this is completely the reverse of what Warre recommended.

I am thinking of building it myself with 30 or 70 mm sawn timber in an octogonal shape. For me it has to be a wooden hive.
Honestly - first, learn to keep bees, and in particular how to keep them alive. Later, play with "novel" hive designs as much as you like. If you are interested in the Warre, start with that
 

jantref 

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Honestly - first, learn to keep bees, and in particular how to keep them alive. Later, play with "novel" hive designs as much as you like. If you are interested in the Warre, start with that
No worries! This year i will follow a course and will keep bees in a standard hive at a local club. I won’t be irresponsible 😉
 

madasafish 

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I had a warre with windows: a waste of time. Get covered with propolis and wax .. and lose heat.

In theory every time you add an empty box to a warre hive, you place it underneath the preceding box. That means you have to lift off ALL the full boxes first.. You have to be strong or use a hive lift.

Very difficult to inspect.

I gave up : too much hard work with lower honey yields.
 

rolande 

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Yes i know his work. 👍 Haven’t read all of it yet. For sure i want to.
Another worthwhile read would be a lot of the posts by Bernhard Heuval on 'Beesource' the main US Forum. While he's very commercially minded and occasionally contradicts himself (something we all do if we write things on bee forums over a number of years *and* keep an open mind) he has a wealth of fixed comb/warre experience.
 
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pargyle 

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No worries! This year i will follow a course and will keep bees in a standard hive at a local club. I won’t be irresponsible 😉
That would be a very sensible option to start with ... there is a lot to learn and learning on a Warre hive is very restrictive. You really need to be able to inspect a colony, get used to what they do and when they do it, learn to recognise disease and parasites like Varroa. It is very difficult to do this in top bar Warre and probably impossible in the octagonal creation you are dreamin of.

Take a step back .. don't lock yourself into anything - after a year playing with bees you may come to realise that some of the things you will read in this forum (if you hang around) are more 'natural' for bees than some of the principles you are following.

Good luck anyway .. we need more beekeepers in the world as a lot of us are in the latter days of our beekeeping lives ...
 

jantref 

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I had a warre with windows: a waste of time. Get covered with propolis and wax .. and lose heat.

In theory every time you add an empty box to a warre hive, you place it underneath the preceding box. That means you have to lift off ALL the full boxes first.. You have to be strong or use a hive lift.

Very difficult to inspect.

I gave up : too much hard work with lower honey yields.
Did you use only top bars? I think using half frames will prevent wax on the windows. But i have doubt about the light and energy effects. But i have time to decide 😉
Lifting all would be heavy 😅. So only the first underneath is better option i think. Thanx for your response!
 

jantref 

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Another worthwhile read would be a lot of the posts by Bernhard Heuval on 'Beesiurce' the main US Forum. While he's very commercially minded and occasionally contradicts himself (something we all do if we write things on bee forums over a number of years *and* keep an open mind) he has a wealth of fixed comb/warre experience.
Thanx for your advice. I will take a look.
 

jantref 

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That would be a very sensible option to start with ... there is a lot to learn and learning on a Warre hive is very restrictive. You really need to be able to inspect a colony, get used to what they do and when they do it, learn to recognise disease and parasites like Varroa. It is very difficult to do this in top bar Warre and probably impossible in the octagonal creation you are dreamin of.

Take a step back .. don't lock yourself into anything - after a year playing with bees you may come to realise that some of the things you will read in this forum (if you hang around) are more 'natural' for bees than some of the principles you are following.

Good luck anyway .. we need more beekeepers in the world as a lot of us are in the latter days of our beekeeping lives ...
Thanx for your advice! I’ll make the best of it ☺
 

drex 

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Totally agree with Pargyle. I mainly run Nationals, but also have a Warré and two Kenyan top bars. I am so glad I had experience of conventional hives before getting into top bar hives, as they are more difficult to manage responsibly. The first KTBH I built has a window. On the whole it is a waste of time.
 

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