WARRE AND NATURAL BEEKEEPING FAQ
I HAVEN'T BUILT A BEEHIVE KIT BEFORE, WILL I BE ABLE TO ASSEMBLE IT?
Yes, our kits are all pre-cut precisely, most of the screwing places are marked and all joints are marked. You need very basic woodworking skills and tools to assemble the kits. Mostly you will have to align and glue the parts and make sure they are square, clamp parts or use a helping hand to hold them tight together, pre-drill on marked locations and insert screws. Our instructions are easy to follow and are very detailed, showing you photos along the assembly process.
DO YOU SELL BEES? HOW AND WHEN DO I GET BEES?
No, we don't sell bee colonies. The very first step is to make sure you have a hive ready to go. Warre hives are naturally attractive to the bees because of its design, especially the Octagon Warre hive. After assembling and preparing your hive you can place it where you think is a good location, the hive itself is already a "bait hive" and has a great potential to receive a new swarm. Another way to double your luck is to also have a bait hive placed somewhere high. The bees have a preference to move into "homes" that are higher up. Normally if the bees have two or more potential sites to choose from, they will give preference to the higher one. The bait hive is a more convenient way to accomplish that. A reasonable number of our customers acquire the hive kit + bait hive with great success in catching swarms. Other ways to get bees, depending on your location, can be buying packages of bees, nucs or even whole hives. Its more common to find conventional Langstroth nucs and hives for sale, for example on Gumtree adds, and you can then transfer the bees from them to the new Warre hive. It is best to start a colony at the start of the nectar flow in your area, normally spring to early summer. Later is possible too but probably the bees will have to be fed to survive the winter. If you want more information read: Natural beekeeping with the Warre hive. How to get started and be successful
WHATS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE OCTAGON WARRE AND THE STANDARD WARRE?
Abbe Warre designed the Warre hive with simplicity in mind, he settled for a square shape as its the simplest to build especially if butt jointed, however he did acknowledge that the cylinder is an ideal shape because it favours the distribution of the heat.
The main difference between the Octagon and Standard Warre hive is the shape and this single factor alone makes a huge difference during the winter months. The Octagon hive has a lower surface-to-volume ratio so is more thermally efficient in terms of heat loss, by eliminating the "cold corners" the bees stay warm and dry during the coldest months of the year therefore they need less honey to survive.
Both types of Warre hives allow bee colonies to survive long, cold winters on minimal stores. The advantage of the Octagon hive is that the colonies will need even less stores. Another advantage of the Octagon is that because of the type of joints used we can leave the inside walls rough rather than planned. On the standard Warre the inside walls are planned as to ensure precise joints. Rough timber helps the bees to stick their propolis on the walls forming a nest that is more protected and again simulates closely the tree cavities which are the bees favorite "home".
In summary the Octagon Warre offers an even more natural and efficient living space for the bees.
Both types of hives are managed exactly the same.
WHATS SO ESPECIAL ABOUT THE OCTAGON HIVE?
Its nearly cylindrical design simulates a tree cavity like no other hive available commercially.
A Warre hive with an octagonal shape gives the original Warre design an upgrade. The combination of the octagonal design of the Warre hive with natural beekeeping practices will ensure very strong and healthy bee colonies capable of defending themselves against pests and diseases and surviving long cold Winters on minimal honey stores. The Octagon boxes have 15L of internal volume compared to 18L from the standard square boxes, therefore the octagon boxes will be slightly lighter.
Its rounder design is unique amongst other hives and it looks great too.
WHAT KIND OF WOOD IS CYPRESS AND WHY USING IT FOR BEE HIVES?
Also known as Monterey cypress, golden cypress, cypress macrocarpa. Its botanical name is Hesperocyparis macrocarpa formerly known as Cypressus macrocarpa. It is one of the most naturally durable softwoods that exist. Considered extremely rot-resistant. It's resistant to insect and borer attack and naturally termite-resistant. Left untreated and out in the elements, Cypress will last 50+ years! Treated with an oil based coating or a water based paint it will last in perfect conditions for the rest of your life. We find that because of its durability, lightness and excellent insulation properties, Cypress is the best timber to build beehives with. If you would like to know more about the choice of timber for beehives please read our post on this topic: Condensation in beehives and why the choice of wood is so important
DO YOU SELL WARRE HIVES WITH FRAMES?
We only sell Warre hives with top bars. We follow natural beekeeping practices and the use of frames or even half frames is not in accordance with the natural bee behavior. In order to thrive, bees depend completely on heat. It is as important for them as nourishment. The bees build their own comb attached to the top bars and side walls of the box, they build it in a way that heat can be retained. This mass of warm air is impregnated with scent, and thus germ-free. It suppresses harmful bacterial activity and hinders the occurrence of diseases. When using frames or half frames a deficiency of retention of nest scent and heat calls for significantly increased food consumption and inopportune effort by the bees. Hives with frames are a type of artificial beekeeping that doesn't fulfill the principle of retention of nest scent and heat: the basis of health, thriving and yield of bee colonies. This important principle is fundamentally destroyed by the heat dissipating and draughty framed comb that is open on all sides.
One of the main observations of Warre was that bee diseases started appearing more often at the same time of the introduction of framed hives and modern beekeeping methods i.e frequent inspections.
We follow Warre's specifications and use top bars in our hives as to allow bees to build and live on natural comb. To know more about why we use top bars read the post: Does a Warre hive use top bars or frames? Is it legal to use top bars?
CAN YOU FEED THE BEES SUGAR SYRUP IF YOU FOLLOW NATURAL BEEKEEPING?
Yes, its a way to care for the bees in a time of need. Emergency feeding is very different from harvesting all their honey and replacing it with sugar syrup. It's hard to predict a low nectar year, we find that a feeder is an essential part of the beekeeper equipment. To know more about feeding read this post: Feeding the bees in a Warre hive. When? How? Why? A natural beekeeping view
DO YOU MAKE WARRE HIVES WITH WINDOWS?
We don't make hives with windows. A hive with viewing windows goes against natural beekeeping practices. It is unnecessary and can be harmful the the colony. Unfortunately there is no good way to seal the shutters tightly, when its humid the shutter becomes too tight and when its sunny and dry, small gaps can happen which is detrimental to the bees mainly because they are unable to seal the gaps themselves with propolis as there is a panel of glass or perspex stopping the bees reaching and sealing the gaps. When bee colonies abscond it is most likely from hives with windows, the insulation can be also compromised. Every time you open a window the bees get annoyed and stressed.
I KNOW THE BEES ARE VERY IMPORTANT, HOW CAN I HELP THEM?
Bees are one of the world’s most important pollinators for food crops. Bee populations continue to decline because of the use of pesticides and other environmental factors. Bees are important to people and to the overall environment.
The best way to help them is to plant bee forage. There is a great bee friendly planting guide book for Australia here. Bees need nectar, pollen and water to thrive. And of course offer them a space to live that is in harmony with their natural instincts, like the Warre hives with top bars.