Bay Branch Farm

a vegetable farm in lakewood and cleveland, oh | we grow food

Warre Hive Construction

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A few years ago we read an article in the magazine Countryside & Small Stock Journal regarding sustainable beekeeping practices using a Warre hive. Since then we’ve read and studied many sources on the Internet regarding sustainable beekeeping, and finally this weekend we were able to construct a Warre hive for ourselves.

I think The Bee Space has done a nice job summarizing what a Warre hive is. There are links to Emile Warré book translated into English, which I would highly recommend reading. I followed their construction guide, but made a few minor modifications, like windows.

One of the great things about our hive is that it’s built with local wood! Other than being totally cheap, which was a huge bonus, our wood was supplied to us by my uncle Gary. He had harvested some wind damaged white pines a few years back and graciously gave the wood to us to use for the hives. Also he planed the wood to 7/8″ thickness cause he’s just totally awesome. The other thing is, when I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9, I played in the stand of trees where this wood came from. The idea that our “food doesn’t come from a grocery store”, occurred to me on another level that “wood doesn’t come from Lowe’s / your big box lumber store”. That this wood came from a real tree, and I don’t get sentimental very often, but I found this idea to be very profound as we were building the hive. I almost got misty.

Here are some pictures of the construction process. We will continue to post regarding our beekeeping progress throughout the season. Also big thanks to my dad for helping out on the construction. I’m blessed with a pretty awesome family.

7/8" white pine boards read for construction

I couldn’t get my dad to work in the metric system so we ripped the boards 8 1/2″, that’s how tall the boxes are.

ripping the boards to width

I really feel I need to know what’s going on inside the hive, so we fashioned a Plexiglas window on one side of the boxes

Plexiglas window installed

We built a total of 5 boxes, 4 with windows and one solid box

3 boxes with windows open

roof construction

floor construction

top bars installed in a box

floor, 3 boxes, and roof

We are not quite finished, left on the list is:

  • finish the exterior with linseed oil
  • install closing latches for the window covers
  • decide if we are going to put a wax starter on the top bars
  • mount all the top bars
  • build a feeder
  • find some bees!!!!!
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5 thoughts on “Warre Hive Construction

  1. That is whismical.

  2. Far out!!! I’m jealous 🙂

  3. Hi, thanks for this…I am planning on building my first Warre hives in the next few weeks- I am wondering how your first year went? Any updates?
    Thanks,
    Kate

    • Good luck with your hive, Kate! We will post an update in the coming weeks. The bees seem to still be moving around, which is a good sign. We did not take any honey out the first year and it looks like they still have some in there. It’s only now starting to warm up with days in the 40s, so hoping to see more activity as spring approaches.

  4. Kate and all-
    I have 5 Warre hives at this time and plan 6 more this spring. Everything possible for the Warre interested beekeeper can be found at
    http://warre.biobees.com/
    This is Dr David Heaf’s site, who could be considered the founder of the Warre Hive resurgence. Dr Heaf appeared in the documentary- “Queen of the Sun” for his work with bees in the Warre hive. He also has an excellent yahoo forum for anyone with questions and inquiries that can be accessed with a link from this website. Dr heaf is very friendly and helpful to all who ask. I highly recommend that anyone considering a Warre hive check this site out.
    Keep on keepin’ bees
    Ernie

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