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View Full Version : Medium 8's w/ warre roof - The ultimate compromise?



Adam Foster Collins
02-04-2011, 11:00 PM
Is a foundationless 8 frame Langstroth medium, with a warre-style roof and quilt box the ultimate compromise for "natural" beekeeping? Do you get the most benefits of all of the popular hive types going this route to keeping bees? Management aside...

As people get going in beekeeping, I think we all wonder about other approaches and we naturally do our best to find the right compromise for our own set of conditions. But I wonder what the best compromise for the widest range of conditions in terms of hive type, or basic set-up.

Recognizing that each type of hive has its limitations, what is the ultimate hive type to achieve the largest number of benefits?

I mean, all things considered, does the foundationless 8 frame medium langstroth with a warre roof and quilt box set-up actually amount to just about the best mid-point of all the best qualities of different hive types? None are truly "natural" but if emulating the vertical "tree trunk" cavity, and allowing them to build their own comb with natural cell sizes is the best we can do...

... then consider the benefits:

• The benefits of having frames (reusing comb if you like; durability, ease of handling)
• Not crazy heavy boxes
• Uses the more common Langstroth equipment (albeit a less-used size)
• Smaller boxes mean closer to the optimum dimensions described by Warre for cluster during winter - but not as small as a Warre.
• Without foundation the bees are free to build whatever size cells they like.
• The Warre roof and quilt box allows a good method of climate and moisture control, without over-ventilating.
• Feasible to run a large-scale operation for commercial purposes (I think).
• Access to a larger pool of relevant information and support

I really don't know. I haven't tried them. But as I read the pros and cons of what others say, and combine that with the limited experience I have with Langstroth deeps and shallows, as well as with ktbh's I have to wonder...

...is running an operation with foundationless 8 frame mediums and warre ventilation the ultimate compromise?

What do you think? Just a point of conversation. I'm interested in hearing your perspective. And I'm not out to start a competition - just a deep consideration of what that ultimate "mid-point" is.

Adam

Michael Bush
02-05-2011, 04:20 AM
I'm running eight frame mediums with foundationless, but I don't have any quilt boards....

But I'd do that before I'd do Warre.

dcross
02-05-2011, 06:14 AM
Wonder if a deep box would be better for the larger continuous comb, 5 frame maybe? Of course, then you run into height/stability...

bigbearomaha
02-05-2011, 06:27 AM
it's the volume inside the cavity that is important to the Warre hive. 8 frame lang boxes would be on the "too big" end of the void size spectrum.

Not to say one couldn't do it, but the bigger the box gets, the further away you move from the point of the design of the hive. a 5 frame nuc box is much closer in volume to a warre box than an 8 frame. and you still get the same benefits.

dcross
02-05-2011, 06:39 AM
An eight frame medium is bigger than a Warre box? I was under the impression it would be smaller?

raosmun
02-05-2011, 06:59 AM
A.F. Collins: I have also been reading about the Warre and your asserations are close to mine. The hive itself does not appeal to me, as M. Bush. However the quilted top is another matter. I have been reworking some old wood ware (salvage is more like it). I had 3 deeps with the top and bottom rims in very bad shape. Cut the damage off leaving me with about a 6" deep "super" size box, drilled 2 holes at an angle on each long side and one in each end (3/4") and down enough so the top cover would not interfear, stapled screen over the holes, then added a bottom rim so this box would fit over my standard Lang. med. inside this rim I stapled on a piece of 1/2" hardware cloth for support, layed window screen on the hardware cloth and put in about 3" of saw dust. My thinking; I now have moisture control and ventilation, in the spring I can dump the sawdust, remove the window screen and have a box for feeding, and in the summer put the screen back in and have some good venting. Maybe another flop, but what the heck. I must thank other posters with similar ideas. :scratch:

Adam Foster Collins
02-05-2011, 11:31 AM
So there's an argument for the deep frame, as dcross points out, because of the larger comb areas. And Big Bear points to the fact that the 5 frame nuc might be closer to the key dimensions that Warre was after. But does moving to a Deep Nuc-based design make the production side suffer? How much more capacity does an 8 frame medium have over a 5 frame deep?

And to the question of stability, how unstable would that be? You're basically figuring that to produce comparable honey for commercial aspirations would require hives more than twice the height, because of the roof and quilt...

And Michael Bush uses the 8 frame medium, but not the quilt/roof. Instead, he advocates the top entrance. This lets heat and moisture escape. But I wonder if this creates different climate control issues, as the heat escapes easier. And what about the bees wanting to keep the nest close to the entrance? Is there a perceived flaw in the roof/quilt design of Warre? Or is it just a pain in the neck to build/move/etc?

Adam

Ueli Hoffmann
02-05-2011, 01:00 PM
I have been using 8-frame deeps with medium supers under a “Warré style” roofs since last spring.

http://www.warrebeek.com/hyb01.jpg


Currently my quilt boxes are made from inverted standard Langstroth shallow supers which contain natural insulating material (wood shavings) supported by thin plywood inserts with two screened 3 1/2 inch openings.

http://www.warrebeek.com/hyb03.jpg

http://www.warrebeek.com/hyb04.jpg


My top covers are homemade migratory style with ventilated front and rear screened eaves to allow air circulation above the wood shavings. I chose the migratory style so that I could push the hives together for wintering.

http://www.warrebeek.com/hyb02.jpg


In general have been pleased with the “hybrid” hive; however, I am making changes for next year.

I no longer feel the need to place the hives together for wintering as I believe this practice can place the winter cluster in a corner or edge of their available reserves. I would much rather the colony cluster nearer to the center of the hive so that more of their reserves are immediately available throughout the winter.

Since I am no longer concerned with flat sides I have made new roofs and quilt boxes identical to the standard Warré design only adjusted to fit the 8-frame Langstroth dimensions. I feel there is some benefit to the overlap provided at the top of the hive and quilt box by the standard Warré roof design that my current migratory style vented roofs do not provide.

I will use the standard Warré burlap top cloths on the frames between the quilt boxes and the top hive box. Again, I feel there is some benefit to moisture transfer and airflow with the burlap top cloths that my current screen vented plywood bottoms do not fully provide.

I am adding screen bottom boards.

In essence my second generation hives will be strictly Warré in design above the hive box while everything else will be modern Langstroth design.

Adam Foster Collins
02-05-2011, 06:21 PM
Ueli,

Thanks very much for your post and images. So you are in the midst of your first winter then? How are your colonies doing at this point?

Adam

Michael Bush
02-05-2011, 08:53 PM
If you let the moisture out the top, you don't have to deal with it...

In my opinion, it's the width of the box that is the issue. A cluster moves easily with the frames, but slowly or not at all across the frames. The eight frame is the width of a typical winter cluster. The extra space at the ends is easily accessible.

Ueli Hoffmann
02-05-2011, 11:06 PM
So you are in the midst of your first winter then? How are your colonies doing at this point?

This is my first winter with quilt boxes on Langstroth boxes. I have used quilt boxes on Warré hives for two years. So far this winter all five hives are looking good however the critical stretch of winter is approaching.


In my opinion, it's the width of the box that is the issue. A cluster moves easily with the frames, but slowly or not at all across the frames. The eight frame is the width of a typical winter cluster. The extra space at the ends is easily accessible.

I certainly agree and that is the main reason I chose the 8-frame Langstroth hive over the 10-frame hive, or Warré for that matter.


If you let the moisture out the top, you don't have to deal with it...

We agree again. The Warré quilt does allow moist air to escape the hive albeit in a controlled manner. I guess part of me wants to continue to believe in "Nestduftwärmebindung".

The contents of the quilt box are easily checked during winter and summer without opening the hive. I have actually gone as far as using a moisture meter to measure the relative humidity of the quilt box contents. I have yet to experience any moisture problem while using the standard Warré quilt box and roof.

I suspect what moisture I have detected in the modified migratory style quilt boxes on my Langstroth hives is from the exterior at the exposed junction where the roof sets on the quilt box and not from within the hive itself. I am confident the switch to the standard Warré design will eliminate the issue as this area will no longer be exposed.

At this point my use of the Warré quilt boxes and roofs on my Langstroth hives is partly to placate my own curiosity. I make the equipment myself for enjoyment. It is not something I am hawking. If I become disgruntled I can pull out the telescoping covers, open the top vents and be all the wiser for the experience. ;)

beez2010
02-07-2011, 12:24 AM
I certainly thought that it was a good compromise, which is why a cedar hybrid hive (http://www.thewarrestore.com/apps/webstore/products/show/2036724)was added to our product line recently. Our eight frame boxes are slightly narrower than standard 8-frame (13 inches), because I wanted them to be the exact same width as the Warre boxes. I think standard eight frames are wider than they need to be anyway. I resisted the idea of building this at first, but I wanted to make a product that would cater to the folks who like the Warre concept and look, but are afraid to leave standardized frames behind. I like it and I'll be running a few myself this year.

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

www.thewarrestore.com

Oldtimer
02-07-2011, 03:29 AM
Evolution continues!;)

Ueli Hoffmann
02-07-2011, 07:07 AM
I certainly thought that it was a good compromise, which is why a cedar hybrid hive (http://www.thewarrestore.com/apps/webstore/products/show/2036724)was added to our product line recently. Our eight frame boxes are slightly narrower than standard 8-frame (13 inches), because I wanted them to be the exact same width as the Warre boxes. I think standard eight frames are wider than they need to be anyway.

Nice work! I believe I would have built to the standard 8-frame dimensions to avoid being the Betamax in a VHS world.

(for those too young to remember) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videotape_format_war)

Of course, both Betamax and VHS were eventually made obsolete by digital technology.

beez2010
02-07-2011, 08:34 AM
Those 8 frame bodies are intechangeable with standard 8 frame bodies without creating any leaks, it's just that the edges of the boxes wont quite line up. They were going to be longer than standard regardless (they're 20 1/8"), because the wood is thicker than standard (7/8" nominal). If I changed the width from Warre width, I would not be able to use alot of the standardized parts that I already make lots of for the Warre hives, (basically, all of the front and back parts are the same). It would have just made way too much work and been way to confusing for me to deal with. That's why I ran with it as is.

Chris

curiousgeorge
02-08-2011, 11:26 AM
You know, the other thing to think about is this:

So far, from what I can tell, most people using or interested in the Warre hive/method are just starting out, or a few years at most. If enough people out there start putting in years of experience to really test out this approach, perhaps that is the true test of the Warre method. I myself wonder: does it really work well? Does it work smoothly? Does it work just the same as the Langstroth method/hive in the end? Does it work in theory but not so great in reality, in this day & age?

And if the Warre method, or the 8-frame Lang/hybrid that you're discussing (which seems to have a lot of advantages of both systems) over time really proves itself... and if more and more folks start using it... well, maybe it will become less of a concern that the dimensions don't fit the current "standard", because a new standard will be gaining momentum.

What I'm saying is, any transition or change can seem "impractical" at the time. But, like many things, if enough people jump on board, you can create new "norms".

If Warre gets tested out over the coming years by many people in many different climates and locations and sizes of operations, and proves to be just a passing fad, so be it. But if it turns out that there's really, really something to it all... then over time, not being matched to the "standard" may become less of an issue.

I think it's exciting to see where this will all lead...

beez2010
02-08-2011, 12:34 PM
You know, the other thing to think about is this:

So far, from what I can tell, most people using or interested in the Warre hive/method are just starting out, or a few years at most. If enough people out there start putting in years of experience to really test out this approach, perhaps that is the true test of the Warre method. I myself wonder: does it really work well? Does it work smoothly? Does it work just the same as the Langstroth method/hive in the end? Does it work in theory but not so great in reality, in this day & age?

Warre was a commercial beekeeper and used his own hive design for many, many years. It works the way he said it works. Having said that, I do believe in adapting to changes in beekeeping, which is why our hives have screened bottoms and accessories for treating pests are available from our site.



And if the Warre method, or the 8-frame Lang/hybrid that you're discussing (which seems to have a lot of advantages of both systems) over time really proves itself... and if more and more folks start using it... well, maybe it will become less of a concern that the dimensions don't fit the current "standard", because a new standard will be gaining momentum.

Not sure if you meant that the hybrid 8 frame doesn't match current standards. (??) It does. The fact that the boxes are 1/2" inch narrower not withstanding.

Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

www.thewarrestore.com

curiousgeorge
02-08-2011, 01:31 PM
Sorry, that was a little unclear. I guess what I was trying to put forward was:

Are medium Lang 8's with the Warre quilt/roof the ultimate compromise because it is the WORKING BEST of both worlds, or is it because it's risky to jump into a system that is not the standard system (ie. straight-up Warre not being compatible with Lang equipment/measurements, etc.)?

So, should we be more concerned with finding a system, like the Lang 8/hybrid, that fits into today's norms, or with finding a system that works the best, regardless, and over time make that a norm unto itself?

Adam Foster Collins
02-08-2011, 02:18 PM
...
Are medium Lang 8's with the Warre quilt/roof the ultimate compromise because it is the WORKING BEST of both worlds, or is it because it's risky to jump into a system that is not the standard system...

I'm looking for the working best, or the best compromise for the widest array of bee and beekeeper needs. Each will always have a quality that it exceeds all others with, which is why they exist at all. And people who are most interested or in need of those specific qualities will naturally champion that particular hive design.

But I'm just wondering if the medium Lang/Warre hybrid would be the ultimate mid-point for working best - all major designs considered. The risk of not being standard, is only important in the regard that it makes tools, materials and support more difficult to obtain.

Adam