View Full Version : moving a 5 frame nuc into a Warre

03-05-2011, 11:20 AM

First, thank you to all the contributors to these forums. I learn a lot by reading your posts.

I am starting a Warre hive this year just for fun. I had already ordered a 5 frame Lang nuc when I made the decision, so now I am thinking about how to transfer the nuc. I may convert an available 10 frame Lang deep into a five frame nuc by adding some inner walls and then creating a top with a large cutout that would allow me to place the Warre boxes above and let the bees work up into them over the season. I’ll remove the nuc box some time in the summer. Has anyone tried this? Other suggestions to fitting a square peg in a round hole?

By way of background, I am a hobbyist beekeeper and am blessed with a little free time, so I don’t mind a little effort or doing it slowly.

Thank you

03-05-2011, 11:55 AM
[QUOTE=WhistleStopHoney;625783]Other suggestions to fitting a square peg in a round hole?/QUOTE]

Buy a package of bees instead. Or contact your local bee club and try to arrange for a swarm from a member's hive.
One of the Warre principles is for the bees to work down, so you would be sacra-religious to put the Warre box above a nuc. Plus the bees might be reluctant to move up through the empty space to the top bars.

This same question was asked recently by a top barer who had ordered a nuc, and most agreed that a package was a better solution.

03-05-2011, 02:30 PM
Hey Whistle, I was thinking the same thing. Local bees come in Nucs. Don't want inbred commercial bees. Some sort of an universal adapter between the hives. Odd Frank is probably right, below is might be better. I'll draw it up.

03-05-2011, 03:45 PM
[QUOTE=WhistleStopHoney;625783]Other suggestions to fitting a square peg in a round hole?/QUOTE]

Buy a package of bees instead.


Thanks for your reply. I agree a package would make more sense, but I already crossed that bridge, so to speak, and like Zonker who posts below, I would love to be able to get a local nuc as needed.

I had thought about the "working down" philosophy versus up. It puzzles me, as I was taught to flip my Lang hive bodies in the spring so that the empty bottom box ended up on top in order to reduce swarming. I guess I still think of the bees going up. It's amazing these two management approaches could be so different on this point. However, I may be missing something.

03-05-2011, 03:55 PM
I'll draw it up.


That would be great. I asked one Warre hive producer. He said they used to sell an adapter but it was not very successful, so they discontinued it. I have an inquiry in as to the design. I'll post it here once I get it. I am game to experiment.

03-05-2011, 04:13 PM
ok, so I feel a little stupid having to draw it to figure out that its just a board with a hole in it, but .... here it is. (I added little blocks to keep it in place in order to make myself feel less dense)

03-06-2011, 03:35 AM
That board is about as good of an adapter that you could get. The bees will actually work up, faster, but as odfrank said, going up into an empty box will be an issue. If you try to make them go down, into the Warré box below, that's going to be a long drawn out process also.

What's happening to the frames from the nuc? If you won't be using them again, cut them down so they can fit into the Warré box and just transfer the whole thing straight into the Warré. It would mean discarding the end bits of comb, but they'll just have to be sacrificed.

As you add new Warré boxes under your first one as your hive gets bigger, you will eventually end up with the top box full of honey and you will remove it. At that time you can get rid of the old langstroth combs you put in it to transfer in the nuc.

03-06-2011, 06:05 AM

Nice picture! I like the blocks in case of high winds. :D :D This design would sure be easy. I might place two following boards on either side of the five frames below so I could remove the nuc frames as the ladies move up. I think o could make them easily with the top bar of a lang frame with thin plywood or some plastic board attached below.

Odfrank and Oldtimer, do you think feeding them from above would overcome the issue of getting the bees to move upstairs?

03-06-2011, 06:42 AM
Here is an alternative concept, but admittedly more work. Perhaps the odds are better if the bees work horizontally. I could place an “L” shaped insert in either back corner of the hive body. It would extend half way across the hive body, leaving room for five frames next to it. It would extend forward far enough to support the ends of five Warre topbars, which would be supported by the front of the Lang box on the other end. Hopefully the bees would work across and build out comb on the topbars.
I would then place a Warre box on top, supported on two sides by the Lang box and on one side by half of the “L” insert. I would place bars in it as well, then the feeder and, of course, the top. As the bees start to build across the topbars on the same level with the nuc frames, I would swap them for the ones above. I’d also have a following board so I could remove the nuc frames as the ladies move up and save those combs for something.
Here is a picture. It is attached as well. Please excuse the drawing as I don’t have Zonker’s skill. If this doesn’t work, I might try rent control.

03-06-2011, 06:44 AM
Sorry i don't know how to place the image in the post yet. please see attached PDF Thanks

03-06-2011, 07:43 AM
Another attempt to load the image

03-06-2011, 12:09 PM
Your idea as per post 9 should work also. Getting complex, but there's probably no easy way.

03-06-2011, 12:21 PM
Since the whole idea of a Warre hive is that the bees work their way DOWN the stack, I fail to see why you are even considering making them work UP into a Warre box.

If you just put an empty box over your bees, with no foundation, the most likely thing they will do is to make free-form honeycomb sculptures all over the tops of your frames. Believe me, this is NOT what you want!

I have successfully migrated a colony downwards into a Warre box from a nuc, using a simple mask to adjust for different box sizes. It is wasy, logical and you get a nuc box full of honey in payment.


03-06-2011, 12:39 PM
Thanks to all. Very helpful. I'll post back what happens

03-06-2011, 03:12 PM
corrected and updated my adapter (board) drawing

03-07-2011, 07:25 AM

I like the simplicity of your new drawing. Since I don't own a nuc box, I might just make the board bigger and set my lang hive body on top. I just need to fill in the space on either side of the 5 frames so they don't build wax there.

03-07-2011, 09:28 AM
Never occurred to me that it would be so simple. I ordered a package because I couldn't figure out how to get the bees into a warre any other way, but now ... It even fits my TBH's. Can't wait for warm weather.

03-07-2011, 09:50 AM
I hear you. Not getting any office work done.

I think I am going the route of your last drawing. :thumbsup: Matches my carpentry skills.

For a needlessly complex but fun project, I might, at some future date, build a stretch hive body long enough to accommodate two rows of five top bars on one side and five lang frames on the other. This might be a great way to create nucs for Warre or topbar

03-09-2011, 08:54 AM
I just heard back from the maker of the Warre hive that I am getting. He used to sell an adapter just like the one Zonker posted and I was set to try. Interestingly, he found that the bees would only move down from the nuc to the Warre box about half of the time. :scratch:

Being a good businessman, he discontinued the product. His theory is that the bees don't like to move from one shape to another. Whether the theory is correct or not, he knows from multiple attempts that it only works about half of the time.

Soooo, back to the drawing board. I may need to go the sacrilegious route and get the bees to move up.

Let me say that the no-brainer is to cancel the nuc and get a package, but I am just intrigued with the challenge at this point. :rolleyes: The bees behavior is just fascinating to me. They build nests in walls and other crazy cavities. Why would they care about this?

03-09-2011, 09:40 AM
The key is to just get the queen out of the nuc. The rest of the bees can stay with the hatching brood, but you need the queen to move. I have read in a different forum about transferring a nuc to a TBH. A member there suggested finding the queen, catching her, cropping the frames to fit the new hive, transfer frame with new queen down with another frame of brood. Bam, brood nest moved. Might be a little harder to crop a frame to warre though.

03-09-2011, 10:53 AM
Having worked with Warres for a while I would suggest catching the queen as well. Put her in a cage with a sugar plug and move her into the Warre box. Graft a frame or two into the warre box and let the bees move into the Warre. It might be difficult to graft like was said but I think your chances of success are far greater this way then trying to the get bees to move of their own accord.

I've now built well over 30 Warres for different people and the best thing to to populate with a package or swarm. That give the highest chance for success. I know that doesn't allow for local bees but I would rather have them stay and build a stong hive then fail to move and possibly swarm. Another thought would be to purchase a local queen and then swith the queen in the package for the local queen. You would need to let the package get used to her scent for three days or so before hiving but that way you would get local brood as the queen would have mated locally or will mate locally and the 10,000 or so worker would slowly die off and be replaced by the brood of the local queen. You might get the best of both worlds that way.

The only draw back to that would be the stress to the bees and how long they have been in their package. I have had success in keeping a package for 3 days or so due to weather not permitting a hiving. Just make sure you spray with water a few times a day to keep them hydrated. There should be plenty of sugar water in the can that they are shipped with.

03-14-2011, 03:53 PM
Someone on here posted a cool video showing how to use those claw like hair clips to make grafting easy. He attached the clips to the top bars then the clips grabbed the comb.

Kalispell Kathy
03-31-2011, 07:02 PM
I've got the same dilemma on how to move a deep-frame nuc into a Warre hive, so reading these posts has been very helpful.

I've made a Langstroth 5-frame deep nuc to get the bees out of the cardboard one they'll arrive in. My plan is to put the Langstroth nuc on top with a migratory cover, an adapter board below that, then the Warre hive body and bottom board with entrance on the bottom. I hope the bees move down, though it appears from these posts that there's a 50% chance they won't.

My question is will the bees find the sugar I plan to put on the Warre' bottom board? Since it's near their entrance, I'm assuming they will, but I have zero experience at beekeeping and need all the advice I can get! The weather here is still in the 40s, so feeding will be essential for a while, and the bees need to be able to access the sugar. What other options do I have to get a supplement higher and warmer?

04-01-2011, 11:17 AM
Hi Kathy,

I'll be interested to hear how it goes. Thanks for posting. It sounds like the bees will have to come down to exit the hive. I would not worry about the them finding the sugar.

By way of update, I have decided to take the approach described in post 9 but with some modifications.

1. I am building the modified Lang hive body, per the attached to post 9.

2. First I am just going to leave the bees in the modified hive body with a normal top for a week or so, while they hopefully build out the wax onto the topbars placed on the same level. That's just the way it would work if you put a 5 frame nuc in a regular lang surrounded by empty frames.

3. Once they build some wax on the 5 topbars, I will put on a modified top and place the first Warre box on top of the lang box with those frames in it and will replace them with five new ones in the modified lang box below. I will also put the queen up there with a queen excluder between the lower lang box and the upper Warre box so she can't get out of the hive.

4. I'll keep building up from there, adding Warre boxes on top. I'll take away the bottom lang box once all the brood there have hatched from the Lang frames.

I know what I am doing goes against the Warre approach of having the bees move down, but I like to experiment. No offense to the Warre philosophy meant. Besides, these bees are coming in a Lang box so I'll just keep it a secret from them that they are switching philosophies. :D

I'll post back what happens.

04-01-2011, 01:15 PM
My question is will the bees find the sugar I plan to put on the Warre' bottom board?

Yes, they will find the sugar. I have fed my Warre hives using just a ziplock back on the bottom board and it works very well. If it is 40 degrees then you might have an issue getting them to come out of their cluster to feed if the sugar is below them. In that case you might want to do a top feeder. If they are out flying then they will take the sugar off the bottom board. Just watch them and if it looks like they are just cleaning the sugar out of the hive then switch to syrup and put it in a ziplock and poke holes in the bag with a push pin.

04-01-2011, 01:31 PM
I think your plan will work for moving the bees into a Warré.

But after that, it will be more difficult to get the bees to move into boxes placed on top. Unless there is a strong flow it is hard to get the bees to move into a box placed on top, because it does not have combs or comb foundation. I suspect that is why Ēmile recommends adding the supers underneath, it's easier for them to slowly expand into.

As an aside though, I have heard of Warré beekeepers adding supers on top during strong flows, to get more honey. That's because if they waited for the bees to move the brood nest downwards it would take too long and the bees stop collecting honey as they have no where to put it.

Delta Bay
04-01-2011, 04:38 PM
As an aside though, I have heard of Warré beekeepers adding supers on top during strong flows,

This is done in a Warré when running them for comb/chunk honey. The comb honey box should be seeded with one empty drone comb as a ladder to get the bees working the box pronto. If you want them to move in a smooth fashion it's a good idea to give them a good reason to do so. Seeding the new box with combs from the box below will help move things along.

Kalispell Kathy
04-01-2011, 06:22 PM
Thanks for the feedback. I plan on under-supering with Warre' hive bodies, as I understand that system calls for. As soon as they've got the Lang nuc empty of brood, I'll cut out the comb and attach it to top bars. I hate to do that as soon as I get them for fear the brood will chill and die in this cold weather. I don't expect to be proficient this first time around!

About the supplemental feeding: Michael Bush presents a good case for sugar, since if the syrup is cold the bees won't take it no matter the hive temp, and nights are going to be <40 for a good long while yet. I guess I could make a spacer and put a baggie or sugar above the Lang frames, which would keep the syrup warmer. That should solve any feeding problems.

04-01-2011, 10:40 PM
The comb honey box should be seeded with one empty drone comb as a ladder to get the bees working the box pronto.Makes good sense.

12-29-2011, 09:30 AM
I would love to hear the results of anyone who did the L shaped box idea from post #9. I would like to attempt it this in 2012 as there are some local producers that only deal in nucs.

The Honey Girl's Boy
12-30-2011, 01:51 PM
I guess I didn't catch this thread soon enough to offer a method for transfering bees from frames to a Warre. For future reference this method has worked in the past. Brush all the bees and queen off all the frames into Warre, then place a sheet of plywood the size of the Nuc or Lang box with the Warre opening cut out of the center, on the Warre. Place a queen excluder on the plywood, then set the Nuc/Lang box on the excluder with the brushed frames in the Nuc/Lang box. The bees will return to the brood through the excluder. Another suggestion is to make a small top entrance in the Nuc/Lang box to allow the drones to exit as they emerge. The bees may start putting honey in the frames as the brood comes out.

12-31-2011, 09:03 AM


You can see pictures attached if they don't show here
This method worked for me.
In the picture of the modified deep super (MDS) you can see the frames from the nuc and next to them a modified space for topbars. Before the nuc came, I place 4 or 5 topbars in that section. I then installed the five frames of the nuc where you see them in the picture and placed a normal inner cover and top on the MDS for a week or so. The bees quickly moved laterally and built wax on the topbars.
I then removed those topbars and placed them in a Warre box, which I then positioned on top of the MDS, directly above a new set of topbars placed in the MDS. I build an L shaped lid to cover the part of the MDS not covered by the Warre box.
I got busy with summer stuff at that point and left them for a number of weeks. When I came back they had built out most of the Warre box and the second set of topbars I had placed in the MDS. I removed the latter topbars and placed them in a second Warre box, which I placed on top of the first. This was very disruptive as I had to cut the bottom of the topbar comb. Since I left them for too long, they had built the comb down to the bottom of the MDS, which is deeper than a Warre box. At that point I had 2 Warre boxes on top of the MDS. I placed a queen excluder between the MDS and Warre boxes to trap the queen above. There was lots of brood in the MDS, and I wanted it to hatch before removing the MDS. I learned that the queen is going to keep laying in the MDS unless you do something.
I came back a final time and brushed the bees from the five frames into the Warre boxes and removed the MDS. At that point I had a Warre hive with 2 boxes full of comb and bees. This too was a very disruptive step and the bees were stressed, boiling out the front of the hive.
If I do this again using the same method, I will not wait very long between placing topbars in the MDS and moving them up into Warre boxes.
I am also considering a different method. I might build a following board in the shape of a deep super frame. I would then:
1. Install the nuc as I did before
2. Move up a set of bars into a Warre box and place new bars in the MDS as I did before
3. Trap the queen above as I did before
4. Then I would remove the 5 nuc frames one by one over the course of so many weeks, sliding over the following board each time. In the end I would have a Warre box on top of the MDS with a set of topbars with comb.
5. Remove the topbars from the MDS and place them in a Warre box, which I would place below the other Warre box. This would be a lot less work and stress on the bees.
Of course, I could just gain some common sense and buy a package of bees, but what fun would that be?

12-31-2011, 10:18 AM
I just checked back at the Warre Store. They are now selling a transfer box. http://www.thewarrestore.com/apps/webstore/products/show/2774277

12-31-2011, 05:20 PM
http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10928 Lang frames to Warre; Is there an easy way?

http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2699 Converting frames to Warré