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  1. #1
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    Default More Warre Discussion

    Hello everyone. I know there are some other threads on Warre beekeeping in this forum, but I'd like to keep the conversation going. I've been reading "Beekeeping For All" several times and researching on the net for anything I can find. A lot of the Warre system clicks with me, it seems to make a lot of simple, logical sense.

    However, there's a few alarm bells starting to ring in my head, as I think ahead to one day running a small commercial Warre operation. I'm hoping to hear others opinions and experiences on these matters:

    1) I understand the reasoning behind fixed combs. Can't help but wonder though, wouldn't there come many situations where it would be very frustrating to not be able to go in and inspect? Ideally, sure, leave them alone. But what if your hive DOES have major problems?
    What about raising queens? Not being able to extract? (I like the idea of crush and strain, but crushing and straining a few hundred hives? How is that done?)

    2) I really like the square box, makes sense to me. But in the end, is it worth it as compared to the availability of Langstroth equipment?

    3) How would it affect your ability to for example, sell queens, make & sell nucs, etc. when all your equipment is different from, in reality, most of your customers? Would beekeepers running standard Langs with foundation want to buy natural-cell, regressed queens? bees? I guess the main question is, would you be up against a wall not because you don't have a good system, but that all your equipment is not transferable to the majority of other beekeepers?

    I guess that's it for now. I'm a bit Warre-fanatical, I will admit. I would be sad if it turned out to not be a feasible system in this day and age. But also have no Warre experience, so just trying to sort out ahead of time the realities. Thanks a lot for the discussion.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Warré Hives are a great idea and the bees do enjoy them.

    If you want to go "natural" they are more "natural" than a top bar hive.

    However I could NOT recommend this to someone wanting to go commercial. All the concerns you raised are valid, but there's much more also. There are next to zero commercial Warré operations and there is a reason for that.

    If you do find a commercial Warré operation, it will be about selling Warrés to other people, hive rental, running courses etc, honey not so much.

    So if you want to go commercial, before committing a lot of money to a Warré set up you would need to see if there is a niche available you could fill, and could you derive an income from it. This might not gel with everybody but my advise if going commercial would be to go Langstroth. They are not that bad - Really!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Thanks Oldtimer,

    Yeah, I keep poking around looking for commercial Warre operations, and the only 2 I've found are in France (don't have the websites right here but it's Ruche Warre and Mr. Gatineau I believe). And they both use movable frames. There must be a reason for that...

    And like you said, are Langs really that bad? I'm used to them and I've seen healthy colonies in them, so...

    Another thing I forgot to mention is... when it gets to heavy flow time, won't you have a skyscraper on your hands? With the quilt and the roof, and possibly all raised up to look underneath, isn't it gonna get TALL? I'm curious if Warres tend to blow over in the wind?
    The boxes are smaller so handling them would be easier, but if you've got boxes full of honey way up over your head... another concern.

    Another question: especially with leaving the bees honey for winter stores, is honey production down in Warre hives? I know Warre himself said you can produce profitable amounts of honey, but how much?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    I built and worked Warré hives for several years. I learned much from my Warré beekeeping experience. The hive has its merits but it also has its limits.

    After having both Warré and Langstroth hives I find the Langstroth to be better adapted my methods and expanding needs. However, I still keep a couple of Warré hives as novelties.

    My best advice to you is to try a couple of Warré hives, a couple of Langstroth hives and maybe even a couple of top-bar hives for a couple of seasons and then make you own decision.

    If you still want exact answers to the questions you pose, then

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    Can't help but wonder though, wouldn't there come many situations where it would be very frustrating to not be able to go in and inspect?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    But what if your hive DOES have major problems?
    Then YOU have major problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    What about raising queens?
    Expecting to rear queens with Warré methods is not practical.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    Not being able to extract?
    Doable but increasingly more difficult on a larger scale.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    I like the idea of crush and strain, but crushing and straining a few hundred hives? How is that done?
    Find a video of an early skep beekeeping crush and strain and take good notes.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    I really like the square box, makes sense to me. But in the end, is it worth it as compared to the availability of Langstroth equipment?
    On a larger scale, no. But I am certain those who sell Warré hives will tell you otherwise.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    How would it affect your ability to for example, sell queens, make & sell nucs, etc. when all your equipment is different from, in reality, most of your customers?
    Negatively.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    Would beekeepers running standard Langs with foundation want to buy natural-cell, regressed queens? bees?
    Yes, but not necessarily from you.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    I guess the main question is, would you be up against a wall not because you don't have a good system, but that all your equipment is not transferable to the majority of other beekeepers?
    Yes, a very tall brick wall on both accounts.


  5. #5

    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    You've read "The People's Hive" so you already know what Warre says. I won't repeat that.

    Oldtimer gave you good advice. Find a niche and fill it.

    Hive types and management methods are almost as much about the beekeeper as they are about the bees. if it's "you" then you will make it work because it's what you want to make work.

    you say you want to be commercial. Commercial what? breeder? honey producer? pollinator? equipment manufacturer/retailer? a combination of those? what?

    methods and practices for a large scale pollinator are not necessarily the same as those of a stationary honey producer.

    one still very good, but very old, book I would suggest you read is "Advanced Bee Culture" by W.Z. Hutchinson (5th edition, circa 1918) you can get a free pdf download on google or here

    One thing I have learned about the original Warre hive design is that it is based on materials available in his part of the world quite some time ago. Building materials have changed since then. I have gone to a "modified" Warre hive using modern resources and available materials and it has worked out well for me.

    When you use equipment and methods that are considered "alternative" you will have to expect to be a bit more self reliant than for those who enjoy common, mass produced , pre-cut and assembled parts. That's part of what I said earlier in regard to "making it work".

    You have to ask yourself what do you get out of using this equipment and methodology? personal satisfaction? unique product and marketing? lower long term production and labor costs? less wear and tear on your body?

    It's a more complicated decision when going from a hobbyist to a commercial venture. It sometimes requires you to follow practicality over some personal idealistic ways.
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Thank you for your replies, greatly appreciated. Omaha, I'm not sure yet what I mean by "commercial". Truth is, I'm pretty green- I've not yet owned my own hive, and just have a few years working for commercial operations. Maybe a good question to ask then, is what would be a SMART OPERATION using Warre? I know comb/section honey is one thing, selling high quality wax another. Sometimes if you don't fit the mold, you just gotta make a new one. Although, and this is what I'm trying to figure out long in advance, is sometimes the mold is there because it works.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    The langstroth of today isnot the same as the one Langstroth developed, so no reason that the warre of today has to be exactly the same as Warre' developed.

    Modify to fit todays laws and pest control requirements.
    Adopt some of Warre's management techniques that may help with the health of the hive, such as rotating boxes from 'cold' way to 'warm' way. Only works with a square box and a square lang is big.

    Supering from the bottom matches the natural activity in the wild.
    And his recommendation of removing the wax every year or some the second year fits with todays concern about chemicals building up in the brood nest.

    Goodluck
    Push, Pull, or get Out of the Way

  8. #8
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    George,

    The concerns you have raised are exactly why we offer the products that we do at our site. Between Standard Warres, Modified Warres and the Hybrid Hive (uses 8 frame mediums), we work around these concerns by selling the hive that matches the want or need of the customer, while still maintaining the basic Warre design.

    It has occurred to me though, that if you've read beekeeping for all several times, then surely you know that Warre did indeed use an extractor by placing the top bars and combs into perforated metal cages. And also that he did occasionally remove combs for inspection by inverting the hive body, cutting the comb loose from the walls and then removing the top bar(s) and comb(s). In his opinion, this was no more difficult than dealing with heavily propolized frames. There are procedure for locating queens, doing splits, etc. You can find all this information on our site, too. I think the real issue with alot of this confusion is that people don't read enough.

    All of that being said, not even I would try to run a large scale, commercial operation using Warres, simply because of the almost exclusive use of the Langstroth design in this country. Our business has been built by serving hobbyist beekeepers.

    Chris Harvey--Teakwood Organics

    www.thewarrestore.com
    Last edited by beez2010; 02-04-2011 at 07:12 AM.

  9. #9
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    Lightbulb Re: More Warre Discussion

    Here are a few links to my own design for a horizontal Warré style hive. The hive is based on Johann Thür’s writings of the ideal colony nest dimensions. I call it the “Frankenhive”. WARNING: It's a monster!

    http://www.warrebeek.com/fhhive.html

    The Frankenhive can contain up to three separate colonies. Each colony can be managed separately as a simple horizontal top-bar hive, nadir occupied Warré hive boxes or supered with empty Warré hive boxes or 8-frame Langstroth supers with frames. The Frankenhive can be used for a range of hobbyist activities such as splitting and raising queens.

    Since it is a horizontal top-bar hive it is well suited to the hobbyist beekeeper who wants to spend a little more time inside the hive observing, inspecting and working the bees. There are numerous management strategies for the Frankenhive.

    http://www.warrebeek.com/fhhive2tier.html

    This hive has been my best preforming Warré style hive.

    "Smallholders and farmers capable of keeping bees should be enabled to keep bees successfully with this simple hive that they can easily make themselves, without significant outlay on materials, without specialist knowledge, money or labour, without machines or gadgets, without using sugar or foundation, and in a purely natural manner." - Johann Thür

  10. #10
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    The Frankenhive! I like it!

    Nice series of pictures on your link too, Ueli.

    I won't be getting one myself and certainly wouldn't recommend it commercially, but it does combine the best features of both top bar and Warré, while at the same time eliminating some of the worst features. So for example, a drawback with standard top bar hives is that they are not normally superable, but the Frankenhive can be.

    I think it would be a great novelty project for a small hobbyist, or even perhaps the hobby bee club I go to.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 02-04-2011 at 12:54 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #11
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    hi
    Have seen this video by a japanese who uses a ..warre like hive
    and the way he gets the comb out looks quite easy.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9aBEmz59hk

  12. #12

    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    valleyman, most people see no supers on a tbh as a plus. it's often one of the primary reasons for using it.

    there are a few experimental people who want to play with it's purpose and design, because they are that type of person that likes to tweak and change things.

    I personally wouldn't consider horizontal tbh's for commercial honey production myself.
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  13. #13
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    Re: More Warre Discussion

    French bee breeder Bernard Nicolle no longer sells bees for Warré hives. Here is a link to his website where he explains the reasons for his decision.

    http://www.abeille-et-nature.com/ruche-warre.htm

    For those who do not read French I am also providing a translated link:

    http://translate.google.com/translat...uche-warre.htm

  14. #14
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbearomaha View Post
    there are a few experimental people who want to play with it's purpose and design, because they are that type of person that likes to tweak and change things.
    ...thankfully, otherwise all bees would still be kept in clay urns!

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbearomaha View Post
    I personally wouldn't consider horizontal tbh's for commercial honey production myself.
    Nor would I.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Hmm... Well I read your link Ueli, slightly hard to read the translation but I guess the main meaning comes through.

    This is the issue I have, new and less knowledgeable beekeepers get swept along with these alternative hive designs because they are presented in persuasive books, often accompanied by a lot of langstroth bashing, leaving the reader thinking the langstroth is the source of all evils. These books make the author look very knowledgeable, or even a bit smarter then everybody else. But when I've checked out a few of these authors I've nearly always found that their own hives are getting below average results.

    I'm not including Abbé Ēmile Warré in that though because I have not read his book.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #16
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    ...This is the issue I have, new and less knowledgeable beekeepers get swept along with these alternative hive designs because they are presented in persuasive books, often accompanied by a lot of langstroth bashing, leaving the reader thinking the langstroth is the source of all evils...
    I agree. And I think that is a big mistake for the whole arena of beekeeping. We shouldn't be so oppositional as we discuss the different hive designs. They're all just human inventions, trying to do a good job of what we need them to do. The recent decline of the honeybee has been caused by a lot of things - and we haven't yet come to fully understand them. But to point to the Langstroth itself as the culprit? I don't buy it.

    I have moved to trying top bar hives because it is fun to design and build things, and because doing so allowed me to get into keeping bees right away - without having to buy a lot of equipment. I do not believe that it is any more "natural" or "good-for-the-bees" than keeping bees in a Langstroth. Those issues come down to management in my estimation.

    I think a lot of what Warre hives have to offer is interesting, but I'm thinking that a combination of Lang and warre might work better for me.


    Adam

  17. #17
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Thanks for all your input so far. I am also finding that in trying to get information about Warre hives (pros & cons) that most of the info (most, not all) comes from people (like myself) with limited experience, or who are keeping a very small number of hives. A lot of ideas and ideals. I suppose it's up to each person to get their own active experience (research) & decide from there. There's many mixed messages, with beekeeping in general, I'm finding. Which is fascinating but also frustrating, when one thing works amazing for some and others say it's a bad idea. I guess so much depends on locale, the year, the weather, the beekeeper, luck...

    I'm still very interested in Warre, both the hive and the methods, but I can see the drawbacks too. How important do you folks see the warm-way/cold-way aspect of it? And the quilt/vented roof? Because I have experience and access to Langs, I'm thinking the wisest thing to do is run both (Warre & Lang) in a small, slow buildup and let the facts and experience decide which is the better method for me.

    It's funny- it is very easy to jump on a new fad and trash the conventional ways; it's also very easy to stick to the conventional ways because "that's how it's done".

  18. #18
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    How important do you folks see the warm-way/cold-way aspect of it? And the quilt/vented roof?
    In a Langstroth? Not very important. But Ēmile thought it was important so in his climate, with his hives, condensation must have been an issue and he was able to solve it in that way.

    Which brings up "natural". Neither a Langstroth nor a Warré is "natural" because a natural hive is in a tree or similar and does not get opened, cared for, or harvested.

    But it could be argued that a Warré is more "natural" because the bees build their own comb, the hive is smaller than a Langstroth, and as I understand, it's not meant to get opened or manipulated much.

    But truly natural is not what we are after as beekeepers. Most of us want to harvest honey and that is a departure from what is natural as a hive in a tree is not harvested.

    So a Langstroth is bigger than a natural hive. I have never seen a wild hive as big as a 5 super Langstroth. In fact the great majority of wild hives I've seen would fit in one Langstroth super. So a Langstroth is unnaturally large. And the reason for that is at the end of the day, we want a honey crop and the more the better.

    So because of the large size of a Langstroth, they tend to overcome moisture issues even without a Warré style absorbant roof. Not that a Langstroth never has condensation issues, they can, but it is less pronounced of a problem. In my climate we have mild winters and brood rearing continues through, there will never be condensation visible in a hive. In a colder part of my country where I first started keeping bees, moisture in winter could build up and we would occasionally see mouldy combs etc outside the winter cluster. But it was not enough of a problem to be worth making any special equipment to deal with it. I think some guys perhaps in Canada or real cold places may find moisture a problem in a Langstroth and may take measures to deal with it. It's probably location dependant.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #19
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    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    Let's accept the fact that the “observability” of the beehive determinates the beekeeper's ability to control it.
    Consequently, he can optimize his operation.
    Prior to this, he has to formulate his optimization criterion.
    We have “observability”. We have “controllability”. We have “optimization”.

    Quote Originally Posted by curiousgeorge View Post
    ...Maybe a good question to ask then, is what would be a SMART OPERATION using Warre? ...
    Kind regards.
    Johann

  20. #20

    Default Re: More Warre Discussion

    air flow is considered important to the Warre hive, as well as most other hives. Even to a "wild" bee nest in a tree, there is air flow that is obviously tended to by the bees to control temperature and moisture in the nest.

    I expect Warre arranged for the capability to change the airflow directions as a physical control aspect of the hive to facilitate the work of the bees inside depending on the season.

    I think people are being disingenuous and picky about how they try to define "natural" beekeeping".

    Perhaps it would be more appropriate to use the term "naturalistic". In that the person is trying to base their management methods and techniques based on the information known about actual "natural" colonies.

    They base their decisions on observed "natural" bee biology and behaviors. Instead of "dictating" the conditions of the colony, they prefer to "facilitate" the known and observed strengths of a bee colony. Largely based on letting the bees "tell" the person when and if there is an issue in the nest/hive that is detrimental and might require attention if the colony is to survive.

    Everyone knows that a hive is a man made structure designed to contain a bees nest they build inside of it, just as they might build a nest in a wall or roofline or other "non-tree" voids they will find and choose in a feral situation.

    Bees have survived and evolved in the "wild" for over 170 million years. They have adapted to parasites, predators, pathogens and poisonous plants. To suggest that bees "need" man to survive is perhaps the height of vanity.

    With all the chemicals, mechanical devices, hive designs, manipulation methodologies and more that humans have exposed bees to over the last 3000 or so years, Some would argue that bees are not any better off for the "care" beekeepers inflict on them.

    With all these great modern technological advances, bee populations are still being recorded as declining. Given that, there is no reason that people seeking non-"modern", and "natural" as opposed to synthetic ways to work with bees is any worse for them.

    Yet again, I regret letting myself post. Yet, once again, I will close this by asking that people be more open-minded and tolerant of the myriad of ways bee folk around the world find to work with bees.

    for the record. I am not anti-"modern" methods, personally, I really don;t care what the beekeeper down the road does with the bees. No law requires that I have to do the same as they and similarly, they need not worry about what I do with bees as that no universal law extends to them as well.

    If you don't agree with it, don't do it. leave those who do alone, just as you would ask them to not antagonize you for your choices.
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

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