My full size warre style observation hive
Hello - I've been lurking for many months and am so grateful to all who share their experiences here.
I have this warre observation hive, 2 warre hives, 2 foundationless langstroths and a top bar hive. I had two top bars last year that didn't make it through the winter. I think they got cold, so I'm trying the warres and quilts on the langstroths. So far, the outside warres are BY FAR the first up and at in every morning. My husband helped me build the observation hive at warre dimensions - I installed a package in the observation hive April 1 of this year and they seem to be full of zip! The top box is mostly drawn and they've just started a little comb in the middle box. Interestingly, they seem to hate the old seed comb I gave them and chewed it out and dropped it onto the top bars of the middle box - hence, some cross-combing in the back of the top box -- but they seem to have straightened out as much as they can, are chewing away the old comb, building straight in the middle box, so I'm just leaving it be. The old seed comb I gave them in the second box they are also chewing - they have also filled it with nectar and it's a drone-feeding station as far as I can tell. I have often read that bees will never store nectar below the brood nest but this hive is living proof to the contrary. The outside hives got similar comb from the same old hive and seemed to have no issue with it.
Just for kicks, I'm trying out a few alternate design top bars that are narrower and have a wire frame, but the bees do seem to be drawing most happily on the regular top bars. Time will tell. I fed this hive for a couple of weeks and they took syrup with gusto, but, by accident that I won't get into here, I didn't feed the outside hives and when I checked them last week they drew out just as much comb and have plenty of brood in just the same time, so no more feeding for anyone right now! Our redbuds are in full and glorious bloom.
Here are some views of the observation hive. I built it because I'm crazy about watching the bees and with warre hives you're supposed to leave them alone as much as possible. I wanted to see how the bees behave and move into the various boxes in a normal sized hive, not a flattened out skinny hive (although I can see how those types of observation hives are absolutely awesome to watch, too!). I hope this hive can help me manage my outside hives better. I was worried about the design for this because it isn't really a standard design, and while I'm sure over time that we'll realize that some things should be different, this hive has really been beyond my expectations so far - it's been utterly transfixing (even my kids - 18 months and 3 years old - are obsessed with it!) and while I was expecting to see very little of the queen with a full-sized hive like this, we actually see her every day, checking out the new comb for empty cells to lay her her eggs. We see all the little bee dances and can watch a lot of brood on the sides and front, so I'm thrilled. The hive is made of two main parts - an outer case with wood and acrylic that slides up off the inner hive and inner warre-sized cast acrylic boxes that stack on each other with notches cut for the bars. The bees enter through a tube into the hive floor and have no access to the space between the two walls. There's a small mesh opening at the top for ventilation and feeding. I have a fourth acrylic hive body so that when the bees fill up the bottom box I can remove the top box, clean it out (maybe even get some honey) and nadir with the fresh empty box. The whole thing is bolted down to a (very well affixed) shelf on the wall. I can detach the tube at the hive and I can slide shut the window entrance, too.
Please don't fret about the side wall comb attachments --- that's how warre hives go!
warre style observation hive.jpg
warre observation hive.jpg