I bought a copy of Gilles Denis' Warre book (and slowly worked my way through it in French), and it has a ton of great information. One question that came to mind for you more experienced Warre keepers is how do you look for eggs in each box when making splits?
I made a walk-away split a few months ago: 2 boxes -> 2 1-box hives. Each box had swarm cells so I wasn't worried about finding eggs. I'm now converting some boxes to half-frames so I can move brood around a little easier and make smaller splits.
But for those of you that divide by the box or do other splits without inspecting your comb, how do you verify eggs in each box? I've turned the boxes on their sides and leafed through the comb like pages of a book, but I can only really see capped brood. Larvae (let alone eggs!) are hard to verify... It'd be nice to know that, of two brood boxes, both have eggs so that when splitting it would be guaranteed that the box without the queen has eggs.
I remove the box I am inspecting from the hive and set it down on it's side ensuring the combs are oriented so they won't break off. The combs should remain perpendicular to the ground or they will likely break off at the top bar. Using a bread knife I cut the comb about 1/2 inch from the hive on both ends. Then I run the bread knife along right next to the hive cutting the small 1/2 strip that is between the comb and the hive body. If you cut the attachments first and then try to trim the comb it won't work very well as the comb will flex making it difficult to cut. When cut completely this will allow a 1/2 inch gap on both ends of the comb so even if it's heavy with honey you can remove it without it snagging and breaking. Once you get one comb out it's pretty easy to do the rest the same way. Once you've done this a few times it is actually very easy.
That is an awesome tip, thanks for sharing! I'll give that a shot.
Had quite a bit of cross comb on last years' boxes, but starting spring off a little more vigilant trying to keep things straight (and I think the half-frames will help, but I don't want to run them in every hive)
TM- what do you use for comb guides, and can you talk briefly to methods you use to keep comb straight? ie: moving completed comb into new boxes as a 'guide', or if you have to straighten comb as it's being drawn, etc
Last year I dripped wax along the centers (like described in warre's book), but this year I'm switching to popsicle sticks glued into an 1/8" shallow groove down the center of the frames
I don't mind at all. I will try to take some pictures today and put them on here. I use a 15/16 by 3/8 top bar with a 1/8 inch kerf down the center of the bar that is 1/8 inch deep. I take regular foundation and make starter strips about an inch tall and glue them in the saw kerf with melted wax. I get nearly perfect combs unless a top bar shifts out of position when I nadir a new box. Having these straight combs makes things much easier and is mainly why I don't feel the frames are worth building and using. If I had crooked combs in most of my hives I would definitely build and use frames. I'll try to post some pictures later.
Awesome, thanks. That's almost exactly the same as what I'm doing in terms of the bars and groove, but I put popsicle sticks in there with a little dab of wood glue. Just started doing it a month ago this spring and already it's night and day. They are much easier to remove and almost all are straight. I also made a bunch of half-frames, which are about 3.5 inches tall and hang down the sides of the bars (leaving ~3/8" bee-space between the outside of the side frame and the walls). It cuts down a little on comb space, but so far they can be removed without cutting any comb. I made a jig that holds 10 frames and I pop them together very quickly with a brad nailer. So far so good.
I, too, will try and post some pics soon for comparison. Thanks for the replies!
Just a simple wax starter strip but it works very well. I also use finish nails to keep the bars correctly spaced. There is a small notch in the end of each bar that fits over the finish nail. I just started doing the nails this year, but so far it's working well. Only takes a couple minutes on each box so I think it's worth it.
I also find that once I cut a comb out it sometimes takes a long while before the bees reattach it to the hive. Of course sometimes they reattach it immediately.
My starter strips are similar, and it's been working very well so far this spring. I also have a 1/8" groove in my bars, but I run a small bead of wood glue down the center and put in two Popsicle sticks. I've heard of the foundation strips melting off in warm weather, but you might not have that problem. Both methods seem to work fine. I originally used 1/8" pieces of wood as the strips (pictured here), but then ordered Popsicle sticks, which now I'm using.
I run a waterjet machine (like a laser cutter, but with water) at work, so after work one day I cut out a bunch of frame spacers from galvanized sheet metal, pictured in the box picture below. They're awesome and just take a couple nails per box to hold them in. I was using finish nails, but I think this is an improvement.
My main upgrade was found in Gilles Denis' book 'la ruche warre', where he describes using half-frames. I just use the rest of my 15/16 x 3/8" bar scrap and cut them 3.5" long. Then using a small nailer (or stapler), I glue and fasten the 'half-sides' of the frames to the bar. I made a jig, pictured below, so I can pop together 10 of them in no-time. I actually made a mistake in these pictures, where I didn't provide bee space between the outside of the frame and the inside of the box. I've since adjusted my jig and fixed it. Now I have about 3/8 gap at the sides of the frame.
Denis observed that the bees mainly attach their comb at the top sides, so full frames weren't necessary. In the last two months with the swarms I've caught and over-wintered hives building up, I have probably 6 boxes of new comb drawn out, many with the comb filling the box and on these the frames lift out super easily.
Last edited by kygreer; 05-25-2017 at 08:22 AM.
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Starter strips like you used are a much simpler way to go.
I started with using a vee cut on my frame top bars and it seemed to work pretty well, the bees got the right idea and drew nice straight comb.
I started with a 2x4 cut into 660mm lengths. I tilted my blade to 22-1/2° made two cuts, flipping the board around to get a centered vee and cutting one on both sides of the 2x4. Second, I made the side cuts to cut the width of the top bar. Then I made a rip cut to cut away the waste to the side of the vee, and finally cut the top bar free from each side of the 2x4.
After making two dozen of of these I decided it was a PITA and just cut the bars out and cut a saw kerf for a starter strip. I started the bees with vee top bars in the upper box and starter strips in the lower box. So far I don't see a performance difference between them so if I need to make more I'm going to use the starter strip design because it is so much easier to make.
Last edited by JConnolly; 05-26-2017 at 11:03 AM.
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