Is a Warre Hive right for me?
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  1. #1
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    Default Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    I hope to start my first hives in the spring of 2019. My friends all use the traditional Langstroth hives, but I was intrigued by the Warre model.

    In making the decision, I was trying to balance time and money.

    Time: I don't have much time work work the hives, and I would rather spend time planting desirable plants for the bees than spend time working the hive. The Warre hives seemed to be much lower maintenance than a Langstroth hive.

    Money: I don't want to lose money on bees. My family eats some honey, but I would like to give or sell honey to friends and family. My understanding is that Warre hives will lose swarms of bees, and Warre hives will produce less honey than Langstroth hives. In addition, it doesn't seem possible to breed queens with a Warre hive. In one thread, someone mentioned that Warre hives only produce one third of the amount of Langstroth hives. On the other hand, Warre hives seem easy to build compared to building the frames for Langstroth hives.

    Here are my general questions:
    What is the time commitment difference between Warre and Langstroth hives?
    What is the production difference between Warre and Langstroth hives?

    I have read people praising the virtues of Warre hives for the sake of leaving Bees natural. I like that idea, but it is not really motivating my decision.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    You can run a lang hive like you would a warre hive but it is harder to run a warre hive and have the options a lang hive has.

    I made a warre but have not run it yet. I did not find the building of the warre to be much easier then just building a lang and the one time I had bees in it, it was harder to manage.

    You sound like me in that you want to be low imput but yet get something for your time. My opinion is that you have a better chance at success if you use a lang cause it is easier to solve issues that may come up and to expand with. I will probably put more bees in my warre at some time. It will be done when I have enough hives that I truly do not have to worry about how the warre does and so if it goes bad, I won't have to spend money.

    There is a difference in my mind having enough hives to be pretty sure they won't all die before spring and I think that is easier in langs. It is just easier to move stuff around if needed. When you get to the point that you do not have to buy stuff to replace things that go wrong, I love the ideal of the warre and its management style. I am a guy that does not like to spend money on bees and think that early in bee keeping, I have a better chance at this with langs.

    My bees in my warre are the only hive I have ever had die and I could see it coming and I caused some of it. The whole time I had bees in it, it was just not worth the trouble to try and fix what I could see going on where in a lang it would have been easier due to the movable frames.

    I am only going into my third winter this year and so take what I say with that in mind. I was where you are now and this is my view.

    I will probably eventually still put bees in the warre again.
    Good luck
    gww
    zone 5b

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Time: I don't have much time work work the hives, and I would rather spend time planting desirable plants for the bees than spend time working the hive.
    then don't get bees. You can likely offer a spot in your yard to a local bekeeper to a host a hive.

    Across the board I find the ware mangmnet a poor choice for a newbeekeper... the trational "fixed" hive (topbars) is near inposabull to keep workable. The face of modern beekeping is if you can't work you hives (splits, swarm prevention, treatments, etc) you end up buying bees come spring instead of haveing more then you started with. Standard hobiest losses in the US are 43%
    with a framed warre... your looking at about the cost of a lang (or more in some places), so why bother? get a hive you can get local beekeping help/advice with.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    I started my beekeeping journey in 2013 with traditional topbar hives (not warre). I love them and keep adding to my apiary. Once you get drawn, straight comb in them, they don't have to be tinkered with, although I do a monthly powder sugar shake on every comb as my mite management strategy. I did finally get to see a Warre hive in action when Sam Comfort came to the Eastern Apiculture Society meeting in Aug of this year. He uses about 14" shallow box Warre hives. Way too tiny for me, but he is using them for queen rearing, so it works in his operation. I'm not sure of the OP location, but in just about every area of the USA, you need to do something to manage the mites.

    I'd second the suggestion that you offer your yard to host a hive for another beekeeper to manage.

    I'd also suggest you look at the topbar kit from Beeline Woodenware in MI. It's inexpensive but does provide more than "just a box". I do like to add windows to all of mine, so I can watch the bees at work.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Warre hives were designed in pre varroa times, in France, for people who did not want to spend much money, or time, keeping their bees.

    At that time the idea was just put new boxes underneath as required, let the bees build the comb themselves, and take the odd box of honey from the top as it's available. If the bees want to swarm, let them.

    That was then. Now it's 2018 and bees have health problems such as varroa mites, AFB, etc.. These issue need managing or you will not be in beekeeping very long.

    So. Warre hives now have to have moveable framed combs, to allow for disease inspections, same as a lang. They also need the same disease management as a lang. Only difference, the boxes are 1/2 the size volume wise as a lang, so you either got to have a heap more of them, or, have a super small hive that will give you sweet stuff all honey compared to a lang.

    Langstroth hives were designed around a century and a half ago and the design has survived almost unchanged since then. They are also the most popular hive in the USA by thousands to one. There is a reason for that.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    The short answer to your question is no, the warre hive is not right for you.

    Why? You ask.

    You are a new beekeeper. Setting roadblocks for yourself is not a good idea.Learn to be a beekeper first, then experiment with alternative hive designs.

    You stated that all your friends have langs. The ability to share resources the first couple of years is important. If you need a frame of brood to requeen for some reason, your friends won't be able to help out.

    You have little time or money to spend. This raises the question as to whether you should become a beekeeper at all. If you cannot devote sufficient time and equipment to this hobby, the bees will die and you will have wasted what little time and money you did spend. I was misled when I attended an introduction to beekeeping seminar several years ago. Numbers bantered about were 10 hours per year and around $500 to get started with a hive and bees. Right. I spend 3 hours each time I inspect my hives and have spent at least 5K on bee stuff, and I build most of my own woodenware so it could be worse. Not to mention $150-200 spent so far on sugar this year. I enjoy beekeeping and consider all of it well spent. Perhaps you will too, but be honest with yourself about your level of committment
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Ten hours a year. Good one!

    What that ignores is the time a new beekeeper must spend on research. Which when starting out would far outweigh time spent actually working the bees.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    This is just more of what everyone else has been commenting/recommending but ….

    What is the time commitment difference between Warre and Langstroth hives?
    Time: I don't have much time work work the hives
    Using any hive style, successfully keeping bees is not a "fire and forget " proposition, it's still requires active animal husbandry and that requires time which will vary by the season. Would love to have you join the hobby but if you don't enjoy and have time to "pop the tops" on the hives and do the reading/research, it may not be a hobby for you. You might buy some protective gear and spend some time helping your friends tend their hives to "get a taste" of beekeeping.

    Money: I don't want to lose money on bees.
    Successful beekeeping requires time, not committing the time when it's needed will cost you money/resources (unfortunately, the bees don't give a good rip about your schedule, trials or tribulations). Using a different style hive from your mentor/friends could also cost some timely help when you desperately need it, then cost you more time and money.

    people praising the virtues of Warre hives for the sake of leaving Bees natural.
    I've never really understood the keeping bees natural claim when we're keeping them in a man made box and in denser concentrations than their norm in multiple hive apiaries.

    Hopefully all the comment/recommendations do act as a discouragement but does clarify the sort of commitment to successfully keep bees.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    I've never really understood the keeping bees natural claim when we're keeping them in a man made box and in denser concentrations than their norm in multiple hive apiaries.
    yep, not to mention they are a non-native invasive speices in many places

    "natural" sells, as does anything anti big AG/ Alt to Big AG...

    I love my top bar hives. I feel they fit the low- tech/cost/inputs/returns niche well, but still alow mangment. However if you don't have a bit of drawn comb/experance to start, and or you don't put in the 1/2 or so a week to inspect and move combs/division board around they can become a cross comb mess. So I don't see them as the best for a beginner/some one not wanting to spend time in there hives... Set and forget is what foundation is for.

    Sam Comfort came to the Eastern Apiculture Society meeting in Aug of this year He uses about 14" shallow box Warre hives.
    soo jellus, I would love to see him live...I spent some time tracking down his hive specks last year
    11" bar (or bamboo barabkue skewer) is the only "hard" number. "about" 1" walls, all pieces cut to "about" 12" and then overlapped on one other piece to give you about 13" on the out side of the box.. 5.5 to 6" deep gives you about a 1/2 lang deep comb volume, often the box is split 4 and 4 combs so is volume is fairly normal range for queen mateing

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    I've always though that there was something a tad 'odd' about Warre's extensive comparative experiments with the following hives:
    Duvauchelle hive.
    Voirnot hive, semi-double, run as two colonies of eight frames.
    10-frame Voirnot hive.
    Dadant-Blatt hive.
    Layens hive, run as two colonies of 9 frames with a super.
    12-frame Layens hive with a super.
    9-frame Layens hive.
    12-frame Jarry hive, warm-way.
    30x40, shallow, 10-frame Congrès hive.
    30x40, shallow, 8-frame Congrès hive.

    List taken from Beekeeping For All, 12th Ed., Emile Warre, 1946.
    Now at first sight, such a comparative array of beehives looks very impressive ... but look at what's missing ! The Langstroth, in both 8 and 10-frame forms, and the Simplicity Hive from just across the water - the forerunner to the British National, a Langstroth variant.

    The rabbit which Warre initially pulled out of the hat to trump this array of beehives was his vertical 9-frame expandable design (5th Ed., 1923), using identical boxes ... the same basic concept as the Langstroth ! Ok, so he generated different tops and bottoms and came up with a novel system of beekeeping - but I wonder if his design would have been so compelling had he included the Langstroth hive within his comparative trials ?

    FWIW - I've been running modified Warre's (former Warre boxes made from 1.5" timber, with their length extended to fit 8 National deep frames), and their colonies are flourishing very nicely. Those boxes are a bit heavy to lift though ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    I was intrigued by the Warre hive for years. I finally built one. But I wasn't until I ran out of gear that I actually used it. After two years of using it I'm looking to exit that hive. (See my thread on it in this sub forum - first few picture links are broken, scroll down for pictures). The biggest reason is that it doesn't offer any advantages over the Langstroth hive, and has a few disadvantages because of equipment compatibility issues, hive volume, and it doesn't accommodate my mite treatment method without installing a shim. The yield is lower. And you are limited to crush and strain harvesting. My attempt at extracting produced a mess of broken comb and left me with a difficult to clean up mess smeared around the bottom of the extractor.


    Purchased Warre hives tend to run on the expensive side. Unless you have the skills to build your own I wouldn't recommend it. Mine cost me just over six bucks (for a spray can of spar urethane) and a bit of time to make it from an old waterbed frame.

    Warre hives are attractive garden hives. But you can make a Langstroth hive that looks nice too. However I recommend rethinking gabled hive roofs. When I made my Warre I made a jig to make the gabled top and produced three more gabled tops for some of my Langstroths with cedar shingles. They do look nice, but after two years of using the gabled tops I'm ready to go back to flat tops. I can turn a flat top over on the ground and stack my hive boxes there as I do my inspection. When I get to the gabled top hives I have to carry a flat top with me. I don't know why I didn't ever think of that until after I built gabled roofs.

    My recommendation for a new beekeeper would be to start with Langstroth hives, and after you have gained a couple of years of experience then you can think about whether to do a Warre.
    Zone 5B

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Beekeepers without experience should start using Langstroth hives, and beekeepers with experience should keep using Langstroth hives.
    David. Cheerful beekeeping

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    Beekeepers without experience should start using Langstroth hives, and beekeepers with experience should keep using Langstroth hives.
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    Beekeepers without experience should start using Langstroth hives, and beekeepers with experience should keep using Langstroth hives.
    After 40 years of Langstroth hives I made a few Warres. Even topbar hives are better than Warres. You can work a topbar from the ends.
    The frame is a brilliant invention. I go with my helper to harvest 200 hives spread over 30 yards. When we hit the Warre hives we come to a complete standstill. Combs attached to the sidewalls, combs attached to the topbars below. Brood mixed with honey covered with bees. What a mess. If you are lucky enough to hit a box full of honey you have to ruin the combs to get the honey out. And often the honey is in old brood combs.
    If you want to practice Warre principles do it in a Langstroth framed hive.

  16. #15
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    Thumbs down Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    A Warre is just not right period!
    My opinions are based on a decade of beekeeping, book learning and watching YouTube videos.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie B View Post
    A Warre is just not right period!

    This word of advice coming from a man who of course HAS NO EXPERIENCE WITH WARRE HIVES!!! So take it with what it is worth.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by odfrank View Post
    This word of advice coming from a man who of course HAS NO EXPERIENCE WITH WARRE HIVES!!! So take it with what it is worth.
    I’ve heard enough complaining from you to know they’re not a good choice. I learn from others
    mistakes!!
    My opinions are based on a decade of beekeeping, book learning and watching YouTube videos.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Forget those Warre toys (or commercial Langs, for that matter).
    This is what you want if to "balance time and money", hehe...
    Set it and forget it. Cost effective.
    20180708_162955.jpg
    20180715_133040.jpg
    TempSummerHive.jpg
    20180708_162102.jpg
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    Warre hive is not right for you IMHO. Time is something you better have and also a good dose of patience because of the issues with having a Warre hive. A Warre hive is a great hive for someone that THINKS they'll be able to keep bees and keep their time to a minimum. Truth is, if you can get through the first year without a total loss, you can pat yourself on the back for doing an outstanding job and for having that lucky charm in your pocket. Sadly, I'm willing to bet you will be frustrated and in the hole because your bees left for a better home leaving you with a mess to clean up. But give it a go because experience is something we all have to learn from.

    Me,
    $800 full first year costs, (1 full 8 frame box of bees) total and lots of time. Bees and 8 frame Lang boxes and everything else you need to get started. Build my own tops SBB and inner covers because I can't buy what I think works for my bees and location. I also do that to save money by using scrap material others throw away. I buy Mann Lake boxes and frames because they have a little more inside room (to accommodate my fat fingers) and I think the frames are well built and the $100 order for free shipping didn't hurt. I also use as little plastic foundation as possible choosing instead to go foundationless for better bee management and also to keep my costs under control.
    2nd year was in the black after more purchases and sales of honey and bees. But huge amount of time spent in the first and second year.
    3rd year even better.
    4th year even better yet.
    Now in my 5th year I'm looking to cut back on the number of full time managed hives because time is an issue. But I have the equipment now to build up my hive numbers through splits to help pay for my hobby. The only thing I buy on a somewhat regular basis is frames because I sell my bees on the frames not including boxes. 5 frame, 8 frame, 10 frame, bring me your box I'll install the bees. Simple!

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Is a Warre Hive right for me?

    I notice the OP has not chimed back into this discussion. I hope we didn't scare him or her off. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in beekeeping to try it. But, I would also encourage that person to take the advice, freely offered, that would help ensure that their first year has every chance of success. So jellyghost, what do you say?
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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