Warre novice in need of help!
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  1. #1

    Default Warre novice in need of help!

    Hi all, we were gifted a Warre hive after a friend could no longer properly care for it, all the boxes were empty. We purchased a package of bees in May and we were off to the races!

    We quickly went from 1 box to 2 to 3 and finally put our 4th box in late July. We live in Boise, ID and things are starting to cool down. We have a couple of questions:

    3 box are very full (see photo), the bottom box is completely empty. I am worried about, given the cold winters, that keeping the 4th empty box on the bottom would be bad for the colony. Thoughts?
    Given we have 3 full boxes, can we take the top box off and extract all the honey? We are in this for the bees, not for the honey, but there seems to be a lot.
    We also need to treat for mites once(if) we take honey. We haven't separated any of the boxes all year. When we crack the seals between the boxes, is there a risk that the comb will be attached between the boxes (comb above attached to top bars below)? I am worried about damaging the comb in order to treat.

    Thank you very much in advance!
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Rosebud Missouri

    Default Re: Warre novice in need of help!

    I would like to help with your questions but don't feel qualified. I will say welcome to the forum though. My inclination is that a first year hive might do better with the honey left. I would be a little worried about removing the bottom box in my 5b growing zone if the top boxes were packed and would not be that worried about the bottom box during winter but might take it off around early oct but would then put it back on the first 70 degree day even if it was in feb (which it is not most years). If it is warm and they get to the early tree pollen, it will be pretty hard to keep them in the box if they don't go through all their stores. I think the above might be best for the bees.

    I some times get greedy and might take a chance that the bees might die and if there was no brood in the top box, I might take the honey and just give them a big old sugar block in a two inch shim. I do know small hive can make it through the cold but was advised when starting that taking a chance on a big hive was a better bet. Depends on how risk taking you are. One warre box is about the size of a five frame nuc.

    I doubt you have to worry about them attaching the boxes but would probably take a long thin knife or some heavy fishing line and make sure. What I do on things like this is watch how people do it on you tube.

    I have not ran a warre hive and the only bees I ever put in one did not build up like yours have. Very good.

    Remember, I have no experience and am just throwing out discussion points.
    Good luck
    Last edited by gww; 09-19-2019 at 07:55 AM.
    zone 5b

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Parthenon, Ar,USA

    Default Re: Warre novice in need of help!

    You will want to winter the bees in as small an area as possible and still have enough stores to get them through. Any box that is empty, pull out. I assume you are in Idaho. I do not know how much honey you will need to winter there but a little research should turn up the answer. A warre comb will hold about the same amount of honey as a medium langstroth frame.

    When pulling a box, try to lift it on one side gently to see if the combs are attached to the top bars of the box below. Lift it on the side adjacent to the end of the combs. If it is attached you can take a piece of thin wire and work across that side and slowly pull it through the gap between boxes. This will leave some mess on the top bars but it can be cleaned up fairly quickly. Sometimes I can avoid all of this by shoving the end of my hive tool under the combs one at a time to break them loose. Little less messy and easier but only works in situations of one or two combs attached.

    As this is your colony's first year I would leave all the honey for winter and after the spring flow starts you can take any they haven't used.

    I hope this is helpful.
    Herbhome Farm USDA zone 7a

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA

    Default Re: Warre novice in need of help!

    An empty box on the bottom won't make any significant difference. An empty box on top or in the middle would. The bees will spend the winter in the top.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Salt Lake City, UT

    Default Re: Warre novice in need of help!

    I ran a Warre for two seasons just to play with a different style of hive. I am south of you in SLC. You are in climate zone 6, same as we are. I suggest that you leave all three boxes on the hive. You can take the box off the bottom or you can leave it, it won't make much difference. It looks like you're well set as long as you get the mite treatment done.
    Zone 5B

  7. #6

    Default Re: Warre novice in need of help!

    Thank you all for the help, I am going to remove the empty bottom box, leave all 3 full boxes and treat tomorrow to give our bees the best chance. Thank you again for the feedback!


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