The Warre Hive (also known as the People’s Hive) was developed in France by Emile Warré (1867-1951). Warré developed the People’s Hive after experimenting with over 350 hives of various designs and types. It was his goal to find a hive system that was simple, natural, economical, and bee-friendly. He outlined the construction and operation of the hive in his book “Beekeeping for All.” The Warre Hive is considered one of the most low-maintenance types of hives, and requires minimal interference from the beekeeper. Warre himself is said to have only checked his hives two or three times a year.
A Warre hive is a vertical top bar hive that uses bars instead of frames, usually with a wooden wedge or guide from which the bees build their own comb. The hive is commonly nadired, which means the new hive boxes are added to the bottom, and not the top, of the hive. This promotes the bees’ natural tendency to build down, ensuring a hive environment that is healthier and better suited to their own needs. The uppermost hive box is covered by a quilt box filled with natural material such as wood shavings to provide insulation for the hive. On the very top sits a wooden roof to provide protection to the hive from rain and snow.
At the Tiny Diner Farm, we installed a colony of Russian Honeybees in our Warre Hive in late May, once the chance of cold weather was over and the flowers began to bloom. Once out of the package they were delivered in and safely in their new home, our colony quickly got to work building comb in which to breed new bees and store honey. Amazingly, they had constructed two full combs and began several others in just a week! Within a month they had completely filled their first box with comb and began filling a second.
Now, in the height of summer, the bees are busy foraging for pollen and nectar. Nectar is used to make honey, which is the bees’ main source of calories, and pollen is eaten as protein. Both will be stored in comb to be eaten during winter. This is also the time of year when drones appear in the colony. Drones are the male bees and are only present in the hive during summer, when they fly out of the hive looking for new Queen Bees to mate with. The worker bees, the bees that build comb and collect nectar and pollen, are all female. As the summer fades, the worker bees will drive the drones out of the hive in order to conserve honey.
The bees will spend the rest of the summer gathering as much food as they can for the coming winter. Since our colony is in its first year, we will not be harvesting any of their honey. We will leave it in the hive in order to ensure they have enough for themselves.
– Caleb Stellmach, Tiny Diner Farm Lead
Categories: Farm Update