Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Introducing a hive that may be more practical than a Langstroth..

I was looking at some articles on bee hive construction when I happened to run across a hive that caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you. It is called the People's Hive, named after a minister - Abbé Émile Warré (War-ray). It is a simple little hive and the design is quite old. Here is more about the hive thanks to

The Warré Hive (also known as the People’s Hive) was developed in France by Emile Warré (1876?-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. The result was the People’s Hive. He outlined the construction and operation of the hive in his book “Beekeeping for All.” 

In 1783, a German beekeeper named Johann Ludwig Christ developed a beekeeping system almost identical to that of Warré. And in Japan, many beekeepers still employ a similar system of beekeeping that has been in constant use since the Edo period of Japanese history (A.D.1586 to A.D.1911).

A Warre hive is a vertical top bar hive that is simple to build and easy to use. The cost is about one-third to one-fourth the cost of one standard ten frame Langstroth hive. A Warre hive is simple to manage and maintain. Also known as tiered or supered supered top bar hives, a vertical top bar hive is such as the Warre hive is friendly to the bees since they are allowed to draw out their own comb, thereby ensuring a hive environment that is healthier and better suited to their own needs.

Warre hives have a simple hive box with no frames. The bees draw down their own comb from top bars affixed to each box. The quilt provides a layer of insulation to the hive. It sits under the roof on top of the uppermost box. Warre hives are also easy to build from materials available at your building supply shop. The Warre hive is designed so that it will not take enormous amounts of time out of your busy schedule. In short, the Warre Hive is a good solution for those who are interested in keeping bees simply, naturally and wholesomely without harsh chemicals or medications.

The Warre Hive comprises tiers of identical boxes fitted with top-bars, but no frames. Its essential design and usage features can be summarised as follows:

■hive-body box internal dimensions 300 x 300 x 210 mm, with projecting handles
■eight 36mm centred 24mm wide top-bars resting in rebates in each box (NO FRAMES)
■wax starter strips under each top bar (NO FOUNDATION)
■flat floor, notched with a 120mm wide entrance, alighting board
■coarse weave cloth covering the top-bars of the top box
■100 mm high ‘quilt’ boxed with wood, filled with straw, sawdust, wood shavings etc., retained with cloth
■gabled roof containing a ventilated ‘loft’ and separated from the quilt by a mouse-proof board
■the bees build natural comb in the first (top) box and extend downwards into further boxes
■new boxes are added at the bottom
■one or more boxes of honey are harvested from the top after the main flow
■the bees winter on two boxes of comb containing a minimum of 12 kg stores (France)
■honey is harvested by draining, or by centrifuging combs in baskets
■at the spring visit, the hive is expanded by one or more boxes, containing with starter strips or comb
Here's a video of the bees in a Warre hive as they come and go. Notice the odd entrance, unlike the standard Langstroth hive -- and I admit I like it. 

If anyone builds one of these hive, let me know how it works for you. I would love to have one and who knows, maybe one of these days I'll build one myself! 


  1. Hi Mark. Also check out P. J. Chandler's website at My reason for keeping bees is pollination for my garden and Top Bar Hives, either vertical or horizontal fit into my organic plan perfectly.

    The construction on my Top Bar will start after these holidays end! Happy New Year. Can't wait to see you next weekend.

  2. I haven't read up on the Warre' hives, but I know about TBH's. The TBH uses a slanted side body to keep the bees from attaching comb to the side; I wonder what keeps bees from attaching the comb to the side of a Warre' hive body?

  3. Great article. I love the video clip! With several alternative bee hives in existence I wonder why the langstroth hive has been such a success? I can't wait to go back home and have bees again. I will have to try a warre hive, well maybe. I am still very attached to the top bar hive.

  4. Wow, interesting post i appreciate your time and effort involved in sharing this one with us. I wasn't aware of this type of hive and it surely is interesting.

    I just wonder if the bees would glue everything up with propolis and if you would be able to remove the hive bodies without creating disorder amongst them. Uhhh?

    Don't know, i guess others will let us know as they become pioneers in the integration of these hives into their beekeeping systems.

    Thanks for the embedded video, wow looks like the bees love the hive.

    Just might build one, one of these days.

    Eastern NC

  5. Food for thought... I'm just not ready to go there yet. I feel like I'm just starting to figure out the system I've got! But who knows... :) Wishing you a productive, honey-sweet, healthful and Happy New Year!

  6. Lynn: Thanks for the link. I enjoyed it so much, I added it to my links and live feed. See ya on the 9th!

    Steven: Great question! I don't know, but based on the brood chamber picture, it reminds me of a Langstroth hive. It would be my luck that the whole works would be gummed up with propolis and burr comb and a huge mess.

    Daniel: Whether a Warre hive or a Langstroth, good luck with your bees!

    Chris: Welcome to my blog. Its my understand that you handle these hives from the bottom and work your way up instead of the standard way - top to bottom. It does seem odd. Oh, good luck with your "quacky calls" and a big thanks for your service to our country!

    Beau: I laughed out loud when I read what you said. I hav to admit, I'm with you. The one hive I've got is plenty to keep me wondering -- something like this Warre hive might drive me over the top!



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