This is the first post for the wild heart hive. It is the open-mated offspring of the premiere hive.

July 24

I was surprised to see some goldenrod starting to flower here.

The bees appeared to have drawn the majority of two boxes of new comb and still had two boxes of capped honey from the spring. A solid brood nest seemed to have been established in the new boxes and the population looked strong.

IMGP1928Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

At this point, I felt they had everything lined up to be strong for winter so I decided to do the first harvest. I removed the top box and tried out a hastily made bee escape that I had tried to make from a ventilation cover I had used when transporting the bees.

IMGP1927Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The multiple exit holes of the ventilation cover did not prove to be a positive feature for a bee escape. Some bees escaped but many bees crawled out one hole and back down another. I gave it a little while before resorting to a combination of smoke, waiting till dusk, and manually scooping out as many bees as I could. In the end the vast majority of the bees left. I will certainly try to make a better bee escape for next time.

I left them with a new box under-supered and seeded with two combs.

A final look at the combs from the bottom of the harvested box. You can see they actually made capped honey cells directly on top of other capped honey cells in the upper left hand corner.

IMGP1934Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

For what it's worth I did measure some former brood comb after uncapping it.

IMGP1938Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

This would have been some of the first comb made by the premiere hive swarm last spring. Ten cells average out to about 5.3 mm, but some of those cells certainly look to be around 5 mm.

I crushed and strained the honey. It took about 2.5 days of waiting to get the majority of the honey out of the comb and strained. I found it interesting to discover the moisture content of a sample taken from the top of the strained honey was right above 17.8%

refractometer reading from top of bottling tankPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

But the sample from the bottom was a little lower at 17.6%

refractometer reading from bottom of bottling tankPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The more concentrated honey sinks to the bottom of a container. The readings were on the whole just under the acceptable limit for Ontario No. 1 honey. A damp spring probably contributed to higher than expected moisture levels for honey that came from 100% capped comb.

The result was a little over 30 lb of a rather magical flavoured honey.

honey jarsPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

August 11

Bees were pollinating the melon patch at the farm.

bee pollinating melonPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

and a fair bit of goldenrod in bloom around the hive.

warré hive in the fieldPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

This variety of goldenrod is blooming a little earlier than I'm used to seeing.

bee on goldenrodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

It has a vibrant red / purple stem:

golden rod with pruple stemPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They had built a good amount of comb on all bars of the new box.

IMGP2083Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP2093Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They were using it for brood, some capped and loads of eggs on the outer comb:

honey comb full of eggsPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The new queen seems to be vigorous and isn't having a problem laying all kinds of eggs.

The box below that was loaded with bees:

box full of beesPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP2100Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

And lots of brood:

capped broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bottom box was not filled out with comb as completely as I had remembered thinking it was on the last check. All the bars had comb, but it appears that they had stopped building it, or using it for much. No sign of brood and little in the way of stores. Instead the bees prioritized building the new box above. This is a look as some of the combs I had placed aside in an empty box to make room while doing the inspection:

IMGP2097Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I'm still impressed with how much comb they have built. All of my weaker colonies have more or less put the breaks on comb production. It does seem to suggest that the summer slow period was not the best time to super and I will remain curious of what would have happened if I had nadired the new box on the previous visit.

July 11

We started checking the new box we seeded with a frame last visit.

IMGP1793Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They had four combs well on their way and a fifth one started. All of them perfectly straight.

IMGP1794Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP1796Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP1797Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP1799Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

fresh white waxPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

A little less than I thought they might have built in two weeks but still pretty good. The only problem is I wanted them to start using this box for brood. Instead it was nectar and a bit of pollen. I guess the seed comb didn't have enough eggs to entice nurse bees and the queen to come down.

Fortunately, there was still good amounts of brood up top. A frame full of eggs and young larva:

IMGP1802Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Two others full of capped brood:

IMGP1807Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

IMGP1811Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Capping honey on the fourth frame:

IMGP1814Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

To me this looks like the queen is not able to lay as much as she might like and they are putting more energy into building up stores than building comb than I would like. I checkered the combs in the bottom box to see if that would help put an emphasis on comb building. It would also help ensure they build those combs straight on the frames.

We opened up the entrance reducer a bit.

July 12th

I felt I needed to add another seed comb to the nuc and see if my luck at baiting the queen to come down will be better the second time. I was worried about the potential of a crisis developing from a small population and reduced space to lay if they didn't start making new brood comb right away.

I had to uncap a little bit of honey to make space for my bait frame in the nuc box. A little was enough and I was able to do it quick and smoothly without much fuss.

Rain water had accumulated in the container I had left with crushed comb. Bees were drinking from it, but it was also attracting wasps and hornets.

July 16th

We had entered a heat wave. It was 33 degrees Celsius.

The sweet white clover blooming very close to the hive was very popular with the girls.

Sweet white clover in leasidePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Despite the heat, there didn't seem to be significant amount of bearding. Of course their numbers are not very high. Just steady fanning at the entrance.

IMGP1860Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The temperature on top of the roof was high:

temperature of painted metal hive roofPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

But the temperature just above the brood was perfect:

Beehive temprature above the brood nestPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Warmer air, however, was recorded at the entrance:

IMGP1869Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They had a decent sized comb going on the bait frame. Some nectar on top, but a good number of eggs under that.

IMGP1871Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I had modified the bar I use to hold my warré fram in the lang nuc with wooden blocks to prevent extra comb being built on the sides of the frame. It worked perfectly. In the bottom box They now had seven combs in the works. I seeded the new warré comb with the eggs in a new box in between the nuc and the other warré box.

I opened up the entrance a little bit more and placed some tree branches on the roof to provide some relief, if only temporary from the heat.

IMGP1877Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

This did quickly drop the temperature on the outside of the roof.

IMGP1876Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Either the bees and wasps drank all the water in the feed container or it evaporated. The heat also melted the wax in there:

IMGP1862Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I scraped it clean, added in a float to prevent drowning and left a bit of water:

IMGP1880Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The bucket water feeder system I had left them when we first set up the bees still had some amount of water. I'm yet to see a bee use it. My design probably needs some improvments.

 

July 7th

A month is a long time in the beekeeping season to wait and hope that a colony has everything lined up to successfully re-queen themselves. Today was thirty-three days since we split the premiere hive. The point at which we really expect to have a newly mated queen.

We are pleased to report the many bees in this hive built a whole lot of comb since last week. I believe every single bar had some comb on it.

most if not all bars had some combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

A few of the combs were a substantial size.

larger combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

comb near the sidePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They still had a few bits of comb crossing the bars that we had to spend some time twisting straight, but not too bad. Most of the comb was concentrated toward the entrance of the hive. We flipped some of the combs around, so the gaps remaining for the bees to fill in with comb alternated between the front and back of the hive, thus eliminating some of the potential space in which the bees could make comb across bars.

Most excitng of all is that we did see a good number of eggs on the new comb! It was hard to photograph, but we saw a good laying pattern with one egg per cell. So even though we didn't see her, we feel fairly confident we have a new queen and not a laying worker!

Eggs on new combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We look forward to giving the new queen's hive a new name for the next inspection. Most of my concerns for this colony are relieved. I just hope they have enough free comb to not feel crowded. I did add, and seed a new box between the bottom box and the honey. The seed comb is the 'substantial comb' pictured above.

In the hive where we kept the old queen, they went from working on two frames to four in the bottom box. Mostly straight, but we made some minor adjustments.

June 20th

We started the stars hive just beside the sky hive. We left a container of crystalized crushed comb mixed with water in an open feed container.

June 27th

It had rained recently so we couldn't determine if they had taken any of the honey feed as the container still contained water.

The lids on both the sky and the stars hive already had noticebly more propolis going on then the other hives we started this year.

They also did some serious work on the warré seed frame that we left in the nuc box. Contained nectar, some pollen and a few eggs. It's interesting to see that the colour of their comb was a bright white, whereas the new comb in the sky hive had more of a yellow shade. Evidence each hive has focused on different nectar sources?

bright white wax of the stars hivePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Quite a bit of comb had to be trimmed off the sides. We flipped the bottom board to the wider setting and left the comb there.

Too much comb was built on the side of the hivePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

In the nuc box we saw three frames with decent amounts of capped brood

some broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

more stars hive broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

even more stars hive broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Spotted our marked queen on the feed frame.

queen searching for space on the honey combPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Their population looks set to take off significantly in the coming weeks, and it looks like there is good flow for comb building at the moment.

stars nuc box with the warré seed frame removedPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

June 20th

We had ordered package bees back in January, but we had trouble getting the breeder to give us the bees. As it was starting to get late in the season, I whipped together two more nuc to warré adapters and we bought nuc's from a different breeder instead. Here they are buckled in on the back seat of my parents car.

Bee hives buckled into the back seat of my parents carPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Using nucs meant we had a little more weight to haul up to the roof. We just used a rope, tried to set the angles to our advantage and pulled.

getting the hive ready to liftPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

It worked, but as we anticipate heavy honey boxes needing to descend from the roof in the future, we are going to try and source a hoist with brakes.

June 27th

We named this colony Sky. Things were relatively quiet around the entrance but it was a cloudy day.

The breeder gave us frames from different colonies so the queen had been placed in a cage.

4 frame nuc for the sky hive + the warré starter framePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

They built a whole lot of comb on the empty frame we placed in the nuc to seed the warré shaped box below. The comb mostly contained nectar, but there were a few eggs present.

warré seed frame almost filled outPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Lots of brood on three of the other nuc box frames:

lots of broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

more broodPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

and a frame with a good amount of food:

the honey framePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We moved the warré seed frame down. The comb built on the side of the frame was trimmed off and squished in around the top bars of the nuc.

The waste of comb is extremely disappointing and has proven to be largest drawback to this method of encouraging the bees to move down into the warré box. It caught me by surprise as I had started comb for a top bar hive in a similar way last year and expected the sides to be the last place they would build comb. In the future I will have to consider blocking off the side gaps around the frame so this doesn't happen.

3

I used inspiration from the colony transfer section of this page and the simple D. Coates nuc box plan as the basis for my lang to warré transitioning nuc box.  I need to put this box on top of a warré box so I reduced the height of the walls a 1/2 inch to compensate for the height of the floor that I am removing from the D. Coates design. The only other modification to the base of the design was to omit an entrance in this box. Instead, the warré box will sit on a regular bottom board entrance.

lang to warre nuc box - nuc with wings

I did add a floor just to the section that hangs over the side of the warré in the back and front. I also glued and nailed 'wings' to the side of the nuc which extend to the edge of the warré box. The wings serve as a roof for the section of the warré the nuc does not cover.

The wings are slightly asymmetrical, this was done in order to position the nuc box on top of the warré such that the gaps between the langstroth frames will line up with gaps of the warré frames. The hope is that this will make it easier for the bees to move between the two boxes.

lang to warre nuc box - matching the frame gaps

I made a five frame nuc box, but around my area they typically sell four frame nucs. So, in addition to the frames I receive from the bee breeder, I will place one of my smaller warré frames in the nuc box. To do this I simply used wire from twist ties to strap a frame to a wooden slat that fits the length of the langstroth. Once the bees start drawing out this frame I will be able to remove the wooden slat and place the frame in the box below to encourage them to move down.

lang to warre nuc box - a transitional frame

On top of the plywood roof I added an old printing press plate that I sourced from a local publisher and a discarded plastic corflute sign board (similar to that used for election signs). The sign board has air pockets and will hopefully slow the heat from the sun on the metal from conducting through the roof. The printing press plates are simple to work with. I cut it to size with regular scissors and staple it in place with an ordinary staple gun.

Using an old printing press sheet and coflute to protect the beehive from rain and heat

The plywood was scrap from neighbourhood carpenters, and the paint came from the municipal household hazardous waste dump, thus the cost of making this box was virtually nothing.

lang to warre nuc box

I'll be eager to get the nuc off the hive and give them a proper roof, but am confident this box should make for a smooth and simple transition between the different shaped hives.

Update: I've now successfully encouraged bees to move down with this method.

warré seed frame almost filled out

You can see the nuc transition box in practice here. The main issue I had was that they built comb on the side of my frames that would need to be broken off. In subsequent attempts I used a wooden block to prevent this.

IMGP18712015 update: While the wooden blocks were a significant improvement they would still build little combs between the frame and the blocks and it was cumbersome to untie the frame. So I made the blocks with only a 'bee space' between it and the frame and a little notch at the top of the block acts as a frame rest:

Photo via flickr.

Each wooden block is attached using a single screw, allowing the block to turn and making it relatively easy to remove the propolized frame.

Photo via flickr.

My current approach is to try to move frames down, and place new frames back in the nuc as long as they are raising brood in the nuc. As comb building is prioritized at the top of the hive, and I already have drawn combs up here, I found it to be a good way to keep getting straight combs. I stop adding new combs once I no longer have a brood frames in the nuc box as they bees like to make honey combs bulge out into any available open space.

June 4th

We visited the bees today fully expecting to make a split. We hope to see what we can do as beekeepers without any chemical controls for mites, so we see a split as an opportunity to break the brood cycle and therefore mite reproduction. The inspiration for doing this comes from the rotation system.

There have been a few hot days, but the weather has been holding steady at around 20 celcius. Clover and black locust have been in bloom but I'm uncertain how much of either is in the area. The entrance had a lot of activity and the bees remained very calm as we opened the hive. The box we moved to the top, now the 4th box, had a fair bit going on now.

warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Lots of young fuzzy bees, some little patches of brood and decent amounts of pollen and nectar. We also spotted the queen (The first time in this hive since last summer). She was looking big and beautiful. This was mighty convenient as we needed to know where she was for this split.

Found the queen! Warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

So we set this box aside, and proceeded to check if any new queens had been started in the queen cups we spotted last time. The 3rd box appeared to have one of a handful of cups with an egg (albeit somewhat off center in the cell). We believe we saw two queen eggs in the 2nd box, but for some reason had trouble locating them again after a more complete check of the combs. Good amount of stores and brood in these boxes too. The bottom box remained untouched.

Solid brood. Warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-ShareAlike License

warre split 2013Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We felt confident that we could go ahead with the split but that is when things got a little messy. We had the 2nd box placed on its side from trying to double check the queen eggs, and one comb in the box that had been built with a large gap down the center broke in half. The half that broke off had two queen cups, but we couldn't verify if they were ones with eggs.

So we moved the box with the old queen and the empty bottom box seval meters away to form a new colony. We placed the broken comb of honey and pollen resting on the side of the empty bottom box and added an entrance reducer. We gave the old colony a new empty box and will have to wait and see if they are able to make a new queen.

I collected this swarm from a toronto backyard last spring and sheltered them in a warré hive.

I was really struck by how cozy things feel in the hive without the frames/bee space:

Seeing this lead me to believe there might be something to the theory that a frame-less hive allows for better temperature/air flow control.

warre honey box bee spacePhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

For the most part they built straight comb. I think it's possible to do comb by comb inspection without frames if you are careful about how you set the hive up, but it certainly requires more time and gentleness as you move the combs about and separate the boxes.

It's really nice on the back to have smaller lighter boxes. I now have my sights set on even less lifting. I discovered the possibility of home made hive lifts which take advantage of the warré's protruding box handles.

Hive overflowing with beesPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The colony had a real productive season. It built up fast and strong. I only had access to visit the hives about once per month, and they often surprised me by overflowing out of the space I had left them. They filled five boxes and I was able to harvest two boxes. They went into winter with three very heavy boxes. The hive was placed in a good location with fields of wild flowers directly in front of the hive, however, it was a long dry summer and many other hives did not do so well. It's possible part of this colonies success might have been due to the failure of other hives in the area that they were able to rob out.

dripping honeyPhoto by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

So far I'm a fan of the warré hive, I appreciate the smaller dimensions and the roof/quilt design. I think there are great benefits to a frame-less hive, but have decided to build warré frames for next year (for more confident swarm control and so I can perform drastic manipulations with greater ease, like breaking the brood cycle to control mites ).

Link

PDF of Abbé Warre's Beekeeping for All

The full 12th edition translated into english by David Heaf (one of the more prominent modern day users of the the warré hive.)

The book covers a bit of beekeeping basics, Warré's analysis of some of the different hives of his time, a few interesting observations of bee behaviour in addition the specifications and rational behind his own hive design. Many interesting things in here even if you are an experienced beekeeper with no interest in using a warré hive.

If you assume it's not possible to put natural comb without frames in an extractor have a look at page 63.

In the 5th edition warré discussed the option of using frames in his style of hive.

There's another video in which David Heaf goes through the different pieces used in this hive and some of his construction methods that is worth watching as well: