HIVE: What is a “Warre Bee Hive”?

Warre Beehive from Bee4Ever

22 January 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

Abbe Emil Warre designed what has come to be known as the Warre beehive. Aiming at the most inexpensive hive possible (Warre called it the “People’s Hive”), his design was inspired by a natural and much more ancient beehive design: the hollowed-out log.

The Warre hive is one of those rather rare top-bar hives with a vertical rather than horizontal design. So, Warre’s top-bar beehive profile stands tall instead of long – a characteristic it shares with the Perone’s top-bar vertical design.

With its vertical profile of stacked boxes, the Warre’s profile looks little different than of a Langstroth-style hive. But almost everything about the Warre is a bit different.

The Warre is a top-bar style hive although its use of frames and guides allow it maintain an efficient bee space. This prevents eventually destructive comb attachments by the building bees. The hive is “under-supered” – new boxes are added to the bottom of the hive stack instead of the top.

The top is a “quilt” box when contains cloth enclosing saw dust. This allows air to pass through the box, but not moisture. Warre introduced the quilt box to deal with an issue common to the Langstroth and similar hive designs. In winter, moisture accumulation inside the hive boxes and promote the growth and spread of certain diseases.

Although the Warre hive fell into relative obscurity after the inventor’s death in 1951, Warre was a bit ahead of his time. He built his hive to match the bees natural habits and believed that the more the bees were left alone, the better – for the bees and the honey. With that philosophy, his hive designed was destined to return to popularity – at least as a popular hive with amateurs beekeepers concerned about more natural approaches to beekeeping.

Experienced users give the Warre hive a special distinction – one that is popular with, at least, modern amateur beekeepers: The Warre is the most “hands-off” or “leave it alone” hive they’ve ever used.


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HIVE: What is a “Valhalla Beehive”?

Photo from: Honey Bee Suite

8 January 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

Located in the mythical land of Asgard, the great Valhalla beehive is ruled by the queen bee goddess “Odinana.” From this great hive, giant valkyrie worker bees fly out to collect and gather those bees who have “died while pollinating.” – if those fallen bees have, of course, died with “their stingers intact” . . .

Wait a minute! Hold on! I got carried away. That’s not what a Valhalla beehive is at all.

Designed by Naomi Price and built by Richard Nichols of Prineville, Oregon, the Valhalla hive is a type of long box hive with standard slide-out frames (instead of top bars designed for free-hanging combs). Price’s design was specially developed for (1) the needs of the bees and (2) the needs of the beekeeper.

(1) To accommodate the natural requirements of the bees, Price drew on her own experience together with all the written references she could find about honeybee behavior including foraging, brood rearing, food storage, pests, seasonal requirements, the effects of local weather. Then, she went on to study histories of beehive design.

The Valhalla hive uses 24” deep Langstroth frames. Price has found that the long box hive design is unlikely to allow disturbances from wind or predators. This hive has a single 3/8 in. opening which admits bees without allowing mice to get into the hive. A slanted roof protects against hard rains and provides an internal area for materials to control moisture and insulate the hive.

(2) But the Valhalla hive does more than accommodate a generic beekeeper.

The Valhalla hive is about accessibility. Price, a paraplegic, has spent years working with various agencies surveying sites for accessibility under the Americans With Disabilities Act. With this knowledge and experience, Price designed the Valhalla hive to give her the freedom to keep her bees without the need for assistance from others.

The Valhalla hive’s roof does not have to be removed for inspections. The roof is hinged so that it can just be opened and is equipped with a side latch hold the raised roof open during inspection. For further examination convenience, this hive has a viewing window that can be opened or closed. The height to which the long box rises from the ground can be adjusted to accommodate the needs of the beekeeper as well.

There seems to be a quiet revolution in beehive design with more emphasis on both the natural behaviors of the bees, themselves, together with consideration for the health, safety, and well-being of the beekeeper.

The Dartington beehive, for example, is specifically standardized with components whose individual weights never exceed U.K. health and safety recommendation. Many new hives are specifically adopting modular designs that assure that hives can be broken down into parts – each of which fall within certain weight limits.

But the Valhalla hive has crossed yet another frontier. This hive suggests a new class of hive designs with development aimed at accommodating the needs of more specific classes of beekeepers.

mark signiture

of Hazelwood, Missouri & Belleville, Illinois

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HIVE: What is a “Perone Beehive”?

1 January 2015

The Short Answer (TSA)

Developed by Oscar Perone, the Perone Hive is designed to provide as natural an environment for a bee colony as is possible in a manufactured hive. The idea is to allow, and even facilitate, the natural behaviors of the colony.

The Perone Hive is unusual because it is a top-bar, but not a long-box, hive. Most top bar hives have one oblong box extending horizontally.

Typical “Long-Box” Hive – One Long Horizontal Box

Typical “Long-Box” Hive – One Long Horizontal Box

Bars are placed over the box – body of the hive – to allow the beekeeper maximum access to all the combs built by the bees.

Bars on Top of an Open Long-Box Hive  -  Bees Build Honeycomb Hanging from a Top Bar

Bars on Top of an Open Long-Box Hive       –   Bees Build Honeycomb Hanging from a Top Bar

But the “long-box” of the Perone hive is set up vertically — or on its end.  Bars are placed over the relatively small end at the top.   From a distance, this hive has the profile of a standard commercial beehive like the Langstroth or British Standard.  But, these hive are quite different and typically use frames in drawers rather than top-bars.

H-14 PERONE HIVE PHOTOAgain, with the Perone hive, only top-bars are placed over the upper section of the hive. That upper portion (upper third) of the hive is called the “beekeeper’s part.” The lower part (lower two-thirds) of the vertical long box is called the “bees’ part” of the hive.H-14 PERONE HIVE DIAGRAM

The names “beekeeper’s part” and “bees’ part” are intended to be taken quite literally. From the upper one-third, the “beekeeper’s part,” bars are removed when the honey is harvested.  But the Perone hive and system require that the “beekeeper’s part” be opened only once a year – to harvest the honey.

The “bees’ part,” the lower two-thirds, is never disturbed (or checked) by the beekeeper. The bees enjoy absolute, perpetual privacy in their lower section. The hive is not designed to allow the beekeeper any convenient internal access to the “bees’ part.”

The Perone Hive is criticized for its inaccessible sections, the “bees’ part.” The large size of the hive promotes the development of a super colony, but the lack of access to the “bees’ part,” some say, can allow diseases to spread within the colony and will increase the seriousness of Verroa mite infestations.

But Perone responds that, in practice, the Perone hive promotes and maintains much larger and healthier colonies than other commercial beehives.  Access to the “bees’ part” would allow beekeepers to “treat” the bees for Verroa mite infestations.  But all such “treatments” are controversial and are known to possibly injure the bees, themselves.

Perone says that bees have three basic needs. If those needs are met, the bees stay healthy. Those needs are: (1) Lots of Space, (2) Lots of Honey, and (3) Lots of Peace. When all three needs are met, as they are with the design of the Perone hive, the result is “large, powerful colonies that are capable of managing disease, Varroa, and cold winters without chemical treatments or expensive equipment.”

A typical Perone hive might stand about six feet in height, with its width (sides) measuring just a bit under two feet.

Oscar Perone, himself, gives excellent instructions to guide the reader in building a Perone hive, but also, in the process, discusses the design features, their purpose as well as the beekeeping philosophy promoted by his hive’s design. Please see Oscar Perone’s pdf – Making a Perone Hive – The PermApiculture Way

mark signiture

of Hazelwood, Missouri & Belleville, Illinois

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