Expertly crafted Western red cedar Warre hives, hive kits, window boxes, one-piece top bars, and hive accessories. Made in Portland, Oregon -- FREE SHIPPING to the contiguous 48 states. Please inquire for Alaska, Hawaii, and international shipping.

What is A Warre Hive?

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 Warre (pronounced: WAR-ray) hive is named after its inventor, French monk Abbé Émile Warré, who developed the hive in the early 1900s after experimenting with over 350 hives. Warré wanted to create a hive that was simple to build, easy to manage, the right size for the bees, and still allowed for surplus honey harvest. During this process, he wrote a book called Beekeeping for All that documented his findings and reasons he designed the hive as such. We've used these hives since 2008 and find them to be the most hands-off of any hive design.

Why Use A Warre Hive?

Warre Hive with windows openWarre hives are ideally suited for the beekeeper looking for a low-cost, low-maintenance hive design. In our mind the Warre hive is the ultimate design for natural, chemical-free beekeeping, and we’ve had tremendous success with our own Warres with little to no maintenance. They are perfectly suited for remote outyards with infrequent visits, whereas a horizontal top bar hive would require bi-weekly to monthly management to ensure sufficient space

With a Warre hive, there is no need to frequently inspect the colony, purchase an expensive honey extractor or use foundation full of chemicals. Management of Warre hives calls for adding extra boxes to the bottom of the stack, causing comb to be regularly harvested and cycled out of use. This prevents old comb from being reused and therefore ladened with environmental and agricultural chemicals and toxins. Warres are a healthy, relatively hands-off approach to beekeeping. 

What Makes Our Warre Hives So Special?


It Starts With the Best Wood

Our hives are crafted using Western Red Cedar in Portland, Oregon. Western Red Cedar is the ideal wood for hive construction due to its strength, light weight, and weather resistance. Our wood is kiln dried and milled to full 1” thickness for improved strength and better insulation for bees. Unlike pine hives, cedar does not need to be painted to help it last. We do however recommend sealing the roof with tung oil. We pre-drill all components for easy assembly.

Viewing Windows (Optional)

Viewing windows are a fantastic feature that provide for easy monitoring of your colonies. Our windows run the full length of the box, giving beekeepers an unhindered view without disturbing the bees. Monitoring the productivity of your bees is a cinch with a viewing window and friends and family will enjoy peering in to see the ladies at work!

Warre hive boxes

 

 

 

Rabbit Joint and Screw Construction

Most readily available Warre hives are built with butt joints or nails and glue. We know from experience that rabbet joints and screws provide superior quality and durability.

Warre copper roof

 

 

Copper Top (Optional)

Improve the life and appearance of your hive by adding fitted composite copper roof with stainless steel screws. Not only will it help with rain and snow run off, but you’ll never have to paint or seal the roof. Copper composite doesn't corrode and leach into the soil like standard copper used in roofing. This composite material retains its color, insulates and reflects heat better than regular copper.

Warre hive feet

 

 

 

Beautiful Feet (Optional)

We offer optional precision milled and rounded feet that screw onto the standard Warre screened bottom, further elevating the hive and improving stability.

Warre top bars

 

 

One Piece Wedge Top Bars

Wedge top bars are the most effective and strongest design, promoting beautiful, straight comb attachment and longevity. Our wedge bars are made from a single piece of wood, no gluing or staple construction, allowing for optimum quality and stability. We manufacture our bars on precision equipment from Western Red Cedar; these are the same bars we’ve used and trusted for years in our own apiary.

Easy Assembly

All of our components are pre-drilled for easy assembly. The entire hive can easily be assembled with provided screws in 30-45 minutes depending on skill level and tools available. Or you can pay a little more and we’ll assemble the hive for you!

Free Shipping

Our hives ship free to the lower 48 United States. We ship anywhere in the world – if you’re outside of the contiguous states, please contact us and we’ll get you a shipping estimate!

Bee Thinking Guarantee

We not only build Warre hives, but we use them in our own apiaries in Portland, Oregon. Since 2008 we’ve tested our designs with our own 30+ honeybee colonies; we know they work well. We’re confident we make the best hives on the market, and we stand behind our products.Take a look at our return policy to learn more.

Warre Hive Placement

There are many factors to consider when placing any bee hive, however, Warre hives have some unique needs that should be addressed when deciding upon the final location.

Easy Access

While there are many "requirements" on the traditional "hive placement checklist," I think one of the most important factors to consider is ease of access for you, the beekeeper. The bees are adaptable, and can overcome just about any inconvenience you throw their way. If the location makes it difficult for you to enjoy the hive, and especially if it makes it difficult for you to work in the hive, this is a major issue. You will want a location that is free of obstructions on the backside of the hive, with at least 2-3 feet of space -- especially if you plan to use a Warre hive lift to add and remove boxes. 

Level Ground

Warre are foundationless, and the bees build their comb perpendicular to the ground. If your hive is on a slope, the comb will be equally sloped. Make sure you place the hive on a level stand of some sort -- whether this is some cinder blocks or a fancy wooden contraption, just make sure it's level!

Early Morning Sun

While this doesn't apply to extremely hot areas, it is generally agreed upon that hives are more successful with more sun than less. If you have to choose between early morning sun and afternoon sun, go with early morning sun, as this will get the hive active earlier in the day, and provide them with more time to gather resources.

Safety

If you live in an urban or suburban area and you feel there is potential danger to either the bees or people, be sure to place the hive in a relatively concealed area -- preferably one that is fenced off. Many beekeepers who live in the city like to point the entrance of the hive toward a fence or a hedge

Wind

Ideally the hive will be placed in a location that is protected from harsh winds billowing into the hive entrances during the winter. Warre hives are inherently top heavy, and thus it is important to either provide a wind break, or straps of some sort to keep the hive from toppling over in high winds.

Water

If you live in an arid region -- especially one where pools are prevalent -- this is consideration is more important. Bees need water to use within the hive, and they, being opportunists, will frequent the closest reliable water source, regardless of how inconvenient it is for you or your neighbors. If the closest water source is your neighbor's pool or bird bath, the bees will be more than willing to use them. If this matters to you, make sure you provide them with a shallow-sloped water source. Bird baths work very well!

Forage

Obviously if you plan to keep bees in your back yard you will have little control over the nectar and pollen sources available to your colony, but an important consideration nonetheless. We've had greater success with our colonies placed in urban and suburban areas, largely due to the abundance and variety of flower plants available in parks, gardens and yards. Rural areas, especially areas with heavy agriculture, generally have less forage available due to the use of mono crops, pesticides and fungicides. 

Legality

The last, and maybe one of the most important factors, is whether it is legal to keep bees in your area. Many cities still outlaw beekeeping outright, or make the licensing process incredibly difficult for the beekeeper. Check your city, county and state laws prior to investing in a beehive and bees, and then make a decision accordingly. Keep in mind that a number of areas have antiquated laws explicitly banning the use of any hives but Langstroth or frame beehives. While I don't know of anyone being accosted over such silly regulations, it's still something to keep in mind.

Warre Hive Management

After using Langstroth, horizontal top bar and Warre hives, we love Warre hives for their simplicity, ease of management and success. We’ve had more success with Warre hives than any other hive design, and we don’t think this is by chance.

When you first get your bees you should start them in 2 Warre boxes, leaving any extras for holding a jar or bucket feeder. If you’re installing a package or a swarm you can set up the first two boxes – the bottom with bars and the top without. Place the queen cage on the bars (if using a package) and install the marshmallow in place of the cork. Gently pour the bees on top of the queen cage, leaning the box full of stragglers against the entrance of the hive. Replace the bars in the top box, put the burlap on top, and then the quilt box and roof above that.

Over the next couple months monitor their growth by tilting the bottom box forward. If you see the bottom box filling with comb you can add another box or two accordingly. As fall arrives, check the bottom boxes for comb – if they are empty you can remove them until the colony is down to 2-3 boxes. We don’t recommend harvesting any honey in the first season, instead you should leave all of it for the bees and hope for a surplus next season!

Can Warre hives be used commercially?

While most commercial beekeepers use Langstroth hives or other common hive designs, there are a number of beekeepers running large-scale Warre hive operations. One example is Gilles Denis - a commercial beekeeper in France managing several hundred modified Warre hives. Here in Portland, we manage between 10 and 12 Warre hives at any given time and have great success with them in our wet, sunless environment!

How to Feed a Warre Hive

Feeding a Warre hive can be done using a number of methods. The method depends largely on the time of year, whether extra boxes are available, and what you are feeding. If you're getting a package of bees for your Warre hive, there's a good chance you'll need to feed. Packages usually come early in the season when the weather still isn't good for bee foraging. This means they'll starve unless you feed them! 

The most common way, and our preferred way to feed, is with a hive top feeder of some sort. Warre talks about a rather complex top feeder that takes the place of other boxes, and goes in place of the quilt. We've used feeders like this and don't prefer them for a number of reasons. 1) It requires that you buy or build an extra box that will ONLY be used during feeding. The rest of the time it needs to be stored away from the hive. 2) They are more likely to mold or leak than some other top feeders. 

We use jar or bucket feeders on top of our Warre hives, with an extra box around them. This is a simple, effective method of feeding with little to no chance of leaking. In addition, it requires only jars or a bucket feeder to be stored when not in use. The extra box that sits around the feeder will be used at some point in the future when the colony needs it!

How to use a bucket or jar feeder on a Warre hive:

1) Select a jar or a bucket feeder to use on top of your hive. We use and sell Double Jar Feeders

2) Cut a flap in your canvas or burlap that should already be on your hive, resting under the quilt box. You can pull off the canvas or burlap that is in use in an active hive, or cut a fresh one.

 

3) Set the canvas on top of the top box full of bees. If you're replacing the old one, gently peel off the old one and replace it with the new one.

4) Fold the flap back and set the feeder on top of your hive. Ensure that no bees can get past the feeder. If they do, they may begin building comb around your feeder!

5) Put an empty box on the hive around the feeder.

6) Put the quilt box on top of the newly-added empty box and then replace the roof.

You're done! Now you can easily monitor the level of feed without taking apart more than the roof and quilt box. This way you don't disturb your bees. Replacing the jars is quick and easy. When you no longer need to feed, simply pull off the extra box and feeder, fold the flap back down, and then put your quilt and roof on like normal.