History of Warre Hives

Abbe Emile Warre developed the Warre hive over 50 years of research, culminating in what he liked to call “The People’s Hive” in the early 1950s. He studied over 300 hive designs, ranging from straw skeps to the modern Langstroth hive, analyzing their ease of use and suitability for honey bees. He focused on simplicity, ease of management and natural qualities including the building of natural comb (rather than pressed foundation) and the retention of nest scent and heat.

He frowned upon the invasive, tedious micromanagement of individual frames and combs as practiced by most beekeepers in his day. He decided that it was better to manipulate the hive box by box only a couple times a year, rather than comb by comb every couple weeks. This is key to the beekeeping philosophy that corresponds with Warre hives, and it is a tremendous shift away from the common practices used today.

Warre would typically add a couple empty boxes to the bottom of the hive in the Spring and remove the top boxes from the hive (full of honey) in the Fall. This allows for something few other hives offer: The continual cycle of new comb into and old comb out of the hive without the destruction of the precious brood chamber, as each year prior to Winter the bees move the excess honey stores to the top of the hive. This removes the pesticide-laden comb from the hive every couple years, making for a healthier, happier colony.

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