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New Beekeeper - Warre Hive / Hybrid Hive Questions - Tee Hive

 
pollinator
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I've thought about building a hive for a long time and finally made the plunge. I've finished the boxes for a Warre Hive largely according to the plans found HERE. I say largely because I didn't follow the dimensions exactly. At my local store 2"x10" yellow pine that had been in stock a long time was actually cheaper than 1" x 10' lumber was at Lowes so I went with it. My finished boxes are 12" x 12".5 inches inside diameter which is pretty close to the plan and hold 8 top bars with .5 inches between. I figured the slightly increased depth f the boxes over what the plan called for was fine.

A problem however is the 2" lumber is of course heavier that 1" but no big deal until I go to thinking about the finished height. The plan called for and I made four boxes, with the actual height of each at 9.25" it comes to 37". Not so bad, actually pretty comfortable to lift the top one, even if it is full of honey. But I need to add on the height of the quilt and the roof bringing it up well past 40". They won't be heavy so still no biggie but I have yet to design and construct the floor and stand.

From research I understand it is best to have the entrance a minimum of 6" preferably closer to 18" above the ground. I figure on splitting that difference to about 10". That brings the bottom of the top super box to 39 inches off the ground and the top of it 48.5", that's pushing the range of being comfortable to lift and work with.

I figure the bottom two boxes which I guess can be thought of as deeps and where the hive will basically live are fie as they are. So, to start out, do I really need both of the top, supers or can I get by with just one for now?

Another thing I'm kind of leaning toward is building another long super. Similar I guess to a long Langstroth but utilizing top bars instead of frames. This super would be the same width as the Warre deeps but 24" interior length, same volume as two of the Warre boxes. Then I would build a frame that sits on top of the Warre box and position my long super on center, hanging over 6" or so on each side, thus the Tee Hive. Perhaps make it modular so it could be moved in sections to inspect the deeps below, or make it with 1" boards so it could be easily moved in one piece. That would put the finished hive at a very comfortable height for removing bars full of honey.

What do you all think about that idea?
I'm most interested right now in the bees being happy and healthy which is why I went with the Warre Hive. It seems most similar to their natural homes in hollow trees, but I've already learned that the other types might be more convenient for people. So, maybe the hybrid Tee Hive could make everyone happy at the same time?  

Next question in on getting bees. I'm told by a couple locals that my neighborhood is a good place to capture wild swarms which is what I hope to do. I've ordered some raw beeswax, some propolis and some organic swarm bait from an organic bee business. I figure on using it all in my hive in hopes some will just move in, but I read that a swarm trap is generally place fairly high off the ground in trees.

Might I have shot of attracting a swarm directly to my hive or is that just wishful thinking?

OR, might I temporarily close the top and bottom and use one of my Warre boxes as a trap? If that worked I could just move it to the base and stack the rest of the hive on top.


 





 
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I love the idea of what you are calling the tee hive, if I'm thinking about it correctly that is like a 'long langstroth'.  Even though the ability to expand vertically isn't there, it's easier for working with the hive. I've also heard a lot of criticism of overloading vertical boxes to the point where the bees are trying so hard to fill them all that they work to the point of exhaustion.

This vid on YT shows how this particular lady captured her swarm (it was a weird fluke in her case, she prayed for a swarm and there they were in a tree, lol) and she has a 'Kenyan style' top bar hive but with the same width as the langstroth, 19". She transferred the bars from her langstroth into her top bar. She uses some comb to give them incentive to stay.



BUT when it comes to harvesting comb and honey, seems like the Warre is going to work better than the Top Bar, they say it can be hard to manage the honeycomb in a top bar hive, it is messier for the human to deal with. There are lots of vids on how to build frames out there and you can even have them built and sent to you.

I like the idea of catching a swarm with lemongrass oil and "slum gum", which is left over after melting wax off an old frame. It's said to work really well and then you transfer into the hive.

Good on you for taking the step and building your warre---a few neighbors and I are going to try and get our town to let us keep chickens and bees, it is absurd that we are this rural and cannot do either because of City Ordinances. I have beekeeping equipment and I think I might go the route of asking a local farm to let me set up a hive on their land and give them honey in exchange for the pollination, or pay them to use the land or something, cuz I've been wanting to try my hand at beekeeping for a while now. I pass by the fields with beehives and my heart sinks because I want to 'bee' able to have some bees to work with!
 
steward
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Mark Reed wrote:I figure the bottom two boxes which I guess can be thought of as deeps and where the hive will basically live are fie as they are. So, to start out, do I really need both of the top, supers or can I get by with just one for now?



typically in Warre management, boxes aren't supered or added to the top, they're added to the bottom. harvest from the top, add boxes to the bottom. sort of a beehive conveyor belt.

as far as the best number of boxes to start with, that will depend on your specific situation. if you end up with a giant swarm, it might make sense to start with a stack of three. if it's a really small swarm, a single box might be the best choice. if you don't want to be bothered with adding boxes to a populated hive, you could start with all four from the beginning. starting with two is pretty typical, though.
 
Mark Reed
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Thanks for the responses. I wondered why four boxes are necessary to start. I looked over the plans again and I don't think it actually says you should start out with all four. That's just how many the picture shows and I took it to mean there should be four. I think I'll start with three at the most, probably just two. Since I made already made four, I can just make two roofs and bases and maybe double the chances of getting a swarm to move in.  

I'm not looking at harvesting any honey yet, my main interest is just to learn about bees firsthand. I want to see how they act, what they do, so I can make them as happy and comfortable as possible.  
 
Mark Reed
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@tel jetson
Wow a recent Permies email linked to some of your old posts about Warre hives. Wow! pretty much everything I needed to know. I'm really glad now I chose the Warre type hive.

One thing is I had read that they brood down low and store honey above. That didn't really make sense to me because when they move into an empty tree it just makes sense they start at the top. Now that I have read your old posts and know what nadiring is plus the other info you gave about Warre hives I think I'm ready get started.

And with the four boxes I've already built I'm definitely going to set up two, one in front flower garden and one in the back vegetable garden. I think I'll just use concrete blocks as the base and figure a way to anchor to them. I have some small brass hinges, I'm going to screw them to the top corners of the boxes with about a 1/4 inch sticking up to align the position of the one on top and keep it from moving.

How about the bottom? Another poster, farther north than me said she had screen bottoms and left them open in winter. I was thinking also of just having a screen bottom that can pretty freely ventilate but in winter when I add leaves and stuff to the quilt also piling dry leaves around the bottom.

Here is the link to that old post in case anyone else is interested in this. Warre Hives
 
tel jetson
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Mark Reed wrote:One thing is I had read that they brood down low and store honey above. That didn't really make sense to me because when they move into an empty tree it just makes sense they start at the top.



that's the typical arrangement that's used by conventional beekeepers. not because that's how bees would arrange things on their own, but because it's convenient for the beekeeper.
 
Mark Reed
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Starting to seem like pretty much everything I ever read or heard about beekeeping is for the convenience and maybe profit of the beekeeper. That is until I came across the Warre Hive.

I'm starting to wonder now, when I get that far along, what the proper time to harvest some honey might be. Everything I've found talks about harvesting it in the summer or even fall and then sometimes even feeding the bees something else. I'm thinking it might be better to leave them alone and check in the spring to see if they have any let over for me.
 
Mark Reed
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I finished up my beehive yesterday. Couldn't find my camera so for now I'll just have to just describe it. I went with a basic Warre type as I realized my Tee idea probably wasn't good. I don't really expect to harvest much honey from this hive. My hope is just to provide them a comfortable home that they like and for me to learn more about them firsthand.

One reason it might be hard to harvest honey is the weight. 1x pine was more expensive and in shorter supply than 2x so the boxes are made of 2x10s with interior dimension of 12.5" x 12.5". A single box comes in at over 20lb empty so I'm afraid that full of honey it might be difficult to easily manipulate it without overly disturbing the residents. I built four boxes but decided to start out with just two.

Actually, I converted one box into a base. I put an internal frame about 1/3 down from the top with sturdy 1/4" stainless steel mesh for the bottom. The bottom is just open under that, sitting on 4x4 treated post sections. The treated posts are very old, and I was careful to make it so the bees will have very little if any contact with it. I can if I want to shove something under to collect and inspect whatever falls out of the hive or to seal it up for winter. Or I may just close it up in winter by piling dry leaves and stuff around it. For the entrance I have five, 3/4-inch holes drilled at a slightly upward angle. If it looks like that is too many, I can plug some with wine corks.

Above that are the two boxes each with 8 top bars with 1/2" bee space between. Width of the bars isn't exact, but I figure the bees won't really care. For a foundation I just scratched deep groves with a sharp screwdriver and coated the bottom with "really raw" bees wax.

The quilt is 3"deep with a screen bottom that just set on top with a piece of a very old cotton flannel shirt under it. In winter I'll fill the quilt with dry leaves and stuff like Warre recommended. The roof is flat with vents on all sides just made of some old pine boards covered with an aluminum sheet form an old storm door. It telescopes over the quilt and down about 2 and 1/2 inches around the top box.  It isn't likely to blow off but for extra security and to keep away evil spirits is a small concrete gargoyle.

It looked like, in most videos that the boxes just sit on each other, but the edges of the boards were a little slick and I was worried they would easily slide if bumped so I set screws with about a 1/4 inch sticking up in the top corners. Corresponding holes in the bottoms line up and lock them into position when stacked. The whole assembly seems very stable, and I hope the simple weight of it is sufficient to hold it in place even in a bad windstorm.

I hope to just attract a wild swarm directly to the hive so along with the raw beeswax I also put in a small piece of fresh local comb with a little honey in it. I just tied it to the underside of one of the bars with some cotton string. I also purchased some propolis from and organic beekeeper and sealed some of the cracks with it, simple butt joints don't close up completely. I didn't worry too much about doing a good job with that cause it sounds like the bees with take care of that themselves. I mostly just wanted some propolis in there because I read that they like that too when picking out a new place to live. Also got some swarm trap bait, but don't really know how to use it. It came in little tubs, so I just smeared some around on the inside and on the landing board.  

So, I think I've done about all I can do as far as making them a good home and applying things that might attract them to it. That is all I can based on the books and videos I've seen.

I think it will probably be another few weeks before bees here actually swarm so next step is to also go ahead and build a couple of traps. I really want a pure wild swarm if possible and there is a lot of very wild, wooded land around my area. So, I think I will take my traps deep into the state-owned hunting preserve thereby increasing chances that any I catch will actually be the wild ones instead of some that might have come from a neighborhood beekeeper. They probably would not let their hives swarm anyway, but if they do I still don't what the ones where you have to buy new queens and all that goes along with that.

Now that I feel a little more comfortable about how to do it, I'm going to build some more Warre hives and probably some long top bar hives. I want to have options next year in case I need to re-home those from this very heavy hive or if I luck into them swarming next year.

Typically, when I build something for the first time, I screw it all up but, in the process, learn how to do it. That happened this time as well but unlike sometimes I pretty happy with the first attempt. It has all the necessary aspects, it looks nice, now just to see if the bees agree.



 
tel jetson
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sounds like you did a nice job. a couple of recommendations:

don't use honey as bait. you'll get robbers that way, not house hunters. if it's just a little bit, it might be alright because it'll be robbed quickly. dry comb is good, though. so is wax moth frass.

the bees will chew through the sheet between the quilt and the top box if you don't do something to stop them. I've always used rye paste for this, and it seems to work pretty well.
 
Mark Reed
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Thanks, I wondered about the wisdom of putting honey in there. I already figured ants might steal it all in pretty short order. I'll check it in a couple of days and see, probably pull it out even if the ants aren't there.
 
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Our last hive was a Warre hive. From the description, I'm assuming it's the same as a Kenyan top bar. Works great, bees thrived in it, til I screwed up and decided to overwinter them in the greenhouse. Don't do that. I was worried about our super cold winters, but keeping them in the greenhouse only confused them, and they thought it was a different season, and they all died. I mostly keep bees for pollination, I don't take a lot of their honey. I might take a slice off a couple of bars, but that's about it.

This year's hive is in a Tanzanian top bar, aka, a long Langsroth hive. I'm an older person, and I have trouble with those heavy regular Langsroth boxes. What I like about a Long Langsroth, is I can keep the hive warm-ish through the winter by changing over a feeder to a heater by cutting a new top board, and cutting a small slit for a submersible fish tank heater cord. We'll see how it goes. Although, I'm going to change from water to oil so I don't have excess moisture in the hive, and oil should be fine at 68 degrees (that's as low as the heater will go). Should they decide to swarm over to the old Kenyan (Warre) top bar hive, I'm going to buy some of those silicone mat heaters that just stick on the side of the hive box.

I don't know...it might just be me, but I hate the cold, and I can't bear the thought of any animal of mine being cold. The bees might just do fine without the heater, but we can get as cold as -15, and I just don't see how they can manage. My chickens have a heater, why not my bees? I keep my vermiculture in the house so they stay warm. The younger cats go outside at the first sign of spring, but that's mostly because they behave badly inside the house.
 
Mark Reed
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I think the Warre hive is quite different from any of the more horizontal top bar hives I've seen. Here is a photo of mine a little before moving to it's premanent spot.
Reeds-Warre-Hive.jpg
Reed's Home Made Warre Hive
Reed's Home Made Warre Hive
 
Maya Rapp
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Sorry Mark Reed, I get them mixed up.
 
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