Friday arvo fun at the Veg Warehouse – a prototype Warre` style beehive. Made with a good dose of off-cuts, we cobbled together this lesser known style of hive to use as a bait hive to try and catch – the low-fuss way – an impending swarm. The next version will be dressed (planed silky smooth) on the outside as well, and together with a coat of linseed oil and some cleaner joinery will look a million bucks.. not that the bees care. Veg’s Dan & Amanda have been using one of these they made last year and Veg’s Carey thought it time to whip one up too. Soon these will be standard issue for all Veg team members 🙂 We’ll let you know when we hit production phase!
Key features of this style of hive developed by French apiarist Abbe`Emile Warre` (1867-1951), are that the bees custom build their own wax comb rather than working to a standard size template (foundation
) put in by the bee keeper, thereby subtly self-managing the size of their hexagonal cells to suit as conditions & needs change – did you know that the actual size of European honey bees has been slowly increased over time as beekeepers started using wax foundation and upping the cell size? And that bees ability to preen & pick off pests (like varroa mite) has decreased… somewhat in proportion to their ability to carry more & more nectar & pollen? Ah the production model.
The actual beekeeping method with the Warre` hive is also less disruptive to the bees highly tuned environs such as temperature regulation & pheromone communication, and by promoting the bees very definite requirement to build fresh wax comb each year, less old wax and its potential harbouring of disease organisms is retained. Unlike certain members of the Veg team, the bees actually like hygiene, and we ought to help them with that.
The beekeeper always ensures sufficient honey remains with the colony over winter, so they have access to their very own, hard won super-food (as opposed to nutritionally vacuous sugar syrup). And whilst honey yield may be slightly lower, so are hive losses and bee maladies in general, not to mention the bonus of an exciting yield of gorgeous wax to do squillions of cool things with. In the end we want happy, healthy, resilient bees with less work on our behalf, easy to make digs, and, weather permitting, a honey (and wax) harvest that doesn’t compromise the bee colony – in fact it may contribute to sustaining it.
Many thanks to Tim Malfroy
for generously sharing knowledge on the inner workings of these hives. There’s plenty more to see and read about on the topic, such as over at the epic & ever-inspiring Milkwood
, who’ve been running these hives with Tim for a few years now.
Stay tuned for the next, classier version, and let’s look after those bees!
Below said prototype on a handy stump just up from other beehives. On day one it was being scoped out by scout bees.. and you’ve got to admit, it’s not a bad looking hive..