Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beehive Management - 2009

April 10th, 2009.
Since I will be using US equipments and manage it the French ("Warre") way, I need some sort of plan.

Warre hive has 8 frames, I got 10 frame equipments. I read that a smaller but taller nest is better than a wider shorter one, so I am going to use follower boards, modified frames with a piece of wood to block the bees out, one on each side of the brood boxes, leaving only 8 frames for brood & honey to get the bees started, like in the pic at right. Black is follower board, yellow is honey/pollen, red is brood. Of course initially, everything will be empty.

After a week or so (before the 8 frames get filled!), depending on hive activity, I will add the suppers. Warre says to add the suppers at the bottom, and all at once, since the heat of the nest will be retained at the top.

One potential problem with this configuration is if a strong honey flow happens, the brood won't emerge fast enough to leave room for honey storage, and even though there may be plenty of room below, the lack of room above will result in a swarm. So at my first Spring visit, I will remove the follower boards from the brood boxes, and add suppers at the bottom. A total of 4 boxes should be enough for a new colony.
The two top boxes containing brood at the beginning of the season, with follower boards, will have their follower boards removed, to leave room for honey storage. The two lower boxes, initially empty, will have follower boards, as they will become the new brood boxes by the end of the season. Here is how the hive will look like after the Spring visit:

As the colony develops, the hive will go through the following stages:

This is of course the best case scenario. During the Fall visit, one box will be harvested only if the 3 lower boxes are sufficiently filled, and the colony will spend the winter on 3 Medium boxes, 2 of them with 8 frames.

I am a beginner beekeeper, and this is quite an unusual management plan, so if you guys see any flaw, drop a note on the comments. Thanks!


  1. Hello Andre! So lovely to meet another beginning beekeeper. I am fascinated by the "Warre" method - I hadn't heard of that. I am also very interested in how it is going for you without using foundation - do you just use empty frames and let the bees build in the empty fame space? Does that work?

    I too am concerned about the foundation and bee supplies and possible connections to CCD and other issues, namely traces of contaminants in the wax the commercial bee supply companies provide. Is that your concern as well?

    Anyway, thanks so much for commenting on my blog, I am following your experience with great interest!


  2. Hello kpeao,

    thanks for visiting, you are my first follower :-)

    I am very happy with my choice of going foundationless so far. I took a picture of one frame fully drawn, and it looks beautiful.
    I use empty frames, with melted wax in the slot where the foundation is normally going. I will take a picture of a frame and post it.

    The contaminants in commercial foundations is my concern as well. The decision of going foundationless was driven by this, the cell size, and the number of drones. With foundations, all these decisions are made by the bekkeper, forced onto the bees (as I understand it). Foundationless, the bees decide.

    I used to be afraid of bees. I am feeling more confident now, but I haven't had my first sting yet ...