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Warre roof

 
John Coffman
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I have built a couple of Warre hives and the instructions for the roof construction show the mouse guard or cover board attached to the sides of the roof above the quilt. I thought the roof was designed to allow air flow through the hive but having the mouse guard covering the quilt would seem to discourage that.
Does anyone have an explaination of this arrangement? Has anyone made modifications to allow more air flow? Thanks
 
David Heaf
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The roof is indeed a confusing part of Warré s design for beginners. It is an issue that comes up over and over again in the Warré e-group (http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/warrebeekeeping/).

Basically the hive is not a chimney. It happens to comply with what J. Thür called Nestduftwärmebindung, 'retention of nest scent and heat'. If any significant flow takes place through the top-bar cover cloth, quilt contents retention cloth, quilt contents and 'mouse board' (cover board inside the roof) then it must largely be by diffusion. Water vapour can pass through all these layers. My mouse board comprises strips of narrow, thin recycled planking that I happen to have lying around the workshop. The edges are butted but not sealed. I expect that some mass flow of water vapour an air may occur here. Those who use a sheet of plywood in their roofs often drill a number of small holes to allow water vapour transit. They do this because the sometimes see condensate under the plywood. After a particularly cold winter, I checked all my mouse boards for condensate but found none. Nor was there any dampness in the quilt contents. However, please bear in mind that my hives are in a relatively mild maritime climate.

There is something else in Warré's book Beekeeping for All which could be blamed for giving the impression that there is mass flow of air through the quilt. On page 53 he writes:

'Furthermore, the main quality of this cloth is its permeability that the bees can modify, augment
or reduce, adding to or removing from the cloth the propolis that they deposit everywhere. This
propolis allows the bees themselves to ventilate the People's Hive as they did in the old skeps.'

People rightly question this by saying that if the quilt contents are sitting on top of the cloth, how can removing propolis from the gaps in the weave improve ventilation?

In my view, the only ventilation, especially in quilts such as mine, which are filled with shavings from an elctric planer, must be by diffusion only. Anyway, I do not see any unpropolising of top-bar cloths. The gaps between the bars are well smeared with the substance.

The modified Warré hive of Frèrès & Guillaume (http://warre.biobees.com/guillaume.htm), the one with windows in each box, deliberately makes use of the bees' ability to unpropolise the top-bar cloth. Instead of hessian/burlap (old sack material) they use plastic fly screen (moustiquaire). But they have a very different top-of-hive setup from Warrés that allows for mass flow of air.

Incidentally, Jean-Calaude Guillaume is looking for a French to English translator of his book on his 'ecological hive' which now runs to two volumes totallin 800 pages altogether. If anyone is interested they may contact me for his address and phone number via my web site www.bee-friendly.co.uk . He does not use email.

He has recently started to produce a series of 'Chroniques' about his hive, often called in France 'Warré-FG'. I have translated the first 'Chronique' and put a PDF of it at:

http://www.users.callnetuk.com/~heaf/j-cg_chronique_1.pdf .

I attach a photo of an absurdly tall Warré-FG in Quebec that was sent to me by Jean-Claude..

seguin_big_hive.jpg
[Thumbnail for seguin_big_hive.jpg]
A Frèrès-Guillaume hive in Quebec, Canada
 
R Scott
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That picture brings up another point: How do you stabilize these against wind or animals? Not bear-proof, but at least raccoon proof.
 
David Heaf
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R Scott wrote:That picture brings up another point: How do you stabilize these against wind or animals? Not bear-proof, but at least raccoon proof.


That Canadian beekeeper was probably carried away by exuberance of a successful colony/hive in a landscape that produces massive nectar flows. The most boxes I've ever had on a Warré is five. If boxes are being filled like in the Quebec hive, it makes sense to harvest them before the hive gets too high.

My apiaries have had winds gusting to 70 mph and no hives toppled or roofs blew off. My stands are on a recycled paving slab and designed so that each leg is outside its respective corner of the hive. I put one house brick on the roof. We don't have tornadoes here, but Warré beeks in areas that do see tornadoes take the precaution of fitting hive straps. Someone reported that hurricane Sandy passed near them but their Warré hive survived. There was much damage to buildings and trees.

If for some reason, one must go to 6 boxes, then a post could be driven into the ground next to the hive and the hive strapped to it.

Reports of Warrés toppling have reached me from the USA. Some manufacturers make their own Warré hive legs/feet. These are often inside the footprint of the floor and thus less stable than Warré's original design, which is shown on page 47 of his book Beekeeping for All. One toppling that was reported in more detail involved the comb remaining intact. The hive was put back together and the colony carried on living.

In January last hear, an ash tree came down on my apiary. Two hives were knocked over, a National (frame hive) and a Warré. The contents of the National spilled out onto the ground. The Warré remained intact, its two (winter) boxes held together by propolis. When I arrived, the bees were trying to make the best of it. The Warré colony survived, and is still alive today, whereas the frame hive colony failed.

Here are photos of the destruction:

http://www.dheaf.plus.com/warrebeekeeping/ash_2012.htm
 
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