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How To Build A Bee Bait Box For Swarms And Trapping

 
Tony Teolis
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build a bait box video This has been a couple of months in the making but that is what good planning is all about. Getting the future to become what you imagine. That's been my way of life and no I cannot tell nature what to do but I can read the sun or clouds for sign of what's coming next. It's an amazing world honey bees live in and right now I am reading Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen and it is such a fun read. It helps to take away the objective nature that is inherent to beekeeping. Instead one feels as if they can understand bees better with this read.

Anyway the message of the day is that bees will do what bees will do and swarming is a natural and beautiful thing for them to do. My first experience with honey bees was observing a swarm fly over my brother's head and mine back in 197X?? We didn't know what to do and kinda freaked out but we called our Dad and he called the mailman who happened to be a beekeeper. that was the first and last swarm I ever saw and hopefully the next I see will be in my front yard.

Watch today's video and you will follow my steps to building a simple swarm bait box and watching it in action. No swarms yet but just in case. Especially in case the older colony decides to split itself and send half to live elsewhere. If it's not too late get you baitbox built today. But remember "A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly."
Special thanks to McCartney Taylor of LearningBeeKeeping.com Tony Teolis
 
R Scott
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Cool. This is one of those times a windowed box would be really handy. I wonder how much it would cost to make the bottom out of plexi?
 
Tony Teolis
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not much at all. I put a plexiglass window on my top bar and it came out fine and I'm no carpenter. top bar hive plans and pics Although for a bait box the number of bees buzzing around should be clue enough.
 
Aly Sanchez
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I haven't read it, but that book that came out a while back seemed to really study selection of swarm destinations including other factors like location. A couple are mentioned here: http://www.livescience.com/719-bees-form-democracy.html.

I lucked out this spring; my top-bar colony didn't overwinter but a swarm settled into the hive last weekend. A number of bees had been raiding remaining honey stores so I imagine a few colonies had it in mind before swarming and/or picked up on the honey/wax remaining. (note: I intended to do the prudent thing and pull all bars, discard/process all but two combs of honey, freeze those, then place back in the hive - but didn't get around to it... though I didn't notice any obvious signs of pathogen/mites/foulbrood when inspecting the dead colony, so hopefully a safe destination).
 
tel jetson
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alycat13 McCoy wrote:
I lucked out this spring; my top-bar colony didn't overwinter but a swarm settled into the hive last weekend.


this happens pretty frequently. actually how I got started beekeeping. one winter, I piled up a bunch of hive bodies that had been abandoned in my grandmother's property, and a swarm moved in the next spring. I had planned to try out beekeeping eventually, but that moved my schedule up dramatically.
 
Andrew Millison
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I caught two swarms in the last couple of weeks here in Western Oregon:

http://www.beaverstatepermaculture.com/photo/albums/honey-bee-swarm-catch-2

http://www.beaverstatepermaculture.com/photo/albums/honey-bee-swarm-catch

Lucky days!!!
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:I caught two swarms in the last couple of weeks here in Western Oregon:


any idea what those swarms weighed, Andrew?
 
Andrew Millison
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They were both fairly big swarms. I didn't weigh them, but judging from the size of the "2 pound box of bees" I bought a couple of years back, I'd say this was more bees than that. 2-3 pounds? I'm really not sure.

They are happily settled in and very active, cleaning out the old frames, bringing in pollen. The blackberries are on the cusp of starting to bloom here, which is the major nectar flow in the Willamette Valley. Quite early this year!
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:They were both fairly big swarms. I didn't weigh them, but judging from the size of the "2 pound box of bees" I bought a couple of years back, I'd say this was more bees than that. 2-3 pounds? I'm really not sure.

They are happily settled in and very active, cleaning out the old frames, bringing in pollen. The blackberries are on the cusp of starting to bloom here, which is the major nectar flow in the Willamette Valley. Quite early this year!


getting a swarm started before the blackberry bloom is great. been a good spring for the bees around here so far.
 
Andrew Millison
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I'm a bit concerned because usually after the blackberries is the dearth, in the heat and dry of summer. But with blackberries coming so early, before bees have had so much time to build up their numbers, that means the dearth comes early too. There's just not another plant with that kind of nectar flow to follow up blackberry around here. Chestnuts are the next big bloomers after blackberry, but they are only scantily planted here.
 
tel jetson
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if you've got access to land, phacelia, clovers, and alfalfa all have long blooms. borage does, too. takes a lot of space to make a difference, but any at all helps.
 
Andrew Millison
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I am in town, in a very heavily gardened area, my place included. Lots of irrigated flowering plants even in the dry season. Proximity to riparian forest and upland conifer forest within one mile. But nothing equals the blackberry in volume and nectar flow. It is the most common weed and covers almost any unmanaged land in town and surrounding farmland and wild areas. Here's my yard and surrounding environment. Bees are in back of the house:
http://www.beaverstatepermaculture.com/photo/permaculture-front-yard?context=album&albumId=4653991%3AAlbum%3A34860
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:I am in town, in a very heavily gardened area, my place included. Lots of irrigated flowering plants even in the dry season. Proximity to riparian forest and upland conifer forest within one mile. But nothing equals the blackberry in volume and nectar flow. It is the most common weed and covers almost any unmanaged land in town and surrounding farmland and wild areas. Here's my yard and surrounding environment. Bees are in back of the house:
http://www.beaverstatepermaculture.com/photo/permaculture-front-yard?context=album&albumId=4653991%3AAlbum%3A34860


indeed, nothing equals the blackberry flow here, but nothing need equal the blackberry flow. if that same volume of nectar were available all season, honey binding would very likely be a problem. the sources you mention will be plenty to keep your bees bringing in nectar and storing honey, though at a more reasonable rate than during the blackberry bloom.
 
tel jetson
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also: nice yard.
 
Andrew Millison
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tel jetson wrote:
Andrew Millison wrote:I am in town, in a very heavily gardened area, my place included. Lots of irrigated flowering plants even in the dry season. Proximity to riparian forest and upland conifer forest within one mile. But nothing equals the blackberry in volume and nectar flow. It is the most common weed and covers almost any unmanaged land in town and surrounding farmland and wild areas. Here's my yard and surrounding environment. Bees are in back of the house:
http://www.beaverstatepermaculture.com/photo/permaculture-front-yard?context=album&albumId=4653991%3AAlbum%3A34860


indeed, nothing equals the blackberry flow here, but nothing need equal the blackberry flow. if that same volume of nectar were available all season, honey binding would very likely be a problem. the sources you mention will be plenty to keep your bees bringing in nectar and storing honey, though at a more reasonable rate than during the blackberry bloom.


That's an interesting perspective. Thanks! I never thought of it like that.

I just brought home a special nuc. Check this guy out:
http://www.oldsolenterprises.com/about.html
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:I just brought home a special nuc. Check this guy out:
http://www.oldsolenterprises.com/about.html


interesting. what steps do you plan to keep your new queen and/or her genetics in your apiary?
 
Andrew Millison
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tel jetson wrote:
Andrew Millison wrote:I just brought home a special nuc. Check this guy out:
http://www.oldsolenterprises.com/about.html


interesting. what steps do you plan to keep your new queen and/or her genetics in your apiary?


I don't plan to keep the genetics in my apiary. The drones are already out cruising the circuit. There is a swarm today down the street about 40 feet up, and active bee trees in the adjacent woods, so the genetics are now spreading through the community At least 4 nucs of these queens went out today. There are others breeding survivor stock as well.

I'll try and keep them from swarming probably next year. If I hear of anyone who needs a queen, I'll share a frame of eggs. I am not alone in this endeavor. It seems there is a collective awareness building here of the need to let the bees evolve past the mites, and I think it's happening, given the exceptional amount of swarms this year in our "Northern California" climate. I stopped at Glory Bee in Eugene for some honey candy on my way to a Permaculture consultation today, and they were beaming about what a great bee year it is with continual swarming in the warm, dry and mild winter and spring. I guess climate change has its upside. They seemed unconcerned with the possible early onset of the summer dearth after the blackberry is done.
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:
I'll try and keep them from swarming probably next year.


and what of supersedure?

Andrew Millison wrote:
There is a swarm today down the street about 40 feet up, and active bee trees in the adjacent woods


sounds like you've already got your survivor stock right next door.
 
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tel jetson wrote:
Andrew Millison wrote:
I'll try and keep them from swarming probably next year.


and what of supersedure?

I'll eventually let them make a new queen, either through swarming or old age. Always suppressing the swarm and re-queening with California queens is keeping them from evolving past the mites. (and my plans will always be trumped by their reality

Andrew Millison wrote:
There is a swarm today down the street about 40 feet up, and active bee trees in the adjacent woods


sounds like you've already got your survivor stock right next door.


I just took some excellent photos with my friend's nice zoom lens of this swarm like 50' up in a Maple, clouds in the background. I'll post them tomorrow.
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:
Always suppressing the swarm and re-queening with California queens is keeping them from evolving past the mites. (and my plans will always be trumped by their reality


this is roughly what I'm driving toward, Andrew, and I certainly agree with you.

purchasing intensively bred queens generally goes hand-in-hand with high-intervention beekeeping. why, after all, would I spend good money on fancy bees if they're just going to take off or breed with local mongrels as soon as they get a chance? I'm not prepared to say there's no place in responsible beekeeping for intensive breeding, but I do believe it's far more prevalent than is really appropriate or beneficial.

the trouble is that all those interventions to keep the new queen at home also weaken the colony and open it up to attack by pests and pathogens.

take swarm suppression, for example. if a colony is doing well, a beekeeper might have to get into the hive every couple of weeks to remove queen cells. each time the hive is opened, the atmosphere of the nest is compromised. that atmosphere is an integral part of the bees' immune system. it contains a very complex mixture of chemicals and is maintained at particular temperature and humidity. depending on the season and the extent of the disruption, it might take anywhere from several hours to several days for that atmosphere to be returned to where the bees like it. in the mean time, alarm pheromone has attracted small hive beetles and the lowered temperature and reduced formic acid vapor has allowed varroa to thrive. other pests and pathogens may have gained a foothold. repeat that every two weeks and it's no wonder that multiple institutions on two continents have to be involved to breed bees that will survive.


I happily acknowledge that I might be full of shit. there are folks who know a whole hell of a lot more about bees than I do who do things to their hives that I would never dream of. but my bees are surviving just fine and providing a surplus with zero treatment and zero intervention apart from harvesting and adding boxes.


one small quibble with "evolving past mites": that isn't a realistic goal. even if our bees adapt to deal with mites, the mites are adapting, too. if we leave the two organisms to it, though, they'll reach a balance. if mites adapt to exist in a colony without significantly harming it, the bees will no longer go to great lengths to remove them. how would this happen? here's one scenario: bees are able to detect brood that is heavily infested with mites and remove it. brood that has only a light load of mites is left alone. so mites that reproduce in relatively small numbers are selected for. over time, the mite population becomes less virulent and causes less and less damage to the hive until it isn't even in the bees' interest to remove them. treatment for mites of any kind prevents such mutual adaptation.


looking forward to the swarm pictures, Andrew.
 
Andrew Millison
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Tel,
Well said! I'm really a new beekeeper, only in my third season. I am still figuring out what level of intervention I want to do. I have thus far had very different mentors and have been going along with their style.

My first mentor was more of an interventionist, coming from a more scientific and conventional organic background. She was all about going in the hives and checking every frame. I audited the honey bee biology and beekeeping class at OSU and got that whole perspective. But then she left town after the first year.

Now my mentor is a friend who has her hives at my place as well, and she pretty much keeps bees like you do: zero intervention, and just adds boxes and takes honey. She studies biodynamics and has a much more hands-off and respectful approach, as well as a very gentle manner with the bees. She actually wants her colony to swarm, and to then ideally catch the swarm, to let the bees experience their full potency.

So I have been in a place in-between, trying to assess where my feelings lay. When I mentioned swarm suppression, I was thinking of what I did the second year, which is to swap the bottom and second deeps early in the season to give more space up above, not cutting out swarm cells. But with my hands-off mentor (who has 10 years experience in both conventional and biodynamic), I may lean towards just doing what she does and learning that way.

You've articulated the reasoning for the more hands-off approach in a more scientific and explanatory way then I have heard, and I need that to back up the "maintain their aura" reasoning, so thank you. You also articulated the ongoing evolutionary relationship between mites and bees as well, so thanks for that.

I really want to be convinced that the hands-off approach is the way to go. For one thing, it's easier! Second, it feels more respectful. I'd love to hear more about how much you intervene:

How do you decide how much honey to take?

How do you go about removing honey frames?

Do you just let them swarm if they choose?

Do you account for that in the number of hives you have, like figuring a certain percentage will swarm and leave every year?

Are you using Langstroth hives?

Thanks for your time. I'll put up the picture of the high tree swarm later. It's raining really hard now so I'm curious if they're still up there today.

Andrew
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:How do you decide how much honey to take?


I generally harvest at the beginning of the main nectar flow. there are a couple of advantages: the risk of triggering robbing if some honey is spilled is very low when there is an abundance of nectar around and I know that the bees almost certainly won't need their remaining stores from the previous year because they're quickly accumulating new stores this time of year.

Andrew Millison wrote:How do you go about removing honey frames?


no frames. I just use top bars and harvest whole boxes at once. some top bar beeks do harvest individual combs, but I've found that to be more trouble than I'm interested in. since I harvest a whole box, I'm not worried about cross combing because I'm going to remove all the comb and crush it anyway. the bees can build any which way they like, and they do. very rarely do I find straight comb. sometimes, it seems to spiral.

Andrew Millison wrote:Do you just let them swarm if they choose?


sort of. I don't want bees to swarm because they run out of room, so I add boxes to the bottom of the hive so the brood nest can continue to expand downward. if they swarm because they're really thriving and have plenty of stores, that doesn't bother me. the remaining population seems to spring back pretty quickly after a swarm leaves, and swarms are how I expand my apiaries.

Andrew Millison wrote:Do you account for that in the number of hives you have, like figuring a certain percentage will swarm and leave every year?


I've never had an entire colony leave. one colony swarmed three times last year and the population was pretty small after all that, but they're back in action this year. I do count on retaining some portion of the swarms that leave from my hives to increase my own numbers, though. I also count on some of them leaving. since I've had feral swarms move into empty hives, I don't consider it a complete loss if a swarm leaves: they might come back someday.

Andrew Millison wrote:Are you using Langstroth hives?


I have one Langstroth. I got started keeping bees with a pile of Lang bodies that a swarm moved into, but I quickly discovered that a hands off approach isn't very compatible with standard Langstroth equipment. the main problem is that frames are pretty well cemented into place if the hive isn't opened fairly regularly to keep them all free. I also avoid foundation so that the colony can make cells to suit their own preference. without foundation, the comb goes every which way and even if I could get a frame lose from the hive body, it would still be integrated with at least the frames on either side of it. my solution to that issue with my one remaining Lang has been to use top bars there, too. I've got three deeps that I leave alone for the brood nest, and two deeps on top for honey. it's a fairly ramshackle stack. there's no bottom board, and the bees use a crack between two of the brood boxes where they weren't aligned quite right as the entrance. seems to be working just fine, though, as they're a pretty vigorous and large colony. it's just outside my workshop, and the breeze frequently blows the scent of drying honey to me while I'm building hives.


my mentor is also of the "aura" persuasion. I find that attitude toward and way of understanding bees to be very appealing and useful. it's a welcome break from treating them as machines to be manipulated at will. I think that the current cohort of new beeks who have adopted that approach will do a lot to bring honeybees back from their currently lamented condition. but while I appreciate all that, my mind just doesn't work that way. fortunately, observable and quantifiable phenomena (some folks might call that science) have led me to believe that just because my mentor talks about bees using mystical language does not mean her experience and knowledge are not based in physical reality.

when neither is coupled with inappropriate dogma or intolerance, the scientific and mystical approaches seem entirely compatible. in this instance, at least, it might only be a difference in the words used, not the actual things being described.
 
tel jetson
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I should mention that there is a disadvantage to when I harvest, too: because I leave more honey on the hive than the bees need to get through the winter, they almost certainly expend a bit more energy keeping warm than they would with a smaller stack so they consume more honey. while I haven't formally measured the loss, I don't believe it is excessive, and it's well within what I consider acceptable since I'm all but guaranteed that starvation will be prevented without resorting to winter or spring feeding.

in a particularly productive year, where the bees put up more honey than they could plausibly consume in even a long cold winter, I do harvest some in late summer or fall.
 
Andrew Millison
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Tel,
Thanks for the details. I also don't mind the bee aura perspective. Like you, I just appreciate a more linear understanding of the facts to go along with the energetic perspective. Not everything I hear about the proper energetic management of bees really rings true for me.

I guess the main point that a dedicated Langstroth hive person would have (maybe?) about your method is the loss of comb for reuse by the bees. Building comb is the most expensive activity they do as far as I understand, so building new comb would be energy they were not spending collecting honey. But maybe that's just a more profit extraction based perspective anyway?

Do you have some sort of comb-crushing implement for extraction? The other Langstroth point is the efficiency and ease of extraction with Langstroth frames.

So they are building the brood area down, and you're adding boxes below to create more room, and they're putting honey up above, so you have a honey box on top that you remove?

Sounds really interesting. There is a Warre box at the OSU living beehive museum. I'm only now beginning to appreciate the possible advantages, now that I'm getting a little bit of a feel for the bees after a few years.
 
tel jetson
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you keep asking the questions I love answering, Andrew.

Andrew Millison wrote:
I guess the main point that a dedicated Langstroth hive person would have (maybe?) about your method is the loss of comb for reuse by the bees. Building comb is the most expensive activity they do as far as I understand, so building new comb would be energy they were not spending collecting honey. But maybe that's just a more profit extraction based perspective anyway?


building comb does use a lot of the bees' resources. no getting around that. but comb has also been shown to collect toxic pollutants that could compromise the colony's health over time. because comb is cycled out relatively frequently, the bees are always occupying clean comb. I would be less worried about that in a very clean part of the world, but I don't actually know of any place like that.

if profit is the (or a) motivation, though, organic beeswax sells for substantial sums.

Andrew Millison wrote:Do you have some sort of comb-crushing implement for extraction? The other Langstroth point is the efficiency and ease of extraction with Langstroth frames.


Langstroth extractors are, indeed, a pretty quick way to get honey out of combs. having helped other beekeepers extract their honey this way, I can say that it also smells lovely. but that's a problem. whatever I'm smelling isn't staying in the honey. extractors create very thin threads of honey that maximize the honey's surface area exposed to air. then the honey slowly flows down the wall of the extractor, further adding to the air exposure. an awful lot of volatile and ephemeral substances are lost this way. there's also bound to be some oxidation of the honey that takes place. as a consumer of honey, I want all those things to remain in the honey until I get to smell and taste and digest them. it's also been shown that air exposure hastens crystallization. the efficiency of extractors is not without disadvantage.

my comb-crushing implement right now is an old cast iron sausage press. works pretty well and pretty quickly and greatly limits the honey's exposure to air. I stuff the comb into a nylon mesh bag and that goes into the press. I'm left with a slab of relatively dry wax that can then be rinsed and rendered. I'm slowly scaling up, though, and there will come a time when the sausage press is too slow for the volume of honey I'm dealing with. at that point, I'll likely build a larger press made of wood but operating on the same principles. but that's at least a couple of years down the road.

Andrew Millison wrote:So they are building the brood area down, and you're adding boxes below to create more room, and they're putting honey up above, so you have a honey box on top that you remove?


I forgot to mention that I've got a couple different styles of hive. with my Warré hives, it's pretty much like you describe. I harvest boxes from the top and replace them empty on the bottom. sort of like an escalator. so any given box starts as part of the brood nest but is later back-filled with honey as it moves to the top of the hive. I generally plan to harvest one box from a hive each year, but two isn't uncommon and three isn't unheard of. all depends on the weather and forage.

I'm also running Perone hives. those have a permanent (very) large brood chamber with three shallow (10 cm) honey supers on top that are harvested and replaced in the same position on top. those are new, though, and I haven't harvested from them yet.

I run the one Lang roughly like the Perone hives.
 
Andrew Millison
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Tel,
Very interesting, especially the part about cycling out the comb as a catch for the toxins. My mentor was just talking to me about the need to periodically replace comb for that reason, so that makes a lot of sense.

I have questions about the internal structure of a Warre box/frames, but I guess I should just find some images online.

Maybe I need to start thinking about the warre system. Although I've invested a lot in enough equipment for 3 Langstroth colonies, and my backyard is full at this point, with 5 colonies total. But life is long, and i plan to keep bees for the next 40 years at least
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:
Maybe I need to start thinking about the warre system. Although I've invested a lot in enough equipment for 3 Langstroth colonies, and my backyard is full at this point, with 5 colonies total. But life is long, and i plan to keep bees for the next 40 years at least


there's nothing wrong with using the equipment you've got. if you want to pursue management that is more bee-friendly, you can do that with Lang equipment. it should be relatively easy to adapt both the top cloth and quilt to be used with your Langs, for example. these are standard Warré equipment, but there's no reason they should be exclusive to that hive.


the inside of a Warré box is pretty simple. just a box with rebates at the top to accommodate the top bars.
 
Andrew Millison
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Tel,
What do you do about lifting the boxes to get the empties underneath?

When I looked online, there were various hoist contraptions. Is that essential, or doing it only once per year, do you just get a person on each corner and lift?
 
tel jetson
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I don't have a lift. they're certainly handy, but a friend is more personable.
 
Andrew Millison
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Tel,
I had an interesting conversation about the Warre hives with Mike Burgett, the retired bee professor at OSU who has half a century of experience keeping bees, and has a living bee hive museum where he has all manner of hives, including a Warre, recently acquired.

His perspective is that the Warre doesn't offer a big enough cavity for a really booming colony. The Warre was developed over in France, and in Europe, honey bee populations are so dense with so many beekeepers that they don't have the capacity to have bigger colonies. He said they literally keep bees "by the comb" over there. Wild bees in nature have much less density per area than you find in Europe, and create bigger colonies naturally than we find in a stacked up Warre colony.

In the US, we have the lower density to support bigger colonies more akin to natural booming colony sizes, hence the volume of a Langstroth box versus a Warre box. I know you can use a Langstroth box in the Warre method.

I'm just curious about your response to this, as you seem to have really thought a lot of this through. I'm not saying this is my opinion, just relating Mike's perspective so I can learn more. I'm really interested in the Warre process and possibly transitioning my hives.

Thanks,

Andrew
 
tel jetson
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it's great to get the point of view of folks like Mike Burgett who have long experience with different hive styles. I don't know Mike, but I have no reason to assume he isn't a very knowledgeable beekeeper.

as far as Warré hives not being large enough for an exceptionally strong colony, Mike has a point. but I think it's worth considering that all styles of artificial hive are going to involve some compromise. Lang hives are strongly biased toward ease for the beekeeper, though the particular style of beekeeping that they encourage turns out to be a lot more work for the beekeeper. depending on how they are managed, the potentially large size of Lang hives is, at least from my perspective, one of their very few advantages.

Warré hives are biased a bit more toward the bees in that natural behaviors are more heavily factored into the design. that they turn out to be easier for the beekeeper, too, certainly wasn't an accident, as Warré intended them to be easy for anyone to use. being a modular design, like Langs, they can theoretically be stacked to make as large a volume as is desired, though beyond six high gets rather precarious. I've heard that bees prefer a roughly spherical brood nest, in which case the smallest dimension of a box determines the laying capacity. how to determine that smallest dimension isn't as simple as it might seem, though, since interruptions to the comb (top bars, frames) may or may not need to be considered.

and what is the ideal colony size? if it's fairly large, how would that be encouraged? do larger hives lead to larger colonies? perhaps more important than what is an ideal size, though, is what is a reasonably achievable size? that will be determined by how fast a queen can lay eggs. 1000 eggs daily isn't out of the ordinary. if workers during the summer live 50 days (that number is probably too high during the foraging season), the population ought to level off at about 50,000 workers before daily deaths start matching daily hatch. a Warré hive could easily accommodate that population.

some intensively bred queens are claimed to lay up to 2000 eggs daily, which would give a maximum population of 100,000 if workers live 50 days (we're ignoring drones for simplicity, though their impact is far from negligible). I would guess that a colony that size would need more room than a Warré could reasonably provide, but not a whole lot. without taking the time to get better numbers right now, my guess is that a colony with a queen laying that quickly would be fine in a Warré, but I'm not at all sure about that. but what about that queen?

for a number of reasons, intensively bred queens don't tend to be productive for more than a couple of years. so if the beekeeper doesn't re-queen the hive, the colony itself will do it. if the beekeeper re-queens, the old queen will have to be found and killed. that's a fairly serious undertaking, as several frames will generally have to be inspected to find her. because it's not a whole lot of fun to do, the beekeeper might be making regular inspections of laying pattern so that he or she knows when the queen is starting to fade. what I'm getting at is that a queen that lays really quickly can generally only be sustained at great effort and great disturbance to the bees. if they are left to their own devices, the laying rate will return to a more reasonable level within a single queen generation, which with intensively bred queens is generally a couple of years or less. it follows, then, that a really large colony can only be maintained with the same effort and disturbance.

unless there's more than one queen in the hive. there are a fair number of folks with elaborate contraptions for running two-queen colonies. for them, the extra effort isn't a problem. for me, it would be. but it's said that in Perone hives, more than one queen is the norm simply because there's so much room that they can be kept separate by their respective coteries. that interests me.


I could go on, but I guess the short version is that talking about colony size without addressing how we get to that size ignores a lot of important stuff. so even though Warré colonies might be smaller on average (I don't actually know, but somebody might), I still prefer them over Langs for a lot of other reasons. even here in the west, land of wide open spaces.
 
Andrew Millison
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Thanks for the perspective, Tel. I also shared some of your wisdom with Mike regarding the Warres. He was impressed by the built-in cycling of comb, as well as your method of cutting out the whole box of comb and pressing it. His first issue was "how the hell do you pull frames out to extract?"

It would be interesting to take "average" sized colonies and do the math regarding the volume of 4 stacked Warre boxes versus 2 Langstroth deeps and 2 supers. Just how much less space is the full sized Warre colony? (is a stack of 4 about what you usually get up to at it's max, typically?)

(anybody) Feel free to do the calculation if you know the dimensions offhand

Andrew
 
tel jetson
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Andrew Millison wrote:is a stack of 4 about what you usually get up to at it's max, typically?


that's pretty typical. five isn't uncommon, though, and six isn't unreasonable. beyond that, there is almost always at least one box of capped honey at the top that might as well be removed rather than staking up a precarious stack. I've got one at five right now, two at four, and one at three that needs another box in the next couple of days.


if somebody wants to do volume calculations, a standard Warré box is 300 x 300 x 210 mm. I believe that's pretty close to half the volume of an empty Lang deep without taking the volume of the frames into account.
 
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