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Anyone Keeping Bees in Colder Climates Using a Warre Hive?

 
Jeff Rash
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Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Curious if anyone is keeping bees in Northern states of USA using Warre hives. How do they winter over? Do you make any changes to the design?

If you use a different hive, please let me know your thoughts on that!

Thanks for your help. Looking to get a start on bees this spring! Nothing too serious, but when I return to Arizona, I want to have the experience under my belt. (I am currently in North Dakota in Valley City. About an hour West of Fargo.)

Jeff
 
Ben Johansen
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Location: Door County, WI
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Haven't heard of anyone up here using Warre hives, but I like the design. Most people that keep proper bees around here are using langstroth hives, with screen and canvas bottom boards. Hives are kept up on blocks to promote airflow. Here, on the meat of the Green Bay/Lake Michigan sandwich, Autumns are wet and chilly, so if you don't have decent ventilation, your worker bees are gonna spend a lot of time in the hive as heaters/dehumidifier fans, which leads to less honey, which leads to utter carnage. We tried a top bar this year, but the landlord came along and smoked em out with a completely unneccessary junk fire about twenty yards away from the orchard, so no honey this year, or new info on survivability of top bar bees (there's an emotion somewhere between rage and depression that accompanies dealing with such total ignoramuses.) Looking at plans, though, I think a Warre hive could do just fine in the winter with an old horse blanket or two wrapped around it, so long as it was up off the ground, in a semi-insulated area with sun exposure; most of my friend Pam's hives get half or more buried by snow in winter, and she typically has around 75-90% survival. It seems to me that the key is in finding that sweet spot between insulation/coverage and air exposure/flow. But, that's just me. I'm sure somebody else around here knows boatloads more (hint hinting...)
 
David Livingston
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Over on the yahoo Warré page there are folks who have Warrés as far north as Norway and Alaska
 
Nancy Phillips
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Hi Jeff!

I keep bees in Warre' hives here Elburn, IL which is mostly west of Chicago near st charles and geneva.

These colonies overwinter beautifully....I think the design overcomes many of the Langstroth box winter challenges. The Warre quilt with wood shavings and dimensions seems to nip pesky condensation/wettness issues in the bud. I also keep my bottom screens open all year. Their varrhoa levels are super low.

The guy who tests our water supply keeps langs on site. He unfortunatly lost all 8 of his hives one winter, lost a 2 one year, 4 another.
Warre' no winter losses.

All this being said...I'm thinking about experimenting with a log hive in a tree, maybe golden hive.....and a kind of shelter open on the south. We have really bad wind problems here.

Do you have Warre's or just thinking about them?

Nancy
 
Jeff Rash
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Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Hello Nancy,

Thanks for the update and the advice. I am a brand new beekeeper, starting in the Spring of 2016. Looking for low maintenance, rugged bees that can winter over here in North Dakota. I am really worried about that actually. Lots of folks tell me about their disasters wintering bees. I think that's because of the 10 frame Langstroth hive, which has a very unnatural shape to it. (That's proved out by your friend's disaster.) The 8 frame medium Lang is actually pretty close to the Warre and I am thinking about going with that, just to keep things in a common size.

On a side note, did any of you notice how hard it is to get an experienced, local Beekeeper to teach you? I messaged all the local keepers and not a one called me back or returned my email. They just don't want to teach! But I found a fellow by the name of Don out of Georgia that's been keeping bees since forever. He went all organic in 1993 and never looked back. He's a great guy and easy to learn from. His methods apply to all bees, no matter what kind of hive the keeper places them in. (But Don dislikes the 10 frame Lang as very unnatural and hard to work with- both for the bees and the keeper.) He's a no BS kind of guy with hundreds and hundreds of successful hives- so he can prove what he teaches.

He gives out his advice for free and has a lot of videos out there. Most are handheld quality, but they are free and certainly contain plenty of knowledge! Just goggle, "Don the Fat Bee Man" and he will show up. I learned so much already form him that it's crazy! (And he did not charge me a dime.)

Don has treatments for mites, (varroa and tracheal) that are simple, natural and laughably inexpensive. If you are having issues, Don has got an answer- I have not stumped him yet!

He also has an interesting take on ventilation- let the bees do it. Don says just like us, that if we are hot we open the window. When we are cold, we close it. Bees will do exactly the same thing if you let him. He does state that moisture is an enemy though.

Lastly, Don hosts a Saturday Night Bee Chat at 8:00PM Eastern every Saturday! (Thank God, someone I can ask direct questions too!) Check his Facebook for details.

Jeff
 
Nancy Phillips
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Jeff.....I had NO support or help here regarding natural beekeeping, though lots for conventional. So I finally brought someone here from Oregon who is a biodynamic farmer and beekeeper. She did a consultation for me and it really helped. I am hosting her for a 2 day natural beekeeping class in October. (There is a flyer up under Regenerative Beekeeping thread).

I've really been lucky with low varroa count and not done any treatments.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I have one Warre hive and one Perone hive that I built that I am taking into winter, so I can let you know in the spring out it worked out. I'm in a very cold part of Wisconsin with temps that hit -30. If they can survive here, I think they can survive anywhere. It will be interesting to see how they do. The Perone hive is made from 2x lumber, where the Warre is 1x, but the Perone is much larger and that much space will be harder to keep warm I would think.
 
Jeff Rash
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Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Todd,

It will indeed be harder to keep warm!

If you want, PM me and I will let you know about a guy that gives out free advice via a chatroom. He's full organic since 1993, (gave up on "medicines" from chemical companies because of the expense and poor results) and he's got some amazing experience in bees and hive management. You can talk to him for free this Saturday night at 8 Eastern.

I would post the link here, but I don't know how they feel about that, as I recently had two apples "confiscated" for asking about GMO's and what the big ta do was. Don't want that to happen again, plus I am trying to work some sort of advertising exchange with this guy and the folks here at Permies.

Posting the link might be taken the wrong way and I don't want to mess up the opportunity to cross promote two sites that I have found to be of immense help. That being permies and my new found friends site where he gives out advice on beekeeping. (50 years he's been doing this and making a living!)

Jeff
 
Jeff Rash
Posts: 90
Location: Arizona & North Dakota
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Nancy Phillips wrote:Jeff.....I had NO support or help here regarding natural beekeeping, though lots for conventional. So I finally brought someone here from Oregon who is a biodynamic farmer and beekeeper. She did a consultation for me and it really helped. I am hosting her for a 2 day natural beekeeping class in October. (There is a flyer up under Regenerative Beekeeping thread).

I've really been lucky with low varroa count and not done any treatments.


Will take a look!

Jeff
 
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