Adding Warre features to a Top Bar Hive

Posted on behalf of Helen

Helen Nunn’s Hive No 2 – Designed and built in 2014 to combine the Warré and Top Bar methods of beekeeping

I like the TBH! But my biggest problem, which made non-intervention more or less compulsory, was cross-combing over the widths of the top bars, and on to the shims between. For my second hive I decided on a new approach with Warré elements, but TBH flexibility.

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The basic body was built as before (using Phil Chandler’s design and Dave Wright’s helpful YouTube videos), but with the entrance at one end (leaving a space for tools behind the follower board) and a landing-board. A second entrance, diagonally opposite, is normally corked and for use in eventual splits.

The top bars are Warré width (24mm), but movable, and spaced. They have guides for the comb and I have added side supports at a 120o angle so that adhesions to the hive walls need not be cut to remove a comb.

 A cloth covers the bars, with a hole for winter feeding above the bars. My feeder is a contact lid on a honey jar, held just above the bars.

There are three quilt boxes for moisture absorbtion/insulation. They can be moved over the cluster or apart for feeding.

The eke makes height for the quilt boxes. The roof is fairly lightweight, and anchors everything at the ends with bungee cords to the main leg bolts.

The bottom board is a white-painted shelf under the mesh floor. Wedges can be inserted to close up in winter.

 This is a very brief description of what my husband calls the “Helen-hive”. If you’d like more details let me know.

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8 Responses to Adding Warre features to a Top Bar Hive

  1. deweysanchez says:

    chimera-hive. A very nice build. I look forward to hearing how it gets on.

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  2. Jon Crooks says:

    Hi Helen. This looks great, how has it worked so far ? I have a few questions about the feeder arrangement. I am not sure what the half bottle is doing and where it is fitted. Also if the feeder jar is above the top cloth which rests over the top bars, how do the bees get to the underside of the top cloth – aren’t the top bars in the way or do the spacers allow them to come up through (if the top cloth was not in the way) ?

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    • hunneybun says:

      Hello Jon. So far the hives have worked well, though there may have been a bit of bridging comb at the end of last season due to fat honeycomb. For the feeder: the cloth covers the bars to prevent the bees coming up into the roof space. The cloth gets sealed down with propolis (which is why I didn’t look in the autumn – didn’t want to break their defence against wasps). But there is a jar-sized hole in the cloth (I put a small cloth patch over this when feeder not in place) where I can invert a contact feeder for syrup. This is nicely held just above the bars, by cutting a plastic tonic water bottle to shape (photo no 6) and inserting the syrup feeder into the narrower end (photo no 5). Possible flaw: if I had to move the cloth to get the hole over the cluster, then the propolis seal would be broken. But in both hives the bees have clustered on the side nearest their entrance, more or less under my holes! When I add a feeder I move the quilt boxes aside and place an old lambswool jumper around the jar to give insulation in the space between boxes.
      NB see posts on winter feeding – use fondant, not syrup. I haven’t yet tried this.

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      • Jon Crooks says:

        Hi Helen – thanks for answering. I am not familiar with Warre hives – so I am guessing that the spacers between the top bars are sufficient to allow the bees to come up if it were not for the cloth ? Otherwise I can’t see how they can reach the feeder if all the top bars are in place. One more question – if the cloth is glued down with propolis doesn’t this make it difficult to inspect the combs and do any hive management ?

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      • hunneybun says:

        Hi Jon
        In the summer it’s fine, I just take the cloth off carefully. But once they’ve battened down for the winter I feel it’s best not to interfere.

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  3. Pingback: My hive inspection following swarms | Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group

  4. Paul says:

    If you are interested in how successful this design is, further posts featuring this hive can be seen here:
    https://oxnatbees.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/march-inspection-of-helen-hive/
    and here:
    https://oxnatbees.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/my-hive-inspection-following-swarms/#more-2564
    In each post, it is noticeable that the comb was a lot easier to handle than an unmodified Top Bar Hive

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