Every colony is different

Here is the entrance of a Warré hive.

Spot the oddness

Spot the oddness

Notice anything strange?

The identical hive 2 feet away does not have this feature.




That’s right – the bees have built a curtain of propolis-reinforced wax reducing the entrance. Here’s a picture through the window of this section, showing the view from inside.

From the other side

From the other side

What’s interesting is that at the time, there was no obvious robbing or raiding going on (though now, a week later, there are wasps in the area). There are no guards to speak of on this entrance, either. It may be something to do with ventilation. These bees – or, I should say, this superorganism – is different to its neighbour.

They’re going to be quite irritated when I reposition the box they’ve hung this curtain from (when I “nadir the hive”). I should probably explain that comment for those readers unfamiliar with Warré hives. As the colony expands in a Warré, which is a series of boxes stacked vertically, it builds from the top down. To give them more room for new comb, you add a new box at the bottom (and take the top box, which contains harvestable honeycomb like a Super). So the edge they have hung this entrance curtain on, will no longer be above this entrance slit built into the base section – it will be moved up and squashed right up against the new box below it.

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2 Responses to Every colony is different

  1. solarbeez says:

    I’ve seen that ‘wall of propolis’ one other time. I was hoping you were going to explain why they built it. The owner didn’t know. Are you going to save the propolis? I heard Phil Chandler interview James Fearnley about the healing properties of propolis, but I’ve never gotten much myself.


  2. Paul says:

    My bees make loads of propolis. I scrape it off bars and use it to scent (bait) hives. What is propolis? Plant resin… and we have some fir tres near here, so there is plenty of resin to harvest. Maybe you are in an area with few pine / fir trees, though from th epictures on your blog you are in a temperate zone like us.

    I would not use propolis medicinally. Its constituents are too random. Who knows what is in it? Resins come from many different trees and probably other plants… the other day I talked to a lady who asked my opinion on throat soothing potions made with dilute propolis. Because she found they actually made her throat more sore(!) Well, yes, that’s what I’d expect an irritant to do.

    By the way Solarbeez – I love your log hives – and have you noticed that if you search Google Images for “log hives”, photos of your ones are near the top of the hits?!


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