Warré bar preparation

New Warré users may be interested in how to prepare their top bars as follows to minimise problems later.

Left: ideal comb. Centre: no gap between boxes. Right: misaligned comb.

Left: ideal comb. Centre: no gap between boxes. Right: misaligned comb.

First, it’s worth mentioning that bars generally have one side cut more roughly than the other. Place them so the rough side is on the lower surface – to help the wax comb grip on better.

Ideally, we want the comb to hang down from the bars but stop just short of the next bar, like the two on the left of the diagram, or separating the boxes can be awkward and messy.

Sometimes, however, combs are built all the way down to the next bar without stopping like the central one in the diagram. To discourage this, paint the top (smooth) surface of each bar with two coats of linseed oil. This makes them very smooth, and difficult to stick wax to. Use raw linseed oil, not the boiled stuff which sometimes contains heavy metal additives. I found raw linseed oil was impossible to find in local hardware stores, but straightforward to find on Amazon.

These combs should not be at an angle. This can be prevented by adding a sharp edge to Warré bars (a triangular wedge). A learning experience.

These combs should not be at an angle.

Another issue is when combs don’t follow the bars. I’m told the solution is to add a starter ridge of wax to the bars as follows.

First, melt some wax. This is trickier than it looks. I tried a bain-marie technique to melt some in an old squeezy bottle. It took ages to melt, I had to boil the water. Anyone got a better idea?!

Having got your molten wax, carefully dribble it along the centre of a bar, using another piece of wood as a guiding edge. The second piece of wood should be wet, and smooth, so the wax doesn’t stick to it.

The final tip is to spend ages cleaning up all the spilled wax in the kitchen before your wife finds out.

I learnt this from David Heaf’s Warré Masterclass and his book on Warré beekeeping.

Trickier than it looks

Trickier than it looks

Another view

Another view


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4 Responses to Warré bar preparation

  1. solarbeez says:

    I used a hot plate to melt wax in an old pot. No water, just wax. I plugged into my little solar system hoping it wouldn’t drain the system. It only took about a few minutes. Mind you, it’s dangerous because wax can catch fire, which is why I did this outside on the picnic table. Also, never walk away from it. When the wax was liquid I just took a cheap paint brush and brushed the wax onto the top bar. Sometimes I’ll melt my old comb too. Comb that I’ve had in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to make sure there’s no wax moth larva. I’ll set up a propane torch, take a chunk of comb and expose an edge to the flame until it’s soft. Then It’ll stick to the top bar. For insurance sometimes I’ll use on of those plastic connectors they call “turkey tails.” I’ve had good luck with both systems.


  2. Paul says:

    Thanks, Solarbeez! Very practical. Sometimes the books skip over these details…


  3. Lindylou says:

    We use a soldering iron, just touch the wood makes it warm and holding a piece of wax aganst that and it sticks. You can sort of mould the wax flat in warm hands. It become quite pliable then


  4. Paul says:

    Good idea. I have now bought a little bain-marie but although it is better than that bottle in the picture, it is not great 8)


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