Monday, July 15, 2013

Adding a third box to our Warre Hive


Bees are interesting creatures. It has been said that bees are not domesticated, just that they allow us to live with and interact with them. I have found this summer that is very much the case. When we first installed our (small!) package of bees, they took off like wild fire. They filled the first box in  what seemed to me like record time. So, at that point we moved a small bit of comb down to the second box to try to entice them to continue building comb downward. But when we did that, it seemed like they just stopped. No following the will of their beekeeper. No nothing. For weeks. The top box was completely full, but every time we looked into the second box, just nothing. Then, after about a month of nothing, which was a little less than two weeks go now, they finally started building in the second box. And when they finally started building it was like wild fire again. They've got the second box probably half full right now, and my dad called me to let me know the bees were covering the outside of the hive and flying around the entrance "like a cloud."  I knew from my reading that many times on hot days, bees in Warre hives will beard around the entrance (come outside the hive and just sit on the outside of the hive). Unfortunately, they also do this when they're preparing to swarm. Because the last few days have actually been COOLER and LESS humid that last week, I was terrified they had swarmed. Thankfully, when we got out there the following day, it appeared there were just as many bees coming and going and there was still some bearding going on. So I don't think they've swarmed. Anyway, with the second box half full and the bees bearding, we decided it was definitely time to add a third box.

I went out to grab one of the extra boxes we had used as a bait hive (one of the two boxes stacked together, you can see that in this post). When we got out the bait hive, we found more ants. I guess we need cinnamon out here too!
Long story short, we cleared out the ants from the bait hive, took one of the two boxes to use as the third box on our hive, and left the other out as a bait hive (thoroughly doused in cinnamon). Here's the video:


  1. Bees tend to fill out a box fast then stop then fill out a box fast, they tend to build sideways for brood then up for honey ect, but they are fast building sideways and can take time to move into another box, the exception for this is on drawn comb I believe, I have had a hive only fill one box winter then swarm three times even though they had room :)

  2. That's crazy. I've thought about doing more of a Japanese style hive without top bars, just to see if they keep building to fill all their space. In practice, it wouldn't really be that much different than the Warre system. He nailed in his top bars and only made adjustments with whole boxes rather than individual bars/frames.

    Matt N