I loved working with the hive designed by Abbe Smile Warre. He called it, “The People’s Hive”. I find that it fits very well into my Organic beekeeping practices. However, it didn’t do exactly what I need it to do mostly because I tend to be a tweaker.
In terms of economy, ease of building and structural needs, I came up over time, after a long line of tweaks that took me out of a Warre hive proper, with this hive that I prefer to build and use now.
With modern materials and hive parts that are in my case, easier bought than built, prefer to use the standard deep wedge top frame conventionally used in Langstroth hives. I use the complete foundation-less frame as well as just the top bar for a more Warre-like top bar vertical system.
It’s essentially a 5 frame Nuc hive deep box system. Half the size of conventional hives yet a bit bigger compared to the Warre. I get more boxes for the rough same amount of wood. I also use butt joints with frame rails instead of cutting rabetts or finger joints. Much easier and faster to build.
Through stress testing done by nearly every wood working journal over the past 50 years, we have learned that the simple butt joint, glued and screwed, can withstand about 75 to 110 pounds of stress on the joints. A full 5 frame box of honey might weigh about 55 pounds at most. I have dropped these boxes, full of honey, from heights of 6 feet with no damage to the boxes. Butt joints hold 5 frame boxes together just fine.
I think that 3/4″ thick wood is thin enough as it is. I don’t think it useful or necessary to cut frame rests and handholds in making the boxes even thinner in spots. Internal environment is important. Fewer places that “might” cause more heat loss is better in my opinion.
I also like keeping the bees in a voidspace that is easier for them to have a greater population to space ratio with smaller numbers giving them, in my opinion, a better chance to manage the nest space more successfully on their own.
While this requires me to keep a closer eye on absconding and swarming, I think it’s worth it. Bear in mind, one of my main principles of organic beekeeping is that my job is to manage the hive and the colony’s job is to manage the nest. I see it as my job to set the colony up for success in their efforts to manage the nest, not to do it for them.
In Part 2, I will post pictures of the hive as I build one and provide the dimensions and measurements should you want to try it out yourself.