Groups / Fora
Abbé Warré's book
Frames (and semi-frames)
The People's Hive of Abbé Emile Warré is presented as a tiered or storified, vertical top-bar hive. However there are some beekeepers who use it as a frame hive, whilst retaining several features of Warré's method. This page examines the frames issue and offers construction data on the frame versions.
Abbé Emile Warré's comments as follows regarding frames:1
Pfarrer Johann Thür was a contemorary of Warré, although the two were probably unknown to each other. Thür,2 in his book promoting the vertical, top-bar hive of Pfarrer Johann Ludwig Christ (1739-1813),3 made the following comments regarding top-bars versus frames:
Thür repeatedly stressed the importance to bee health of retaining the nest scent and heat.
Although Warré favoured hives with natural comb built below top-bars only, in early editions of his book L' Apiculture Pour Tous (Beekeeping For All), out of respect for the freedom of his readers, he offered a frame version of his hive.4 One might then ask: why not just use one of the popular frame hives in common use, such as the Langstroth? The main reasons are that: 1) the small footprint of the Warré hive of 300 x 300 mm not only makes it about the size of a natural cluster but also puts all the winter stores above that cluster where it should be, rather than partly at the difficult-to-reach periphery of a larger footprint box; and that 2) the hive boxes are sufficiently manageable to operate the frame version in the same way as the top-bar version, i.e. by adding new boxes underneath (nadiring) in spring and harvesting the honey from the box(es) at the top in the autumn.
Gilles Denis and Marc Gatineau have developed frame versions of the Warré hive for certain purposes. Attractive features of these versions are the slimness of the frames used and the retention of the internal size of the Warré box, thus allowing interchange with boxes using top-bars only. The measurements A, B, C and D in the table below correspond to the dimensions on the following diagram:
Table of comparison of frames (measurements in mm)
* Warré bottom bars have a 5 mm bevelled projection
beyond the side bars. Thus the total length of the wood is 330 mm.
All three hives appear to be top bee-space although the Denis has a 5 mm space at the top of each box (12 mm rebate minus 7 mm top-bar) and an 8 mm space at the bottom of each box (198 mm deep box below rebate minus 190 mm side-bar).
French Warré hives commercially available with frames
Bill Harley reports7: I took out 2 commercial warré bodies each from a different source. The dimensions were basically the same. The internal dimensions are 307x307mm and 305x305mm. The rebate, side to side is 327mm in both cases and the thickness of the planed wood is 22mm and the overall depth is 217 external x 200 internal. The frames are made of 25 x 7mm wood the top bar being 325mm long, the sides 202 outside and 190mm inside, inside width 270mm.
Larry Garrett's double deep brood frames and shallow (super) frames for the Warré hive: here.
For increased manipulability and inspectability of combs without entirely compromising the top-bar format, some Warré users have adopted semi-frames. Gilles Denis' semi-frame is illustrated on this page. He uses these primarily in his breeding colonies. His semi-frame is intended to prevent any comb attachment to the walls at the top. However, another type of semi-frame using dowels has been adopted by Gareth John (UK). It allows comb to be built past the dowel side-bar. See illustration below.
The 6 mm dowel is positioned a little way in from the side of the box. To avoid it being propolised to the box wall, the gap should be a bee space or more, e.g >7.5 mm. As the above illustration with comb shows, the bees build comb past the dowel to the wall. It can be freed in the usual way with the Warré comb knife. To ensure that the dowel is perpendicular to the top-bar, the hole should be drilled with the help of a vertical drill stand. The dowel may be glued into the top-bar, or secured merely by a tight fit in the hole. Tis particular top-bar has a wooden comb guide set in a groove.
Below: example of a simple jig for assembling semi-frames (Photo: Nick Holmes).
Larry Garrett's method for modifying Langstroth frames to fit the Warré hive
A piece is cut out of a Langstroth top-bar, the cut ends butt-jointed with glue and the bar reinforced with a comb guide in a groove.
Surplus glue removed
Larry Garrett's double depth Warré frames
1) Warré, Emile. Beekeeping For All. Translated by David Heaf and Pat Cheney from the 12th edition of L' Apiculture Pour Tous , 1948. (The 12th edition was published after he had moved to Saint-Symphorien on the outskirts of Tours, France.)
2) Thür, Johann. Beekeeping: natural, simple and successful. Translated by David Heaf from Bienenzucht. Naturgerecht einfach und erfolgsicher by Johann Thür, Imker (Wien, Gerasdorf, Kapellerfeld, 2nd ed., 1946). Download PDF: http://www.users.callnetuk.com/~heaf/thur.pdf . The German original is at http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/bien/bienenzucht_full.pdf .
3) Christ, Johann Ludwig, Anweisung zur nützlichen and angenehmen Bienenzucht für alle Gegenden, 1779
4) Warré, Emile. L' Apiculture Pour Tous. 5th edition,
March 1923. This was published when Warré was curé of Martainneville in the Somme,
France. For JPEG images of all the pages see http://ruche.populaire.free.fr/apiculture_pour_tous_5eme_edition/.
5) Denis, Gilles Mode d'emploi de la ruche Warré (How to use the Warré hive), 2 Rue Jean Monnet, 42650 St Jean Bonnefonds, France (tel. 33 (0)4 53 86 23). http://www.ruche-warre.com.
6) Gatineau, Marc L'apiculture, telle que je l'aime et la pratique (The beekeeping I love and practise) http://www.apiculturegatineau.fr/
7) Email to http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/warrebeekeeping/ 17 June 2012, message number 28,460.