warre.gif (47893 bytes)



Warré plans
Warré methods
Warré modifications
Warré precursors

Groups / Fora

Yahoo e-group
Biobees.com forum

Abbé Warré's book
Beekeeping for All:

1. Printed edition

2. free e-book (PDF)

Warré Beekeeping
Principles and construction of round and polygonal modifications of the Warré hive

In Beekeeping for All Abbé Emile Warré, in discussing how The People's Hive evolved, wrote:

"Abbé Voirnot gave his hive a square shape, because this shape was closer to the shape of a cylinder, a shape in which the distribution of heat occurs more evenly, but whose construction is too expensive." (p. 32)

"And the square is the shape that best approaches that of a cylinder, an ideal shape because it favours the distribution of the heat in the inside of the hive. But the cylinder is a shape that is hardly practicable." (p. 40)

It would have been difficult to name the end result of his researches The People's Hive if it was so difficult and expensive to construct and yet remain divisible, so the square form was his next best choice. However, with the advent of relatively cheap power tools and following experiments with other materials such as plaster and straw it has been possible to develop divisible hives that are cylinders or polygons other than the square.

We can list points to consider regarding hives that are round or close to round:

1) lower surface-to-volume ratio therefore more thermally efficient in terms of heat loss;

2) Warré's point: more even distribution of heat, therefore no cold corners for condensation, mould and pests;

3) better fits the natural rounded shape of the bee cluster, especially at the critical time in winter;

4) roundness is characteristic of living forms, whereas the square or rectangle is typical of the dead, mineral realm exemplified by crystals;

5) the swarm cluster at rest and in flight, the queen cell, the worker/drone cells before the elastic properties of the wax deform them into hexagons, the domed cell cappings, the rounded catenary forms of natural comb unrestricted by frames or a hive wall, the egg-laying pattern and the domes of pollen and honey around the brood area all express roundness;

6) roundness was intuited millennia ago as the shape most appropriate for honey bee nests;

7) in many landscapes the commonest choice of nest site for wild colonies is the cylindrical cavity in a hollow tree.

Here we offer a PDF containing an English translation of Jean-François Dardenne's pages on different approaches to making round and polygonal, e.g. hexadecagonal, hives based on Warré's principle of nadiring new hive elements: download PDF about round and polygonal hives

Rodolphe Leroy developed a round hive that could be supered with a square super fitted with frames.  La ruche mixte (combination hive) is presented here as an example of another way of achieving a round brood chamber that is also rigid enough to bear a load: download PDF about Leroy's combination hive.

See also the hexagonal hive of Csuja László (Hungary) which is inspired by John Gedde's hexagonal hive. A transcript of the section in John Gedde's (1675) book dealing with hive construction is available as a PDF.    

Calculator for wood inner and outer widths


Tom Brennan's (California) hexagonal Warré-type hive

hex_warre_brennan1.jpg (50732 bytes) hex_warre_brennan2.jpg (29709 bytes)

hex_warre_brennan3.jpg (25590 bytes)

Dietrich Vageler's (Brazil) octagonal with vertical top-bars

oct_warre_top_vageler.jpg (66416 bytes) oct_warre_underside_vageler.jpg (64235 bytes)

Raimund's (Germany) octagonal Warré

oct_warre_side_raimund.jpg (46291 bytes)

oct_warre_top_raimund.jpg (130880 bytes)

Raimund's (Germany) icosagonal Warré

icosagon_warre_side_raimund.jpg (124157 bytes)

icosagon_warre_underside_raimund.jpg (65509 bytes)