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Exploded view of Warré hiveTop bar hives take many forms and their origins date back hundreds of years. The Warré hive is a top bar hive, usually referred to as ‘The People’s Hive’ in France where it was designed by Abbé Émile Warré (1867 – 1951) and described in his book ‘Beekeeping for All’.

As the hive does not use conventional frames like the other hives described so far the calculation of the number of cells available for brood in each hive box is approximate. The National hive figures are given for comparison.

As can be seen from the illustration the Warré hive consists of a tower of identical hive boxes plus floor, top bar cover cloth, quilt and roof.

The usual procedure is to introduce bees into a single box. When more space is required a second box is added below the first, called nadiring. This process can be repeated as often as required.

In each hive box there are eight top bars which are usually supplied with wax comb guides. The 24mm wide bars rest in a rebate cut into the thickness of the hive wall and are spaced 12mm apart.

The cover cloth rests on the bars in the top box and can be of hessian or other breathable cloth. Above the cloth is placed the quilt which is essentially a shallow box with a cloth base and filled with wood shavings, dried leaves etc to act as insulation.

The roof is placed over the quilt but there is no direct passage of air from the hive to the vents in the roof.

Hive data


Hive data


Brood frame

14" x 8½"

Brood box
cross section

300 x 210mm

Super frame

14" x 5½"

Honey box
cross section

300 x 210mm

Frames / brood box


Top bars / box


Cells / brood box


Cells / brood box


Lug length


Lug length

Approx 1cm

Warré hive data with National for comparison

The essential feature of Warré beekeeping is to reduce disturbance and intervention to a minimum. If a hive box needs to be inspected it can be removed and tilted over with the combs in the vertical plane.

To remove a comb for inspection or honey extraction may require some cutting between walls and comb. Once free, the comb should be lifted gently and placed in a comb holder.

Warré developed his system before Varroa mites arrived in France. The consensus is that long term the bees will adapt to the mite. Mite population can be considerably reduced by artificial swarming techniques and could be further reduced by treatment while the colony is brood-less.

Honey can be collected from brood free combs by using a honey press or other suitable device. The remaining wax is a potentially valuable byproduct.

This hive is not recommended for novices unless an experienced mentor is on hand.

For more information a good starting point would be the Biobees website www.warre.biobees.com/

Other hives:  |National| National 14×12 | WBC | Commercial | Smith | Langstroth | Dadant | Dartington | Beehaus |

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News & Events

Nosema Testing at Hunthay Apiary
Please note that on Thursday 12th April between 1000 & 1230 there will be an opportunity for you to test your bees for Nosema.
Members should bring samples (c.30 bees) from each hive.
Calling Notice for the rescheduled Devon Beekeepers’ Association Annual General Meeting
Download details: DBKA Calling Notice 2018
Please note that the Raffle Draw for the cedar wood hive donated by National Bee Supplies will take place on 7th April, so still time to buy tickets if you wish.
BBKA documents fyi
Spring Convention
Note: Now rescheduled for April 7th at Meldon Village Hall
Devon Beekeepers Day Raffle Prize!
Dear Member,
You will recall I gave details of the Devon Beekeepers Day in your February Buzz. We now have the raffle tickets available for the National hive kindly being donated by National Bee Supplies. Tickets can only be purchased by members and are priced at £2 each. See your emails for details of how to purchase raffle tickets.Proceeds from the raffle go to the Presidents Fund which in turn helps to support bee related projects throughout the county.The beekeepers day on March 3rd promises to be an interesting event (your February Beekeeping magazine has all the details) – so come along if you can. Regards, Val

Gove – UK will back total ban on bee harming pesticides Click link to see details

Asian Hornet in North Devon
The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in North Devon which was spotted by a beekeeper in their apiary on the 18th September 2017. The contingency response has been initiated and a press release has been issued by Defra.