What is a modified Warré Hive?
A modified Warré hive is simply a Warré hive that uses full frames instead of just top bars. This product is a Warré Store exclusive, as we are the only company in the United States (possibly the world?) who offers it to you. Due to frame manufacturing challenges, our original design modified hives used boxes that were 3cm taller than those of the Warré top bar hives. But in the Fall of 2016, we developed new processes that allow us to manufacture frames that work in any Warré hive, regardless of who made it. Therefore, our modified Warré hives are now the same as our Warré top bar hives in every way, except that when you purchase one you will be provided full frames instead of just top bars, and each hive body will have metal frame rests installed over the rebates.
Should I use a modified Warré hive?
This is a difficult question to answer, but is certainly one that needs answering before you purchase any hives. Let me start by saying that we do not prefer to use hives with frames. The disadvantages of using frames include added cost and complexity, added labor to initially set up your hive and added maintenance. Framed hives also tend to have lower winter survival rates, because frames make it more difficult for a winter cluster to move from a lower box to an upper one in order to access more food. This can be particularly problematic in regions where the winter cold can be brutal. All that being said, reasons for using a modified Warré hive include the following:
- Frames allow for more thorough inspection and studying of the hive. This might be an important consideration for new beekeepers who really want to learn about the internal workings of the hive and to become familiar with handling bees, as can be seen in our modified Warré hive inspection video.
- Frames allow a beekeeper to more easily manipulate the hive (one can move combs around or swap combs from hive to hive, if desired). Keep in mind that these practices are often harmful to bee colonies (please see Harmful Modern Methods).
- Frames allow for specialized types of beekeeping, such as packaged bee production or queen rearing.
- One may feel pressure to use a framed hive for legal reasons. To learn more, please refer to Frame Requirements.
The newly designed frames are really beneficial for several reasons. With the standard and modified Warré bodies now being essentially the same, material and labor costs to make the modified hives have been cut significantly. Also, shipping costs have been cut due to reduced weight and fewer packages being required. These savings have been passed on to you in the form of a 15% price reduction on modified hives, and on individual modified hive bodies for 2017. But by far, the biggest advantage of having the new one-size-fits-all frames is that you can now convert any Warré top bar hive to a framed hive and back again, at will.