Warre Hive Preparation Instructions
Top Bar Preparation
Please read all of these instructions thoroughly, even if you intend to watch the video.
To help ensure that your bees will build their combs where it will make beekeeping easier for you, a narrow bead of beeswax should be applied to the very bottom of each v-shaped top bar, following the steps outlined below.
CAUTION: Bad things can happen if instructions are not followed exactly! Teakwood Organics L.L.C. is not responsible for any injury, death or damage to person or property when you are working with beeswax, as we cannot be present to oversee and/or control the processes used.
· Never leave beeswax unattended when it’s on a heat source that is turned on-not even for a minute!
· Always use only the lowest possible temperature setting on your hotplate when melting beeswax. If you ever hear popping or see smoke, you have the heat too high!
· Use a quality sauce pan that has a thick bottom. The thick bottom will help to prevent overheating of the wax and will keep the wax temperature stable longer, giving you a longer working time without having to reheat. We use a 1 qt. sauce pan that has pour spouts on each side (priced between 25 and 40 dollars). This is a nice pan to own because if you decide to use your own beeswax later on for making candles or other crafts, you will be able to use this same pan to melt the wax and pour it into the molds. The pan will be difficult to clean after you have used it to melt wax. The easiest thing to do is allow it to cool completely and then put it away somewhere, hardened wax and all, ready for use the next time you melt wax.
· Give yourself plenty of space and time to work. Don’t be in a hurry.
· Keep small children away from your work area.
Follow these steps to apply the beeswax to the bottom of each v-shaped top bar.
1. Select your work area. Ideally you will be working on a work bench and using an electric hotplate for melting the wax.
2. Put all of your beeswax (one bar per hive body) into the sauce pan and place the pan on the hotplate. Use the very lowest setting to melt the wax very slowly. Be patient and do not leave it unattended.
3. Once most of the wax has melted and there is just a small portion of unmelted wax remaining, turn off the heat. The remainder of the wax will melt in the next few minutes.
4. Using a 3/8” flat artist’s brush, apply a small amount of wax onto one of the top bars at the bottom of the V. The wax should harden almost immediately. If it doesn’t it’s too hot. Stop and let the wax cool for a few minutes if necessary.
5. Once your wax is at a temperature that you can brush it on and it hardens quickly, get to work putting a coat of wax on the very bottom edge of each top bar. Do not coat the entire bottom of the bar with wax. This will cause the comb-to-bar connection to be weak. Apply wax to the very bottom edge of the V only.
6. If the wax becomes difficult to work with because it’s hardening too fast, turn the heat on to the lowest setting once again until it’s back up to a good working temperature, and then turn the heat back off.
Top Bar Installation
Once you’ve finished applying wax to the top bars, you’re ready to install them in the hive bodies. Place one hive body in front of you with the rebates running from left to right. Using a metric ruler, measure from the left end of either rebate and place a pencil mark in the bottom of it at 156mm (about 6 1/8”). Then measure and mark the opposite rebate in the same way. Using a brad driver and the included 3/4” brads, fasten the first top bar in place, with the V pointing down and the left edge lining up with the pencil marks. One brad at each end will suffice. Next, use the included spacer (on its side) in order to correctly space the remaining top bars 12mm apart, fastening each bar in place as you go. Continue working this way until all 8 bars are installed and then do the same with all of the remaining bars and hive bodies.
NOTE: It’s important that you use the brads to secure the top bars in place. Because bees “glue” hive parts together with propolis, the top bars can get stuck very hard to the box above or, for the bars in the top box, to the quilt material. If the bars are not secured with brads, they can pull loose from their combs when you remove the quilt box or separate the boxes for any reason. At that point you will have a real mess on your hands. Also, Warré hives are not designed to be inspected in the same way that framed hives are, so there is no good reason to leave the bars unsecured. If you want to be able to do some inspecting of your Warré hive, but don’t want to run a modified Warré (fully-framed) hive, simply use one or two frames in the center of each hive body and use top bars in all the other positions. You can also inspect by doing a Warré hive quick check instead of removing bars.
Applying Tung Oil (optional)
Because Warré hives do not have frames, and therefore have no bottom bars to which the bees can attach the bottoms of their combs, box-to-box attachments occur fairly frequently. This means that bees will sometimes attach the combs from an upper box to the tops of the top bars in the box below, which actually has one big advantage. These attachments allow the bees to easily move from a lower hive body to an upper hive body during the winter months, often preventing them from starving to death in a lower hive body as they might when the distance from the combs below to the combs above is too great. When box-to-box attachments exist, the distance from the combs below to the combs above is only about one centimeter, which allows the bees to migrate easily. But for this advantage there is a trade-off. Box-to-box attachments can cause the beekeeper some headaches when it’s necessary to separate hive bodies, such as when harvesting honey. All of this is discussed in great detail here. After doing some brainstorming in early 2017, I experimented with using tung oil in order to prevent this strong bond to the tops of the top bars, and it worked fabulously. I then used top bars with the tops finished with tung oil in actual hives and found that this definitely makes separating boxes much easier and more predictable, so I highly recommend it. Once all of your top bars are installed in the hive bodies, all you have to do is simply use a 3/4” wide foam brush to apply a thin layer tung oil to the top side of each top bar, and then apply a second coat 24 hours later. Be very careful that you don’t apply too much, so as not to cause any runs down the sides of the bars. You definitely don’t want any oil on any part of the top bar except the very top. Buff lightly with a cotton cloth, along each top bar 30 minutes after applying the second coat.
Please contact us with any questions you may have. Be careful and have fun!