The Warré (pronounced war-ray) beehive was developed in France by Abbé Emile Warré in the early part of the 20th century. He had spent a good portion of his life using and studying various types of hives before settling on what he called the "People's hive". Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, he did not study 300 different types of hives. He did, at one time, have about 300 hives of 12 different types. Also, he finalized the design of his hive well before the 1950's, since the 12th edition of his book was published in 1948. He wasn't a monk, either. He was an Abbot.
His hive is simplistic and bee-friendly. It was designed most specifically for overwintering bee colonies in the moderate French climate and works very well in the central and northern U.S.. Although they are particularly well suited for temperate climates, Warré hives can be used anywhere that bees are kept.