Warm versus Cold Way

So, we have our first Warre hive. And as I put it together it struck me… which way should I orient the bars with respect to the entrance?

I would welcome peoples’ views on this. I live in the UK Midlands, it is Spring in a temperate climate. The Warre has a mesh floor, currently with a sliding sub-floor below it so the main ventilation is through the door.

Although all photos I saw on the Web and from my own apiary visits show the bars running from the front of the Warre (where the entrance is) to the rear, I chose to orient mine parallel to the entrance, which I believe is called “warm way”. My reasoning is thus: my experience of Top Bar Hives shows that bees will build brood comb near the entrance and thicker honey comb at the back of the hive. If the combs are edge on to the entrance (as happens with TBH’s using side entrances) this can lead to the same combs being used for comb at one end and honey at the other, i.e. thicker at one end, thus leading to all manner of cross combing problems. However, what seems obvious to me is the opposite of at least 4 examples I have photos of, so I’m curious about others’ opinions on the matter.

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4 Responses to Warm versus Cold Way

  1. deweysanchez says:

    I think it is a horses for courses type affair. I haven’t seen many warre hives being used warm way. Since you are usually a box ahead of where the bees are building (and therefore laying) I think it is less of and issue than with nationals and langs with brood boxes permanently in the bottom.

  2. Paul says:

    That is a very good point (that they are building way above the entrance). Thank you, it puts my mind at rest.

  3. Julie says:

    I agree with Dewey, it doesn’t seem like it should matter. In fact, Warre doesn’t specify a direction in his book. However, in looking at the diagrams in Beekeeping for All, the bars appear to be parallel to handholds. Boxes are placed so that the comb (or at least handholds) are perpendicular to the entrance. Warre is very specific, though, about what direction the entrance should face (ideally east; north or west in a pinch– never south). He felt that a southern exposure would affect hive temerature negatively. I wonder if hive temperature or light may also vary depending on which way the comb runs. Maybe you could run an experiment?

  4. simplebees says:

    Having used both hive types over several years, I also agree that the Warré is a vertical hive and one cannot draw direct comparisons between it and a horizontal hive. In a Warré surplus honey is stored above the brood area ie away from the entrance. At times of heavy nectar flow, nectar will also be stored below the brood but this will be relocated to the top of the hive when the nectar flow eases. Also ensure that an empty box sits below the last box that contains comb; the hive will use this space to cluster away from the combs when conditions in the hive require – for example when nectar is being processed and humidity in the hive is high. Add a new box when the bottom-most box is half full.

    I run all of my Warré ‘cold way’ but, in reality, with an empty box below the last full box, this is a meaningless term.

    Gareth

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