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Warré Beekeeping

David Croteau's Warré hive modifications

David Croteau, Skowhegan, Maine USA has made some important modifications to the Warré hive and posted photos of them on the former web site of the Yahoo e-group.

Instead of Warré's floor, Croteau places the hive on an empty box the same size as a Warré box. This bottom box rests in turn directly on a concrete slab. Croteau calls the bottom box a 'sump'. Hive-body boxes above this sump have entrances cut in them comprising 41 mm diameter circular holes near the bottom of the front. Under normal conditions the hole nearest the sump is left open and the others closed with either a bung made from the plug removed, widened with tape to give an interference fit and equipped with a scew for a handle, or a commercially available circular plastic entrance cover. If more ventilation is required, entrances higher up can be left open or the circular covers adjusted to allow ventilation through their bee-proof grilles.

It is worth noting that the Palteau hive (1756), the first wooden hive on the same principle as Warré's, had an entrance in each hive body box, all but the lowest remaining open. Marc Gatineau also uses boxes fitted with entrance holes and sliding covers. 

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Above: David Croteau's Warrés showing slabs, base boxes or sumps and plastic entrance closers. The active entrances are fitted with canopies made from plastic drinks containers. The wire meshes round two of the hives are skunk guards. Below left: 41 mm entrance hole with plug and rotatable plastic cover fitted. Below right: plug.

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To clean the sump, Gatineau hive lift is used to raise the hive, the sump is removed and the slab cleared. Dead bees are amongst the debris, but never any bees trying to remove them.

In his first season with Warrés, John Moerschbacher, near Calgary,  Alberta, Canada, adopted a similar base arrangement only with a bee proof mesh over the sump. As the sumps are about a Warré box deep, with or without mesh it is unlikely that fallen Varroa mites will make their way back onto bees.