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Abbé Warré's book
and construction of round and polygonal modifications of the Warré hive
In Beekeeping for All Abbé Emile Warré, in discussing how The People's Hive evolved, wrote:
"Abbé Voirnot gave his hive a square shape, because this shape was closer to the shape of a cylinder, a shape in which the distribution of heat occurs more evenly, but whose construction is too expensive." (p. 32)
"And the square is the shape that best approaches that of a cylinder, an ideal shape because it favours the distribution of the heat in the inside of the hive. But the cylinder is a shape that is hardly practicable." (p. 40)
It would have been difficult to name the end result of his researches The People's Hive if it was so difficult and expensive to construct and yet remain divisible, so the square form was his next best choice. However, with the advent of relatively cheap power tools and following experiments with other materials such as plaster and straw it has been possible to develop divisible hives that are cylinders or polygons other than the square.
We can list points to consider regarding hives that are round or close to round:
1) lower surface-to-volume ratio therefore more thermally efficient in terms of heat loss;
2) Warré's point: more even distribution of heat, therefore no cold corners for condensation, mould and pests;
3) better fits the natural rounded shape of the bee cluster, especially at the critical time in winter;
4) roundness is characteristic of living forms, whereas the square or rectangle is typical of the dead, mineral realm exemplified by crystals;
5) the swarm cluster at rest and in flight, the queen cell, the worker/drone cells before the elastic properties of the wax deform them into hexagons, the domed cell cappings, the rounded catenary forms of natural comb unrestricted by frames or a hive wall, the egg-laying pattern and the domes of pollen and honey around the brood area all express roundness;
6) roundness was intuited millennia ago as the shape most appropriate for honey bee nests;
7) in many landscapes the commonest choice of nest site for wild colonies is the cylindrical cavity in a hollow tree.
Here we offer a PDF containing an English translation of Jean-François Dardenne's pages on different approaches to making round and polygonal, e.g. hexadecagonal, hives based on Warré's principle of nadiring new hive elements: download PDF about round and polygonal hives.
Rodolphe Leroy developed a round hive that could be supered with a square super fitted with frames. La ruche mixte (combination hive) is presented here as an example of another way of achieving a round brood chamber that is also rigid enough to bear a load: download PDF about Leroy's combination hive.
See also the hexagonal hive of Csuja László (Hungary) which is inspired by John Gedde's hexagonal hive. A transcript of the section in John Gedde's (1675) book dealing with hive construction is available as a PDF.
Calculator for wood inner and outer widths
Tom Brennan's (California) hexagonal Warré-type hive
Dietrich Vageler's (Brazil) octagonal with vertical top-bars
Raimund's (Germany) octagonal Warré
Raimund's (Germany) icosagonal Warré
Daniel Hamelin (Quebec)
This round hive is based on that of Gilbert Veuille (France) which is made of plaster and straw and described in more detail in section III of this PDF.
Note that the thin top-bars allow comb to be constructed up their sides and therefore probably better allow for comb continuity throughout the hive. The 'ruchetons' (ring sections of the hive) are separated at harvest with a cheese wire.
Gilbert Veuille's book: https://www.terran.fr/ruche-ronde-divisible-veuille-livre-editions-terran.html