The hives that Lisa & Caro built

Having completed the Warré hives (they have a square foot print – see image left) and realising that the bees will be arriving in frames that fit the more commonly found Langstroth hives (they have a rectangular footprint – see image right) I had some more research to do; Langstroth frames are wider than Warré boxes so they won’t just slide in.

Ideally a package of bees (a box with bees, a tin of food for them in transit and a queen bee in a separate little box but no frames of comb, honey or brood ie. baby bees: eggs, larvae and pupae) is installed into a Warré hive however the bees had already been ordered so Langstroth frames it is. It seems there are several methods that people have used to deal with this problem:

  • Using a transfer box which sits on top of the Warré hives that the Langstroth frames slide into.
    • Means buying or building a transfer box.
  • Cutting the frame and comb of the Langstroth frames to fit into the Warré hive.
    • Greatly disturbs the bees and would result in losses of some brood and honey stores.
    • Cutting the wooden Langstroth frame down while installing bees doesn’t sound practical.
  • Shaking the bees from the Langstroth frames into the Warré hive.
    • This would leave the bees without any of their stored honey, brood or comb to live in until they built new comb and raised more brood.
  • Placing the Langsroth frames in a box in front of the Warré hive and letting the bees move themselves.
    • Seems like the least certain method.

None of the methods described above are guaranteed of success but in the end I decided to build transfer boxes. After carefully calculating how much space was needed I put a couple together, complete with inner covers and roofs. In the side view (image to left) the transfer box, outlined in red, has an extension at the base to cover the top of the Warré box below it. In the front view (image to right) you can see how much wider the transfer box is compared to the Warré boxes below it.

Once the transfer boxes were built and weatherproofed with a 20:1 mix of raw linseed oil and beeswax (heated to melt the wax and brushed on) it was just a matter of waiting for the pick up date and installation day.