Plans for building a modified Warre Hive


Samuel Smith

In these plans I outline a few elements that are entirely my design and many that are only altered warre designs, the hive is still square I only added about 12mm (6mmx2 for frame sides) to the inside dimensions to compensate for the inclusion of frames, this was probably unnecessary, regardless the change is still minute and unlikely to alter the performance of the warre hive system. When given a solid base these hives can withstand substantial winds without blowing over.

Corners are box jointed so all four panels are the same dimension. The thickness of your wood will change the width of the panels since the design calls for fixed interior dimensions.

For stock that is 23mm:

Four box panels:
Four panels: 356mm (wide) by 258mm (tall 250mm + 8mm bee space).
Used six tab box joint.
Four screws per panel protruding side of box joints then skip one tab.
Rebates are 12mm by 10mm. (12mm is deeper then needed to prevent frames from being to tight)

Two box handles:
Two bars: 356mm by 23mm (stock) by 32mm, add a 5-10 degree slop on the top of each handle. Joined 150mm from bottom of box to top of handle.
I wont cover basic assembly just dimensions and some specifics.

Box Joints:
Cut box joint tabs in all panels (remember to leave a hair space for the glue), Cut a rebate into two of the panels on the side with a protruding box joint tab. Rebates are 12mm by 10mm and extend most of the way across the panel starting and stopping at the box joint line. I use a router table for this.

Pre-drill box joint tabs:
I put 4x 2” deck screws in each corner, in alternating sides starting at the protruding tabs on each panel's edge, I put one then skip a tab then another, each panel gets four screws in this manner, check pictures for details. Make sure to use a drill bit that is small enough so that wood can not move behind the screws.

Join the panels together with glue (I use weldbond) make sure the boxes are square then clamp and screw together. Then screw the handles on 150mm from the bottom of the box to the top of the handle (Aesthetics only) glue is not necessary and makes the assembly more difficult.

The Original Warre Hive is not designed for frames, for many reasons frames can be a hindrance depending on hive management styles, frames tend to encourage people to “inspect” to often or move brood comb around, both are considered harmful meddling by Warre and I am inclined to agree, on the other hand frames are helpful in many cases for making nucs or checking for queen-rightness. Another reason frames are not used in the original Warre hive is they are much harder to construct then top bars alone. Regardless of what you choose the only difference is top bars use only the top of the frame.

Top Bar:
Length: 330mm
Width: 23mm (goes to the center to center measurement, 23+14=37mm center to center)
Hight: 19mm
Rabbet: 10mm high, 24mm long from end of top bar, in both ends, inside side of top bar

Offset Screw: 14mm height of screw, pre-drill hole 16mm from end of top bar after cutting rabbet on alternating sides check picture (goes to the center to center measurement)
Saw a kref down the center inside of the top bar (for either frame or frame-less). The 24mm wide rabbet will allow for 10mm rest space on the box rabbet, 8mm bee space and 6mm frame side joint.

Frame Parts:
Two sides: 23mm wide, 6mm thick, 241mm long
One Bottom: 23mm wide, 6mm wide, 282mm long for butt joint (294mm long if you are box jointing the bottom side)

Assembly is best done with a 18ga brad air nail gun, I use 1.5” nails for every joint on the frames. This if done correctly will leave 8mm of bee space at the bottom of each box if using frames. To finish up your frames glue some popsicle sticks along the kref then rub (or paint) some bees wax or “slum gum” on them for the bees to start their comb on.

The Quilt:
The quilt is a very important part of the warre hive system, it acts like the insulation in your home would, with a vapour barrier then insulation that is open to dead air. What this does is prevents moisture from building up inside, due to the low thermal mass of the vapour barrier, since the barrier has such a low thermal mass it can not conduct cold very well so it is easy to heat up, this then means the insulation is where hot air meets cold outside air causing condensation. The condensation is outside the hive and in dead space (sheltered from wind) allowing it to evaporate slowly, thus keeping inside dry and warm. Many people believe that the quilt absorbs humid air from inside the hive, I find this unlikely to affect humidity levels significantly since the bees do their best to propalise the cloth that separates the quilt from the hive.

The outside dimensions are important here since the quilt has to fit over our boxes. These sizes are for stock thickness of 7/8” or 22mm, and must be adjusted if you plan to use stock that is more or less thick. The quilt box is 5mm smaller in both dimensions then the main hive boxes to allow the lid to be placed with less trouble.

If box jointing corners.
Four panels: 351mm by 140mm (standard warre is 100mm)
If butt jointing corners (holds up reasonably well since it is always protected from elements)
Two panels: 351mm by 140mm
Two panels: 307mm by 140mm

Rabbet two opposite outside sides the whole length of the bottom edge that will face the hive, 10mm deep and 15mm high.

Two squares of cotton cloth: 391mm by 391mm
Two sticks: 5mm by 5mm by 351mm (can be the sticks cut out of the box rabbets, when using a table saw to cut the rabbets)

One cloth is attached to the same side as the rabbets of the quilt box, the other cloth is attached to the two sticks and placed directly on the hive bodies top, the sticks help by holding the cloth down and allow the beekeeper to “scrap” bees out of the way so they do not get trapped under the cloth.

The Base:
All the box's will stack on the base. The base is still square just like the original warre, I have just made it a bit larger to fit my slightly larger boxes.

A square comprised of slats next to each other running the width of the hive measures 354mm by 354mm using stock 22mm (7/8”) wood, there is a slot cut in the front, 120mm wide by 40mm deep. Three boards join the slats running the depth of the hive, 75mm wide, 160mm wide and 75mm wide. The center slat acts as a landing board for the hive, the two outer slats are supports to rest on the stand.
The landing board can protrude any amount, I like to keep it just long enough to accommodate an entrance reducer.
I usually use scrap wood for my bases because the measurements are small enough and the joinery is very simple.

Lid, Outer Cover:
The outer cover is designed to fit over the whole quilt plus a bit of the top most box, so the inner dimensions are crucial. The lid is designed like a box with a top on it, My design includes vents with a simple functional form. Flashier lids are available but for those building many hives simple can never be wrong.

For 22mm thick stock: Note, add 5mm (or more) if your using thicker stock for your boxs.

410mm by 410mm (offset for butt joinery) by 160mm (tall)

1x 450mm by 140mm by 22mm
1x 450mm by 50mm by 22mm
1x 450mm by 140mm by 22mm

36ga galvanized steel, 494mm by 494mm

Assemble the box, then place the three slats to form the top with 60mm spacing between them the thinnest slat resting in the center, this should form a square that is 450mm in both dimensions, clamp and screw slats into place, then mark the position of the center slat and unscrew it, unscrew the other slats part way. Now attach some window screen to cover the vent holes formed between the slats, over the ends of the slats running around under (between them and the box), the screen should extend six or eight centimetres down the underside of the lid to keep bugs out of the quilt, I staple the screen into place. Now position and clamp the steel square on the lid as near center as possible, fold the edges down and screw into place (I tap a hole with a nail then insert screw).

Micro Adjustable Stand:
The adjustable stand I have come up with allows frequent micro adjustments to keep you hive level, it works best on a solid base, I use a cement paving stone, all you need to level a hive with this stand is a wrench and a string level (weighted string). This stand has been tested with very strong winds, none of my hives have blown over as long as the paving stone is solid.

The stand is comprised of four legs and a base constructed from four lengths of pine (or whatever you have).

I usually use un-planned stock, about 1” thick pine.

Part A: 2 x (570mm by 100mm) base
Part B: 2 x (305mm by 100mm) base
4 x (250mm 2x4 cedar) legs

The amount of Part A board protruding out of each side of the box formed by attaching part a and part b is 107.5mm, this is used to attach the legs to.

Once this is done each leg gets a 60mm long 1/4” hole drilled in the bottom, each leg then has a nut pressed into it (you can use a T-nut), using a regular nut I thread the nut on the 1/4” carriage bolt then hammer the bolt down into the leg to press the nut partway into the wood. Lastly the legs are attached to the base.

If you would like to contact me you can send an E-mail to: SamsWildBees(at)hotmail(dot)com I am always looking for bees so if you live nearby and you want your bees gone drop me a line.