Warre bait hives

Nov 01, 2020

I am often asked how I transfer the swarms I catch in bait hives into their final Warre. The trick is to build a bait hive with modular elements fitting onto a standard Warre box.

My bait box for warre has a volume of 1 -1/2 warre boxes. One box is too snug and the bees do not favor it, two boxes do not show better results than one box and a half. My experience is that the bees build in the first year one and a half warre box. They may build more, but in general they will not finish completely the second box during the first season and it is very exceptional they build in a third box, which happens in general during the second season. One box and a half is lighter than two boxes to secure in a tree, and further more the mode of attachment of the modules works better with Swiss leaves.

The bottom module is made of two Swiss leaves each equivalent to 1/4 of a box. I like to have it in slices because if I have not picked the hive in time, it may be the bees built deeper than one box and the portioning of the bottom half in two parts allows to better monitor the volume to come onto the bars of the receiving hive. If the bees have built one box and one quarter deep for example, I just remove the bottom Swiss leaf attached to the bottom. The idea is to have the bees start and build into the second box of the receiving hive as quick as possible so they settle in their final hive.

The main Warre element is a standard Warre box to which I secure the bars with nails. It is important to make sure the bars will not move as the hive is secured in a tree. A one inch hole is drilled on the lower part of the box,  high enough though so that the disk does not get on the way when the box is settled on the receiving hive.

The roof, preferably made of a thick board, will be removed and replaced by the quilt box of the receiving hive. I place a fabric brushed with melted wax between the bars and the roof, which makes the removal of the roof even less disturbing for the bees. I also like to place a mosquito net between the fabric and the quilt box so the the bees do not munch through.

Below a few of these bait hives in front of a Warre hive built by Rebel bees in Quebec, which to me are the best commercial Warre hives available in North America.