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Supering vs. nadiring a Warre hive

One week of bee work

I've come to understand that a natural beekeeper's primary job is to make sure the bees have just enough space to continue working without wearing themselves out patrolling large expanses of empty hive.  So, when the third box of our mother hive went from looking like the top photo to looking like the bottom photo in a mere seven days, I figured I'd better give them some room to grow.

Opening up a warre hive

The question was --- should I add the extra box to the top or to the bottom of the hive?  In general, Warre beekeepers nadir instead of super, meaning that empty boxes are added to the bottom rather than to the top of a hive.  The theory is that keeping the lid on the hive and simply hoisting the whole thing up to put a new box underneath causes less disruption to the critical heat and scent within the brood chamber.  In the past, I have only nadired Warre hives, and last week I added the third box to our daughter hive at the bottom, as usual.

Supering a warre hive

However, once a Warre hive has more than two boxes mostly full of brood and honey, it becomes much less feasible to nadir the hive without rigging a lift (or roping two more people into helping you).  In addition, this excellent page suggests that supering is really the best way to add extra boxes onto a booming Warre hive during a heavy summer nectar flow.  In case you don't want to read the long version, the gist is that bees only build down as quickly as they need the space for brood, adding honey into cells above the brood chamber as young bees vacate that space.  So during heavy nectar flows, nadiring simply doesn't give the bees enough room to store the sweet liquid as quickly as it comes in.

Weeding around the hieve

With that data in mind, I opted to super the mother hive (and then to clean up the weeds around the hive entrance, a task that was long overdue).  Before supering, a quick peek down into the top box proved that the upper chamber was full of capped honey, so hopefully that buffer will mean taking the top off the hive had less impact on that all-important brood chamber.  And if this flow keeps up, we might get a box or two of honey this fall despite slowing our mother hive down by splitting her in half this spring!



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How did adding the super to your warre hive wore out?
Comment by Travis Johnson Mon Jan 2 13:07:37 2017

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime