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Swapping Warre hive boxes

Honeybees

In the wild, honeybees start at the top of a cavity and build their comb straight down.  When we add supers on top of a Langstroth hive, we're asking our bees to do something counterintuitive, and sometimes they balk, especially if you're asking bees to build without foundation.  Warre hives usually prevent this problem since you nadir (add boxes below) instead of super (add boxes above), but the first few weeks after package installation, I generally see the same issue.  Which is all a long way of explaining why I opened up the hive rather than just putting a new box underneath when a photo up through the bottom showed that the bottom box, at least, was crammed full of comb.

Building comb up

Sure enough, the top box was completely empty...except for two bits of comb that the bees had started building up from top bars of the box below.  I scraped away those pieces of comb, put the quilt onto this full box (now the top box), and added the empty box underneath.  I didn't perform this swap last year, and I suspect that's why I ripped comb apart when I finally opened up the hive to inspect in September.

I think the technique for installing a package in a Warre hive could be tweaked to prevent the need to swap the boxes a couple of weeks in.  Or perhaps I should just automatically swap the boxes when I take out the queen cage a couple of days later.  I'll ponder that for the future, and will enjoy our happy bees for now.

The Avian Aqua Miser is Mark's invention to prevent handling manure and worrying over chickens running out of water.


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