The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Cutting down Langstroth boxes for a Warre hive

Cutting down a Langstroth hve

If you're changing over from Langstroth hives to Warre hives, you're stuck with a conundrum --- should you buy all new equipment, or can those Langstroth boxes be cut down and turned into Warre hives?  I decided to give the latter a try since I was one Warre box short of having equipment on hand for our new package of bees.

Bee box hole

We actually have the parts for multiple Langstroth boxes that were never even put together, so I decided to use those for my experiment.  Step one was to cut two of these pieces to the length of the Warre hive (13.75 inches) and two pieces to that length minus twice the thickness of the wood (12.25 inches).  If you'd like to avoid my mistake, which produces four bee-worthy holes per box, make the longer sides be the pieces without a rabbet (indentation for the frames to rest on).  The photo above shows what happens if you disregard that advice.

Smaller rabbet

Speaking of the rabbet, Warre hives require a smaller indentation there than Langstroth hives do.  Assuming you're cutting down a Langstroth deep, you have plenty of wiggle room in the depth department, so mark your rabbet to 3/8 of an inch and cut off the extra wood.  While you're at it, cut enough wood off the bottom of each side so that your box is 8.25 inches tall.

Bad cutting job

Then it's just a matter of screwing the sides together.  Be sure to use pilot holes and three screws per side.  And do try to cut more exactly than I did the first time around (shown above) or your bees will spend masses of time propolizing all the holes.  (I whittled off the longer sides until they matched up, but next time I'll have Mark do the cutting.)

Cobbled together hive

To be honest, this box is just a stop-gap measure since the new Warre hive I've ordered is likely to arrive after our new package of bees does.  And I suspect I'll keep buying most of  the parts for new hives since top bars, screened bottoms, and roofs feel past my skill level.  However, saving $40 per box by cutting down a Langstroth deep that would otherwise be collecting dust in the barn seems like a good deal if it only takes me half an hour to construct --- sounds like a good compromise between my wish to make all of our equipment and the reality that woodworking is far from my strong point.

Our chicken waterer makes care of the backyard flock so easy, you have time to experiment with bees.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'm impressed! I am totally intimidated by the idea of building one's own hives, except for top bar, which is what we've decided to go with when the time comes. Good for you for making what you have on hand work!
Comment by Michelle Wed May 8 14:24:26 2013

I'm curious about the frames that you are showing in some of the boxes. Could you post a picture of them?


Comment by MikeH Wed May 8 16:52:12 2013
Way to go! This looks pretty darn good!
Comment by Deb Wed May 8 23:53:46 2013
MikeH --- Stay tuned --- I'll make a post with photos of these top bars and some other options soon!
Comment by anna Thu May 9 10:23:49 2013

It is cool that you did the conversion, and what is more interesting is that I am writing an intro to beekeeping ebook. Is it ok that I utilize the idea and lessons learned on here for examples?

"Check out my Survivalist Blog at the Clever Survivalist and read daily Survival Guide content."

Comment by Clever Survivalist Thu May 9 13:57:33 2013
Clever Survivalist --- Sure, feel free to share these ideas (and photos if it helps). Just give us credit ( is fine), especially if you use images. Good luck with your ebook!
Comment by anna Thu May 9 14:22:39 2013

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