Warre Hive and Warre Beekeeping

Warre Beekeeping involves the use of a A Warre Beehive which is a vertical top bar hive that is simple to build and easy to use. The cost is about one-third to one-fourth the cost of one standard ten frame Langstroth hive. A Warre (pronounced war-ray) hive is simple to manage and maintain and incorporates natural beekeeping methods.

Also known as tiered or supered top bar hives, a vertical top bar hive is such as the Warre hive is friendly to the bees since they are allowed to draw out their own comb, thereby ensuring a hive environment that is healthier and better suited to their own needs.

Characteristics of Warre Beekeeping

Warre hives have a simple hive box with no frames. The bees draw down their own comb from top bars affixed to each box. The quilt provides a layer of insulation to the hive. It sits under the roof on top of the uppermost box, as you can see below.

Warre hives are easy to build from materials available at your building supply shop. The Warre hive is designed so that it will not take enormous amounts of time out of your busy schedule.

In short, the Warre Hive is a good solution for those who are interested in keeping bees simply, naturally and wholesomely without harsh chemicals or medications.

Description of the Warre Hive

The Warre Hive comprises tiers of identical boxes fitted with top-bars, but no frames. Its essential design and usage features can be summarized as follows:

  • Image and description courtesy of the Warre English Portal
  • hive-body box internal dimensions 300 x 300 x 210 mm, with projecting handles
  • eight 36mm centered 24mm wide top-bars resting in rebates in each box (NO FRAMES)
  • wax starter strips under each top bar (NO FOUNDATION)
  • flat floor, notched with a 120mm wide entrance, alighting board
  • coarse weave cloth covering the top-bars of the top box
  • 100 mm high ‘quilt’ boxed with wood, filled with straw, sawdust, wood shavings etc., retained with cloth
  • gabled roof containing a ventilated ‘loft’ and separated from the quilt by a mouse-proof board

Here are some more features of the Warre Hive:

  • the bees build natural comb in the first (top) box and extend downwards into further boxes
  • new boxes are added at the bottom
  • one or more boxes of honey are harvested from the top after the main flow
  • the bees winter on two boxes of comb containing a minimum of 12 kg stores (France)
  • honey is harvested by draining, or by centrifuging combs in baskets
  • at the spring visit, the hive is expanded by one or more boxes, containing with starter strips or comb

History of the Warre Beehive

The Warre Hive (also known as the People’s Hive) was developed in France by Emile Warré (1876?-1951). Warré developed the People’s Hive after experimenting with over 350 hives of various designs and types. It was his goal to find a hive system that was simple, natural, economical, and bee-friendly.

The result was the People’s Hive (Ruche Populaire). He outlined the construction and operation of the hive in his book “Beekeeping for All.” This book is available in English as a free download. If you are interested, English Plans for the Warre Hive are also available.

Warré is not alone in his findings, though. In 1783, a German beekeeper named Johann Ludwig Christ developed a beekeeping system almost identical to that of Warre. And in Japan, many beekeepers still employ a similar system of beekeeping that has been in constant use since the Edo period of Japanese history (A.D.1586 to A.D.1911).

How to Build a Warre Beehive

Warre Beehive Plans

Where to Buy a Warre Beehive


Warre Beekeeping

I hope you enjoyed this article from the
Warre Beekeeping team!

Natural Beekeeping

Are you looking for a crash course in Natural Beekeeping? I’m here to tell you there are no shortcuts when learning how to care for your bees. The best way to learn about natural beekeeping is to read, then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on. Online information, books from the library, and articles are all readily available.

What’s next?

Join a local Beekeeping Association, you’ll have the benefit of knowing what works in your area and have some seasoned beekeepers at your disposal for questions or problems you may have. This is especially important in your first year as a natural beekeeper. You can find a list of associations here: Beekeeping Association List

OK, now what? Doing….Stop thinking and start doing. Go build your first hive, you won’t be sorry! To help you, I’ve put together a collection of my favorite natural beekeeping articles and included them below in a handy zip file for you to download and read.

What will you find in this Natural Beekeeping collection?

All of the articles are based on natural beekeeping and the Warre Hive. You’ll learn:

  • Minimal Intrusion Beekeeping
  • The Principle of Nest Scent and Heat Retention
  • Wild bee colonies that have naturally survived varroa mites
  • Tips and techniques for natural and sustainable beekeeping
  • Even a guide for making your own wax starter strips for the top bars in your beehive

Click on the icon below to download this article pack. You’ll need to unzip the file and have adobe reader or foxit to read them.

Keep reading! Check out the books that are available at your local library. There are a ton of great beekeeping sites that are very informative:


Remember to keep an open mind and be ready to learn more about the hive and the honeybee.

Practice what you’ve learned, whenever you learn something new about natural beekeeping, try it on one of your own hives. You’ll learn more by doing.

Natural Beekeeping

I hope you Discover the benefits of Natural Beekeeping!