Index to David Heaf's Warré beekeeping pages

My honey

Warré beekeeping English web portal:

Warré beekeeping e-Group:

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The Bee-friendly Beekeeper

In recent years, beekeepers on several continents have been suffering heavy losses of colonies. If we systematically investigate factors causing the losses, we can justifiably ask whether the way in which honey bees are kept is part of the problem. Could hive design, frames, foundation, intrusion, artificial queen breeding, drone suppression, queen excluders, artificial feeding, medication, transhumance and overstocking - all elements of modern beekeeping - be reducing the vitality of bees?

This book examines the issues surrounding these practices, drawing where possible on the primary literature in bee biology and apiculture, in order to identify an approach to keeping bees that is more bee-appropriate, more apicentric. It also analyses the fundamental attitudes underlying the different ways in which we choose to keep bees.

Honeycomb is now known to be much more than just the skeleton of the bee colony superorganism. A case is presented for making natural comb the centre of a way of beekeeping that better respects the nature of the honey bee by allowing its species-specific behaviours to be expressed. This is apicentric beekeeping.

Among the hives based on relatively natural comb, the author presents the top-bar hive of Émile Warré as a practical and economical alternative to frame hives and describes the bee-friendly features of its operation. The book includes construction plans and modern tips for its management. Contents & Preface

  • published by Northern Bee Books, 14 September 2010
  • ISBN: 978-1-904846-60-4
  • paperback, 170 x 244 mm, 160 pages
  • 80 colour illustrations and 16 line drawings
  • fully annotated with supporting 117-reference bibliography including up-to-date apiological and apicultural primary literature
  • thoroughly indexed
  • suitable for beginners who already have a basic knowledge of the life of the honey bee, as well as for beekeepers with experience who want to discover a more bee-friendly way, either with their existing hives or with the Warré hive
  • printed on recycled paper
  • £23.50 (GB pounds) + carriage from Northern Bee Books

Reviews         Reader's comments (PDF)        

Amendments and addendum of second impression (2011)

The Bee-friendly Beekeeper orders:

Shipping to UK and worldwide destinations, direct from the publisher:

Northern Bee Books
Scout Bottom Farm
Hebden Bridge

Tel: +44 (0)1422 882751   Fax: +44 (0)1422 886157 
Email Northern Bee Books:

Please note: Shipping to the USA direct from the publisher (Northern Bee Books) generally takes about a week.

Online sales outlets for The Bee-friendly Beekeeper:


Green Shopping; Arden Books; IBRA Store; Waterstones; Amazon; Biodynamic Agricultural Association;

Beechwood Bees; WH Smith; Thornes; Bees For Development; Campus; National Bee Supplies


Matt Reed (Oregon): (listed for sale 2 January 2011)

Bill Bezuk (Oregon): (no online sales)



Emporium Books

Bob's Beekeeping Supplies

New Zealand

Koanga Gardens Centre for Sustainable Living: (listed for ale 4 January 2011)

PDF flyer for The Bee-friendly Beekeeper

French version

Une ruche respectueuse des abeilles: la ruche Warré

bfb_cover_french.jpg (44596 bytes) Commentaires

Une traduction de The Bee-friendly Beekeeper, mis à jour. Traduction: Muriel Levet

Swedish version

Den bivänlige biodlaren : ett hållbart förhållningssätt

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Natural Beekeeping with the Warré Hive -- A Manual

Keeping bees in a more natural way is growing in popularity throughout the world. Older hive designs are being reappraised, and methods that have been used for over a century are being questioned.

The People's Hive of Abbé Émile Warré (1867-1951) is one of the older designs that beekeepers find particularly attractive. Several commercial honey producers have already adapted it to fit their needs. Warré's one-size box with top-bars, natural comb and insulating quilt, create ideal conditions for colony vitality and survival, as well as reducing consumption of honey stores in winter. The hive is now used worldwide in climates ranging from the tropics to the taïga.

This inspiring, practical, clearly laid out book contains everything you need to know in order to build and run a Warré hive. Amongst others, topics include tools, siting, obtaining and hiving bees, monitoring, feeding, wintering, enlarging the hive, harvesting and extracting honey with simple kitchen equipment. An ideal book for the aspiring natural beekeeper. Preface & Contents

  • published by Northern Bee Books, April 2013
  • ISBN: 978-1-908904-38-6
  • paperback, 170 x 244 mm, 104 pages
  • 50 B&W illustrations and 17 line drawings
  • thoroughly indexed
  • suitable for beginners who already have a basic knowledge of the life of the honey bee, as well as for beekeepers with experience who want to start Warré beekeeping
  • £12.00 (GB pounds) + carriage from Northern Bee Books

Errata in initial print runs                 Reviews

Natural Beekeeping with the Warré hive -- A Manual orders:

Shipping to UK and worldwide destinations, direct from the publisher:

Northern Bee Books
Scout Bottom Farm
Hebden Bridge

Tel: +44 (0)1422 882751   Fax: +44 (0)1422 886157 
Email Northern Bee Books:


Dutch version

Natuurimkeren met de Warré-kast. Een handleiding

Nederlandse vertaling Tom Bruwier, 2019 

Italian version (traduzione italiano)

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L'apicoltura naturale con l'arnia Warré -- un manuale

traduzione dall’inglese: Luca Vitali
formato: 15 x 21 cm, pp. 208, con tavole, disegni e foto b/n
collana: Apilogia 07
ISBN 9788898-186136
prezzo: 20 euro
USCITA: marzo 2016

Swedish (Svenska) version

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Naturlig Biodling med Warré Kupan

Översättare: Stefan Breitholtz

Språk: Svenska
Antal sidor: 116
Utg.datum: 2013-11-16
Förlag: Books on Demand
Komponenter: Paperback
ISBN: 9789174633801




Treatment-Free Beekeeping

Since varroa arrived in Europe and America in the 1980’s, most beekeepers have found it necessary to treat their colonies with chemicals in order to avoid heavy colony losses. But a minority of beekeepers have managed to care for their colonies without the use of chemicals and have done so with not just tolerable colony losses, but with losses that are sometimes equal to or smaller than the losses of those beekeepers who treat with chemicals. With the help of thirty examples of treatment-free beekeepers in Europe and America, including famous names in varroa-resistant bee breeding, this book documents the encouraging success and growing popularity of beekeeping without chemicals, and details the bee husbandries of the beekeepers presented.


1. Uses of chemicals and why we stop using
2. My bee husbandry and some statistics
3. Darwinian beekeeping
4. Ethics, laws and social implications of
    treatment-free beekeeping
5. The Gwynedd experience
6. Varroa treatment-free projects in Europe and
Austria, Canada, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy,
     Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom,

7. Biotechnical treatments against varroa –
    a half-way house to treatment-free
     Mesh floors (screened bottom boards), Mite trapping – caging
     the queen on comb, Mite trapping – removing drone brood,
     Heat treatment, Small-cell comb, Pseudoscorpions, Feeding

8. Minimising colony losses in treatment-free
    beekeeping with particular reference to
      Bee race, Bee genetics, Hive type, Colony management,
      Colony nutrition

Useful links

Corrections & Addendum

Review by Paul Honigman
  • Published by Northern Bee Books, January 2021
  • ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-913811-00-6
  • paperback, 170 x 244 mm, 120 pages
  • 34 colour illustrations
  • thoroughly indexed
  • £24.95 (GB pounds) + carriage from Northern Bee Books

Shipping to UK and worldwide destinations, direct from the publisher:

Northern Bee Books
Scout Bottom Farm
Hebden Bridge

Tel: +44 (0)1422 882751   Fax: +44 (0)1422 886157 
Email Northern Bee Books:


Swedish version

Behandlings-Fri Biodling

Translated by Stefan Breitholtz

Biodling utan Kemikalier (alternative title)


Web pages on beekeeping with the Warré hive

Details of and how to order Beekeeping for All by Abbé Émile Warré

Northern Bee Books online sales page for Beekeeping for All

English web portal for Warré beekeeping at

David Heaf's Warré experiment

Reply to Glyn Davies Why I worry about the Warré (Devon BKA journal, August 2010)

Waxing Warré top-bars

Preparing top-bar cover cloths

Bait hives

Warré-type bait hive

Funnel for shook swarming bees into a Warré hive box

National hive to Warré hive adapter for artificial swarms from National hives

Hiving a swarm from a bait hive into a Warré

Taranov swarming a National hive into a Warré hive

Bee vacuum for use with Warré box

Diary of a swarm caught in a bait hive and housed in a Warré hive at Gwenynfa 'D'

Warré comb photos

Bearding at Warré hive entrances

Changing a Warré hive floor with a Gatineau lift

Nadiring Warré hives, April 2010

8-way clearer board

Extracting honey

Pressing honeycomb

Hive weighing device

National hive Ashforth feeder on a Warré hive

Putting candy on a Warré hive

Renewing a box full of brood and bees

Solar extractor

Wax extraction by boiling


Warré hive scale and data logger construction   Data



Brief presentation on how I make my Warré hive:
(N.B. Mention of the top-bar cloth was inadvertently omitted.)

Interview by Felix Remter for a film on treatment free beekeeping:

Interview by Jan-Michael Schütt on treatment free beekeeping:



The Essence of Sustainable Beekeeping
Keynote address to Britain's first Natural Beekeeping Conference, 2011 

Towards Sustainable Beekeeping
A compilation of a 4-part article serialised in The Beekeepers Quarterly 2008 with an introduction on beekeeping ethics.
(Part of this article has been translated into French)

Sustainable & Bee-friendly Beekeeping -- Australian Bee Journal 89(2), Feb 2008

Sustainable Bee-Friendly Beekeeping -- New View  -- adapted from 2-part article in Permaculture Magazine (2009)

Do Small Cells Help Bees Cope With Varroa? -- The Beekeepers' Quarterly, 104, June 2011, 39-45.

Letter to the editor of the American Bee Journal Sep 2011 -- responding to an article on the Warré hive by Jerry Hayes

Honey from brood comb is dirty -- a refutation

Nestduftwärmebindung: a useful hypothesis or just 'complete nonsense'? -- The Welsh Beekeeper 206, Winter 2019

Gwynedd winter losses summary -- BBKA News, August 2015

Statistical analysis of Gwynedd winter losses by Dorian Pritchard, BBKA News, December 2015

Bee guided pharmacognosy and the Warré hive -- BBKA News July 2016

Survey of hive winter weight loss rates in UK, USA & Japan 2017

Dealing with Varroa -- Natural selection or artificial selection? -- Natural Bee Husbandry August 2017 German version

The book scorpion, a welcome guest in bee colonies Beier (1951) Translation from the original German

Does the Varroa resistance trait follow the queen when she is used to re-queen another colony without the trait? A review.


Various Warré hives and their contents

Apiary visits April 2008 & 2009

Warré hives at Kinlet apiary (2008)

Warré and National hives at main apiary (May 2008)

Spring visit to Warré hives 2009

Warré colony die-outs 2009

Remodelling comb in box 2 of a Warré hive

Warré hive toppled by wind 2016


Swarms and ferals

Llanystumdwy church feral colony

Capel Uchaf Council house chimney (disused)

Bee removals

Extreme beekeeping



Warré hive humidity studies

Warré hive thermology studies

Comparison of thermal performances of Warré and National hives

Modified Warré hive temperature monitoring (6 sensors)

Modified Lazutin hive temperature monitoring (6 sensors)

Warré hive thermology

Review of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping by Dean Stiglitz & Laurie Herboldsheimer (PDF)

Natural comb -- natural variability of comb spacing according to position in the nest

Cell size -- article by Eric Zeissloff on cell size measurements in natural comb in the last 300 years

                -- article by David Heaf on cell size measurements in natural comb in the last 340 years

                -- recent cell size measurements on feral and Warré comb


Bees drinking through a piece of concrete sitting in a puddle of water

The Wild Hive of Claude Bralet     David Heaf's 'wild hive'     John Haverson's 'wild hive'

Modified Lazutin hive    Modified Einraumbeute  David Junker's bentwood & reeds trough hive

Miscellaneous beekeeping photos and images

Scientific papers bibliography, mostly with abstracts, relating to near-natural beekeeping

Review notes on publications on the subject of hive insulation



Contact David Heaf
e-address: david (at) dheaf (dot) plus (dot) com (please reconstruct this anti-spam email address; format: