Replacing an occupied box on a Warré hive

This is the first time the author has had to take a Warré box out of commission during its occupancy.

The lower glazing bar of a window box had rotted through and the bees had made an upper entrance.

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Box 1, heavy with honey, was temporarily set aside on an upturned roof.

Below left: rotted bar.     Below right: roof, quilt, top-bar cloth and box 1 removed.

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The bees in box 2 were smoked down. Box 2 was removed and placed on a spare floor. Box 1 complete with top-bar cloth (still stuck down) was put back on the hive to retain warmth. Comb connections to the side walls of box 2 were cut with a thin serrated bread-knife. When removing all combs, this is quicker than using a Warré comb knife.

Below left: bees smoked down.     Blow right: cutting combs free of walls.

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A replacement box was placed on a second spare floor, with both floors placed side-by-side on a sheet. Top-bars were prized out with a hive tool, transferred in order and with the same orientation to the replacement box, and positioned according to the marks left in the rebates by the previous top-bars.

Below left: box 2 next to replacement box.    Below right: transfer almost complete.

 box_change_new_old_boxes.jpg (62089 bytes) box_change_transferring.jpg (67694 bytes)

During transfer, the presence of eggs was verified. There were two unoccupied queen cells in the box and adult drones were present..

Below: comb 2 showing capped drone and worker brood, a few larvae on the periphery of the capped brood, a pollen cell and a small patch of honey. 

box_change_brood_comb2.jpg (168600 bytes)

After transferring all the combs, bees remaining in the old box were brushed onto them with a bird's wing, box 1 temporarily set aside again, box 2 replaced in the correct orientation and box 1 replaced on top of it.

There were two small holes in the top-bar cloth so it was replaced with a new one.

Below left: box 2 replaced; box 1 on the upturned roof.    Below right: the hive closed up with the new box in place.

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Below: Close-up of holes in the top-bar cloth.

box_change_topbar_cloth.jpg (21257 bytes)

David Heaf's bee index