Natural Beekeeping with the Warré hive -- A Manual

Reviews 3 July 2013

by S. Davies "Steve D" (Sussex, UK)

New to beekeeping and starting down the Natural Beekeeping road, guidelines are frustratingly scattered and confusing.

I found David's previous publication, The Bee-friendly Beekeeper, excellent and informative. As such, I placed an order as soon as I heard another book was due to be released.

My initail impression was one of disappointment as it seemed to be a re-written version of the first book. However, that turned out not to be the case.

The sub-title of the book is 'A Manual' and that is exacty what it is. Yes, it does have many parts that are the same as the first book, but without most of the background information. This is coupled with lots of new information and complemented with many images. As such, it becomes a book that will be referred to frequently throughout the season; and this brings me to my criticism.

The paper used is thin to the point that text shows through from the other side. Also, the photographs are poorly produced giving an impression of a cheaply produced publication. It doesn't have the same feel as the first book which is a joy to read.

Bottom line is, I'm glad I have both books but will be refering to the 'Manual' on a regular basis. I expect to have to buy another copy when it wears out and would be willing to do so.

Highly recommended for information but publication could be better.


The Beekeepers Quarterly No. 114, December 2013, p. 53

by John Phipps, Editor

David Heaf is undoubtedly one of the foremost exponents of beekeeping in the UK of using the People‘s Hive - known more commonly as the Warré Hive, being named after its originator in France, Abbé Warré. The hive allows beekeepers to manage their colonies in a sustainable way which has benefits for both the bees and the beekeeper. Several years ago, in the BKQ, David wrote a stimulating and thought-provoking series of articles on beekeeping ethics - the main thrust of his erudite discourses being that considering the many difficulties that bees have to put up with in a vastly changed world which are increasingly threatening their survival, changes have to be made in the mindset of beekeepers so their colonies‘ needs are to be considered as being of primary importance, which would result in a change in beekeeping practice so ultimately a higher standard of bee husbandry would prevail. At the heart of this message was that beekeepers needed to start from the basics upwards, review what was happening and look to more sustainable ways of beekeeping for a solution to current problems. David expanded on this theme in his book "The Bee-friendly Beekeeper -- A Sustainable Approach‘ (NBB 2010) in which he surveyed various methods of keeping bees in a natural way over the years -- but had been drawn to choosing the War method for his colonies - a not surprising choice since he and his wife, Patricia, had already translated Abbé Warré's book ‘Beekeeping For All‘ from the French, which describes the hive and its management (NBB 2007).

David‘s latest book is a user‘s manual for the Warré hive; having listed the merits (and a few drawbacks) of the hive, it becomes a full guide to its construction (in meticulous detail) and the management of bees throughout the season covering all tasks that a beekeeper is likely to perform - though emphasis is given to the fact that as little interference as possible is better for the bees. The construction of the hive and its parts are more clearly drawn than in War's book and the sections on management are much expanded - as a result of his own experience and those of other beekeepers who use this type of hive in other parts of the world. Whilst David would prefer that anything near to the bees is naturally sourced, he understands that compromise might be necessary for some components of the hive. He gives many reasons why swarms are the best way of stocking the hives - and unlike bee breeders/beekeepers who are often apt to say that such bees only lead to more swarms, he quotes Brother Adam as saying "There can be no doubt whatever that the swarming impulse provides the best nurtured and best developed queens, for when a colony prepares to swarm it has reached an optimum in its organic development as well as opulence in every direction. Indeed, swarming is the natural manifestation of a colony having reached the summit of affluence. In such circumstances ideal conditions prevail for raising the best of queens from a physical point of view." - And, what is more important, it is a completely natural occurrence. On the subject of queens - I like the way in which a queen can be found by the ‘filtering‘ method -ie the boxes of bees are removed from the floor with the same number of empty boxes put in their place, on top of which a queen excluder is positioned. The stack of boxes is put on top of the excluder and heavy smoking drives the bees down a box at a time until, eventually, the queen and drones will be found on top of the excluder.

Various new tools are required for managing colonies including specially designed (home-made) hive tools, a cheese cutter - to cut through the tiers of boxes, wedges (R Raff would have been pleased to hear this) and a brush with non—synthetic bristles; at Mount Athos they had brushes made with horse hair!

One problem which might put beekeepers off using a War hive is that several boxes might need to be lifted for nadiring, ie ‘supering‘ from below. With two beekeepers working together this might not be a such a great problem, so for the lone beekeeper two examples of home-made hive lifts are described which could be made without too much difficulty.

So, at last, a state-of-the-art manual on a proven, successful way of keeping bees in a sustainable way, which will enthuse those who have not already taken to this new path in beekeeping or which will further enlighten those already committed to keeping bees in The People‘s Hive.


The Welsh Beekeeper, Spring 2015

by Ian Glastonbury (GlastonBees)

On first appearances, one would believe that this book is exclusively written for using the Ware Beehive, but after reading it cover to cover, along with some time to allow the information to digest in the murky depths of my mind, 1 firmly believe that users of other beehives can too learn a lot from David Heaf‘s approach.

It is obvious that a lot of work has gone into this book, to make it as user friendly as possible. A manual, of which this book 15 named, has the contents laid out in such a way that transforms this

book into a fantastic aid that can be taken with you whilst you visit your own bees.

The language used in this book is very easy to understand and opens up doors for many newcomers to beekeeping to be able to digest this Information and give them a fantastic welcome and start to this all absorbing pastime.

Each subject has been broken down into manageable bite size pieces yet giving such in depth detail, furnishing the reader with enough information to be confident in carrying out some of these activities themselves, as if a mentor was there with them.

David has also been very clear in the way he shows us many different options for carrying out certain procedures. He makes complicated procedures accessible by presenting his text with the simple layout and abundance of photographs and images. 1 like the fact that he enforces the concept that a lot of our beekeeping decisions are all down to personal preference.

David has also been honest and touched upon the potential difficulties that are faced by some people when they approach beekeeping associations to share their experiences exploring Natural beekeeping practises. This is a sad state of affairs that still exists but the tides do seem to be changing. 1 am pleased to read that David still encourages you to speak to other beekeepers, your local associations and the National Bee Unit. Honey bees are our common interest; we need to be able to help each other, as the amount of knowledge that can be shared is just as valuable as current research.

Thank you David... What a refreshing change...