The weather is rapidly cooling and we’ve had a fair few frosty nights but our warre hive set up did not come with a quilt box. We were concerned.
What is a Quilt Box?
A quilt box is a separate section that fits onto your warre hive above the honey boxes and below the roof. It is designed to act like a quilt layer on your hive, keeping the warmth generated by the bees inside the hive and reducing the amount of heat that escapes through the roof. A warre hive is perfectly designed to allow the bees to regulate their temperature on their own as it has similar dimensions to a natural hive, with the addition of the quilt box the hive is quite sustainable over winter with minimum intervention. Indeed, one of the warre hives most redeeming qualities is that you should not need to barely intervene at all, causing the bees significantly less trauma.
Is wasn’t last minute.
I actually ordered a separate warre quilt box last year, around June. It took a long time to dispatch, but I was patient. It never arrived. After a long wait I then had to endure another long wait to get my money back. I then let the task slip my mind for a couple of months.
After a while, as the days got shorter, I remembered I still needed one and ordered another one. I waited. It was dispatched. It never arrived.
This was getting ridiculous. After having a look around online it seemed that it was the same person I tried to order from last time. Making phantom quilt boxes and having the cheek to try to delay my refund or replacement with “can I get your address and Ill look into that” followed by deafening silence. Meanwhile my bees are potentially suffering. As it turns out, I couldn’t find a single other person who makes these quilt boxes, it’s all the same guy.
Right, time to take matters into my own hands. As soon as Christmas is over and everyone opens up the shops again.
Sawmill to the Rescue
We have a great sawmill nearby to us. They have a good supply and some good staff members who know what they are doing. They will also cut up your wood for you at no extra charge – great news for me because I suck at sawing in a straight line. So at the next opportunity I sent my other half over there to pick me up a plank of wood. Specifically a plank of cedar wood, cut to specific dimensions with a certain maximum depth and width.
Huzzah! They had exactly the right plank of red cedar (Thuja) hidden away in the off-cuts section. This guy also knew his stuff and assured my partner that cedar really was the only way to go for a bee hive…
Thuja wood is commonly referred to as Red Cedar. It’s not really a Cedar, but let’s not digress. The reason why Thuja is so GOOD for beehives is because it is naturally weather resistant and therefore does not require treating to be able to sit outside for it’s lifetime. That means less chemicals and happier bees! Apparently it’s also the material of choice for yurt floors for this same reason. To further ensure the minimum of chemicals in my beehive I secured the cuts together with screws – refraining from using the tempting wood glue – just in case.
Hessian & Sawdust
It also happened that I had a few damaged hessian sacks in my shed – perfect for a quilt box! The base of the quilt box is a piece of hessian stretched out and stapled to the box frame. This allows air to flow through the quilt box but still keeps it quite separate. The hessian I used for this box has some printed stuff on it – ideally you don’t want this either and for other people’s hives I would not use this particular off-cut. However, I wasn’t too worried about this minimal contamination for my own in this instance (for no particular reason). The box is then filled with 50-100mm of untreated, unscented sawdust that sits on top of the hessian layer. Boy was this ever hard to find. It’s not as simple as nipping to a pet shop because it’s all treated and scented now. It has to be clean, dry and unadulterated.