All through my beekeeping career I have always questioned
the established pattern (as I believe we all should). I take nothing
for granted and usually conduct a great deal of research (both
literature and practical) before I adopt one method or another.
As British Standard Hives are square in construction they
will fit over the floor with the frames either perpendicular to the
entrance or parallel to it. The "Cold Way" is the perpendicular
version. In the past I have tried both ways to see what would happen,
but I could not originally discern any benefit one way or the other.
I adopted "Cold Way" for my standard as it suited my method of working
(standing at on or other of the rear corners).
I was aquainted with a gentleman (alas now long dead) by the
name of Beo Cooper. He was a Naturalist and the founder of Village
Bee Breeders Association (the forerunner of BIBBA). He was a staunch
supporter of "Warm Way" and I now subscribe to the same ideas myself.
Everthing comes round full circle, but my reasons are similar to his.
I am now in favour of regressed native bees that are different in
several respects to the run of the mill mongrels that abound in the
UK. They are physically smaller and individually longer lived than
other types of bee which means they can survive with a smaller
population (hence the small brood chamber of the British Standard
As each colony is less in bee numbers they are at a small
dissadvantage in a robbing situation, particularly against italian
crossed bees. By adopting "Warm Way" combs we give our smaller bees a
more defendable front door.
With the frames set "Cold Way" a winter cluster will tend
to progress across a set of frames starting from the centre and
moving to one side. This causes a problem when they get to the side
wall. The cluster is then as far as it can be from the remaining
stores. This can result in "isolation starvation" as they will not be
able to leave the cluster, due to cold, to travel the few inches to
obtain the rest of the stores.
This problem can be avoided by having the bees the "Warm
Way". As they generally place their stores at the back of the hive
and work their way from the front to the back as winter progresses.
One advantage of "Warm Way" is that combs are completed
more fully to fill the frame right down to the bottom bar and without
Written... Autumn 2000
Revised... 04 February 2002