The Voirnot hive

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The Voirnot hive

Abbe Voirnot (from LApiculteur)

Abbe Voirnot must have known the two good French hives, Decouadic and Palteau. He could have been able as successfully as I was to find a way of using the extractor to extract the fixed combs of these hives. His knowledge and perseverance in other researches showed he was equal to the work.

But Abbe Voirnot never spoke of these two hives. Fascinated by the advantages of the extractor, he straight away accepted the framed hive which immediately enabled him to use the extractor. But he did not accept the Dadant hive, as was presented to him. He understood its faults.


The size of the Dadant hive excited everyone at first. After some very commendable observations, Abbe Voirnot concluded that 100 square decimetres of combs gives the hive the size that is necessary, yet sufficient for winter and spring. It is the size that he gave to his hive and which made it superior to the Dadant hive.

Depth and shape

Abbe Voirnot gave a greater depth to the frame of his hive so that the bees always had all their stores above their cluster. Thus no more death of colonies beside good stores.

Abbe Voirnot gave his hive a square shape, because this shape was closer to the shape of a cylinder, a shape in which the distribution of heat occurs more evenly, but whose construction is too expensive.

The square shape allows placement of the hive warm-way or cold-way as one wishes; a small advantage.

Abbe Voirnot also gave his hive a cubic shape, because this shape approaches a sphere, a shape in which the distribution of light occurs most evenly. Here Abbe Voirnot made a mistake. In a hive we do not have to allow for light; the bees want only darkness in it. And this cubic shape prevented Abbe Voirnot from promoting his frame as much as M. de Layens did his. An unfortunate mistake.


Abbe Voirnot also saw the inconveniences of expansion in the Dadant hive. On this point he was content with reducing to 100 mm the depth of the super of his hive. It is a small matter.

Populating the hive and stores

In view of the size of the Voirnot hive, a swarm of 2 kg suffices to populate it, and between 15 kg and 16 kg of honey is sufficient as winter stores. These are two important advantages. But do not forget that in our hive, 12 kg stores generally suffices.

Apart from the advantages that we have indicated, the Voirnot hive retains all the faults of the Dadant hive including frames, foundation, quilt, spring visit, expansion, stores and boards.

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