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  1. #1

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    I have an almost unlimited, free source of basswood available to me. Has anyone used this wood to build their hives? I was thinking using a beeswax/spirit varnish on the exterior to help waterproof it and leaving it untouched inside. I've used basswood for the topbars and they don't move very much at all with the weather. I was just wondering how they would hold up to Virginia's humidity. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Troupsburg, NY
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    Never used basswood for hives. Try it and see, but I think you will be disappointed with how long they last, even stained on the outside, the humidity inside the hive might rot the unstained inside. Doesn't hurt to try it.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Build a few ans see how they do. Basswood is a very easy wood to work with.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    May 2005
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    Probably be fine. Nice and light. Unlimited supply, and free, even better. It's really soft, you'd want to use those metal frame rest thingies or spacers to keep from ruining the frame rest which would happen in no time without them, and be careful scraping propolis and wax off the top and bottom.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Whitefield, Maine USA
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    Handles could be a trick...
    Dulcius ex asperis

  6. #6
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    Jan 2004
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    Berkey, OH, USA
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    I love basswood! I agree that it might rot a little quicker, but heck if it is free and you treat the outside (paint or varnish as you propose why not? If you have trouble it will be on the inside, so you want to make sure you have a tight lid.

    I built some purple martin gourd racks out of basswood 4 years ago (because I had some basswood left from another project and like you said it is a cheap wood).

    They have lasted fine so far, painted them of course. I do take them down in the winter though. I would be careful to keep the exterior touched up.

    Also agree with George you would have to be careful with the hive tool since the wood is so soft. But with a TBH it isn't the problem as it would be with a Lang.

    Have fun!

    [size="1"][ January 12, 2006, 03:29 AM: Message edited by: BerkeyDavid ][/size]

  7. #7
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    May 2005
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    Whitefield, Maine USA
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    >with a TBH it isn't the problem as it would be with a Lang.

    I didn't pick up on Heritage talking about building a top bar hive, though I should have because he mentioned top bars, duh. I just automatically assumed langstroth boxes.

    I've seen a LOT of really old boxes. Granted they were all pine, but the operative word is OLD. Some were reportedly over 40 years old. None of them rotted from the inside out. Since it's a humid environment, I assume the propolis and wax had something to do with that. The top and bottom edges rotted where bare wood met bare wood and water collected, the bottom corners rotted out for similar reasons, and due to ants, and the rabbets broke broke out, but the boxes as a whole didn't rot.

    I don't expect basswood would last as long as pine because longevity is usually a function of hardness and basswood isn't, but I'm sure it would be just fine.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  8. #8

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    what would happen if I were to seal the interior with beeswax/spirits?

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't. The bees will wax it. But that's just me.

    Where're you getting all the basswood? I'm jealous [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Dulcius ex asperis

  10. #10

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    I work in a cabinet shop that builds a lot of basswood cabinets. Boss said take what I want. I've made dozens of top bars just using scrap he would otherwize burn in the furnace! I'm planning on a curly maple observation top bar hive in the near future, but I'd have to buy most of the wood for that. I've gathered a few pieces that I could use from a gun cabinet we built, but not enough for the whole hive.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >what would happen if I were to seal the interior with beeswax/spirits?

    The bees may not like it. No reason to. The bees will seal the entire interior with propolis anyway.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    McGraw,NY,USA
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    Unless I`m mistaken A.I. Root made a lot of his hives out of Basswood. I certainly would like to get it at the price your are .
    Rick Alexander
    Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Basswood is a fine wood. It's the traditional cigar-box wood. What is a beehive if not a big cigar box? It's only real downside is that it is not quite as strong as pine and quite a bit softer, but it's not so far behind as to be a problem in my opinion. It's tensile and sheer strength is roughly comparable to spruce.

    Basswood is my favorite wood for walking sticks.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    But it's light and good insulation. Isn't that what the new (expensive) foam ones are?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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