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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    2,065

    Default Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Has anyone ever used Cottonwood for making Bee Boxes, Bottom Boards etc? Last week I acquired (free for moving it) about 600 feet of Cottonwood boards, 10 ft, planed 2 sides to 7/8. I searched the Woodworking
    Forums and found that it is used for pallets, flooring in low boys, and with proper paint, decks, fences etc. Of course no mention of Bee Boxes.

    I made a Square Hive using the Cottonwood, and some Cypress I had. Several had been talking about Square Hives on another thread. I also made 4 nucs from the Cottonwood. Plan to paint them and use them in the Spring. Anyone have any info on use for Bee Hives.

    Here is the link to my photobucket acct if you would like to see what the cottonwood Square Hive and Nucs look like. Also on the page is Square Hive made from Cypress. Both are pretty wood and work well.

    Any info or experience with Cottonwood.

    http://s841.photobucket.com/albums/zz339/cchoganjr/

    cchoganjr
    Last edited by Cleo C. Hogan Jr; 12-23-2011 at 10:47 AM. Reason: delete some info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Bryan, TX
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    I would think that it would work fine. If I had been given 600 bf of wood, I would be a building machine making hives and frames.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    980

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Cottonwood does tend to make fuzz instead of saw dust. I would be happy with 600 board feet of lumber no matter what kind of lumber it happened to be. Have fun

    Edit: Those boxes (nucs) would look nice if you dipped them
    Last edited by rwurster; 12-23-2011 at 01:32 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lake county, Indiana 46408-4109
    Posts
    3,565

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by rwurster View Post
    I would be happy with 600 board feet of lumber no matter what kind of lumber it happened to be.
    Cheap is good FREE is better
    Ed, KA9CTT profanity is IGNORANCE made audible
    you can`t fix stupid not even with duct tape

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    It seemes that I just happen to be at the right place at the right time. Last summer a man in Arkansas, (John Howard, operates a saw mill) contacted me and said he would sell me 700 ft of cypress, (rough cut, 13 inch boards by 1 inch thick) for 50 cents a board foot, plus 1 Nuc of bees. Of course I had to go get it, but it was worth it. In the photos on Photobucket, three of the photos of the Square Hive is made of cypress. It is beautiful lumber. I am building deeps, and Nucs with it.

    I posted on another topic, I get a lot of free lumber. I get lots of 1 X 12 from roofing contractors. All short pieces but they work great. A local school, and a local store closed and I got the shelving from them. They were going to throw them away, so I got them for removing them. Also, 3 local lumber yards save me their contractor bring-backs, and culls. I throw a lot away, but I get a lot of short pieces from them. Check from time to time, I often get wood that has been rained on. Let it dry out good and it works. I agree with honeyman46408 Cheap is good, BUT free is even better,

    cchoganjr

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    5,405

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by honeyman46408 View Post
    Cheap is good FREE is better
    Cheap and free can also be a poor value sometimes. I made these western covers out of thick cedar pallet type lumber and regret it. The wood is so unstable the t&g joints open up 1/4" and the paint won't stick. Some started rotting after 2 years.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
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    2,065

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    You are very right and that was my reason for requesting comments on cottonwood for bee hives. I'm going to try a few nucs and the one square hive I built today, but, unless I get some favorable comments, I may just wait a year or so and see what happens. It isn't going to hurt anything just stacked in my barn.

    cchoganjr

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,818

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Actually cottonwood and the soft woods (hack berry being one) start to sort of oxidate on their own if they are stored a year. (this is per the guy who runs the tree service near me, discussing what will and won't store as firewood.) I'd see if paint will stick to it. Build one box, paint, see how it performs, stands up to weather. Painted or sealed in a wax dip, or some kind of oil dip, it might not do the warping that it would if it is shrinking and expanding in response to environmental moisture.

    Gypsi
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, guess I will teach permaculture in drought. The bees are still alive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    Park City Ky
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    2,065

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Gypsi... This has already been stored about 10 years. It is super, super, dry. That is my plan. I have made the 4 nucs and the one square hive I posted above, which I will paint and use next year and see how it works out. If no good, well, all I will have wasted is about 2 hours work, loading and unloading, and restacking it.

    The only problem I had in making the nucs and square hive was two of the fingers on the box joints chipped off a little on the end. It is very hard, and when I planed it to 3/4 it is glass smooth. I did not get the fuzz that the wood working Forums said is common with cottonwood.

    We'll see what happens. I am just not familiar with cottonwood. First time I ever heard of it.

    cchoganjr

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    980

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    I made a baseball bat out of a cottonwood limb when I was in high school for a project to aquaint myself with lathe measurement tools etc.
    not necessarily for baseball. I remember all the fuzz it made when I ripped it. I remember also that the weeping willow I turned on the lathe smelled so horrible when I sanded it I almost got chased out of the shop. Time will tell on those boxes.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX, USA
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    1,818

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    if it cured and didn't "lighten" it might be ok. Cottonwood isn't one of the trees I was investigating. It got its name from the seed pods which are carried on the breeze with their cotton-looking parachutes. The southern version of the poplar I believe, certainly the leaves are similar. Which my grandfather called the "popal" tree.

    That wood may be excellent:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_sect._Aigeiros
    Last edited by Gypsi; 12-23-2011 at 11:00 PM. Reason: add wikipedia link
    Stuck in Texas. Learning Permaculture in drought, guess I will teach permaculture in drought. The bees are still alive.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,218

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    I won't say if it is worth it or not. But I wll tell you about Cottonwood and what that means for the probable quality of the wood.
    Cottonwood trees are one of the fastest growing trees there are. They can grow to maturity in as little as 10 years and can have a life span as short as 20 years. I have personally sen cotton woods that grow as much as 6 to 7 feet per year with a mature height of 20 feet that means they can grow to full size in as little as three years. Without going into to much detail I will say that fast growth is in no way good. In same ways you would be better off making hives from wax soaked cardboard. Fast growth equals week punky wood. There is a reason you don't hear about things being made of cottonwood.
    Now wether you should make hives from free cottonwood. That is for you to answer. Just don't expect much from it if you do. that way you will not be disappointed. IF it does better than I suspect. well that is a bonus.
    To give you some sort of reference. Pine is not one of the better woods for longevity and the tree can take 100 years or more to grow to maturity. Redwood would be a top of the line wood for resistance and can take 2000 years or more to grow. So that sort of gives you an idea of the scale from 1 to 10. I think I woudl take the wood and make a bunch of nucs to resell out of it. Sell em cheap.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    5,107

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Daniel Y: What you say seems perfectly logical but I do think there is a different dynamic in play with well cured cottonwood and the only real evidence I have of this is the basement of an older home I was at once helping with a project, the homeowner pointed out to me that all the floor joists were cottonwood. He said that it's difficult to even drive a nail into it and he was right. They were full cut 2" and were remarkably straight and true.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Huntington ,VT, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    faster growth has little relation to strength and is only weakly related to longevity. Black locust grows incredibly fast and is one of our hardest strongest timbers...and it is near rot proof.

    Cottonwood is one of the few species native around here I have not knowingly worked with. The stability and strength specs should be available from the US forest product labs.
    I would be concerned with it's durability. I have never seen a cottonwood log on the ground for more than a year or two that wasn't loaded with rot. Spruce and white pine, which are rated as only marginally rot resistant fare much much better.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
    Posts
    261

    Default

    I think I now have a vested interest in this discussion as I have a cottonwood on the corner of my property that needs to come down soon probably (multiple lightning strikes have done some work in the top of the tree). I don't know if there are different varieties here in the North, but 20ft is by no means maturity around here. This tree is over 3foot in diameter and over 100 feet tall. Theres another across the street from me that is a little narrower and just as tall. It snows every summer by my house because of these two trees. Very different from the popolar trees that grow nearby (leaves are somewhat similar, but bark and size is a hugely different. If cottonwood amounts to anything I will get that tree sawn. I don't even want to make a guess how many board feet are in that tree if it's sawable.

    I
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 12-24-2011 at 09:30 AM. Reason: dup post

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Coopersville, Michigan
    Posts
    261

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Just read the wiki entry on it, not looking that promising, I burn wood, but apparently the BTU rating is terrible and the wood is mostly used for cheap pallets etc. Oh well, might still be worth sawing just because it doesn't burn well.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Dripping Springs, TX USA
    Posts
    296

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Nice work cchoganjr !!! I really like the nice work you have done on the hand holds. I wish mine were as clean. I have the finger joints down, but I can't get the hand holds to look as clean. Guess I don't have the right tools or secrets yet.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    2,065

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    Thanks Everyone, for the comments. A year from now we will have a better idea if Cottonwood is any good. I have made 4 nucs, 1 Square Hive, and I plan to build 4 regular Langs, (all with bottom boards), paint them, put bees in them in April, and see what they look like this time next year. If they don't last, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained or lost. The wood was free, and this time of year I have lots of time to do the things I really enjoy doing.

    Daddy's Bees......Others wanting to make Hand Holds... I have given the secret to anyone who wants it. If you want to make nice professional looking "D" type commercial hand holds, using a Skil Saw and a very simple jig you can build yourself at home, Beesource has my Hand Hold Instructions to build the jig, in their " MAKE IT YOURSELF LIBRARY" (Thank Barry for getting it posted).. Just go to Beesource Home Page, click on Make it Yourself, then click on Hand Hold. They have the link posted to my YouTube Video that shows you how it is done. If you still need info, don't hesitate to contact me at cchoganjr@scrtc.com and I will walk you through it. And, all of this is free, My favorite price.

    cchhoganjr
    Last edited by Cleo C. Hogan Jr; 12-24-2011 at 12:45 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Glencoe, Okla USA
    Posts
    322

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    One of our neighbors cut two cottonwood trees from our farm in 1947, they had the logs sawed into 2 x 6" & 1 x 12" , they built a dairy barn with this lumber. This barn is still standing and still looks good!
    Myron Denny
    Glencoe Okla

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,860

    Default Re: Using Cottonwood for Bee Boxes

    I've not had cottonwood to build bee boxes, but on the family farm in southern Minnesota (Glenville), several buildings were built with locally produced cottonwood. The slabs were rough cut, clear of knots, apparently easy to work with...but easily chewed by rats and mice.

    We tore down some of the buildings, and being genetically frugal, the wood was saved and stacked inside for further use. The wood was incredibly light and straight...not warped. We kept talking of having the wood planed to make it conformable to conventional sizes but that day never came. Dad finally got tired of looking at it and burned the stack.

    If I had it available in planed board sizes, I'd have no hesitation of using it.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

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