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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Fort Lauderdale, FL
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    35

    Default Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    Hi guys,

    I was wondering what beehives are generally made out of and what they can be made out of and what are the benefits out of the different materials including the different types of woods? I also notice there aren't too many plastic beehives out there, does it add a bad taste to the honey?

    Thanks again,

    Imperial

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ankeny, Iowa, USA
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    591

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    I would say that most hives are spruce, pine or fir. I recently ordered one made from Cedar and have also found some made from Hickory, that interest me. I think a few guys on here use Cypress also. It seems to be wide open and if you are building your own hives, use the wood that you can purchase locally at the best price. Good luck and have fun!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Richmond, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeonardS View Post
    ... and have also found some made from Hickory ...
    I have no experience building beehives, but I worked in the furniture industry for years and I can tell you that hickory is a BEAR to work with. Nails won't drive, staples collapse, etc. Plus, it weighs twice as much as pine, if that matters to you. But if you know what you're doing I'm sure it's OK.

    Anyway, back to the OP - is plywood an issue as far as chemicals or adhesives harming the bees?

  4. #4
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    Mar 2012
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    Ankeny, Iowa, USA
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    591

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    I don't think you will find too many fans of plywood for constructing hives. It will work, but I don't think it will last as long as regular wood. If the plywood is free, then it may be worth considering.

    Good to know on the hickory! I would buy them assembled and I was interested because of the nice look when using marine varnish on them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clintwood VA USA
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    If you buy I would advise Cypress for longevity. I am now replacing hives that I bought about 15 years ago due to decay. If I had known then what I know now my hives would still be good!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Fort Lauderdale, FL
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    35

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    What about plastic beehives? Anyone had any experience with them? Does it effect the taste of the honey?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Madison, WI, USA
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    175

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    The bees will coat everything inside the hive with propolis anyway, so the only material I would avoid is any type of treated wood. I use pine boards, good grade of glue (like Titebond III), long screws, and a good coat of paint. Covers are plywood and pine covered with aluminum flashing.
    life is finite while knowledge is infinite. - Zhuang Zi

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Fort Lauderdale, FL
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    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom B View Post
    The bees will coat everything inside the hive with propolis anyway, so the only material I would avoid is any type of treated wood. I use pine boards, good grade of glue (like Titebond III), long screws, and a good coat of paint. Covers are plywood and pine covered with aluminum flashing.
    Great, so even if I were to have a plastic hive it would effected the bees or honey at all, right?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,803

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    For the average beekeeper, the best wood for hives is "Free Wood". Make your own.

    All the wood listed above will work great (with possible exception of Hickory, Hickory not so good). A good preservative, (paint, dip, stain, etc., and any wood will outlast the beekeeper and most of his relatives.

    Most plastics tend to warp, draw moisture, so they too, are not so great. But, will work.

    cchoganjr

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Upper Kingsclear, NB, Canada
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Imperial View Post
    Hi guys,

    I was wondering what beehives are generally made out of and what they can be made out of and what are the benefits out of the different materials including the different types of woods?
    Imperial
    I made mine of eastern hemlock. There is some wastage due to ring shake (internal delamination) but it's cheap and weather resistant and pretty light. May try some eastern white cedar , it's nice too but pricier. I have a local mill that will saw both of these up.

    Rob

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,905

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    White pine is cheap light and durable. Yellow pine is heavier, but slightly more durable. Old growth cypress is more durable, but more expensive. New growth cypress does not seem to be any more durable than pine. Anything that is not in contact with the ground seems to age pretty well no matter what it is. Anything in contact with the ground needs to be something that won't rot, treated lumber being the cheapest and easiest to get. If you don't want treated lumber, cedar or redwood or old growth cypress works. Any wood that is cheap or free is fine.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
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    35

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    White pine is cheap light and durable. Yellow pine is heavier, but slightly more durable. Old growth cypress is more durable, but more expensive. New growth cypress does not seem to be any more durable than pine. Anything that is not in contact with the ground seems to age pretty well no matter what it is. Anything in contact with the ground needs to be something that won't rot, treated lumber being the cheapest and easiest to get. If you don't want treated lumber, cedar or redwood or old growth cypress works. Any wood that is cheap or free is fine.
    Thank you Michael, what is your opinion of plastic hives like those seen here

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,905

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    I'm very happy with eight frame mediums. I haven't found plastic hives in that. I did have some samples that were ten frame mediums I meant to try. I never got around to it so I gave them to Sol who was going to try them. Maybe he can answer that. I tried the styrofoam ones. Again they were not available in eight frame, but I had condensation issues. I have a bunch of the bee briefs and I like them a lot and they are similar to the ones in your link but they are four frame nucs (deeps, unfortunately) and are very durable and easy to handle. If I could get them in mediums, I'd probably buy a bunch more...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    [I have a cpl of those types.. there not bad for a warm climate. The have no r value though. I also have some beemax hives (styrafoam) which I really don't like (flimsey) and nothing fits.
    Keep in mind with that hive type its not intercahgable with the rest of the countrys stuff. Most of us have a hodgepodge of equipment, and this plastic stuff is differernt than anything else...

    As for what everyone uses, I can tell from watching a lot of silly post here, the answer is WHATEVER IS CHEAP OR FREE....
    I prefer cypress or heavy pine myself.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    571

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    I am having red cedar cut custom for me at $1.00 a board foot and am enjoying it. Cabinet shop is supplying me with hard maple and oak for my frames and other small stuff as the lumber is scrap. I still buy some white boards at the Lowes for my nucs. We harvested some trees on the farm and am going to have some catalpha, oak, cherry, and some walnut boards to play with when they air dry.

    I still have local sawmill watching for someone bringing in some nice cypress logs and will have him cut some of them up.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,489

    Default Re: Beginner Question: Beehive materials?

    It won't matter to the bees what you use so long as it's not actively toxic or too hot (no sheet metal, for instance).

    Over the decades since Langstroth hives became the standard, wood choice has more or less settled down to pine, usually one of the lighter, softer ones (Ponderosa, white, etc) due to low cost and light weight. Honey is heavy enough, no need to add more weight to your boxes for no good reason. Any wood will last a very long time if kept painted and weather tight.

    If you have a large supply of something other than pine, by all means use it. Cedar and cypress are both known to weather very well, so those are fine, but high quality hardwoods are really just too expensive to make boxes for insects from. Oak, hickory, pecan, and similar woods are very heavy and you cannot drive nails into end grain unless you pre-drill, and even then hickory is likely to split if the nail is siginificantly larger than the hole. After all, you can split hickory (and pecan) into pieces with which one can make chairs with just a frow and an hammer. Very brittle.

    Use what ya got -- I scrounged through the scrap bin at the local Menard's and got enough wood at 69 cents a board to make five medium boxes this year. Pretty cheap, something like $2.80 each. Not always available, but I stop in once a week and grab whatever looks good. I also buy 4' 1 by stock when I need to.

    Have fun!

    Peter

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