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Discussion Starter #1
So far I have painted all of my bee equipment white latex, but I got 5 supers with beautiful wood and I want to paint them (on the outside that is) with a durable clear stain which is not harmful to the bees. What do you recommend? Thank you very much.
Stavros
 

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I've done a few with multiple coats of a spar urathane after staining them and they turned out rpetty nice. I'm just testing it for durability and only have one season on it, but it has sat outside all witner as well. no cracking, bubbling, or anything like that. One of the boxes caught a swarm too, so it seems i have feral bees near me that appreaciate the more aesthetic things in life.
 

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The only one that I suggest is Sikins . It is a oil base stain varnish. That is commonly used on log homes. I have seen five years on log homes with this finish. Most exterior varnish including spar doesn't have enough uv protection to last more than a year.
As a painting contractor
David
 

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I used Minwax stain and Spar Urethane on a few of my boxes, and like the results. I use one of the lighter stains. The last box I did was stained with "natural" and looks good.
 

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Cabots 3000 deck stain.
 

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i'm about to re-stain our deck with australian timber oil and plan to use the leftovers on a couple of hives i made this winter. haven't found anything regarding toxicity to bees yet.
 

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I use the Benjamin Moore Arborcoat stain on mine -- see the attached picture (available in clear stain as well). Very high quality (and low emission) product.
New Beehive.jpg
 

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I used the Varathane Diamond exterior spar varnish last spring (water based; oil based is getting hard to find for me in California what with VOC limitations). It came highly recommended, and is supposed to have superlative UV protection, but now 12 months after I used it (3 or 4 coats over stain, applied mid-March, 2013) it is thin and starting to oxidize on the faces of the hive body that get the most sun. It makes a beautiful finish, but to maintain it I think I'd have to sand & re-coat yearly. That's too much work! As these stained/varnished boxes cycle through and get swapped, I'll do a light sand and paint them with a good exterior latex in fun colors to amuse my kids (like banana yellow or something). For buying new boxes, I'm planning on the wax/rosin dipped Shastina boxes from Country Rubes that will give me the "natural" wood look I really want and will never have to paint.

Here's what mine looked like right after completing the initial stain and varnish coats last March:

hive.jpg

LDSPrepper has a youtube video about staining and varnishing his hives with Minwax Helmsman (I think he's in Texas?) and I think he reached a similar conclusion about polyurethane varnish- it's really hard to get a long lasting clear finish that can survive sun exposure. He then tried fiberglass resin, but I haven't heard how that held up. see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jql0Nue95vA
 

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I used the Varathane Diamond exterior spar varnish last spring (water based; oil based is getting hard to find for me in California what with VOC limitations). It came highly recommended, and is supposed to have superlative UV protection, but now 12 months after I used it (3 or 4 coats over stain, applied mid-March, 2013) it is thin and starting to oxidize on the faces of the hive body that get the most sun. It makes a beautiful finish, but to maintain it I think I'd have to sand & re-coat yearly. That's too much work! As these stained/varnished boxes cycle through and get swapped, I'll do a light sand and paint them with a good exterior latex in fun colors to amuse my kids (like banana yellow or something). For buying new boxes, I'm planning on the wax/rosin dipped Shastina boxes from Country Rubes that will give me the "natural" wood look I really want and will never have to paint.

Here's what mine looked like right after completing the initial stain and varnish coats last March:

View attachment 9870

LDSPrepper has a youtube video about staining and varnishing his hives with Minwax Helmsman (I think he's in Texas?) and I think he reached a similar conclusion about polyurethane varnish- it's really hard to get a long lasting clear finish that can survive sun exposure. He then tried fiberglass resin, but I haven't heard how that held up. see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jql0Nue95vA
I use minwax semi gloss clear poly that is oil modified (cleans up great with just water). I'm only in my second year but they still look good.
 

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I burned some pine, finished with 6-7 coats of Marine varnish and they looked great. After one year outside, the finish seems to be mostly worn off. It did look nice, but I will probably paint them with Kilz primer and 3 coats of semi-gloss white to match my other hives. It just doesn't work very well to have some white and some varnished hive bodies and supers. If I am out of varnished supers and need to put a white one on, it just doesn't look right. The latex paint seems to hold up better and is easier to touch up.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you all for your suggestions--very useful. It seems that staining wood is trickier than I thought. Since the main nectar flow is starting in Atlanta and I want to get the supers on the hives as soon as possible, I decided to go with a primer and a couple of coats of white latex paint. When I pull the supers off in the fall, I can think about atristic decorations. Stavros
 
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