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Can I use teak oil to protect my hives?


Hi, I’m Chody from PA, USA. Can I use teak oil to protect my bee hives?


Sure can, but you will need to make sure your wood has had plenty of time to cure before placing bees in there. Also, typically most oils are only good for a year or two so it will need to be re-applied if you want to maintain a nice finish to your hive. Re-application means painting with bees inside and they aren’t going to like that. So either use a very long lasting oil and apply many coats or do what most beekeepers do and paint with a durable waterbased paint, it just wont look as good.


Dear Rodderick, Thanks. By plenty of time to cure, you mean a day, week month? I really want it to look nice since my neighbors see it and I don’t. It’s pretty far from my house. I did give them honey last season. It is my second season and I ordered bees for March and April. I got a second hive in the middle of last season. You have been helpful. I am getting a little intimated by the process. Kathy


Hi Kathy,

Don’t be intimidated! I actually used Tung Oil, which is what Flow recommends. Here is our hive after 6 months - I think it still looks nice:

If you paint on and wipe off 12 hours later, repeated 3 times at 1 day intervals, the Tung Oil will dry in about 2 weeks at garage temperature. :smile: If it isn’t dry before that, it is food grade and non-toxic (don’t eat it though!). It won’t hurt the bees. This is the brand I used, and if you have Prime membership, Amazon often delivers in 24 hours:

All the best with your bees!



Whatever treatment you go with, try and get it into the joints before assembling as this is the where moisture will be drawn into and take the longest to to dry out thus making your hive prone to rot. As long as your hive has had a couple of of weeks to cure you will be fine. I have switched to painting the insides of my hives now with water based undercoat as I have found that the bees don’t coat the insides with propolis, very humid in Sydney which can cause the pine boxes to warp (they soak up moisture like a sponge)


I never knew that could happen to pine boxes. If it gets humid in Sydney, it will sure be more humid up the coast.
Not too late for my pine flow box and one of my ideals yet. Will paint them inside tomorrow.
Thanks @Rodderick


A lot of the pine boxes in Australia can be very inferior, a single coat of waterbased primer is all you need on the inside and bees can be installed a week later. Cheers…


Would you recommend the undercoating inside also for the hoop pine flow boxes or just for the pine boxes I purchased elsewhere? Not sure what kind of pine my ideal boxes are.


Personally I would if you want your boxes to last a lifetime… I have 21 hives and the thought of having to disassemble and re-paint 63 boxes in a few years is daunting. But saying that, Hoop Pine is more dense so is unlikely to warp. So if you decide not to paint the inside, at least run the paint brush (with Tung Oil or a waterbased undercoat) up the inside corners to prevent moisture getting into the joints.
This advice is based on my opinion and that of the an old timer beekeeper who is also painting his boxes on the inside after suffering warping with the new timbers.


Thanks again @Rodderick. Will do. The bees don’t seem to mind the tung oil at all. Will also undercoat inside my ideals right now.


Thank you. I will do this. I had a terrible season…one hive never took off and the other was all consumed by the bees. So I will be starting from scratch next year. Do you know if you can put the plastic parts in the dishwasher?


Not recommended at all. First, the water will probably get too hot. Flow frames can only take water up to 70C. Secondly, as @busso discovered, the melted wax from the frames can thoroughly mess up you dishwasher, resulting in a 2 hour cleanup exercise.

I would just wash them in the sink with warm water - if your hands can stand it, it should be fine on the frames. I am only rinsing out the harvesting channels in mine. The bees happily clean up the wax, and it is better for them if you leave some wax and hive pheromones on the frames in any case.



Thanks…I had a bad year…no honey for me…starting from scratch next year…Kathy


If it’s the first year for your colonies, you wouldn’t (shouldn’t?) expect to take honey for your self. So when you say ‘starting from scratch’ what are you going to do with the hives from this year?


This is my second year. But I did take some honey last year. I got a second hive for this year. That never established. I am moving it for next year. So I will examine the one that has no honey. I will clean it out and prepare it for winter if I still have a queen. Feed it thru winter and hope for the best. If there is no queen then I will dismantle, paint and start over. Does that sound right? Kathy


Hi Kathy,

Here is our latest faq on what paint/ treatment to use on your Flow Hives:


What paint or varnish is safe to coat my Flow Hive with?

We recommend painting the roof with a standard exterior-grade paint
Many beekeepers use oils such as Tung oil or Linseed oil, however we have found when finishing with oils in wet climates, that mildew (black mould) can grow on the surface of your hive. While this will not effect the structural integrity of your hive and should not have any impact on your bees, this may not be the look you were anticipating.

It can be a challenge keeping wood outdoors looking like new, especially in wetter climates. If you wish for your hive to stay mould free and to maintain the natural timber look for as long as possible, we suggest you go to your local paint store and ask for a finish that will last outdoors.

When choosing a finish you will be faced with the choice of natural or non natural finishes. If you go with a less natural finish we recommend you leave the inside of the timber boxes unfinished to keep the internal wood natural for the bees. However, it is advisable to coat the inside of the window covers to stop these from expanding excessively in wet weather. If the finish has a strong smell it is recommended to leave it a few days before installing your bees.

Aside from mildew, wood outdoors will naturally turn to grey. If you want to prevent your hive from greying, paint stores will recommend a finish with a tint. The tint helps shield the wood from UV which is what turns the wood to grey.

If you want to paint your hive with an outdoor paint, this is a great option for protecting your hive from the weather. This will also give you the opportunity to get creative with your designs.

Some commercial beekeepers recommend dipping your hive boxes in copper Naphthalate, then painting inside and out with several coats. While this has proven to make bee boxes last a long time, we like to recommend you use a more natural finish.


I’ve seen some beekeepers also dip their hives with wax.
This is also written somewhere on the forum, I can’t find the post now. I remember @Michael_Bush bush writing about it a lot. He can probably direct you to his post about it.


Hi Faroe, Thank you. I have done everything wrong. Need to start over…feeling frustrated. The wood sticks at the window and fell out of the top. Missing plastic pieces. It has been a terrible year. No honey and a hive that never took off. I just want to take every apart and try again. Thanks. This was very good information. Kathy


Sorry to hear that :frowning:
I’m not sure what you mean by:

But if you are missing plastic pieces, please email Customer Service so that we can help you get replacement parts for you hive.



This is my second year for 1 and 1st for the other. The new one never took off. The older one took off then there was trouble. I went up to find the wood covering at the top gone…no where in sight. and the plastic covers gone. There were also 3 missing covers from the bottom. How these disappeared is a mystery. They are hard for me to get out. They must have been removed. My plan was to disassemble the new one, clean and start over in the spring. The old one, I’m going to take off the top box and feed thru winter. I will get replacement parts and pray. So in the spring, if they survive I will keep it going and get a new queen for the 2nd one. But what could have happened to those covers? Last year when I had one…I did harvest…and when fall came it was full again. But I failed to wrap and we had a rough winter. I know better this year. Kathy