Cedar Hive - Cool Temparate Region - Paint or Oil?

Hi Everyone!

I’m a newbie to bee keeping and have just bought my Cedar Flow Hive in preparation of my first nuc in October.

I live in VIC Australia where we can get pretty cold wet winters (no snow) and then hot dry summers.

I was wondering if oiling my hive with Tung Oil will stand up to these conditions or if I am better to paint it? I plan to paint the roof and legs regardless.

Thanks for your help!

Hi Mel,
I’m in Victoria, west of Geelong. I gave my flow hive 3 coats of tung oil 50/50 with something - sorry I cant remember the name of it but it’s mentioned a number of times on a thread on this site and is some kind of citrus solvent. I’ll add it in later. The middle coat was pure tung oil.
I found (after 10 months) the oil has persisted well on the body of the flow hive but not the roof. If I had my time again, I would’ve painted the roof and oiled the rest of it.
Hope this helps and welcome!

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There’s one or two places that do parrafin wax dipping of hives near Melbourne but that could be difficult with the lockdown.


How do you go about re-oiling the hive when the bees are in it? That’s something I’m assuming will have to be done if oiling rather than painting.

To re apply a coat of tung oil you need to lock the bees into the hive at sunset and then brush on the tung oil by torch light to the front of the hive then release the bees at first light, by then it will have soaked in and dry enough for the bees to walk on it. Paint the roof with an exterior grade white paint to help reduce the risk of the hive over heating. If your in a really hot climate then consider placing the hive where it will get Summer afternoon shade. The ideal temperature in the brood cluster is 34C +/- 1C. If you get afternoon bearding into the night then look for the cause of it happening.

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Thanks Peter,
I wondered about that too. I’m definitely going to swap the roof out too and paint it. Fortunately , I made a spare to plonk on the flow hive while I paint the original.

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I don’t go to all of the trouble that @Peter48 describes. I just put on my bee suit, lightly sand the boxes and paint on the Tung Oil. I don’t do the landing board, and I don’t do the front if they are bearding. Otherwise it works fine, and they just ignore me as long as I am gentle and smooth in my movements.


This post is so well timed, as I live at McCrae, Victoria, Australia and waiting for my cedar flow hive to arrive. As I am only 2 kilometres from the beach it doesn’t get too cold, rare to get a frost, but can get to 40c in February. The Tung oil/citrus Turpene 50/50 mix should soak into the cedar to give a good seal, especially the end grain. Should have some enamel in my paint locker for the roof. By the way did anyone paint the inside of their roof to prevent warping and to ensure a good seal?

I’ve read on one website that you should only use the Tung Oil straight, not 50:50.

When I first treat a new box, I use 50:50. The reason is that Tung Oil is very viscous and doesn’t coat or penetrate all that well with a relatively rough surface, like a hive box. I do the first 1 or 2 coats with 50:50, then go to pure Tung Oil after that.

For re-treating boxes, I use pure Tung Oil. You don’t need to penetrate any more, just re-surface.


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Guys I am a newbie as well and currently building the hive. Has anyone. Used Danish Oil or Teak Oil on the cedar as we have that in the shed.

Those two products are probably just mixtures of Tung or linseed oil with a thinner. May end up forming a sticky surface.

I thought the idea of cedar was to let it age as it is naturally rot resistant. If anything you should look into getting it hot dipped in microcrystalline wax if you can find anyone to do it.

Hope you are glueing your joints.

Thanks for the advice Stevo - yes Am gluing joints.