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Exterior Hive Protection

With the anticipated arrival of my new red cedar hive I was thinking about using exterior spar varnish on the exterior finish. I wold like to maintain the beautiful wood appearance. Is there any reason why I should not use exterior spar varnish as finish?

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An emulsion of beeswax and turps will protect your wood and give it a lovely colour.
If you want the weathered look then the traditional thing for cedar is Bleaching oil.

Proper turps, mind

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I hope this helps a few understand the quality of the Western Red Cedar you can coat the exterior of it with pretty much anything as long as the bees agree to it or like it. :smile:


Western Red Cedar produces natural oil and extractives that act as preservatives to protect the wood from insect attacks and decay-causing fungi. Its ability to produce such preservatives increases with age, allowing the wood to withstand years of usage in sound condition. In addition, Western Red Cedar is a dimensionally stable wood that lies flat and stays straight. Compared to other common woods, it boasts very low shrinkage value, which makes it suitable for a variety of uses in high-moisture areas such as saunas.


Beauty aside, the Western Red Cedar’s cellular structure creates interior air spaces that give it an insulation value higher than most woods. Buildings, which feature cedar paneling, ceiling, or siding, tend to stay warmer in the winter. Western Red Cedar also has excellent sound suppression and absorption qualities, creating a very comfortable and private ambience.


Cedar wood has been used from 3000~4000 years ago to prevent or cure illnesses. Any kind of wood including cedar wood might be harmful if its wood dust is inhaled by an enormous amount in a closed space such as a saw mill or a wood factory.

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I am familiar with Red Cedar but have no idea what bees like or dislike. The welcome message include with the Flow Hive suggests “natural wood oil.” A google of that brings up lots of hits. Can anyone be more specific? Thanks.


The wood part of the hives are made by BeeThinking, and they recommend using a coat or two of 100% natural Tung Oil.


I painted my hand crafted 14x12 box with walnut oil. I loved it the day my friend made it. I must say it did look absolutely lovely.
Years down the line odd floors and supers have been used with it, mixed and matched through the season and the whole apiary looks like somebody with a blindfold put it together :blush:

Thanks, just what I needed.

Dee… walnut oil can go rancid…

Oh, wait, that was some time ago. ; -)

I never noticed it going off. Mind you the hive went straight into use into English weather and I didn’t re-oil it

Western Red Cedar in not a real cedar at all, but a member of the Cypress family. You don’t need to treat it at all, but Tung oil brings out the colour of the wood nicely.

Hi Dee just saw this and wondered what ratios are for combining the 2, am making some boxes & getting ready for spring, not too far off, I hope, well weeks now rather than months at least

Do you mean the walnut oil?
Straight out of the bottle. The stuff you use for stir frying

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Sorry didn’t look at whole thread, beeswax and turps emulsion

Melt 4½oz. of beeswax in double pan and then add 1 pint of proper turpentine, not substitute. Raise temperature to about 80C/180F.

In another pan, preferably with a pouring lip, dissolve ½oz. of soap flakes in 1 pint hot water. Adjust temperature to 80C/180F.

Remove from heat.

Start stirring the wax with a hand whisk at slow speed… (I use just one of the whisks and I heat it up so that the wax doesn’t solidify on it immediately.
Very slowly pour the soap solution in (slow like you were making mayonnaise)

Keep stirring it for a while till you get a good emulsion.
It should keep forever in jars

It’s an absolute faff doing it but it produces some great stuff that cleans and polishes in one go…excellent for furniture too


Thanks Dee, that’s brilliant. I don’t mind a bit of faff. All to the good, bet it smells great too.


Go for it…as long as it drys well before the bees get in it you should be good. I use tung oil with all my red cedar projects because I like the look. Everyone has different tastes.

Good luck,

Not sure if you were referring to me using the beeswax /turps mix, but it’s not for cedar & I will only be doing exterior of hive components.

No was referring to the opening post about the spar varnish.

ok :slight_smile:, was unsure as original posts were awhile ago.