Formply super, paint or natural

I’m going to construct a formply super. Formply is almost black. Should I paint it a light colour or won’t it matter. I’m concerned about it getting too hot being black. I’m in northern NSW and the hive is in the morning sun until 12/1.00 and then dappled shade.

I would definitely paint it white. Black would make it considerably hotter in the box. Another thing to consider is how long a box made out of form ply will last.

Thanks for the reply. Going on past experience of formply left out in the elements I would expect at least 10 to 15 years if not more.

Hi Ken I would do a bit more research about formply. It has glues that are not necessarily the best for bees or honey and is how it gets its longevity in the construction industry.
There is some reference to it in previous discussions.
I definitely won’t use it for native bee boxes only good quality exterior ply well sealed.
Good luck.

G’day Gary
Thanks for your reply. I had wondered about that so I’ll definitely track down those discussions and do some more research. I was only going to use it because I had some from another project.

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I’m looking for 35 years out of copper naphthenate treated pine boxes. I paint inside & out with 3 coats of paint. I think that if you have any concerns with form ply, why don’t you do something similar.

To be brutally honest, I have some treated boxes with no paint inside. Those boxes were treated 12 months earlier, which is why I felt comfortable (rightly or wrongly) not painting the inside. In the mean time the bees have coated the inside with whatever they use to coat the inside of hives.


Thanks for your reply Jeff. It’s interesting about the bees coating the inside, I assume with propolis. Formply comes with a tough outer coating of paint and then a wax so it’s pretty well sealed. I’ve gotta check about the glue used in this particular formply but a lot of ply these days is already low VOC. Would you be concerned about the black colour? Ie creating too much heat?

Hi Ken, I would be concerned about the dark color creating too much heat. I paint all my bee boxes & lids white. A good test is to place a piece of dark colored ply next to a piece of white ply in the sun on a hot day, then after a while see which one is the hottest.

Did you say that the ply has a wax coating? You may need to remove that first before paint sticks to it. I know people have trouble getting paint to stick to those Chinese Flow copy boxes on account of a wax coating.


Thanks again Jeff. Yes the wax coating is so the concrete doesn’t adhere to it. It’s easily removed with metho or acetone and I will do that before I paint it.

Well done Ken. I’ve been thinking about the wax coating & wondered if that was the reason for it. I wonder how many uses they get out of a board before it doesn’t easily release from the concrete.

Thanks Jeff. They also use form release oil which helps greatly as well. I’ve been researching modern formply and the top grades have a design life of 50 years. The particular one I’ve got has the lowest gas emission E0, which is classified as being safe for inside dwellings without covering and apparently the emissions diminish over a short period of time. There’s E1 and E2 with significantly more toxic emissions from the glue used.

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