I have been reading several thoughts on painting or sealing my hives. I am new to this so don’t want to hurt my bees with out realizing what I am doing. I just received my new hives and they are cedar. They are beautiful so I want to seal it with a really good outdoor polyurethane, preferably oil base. The lowest VOC ratings on these products are in the 300s. Since it is January now, will the “off gassing” be done enough to not harm my bees by installation in mid to late April?
Should be OK within a month, certainly within 6 weeks if you do it in a well ventilated, dry area like a garage. However, if you want to lean towards organic or fully natural, I would strongly suggest Tung Oil like this:
Three coats of Tung Oil should be “cured” in about a month, and last a year. After that, just wire wool rub or lightly sand, and apply another coat. You can even do it on the hive, as it is non-toxic to the extent that it is even used for wood block cutting boards.
Even marine grade polyurethane will need re-finishing after a couple of years, and you will have to take everything apart to do that, so I like the Tung Oil.
Thank-you. I was unsure about reapplying even the Tung Oil while the bees were in the hive so thought the boat finish would last longer. I will try it on my next hive.
The only problematic place is the landing board. The rest of the hive totally ignores me when I re-coat. Of course the best solution is to have at least 50% extra spare boxes, and just rotate them through. But with bottom boards, that is not so easy.
Something to take into consideration when using Tung Oil:
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.
It won’t affect it either. It is just on the surface, and comes off easily with wire wool or fine sand paper. You can bleach it if you want, but on the outside, I don’t.
This faq wasn’t written by me, Dawn. But, I will pass this feedback on to the team to edit.
English is hard
Actually, it really is. A couple of days ago, I was struggling to explain to a French friend (who speaks almost no English) the difference between “say” and “tell”. In concept, it is simple, but in French it is really hard to explain the difference.
If it’s rough n tough in French … you ought to try explaining in Vietnamese … at time I just cross my fingers n watch to see if the concept not just the word got thru somewhat understood !