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Polystyrene Boxes


Have been researching info about polystyrene equipment and wondered if the flow frames could be used or not? I like the idea of insulation for my bees as it gets extremely hot here in Adelaide, South Australia. Temps holding up to 40-44c (110🔅f) for weeks at a time, sometimes longer.
Is there anyone out there yet that has converted their polystyrene supers to hold the flow frames, would love to hear and see your photos! Cheers


I haven’t had much experience with polystyrene boxes. I know @Valli has some polystyrene hives and may be able to offer some insight. I would be concerned that they wouldn’t be strong enough especially with the cut outs. If you do try using polystyrene I’d suggest doing minimal cut outs (only enough to access the drain points and the slot for the key).

Plenty of water around and shade in summer would be important but make sure the winter sun can hit the hive. If you do try it I look forward to hearing how you go.


G’day @Orangelane I have Poly (Polystyrene) Nuc’s one National and one Langstroth also a Langstroth full Hive and 2 feeders.

I’m sure you could modify the Poly but it would affect the integrity I think and sort of defeats the warmth/cool aspect. Poly’s are cheap enough if it didn’t work you have not cost yourself a fortune. Suggest you try on a cardboard box first, work out what you want to do and have a practice. Nothing ventured nothing gained!

Personally I went for poly Nuc’s as they are light easy and quite cheap, The Poly Hive and feeders because they are warm and I had seen some and they are pretty OK.

I’m hoping to put a Poly feeder over my wooden hive to feed if needs be in winter - the Poly feeder is integral and £20 to buy a wooden set up it is £10 for the feeder and then £20-£50 for the eek or super to go over it - pure economics.

If you only want for the cooling aspect you could always create a “Coolgardie” effect - Tub of water, hessian (burlap) and drape the hessian over the hives and the base of the hessian in the water - the “wick” effect of the hessian draws water from the source a wets it, the natural atmospheric elements wind, breeze, sunshine, means the water evaporates and “Cools” - This is the old Aussie outback fridge named after where it was created in WA.

I used this technique in summer to keep my Guinea pigs cool - simple effective and cheap

Hope that helps


@Orangelane, Hi John, it gets very hot where I am, the best advice I could offer is to use fibro or thick ply under the lid, paint your box white, have a nice wide entrance with a good bee space throughout the hive & as Jake said, make sure there’s water nearby. Partly shaded will also help.


I have poly hives too. I have them because all the research shows that bees do better in them. Our climate here in the UK…is often cold, wet and windy. So this helps the bees maintain the brood temperature with less expenditure of energy and food. The cluster tends to be looser in the poly hive and the bees move more easily to their stores in winter. They will fly on sunny days.
I have thought about converting a poly box for the flow frames. I have ordered a complete hive…so initially it won’t be necessary. I am not keen on wood but I will use it for the summer…to try it out…I will probably transfer the bees back into a poly hive during the winter though.
ATM I am cogitating about making a a poly Langstroth long hive. I prefer long hives as I don’t have so much lifting and there is less interruption of the brood nest. I was thinking of ordering a few extra Flow frames to put above…and was wondering how to put them in a poly box.
I think it would be possible…to use a poly which comes complete …that you don’t have to assemble. It would be stronger. Then to cut out the back wall and replace with a wooden wall…to accommodate the frames for extraction…I think it would work. A rail for the frames to rest on. The cut out would look like the wooden version. I am going to use my full Flow Box for a template when it arrives. It would be warmer for the bees and would that would encourage storage in the frames. I haven’t thought through how to attach the wooden part yet but I guess using long screws and glue would work…a poly repair kit to seal all the edges. My intention would be to use it above the long hive as a honey super.
It’s fun …doing the planning!


Most polystyrene is made with fire retardants included in the polystyrene.

Many of these fire retardants are hormone analogues so I wouldn’t want to expose me or my bees to them.

For those people who are using polystyrene boxes are they manufactured with fire retardants (almost certainly) or without (possible but unlikely).

I had the same issue with polystyrene rafts for growing plants in Aquaponics systems it took me a while but I eventually found a manufacturer to make them without the fire retardant.

Since the foam raft is in contact with the water and fire retardants constantly leach out of whatever they are put into I wasn’t happy using the standard contaminated stuff.

Photo shows what I mean.


Thanks Weaver, did not know that, very helpful information.


Cheers Valli
I’m going to experiment with Poly sheeting on the outside of my wood boxes, just need to find the right type of adhesive!


Thanks for you wise advice Horsehillhoney I would love to see what you come up with! Please post some photos when you start experimenting, it will help all!


Thanks Jake, will keep every one posted!


Hi Jeff, the bees do adapt very well, we have lots of water and trees on this property. I saw the thermal imaging video of hives on YouTube and was really impressed with how the bees used the whole of the space in extreme conditions compared to wood.


These were developed especially for bees in Finland and Denmark

I doubt they hurt the bees - these have been in use 20 - 30 years there


Fair enough John, they sound impressive. I wonder how they would go with a bit of rough treatment. My boxes get treated pretty rough. For example: prizing boxes apart, prizing the queen excluder off. Scraping off bur comb & propolis. They sometimes get a scorching if I discover AFB in a hive. A lot of my boxes are over 25 years old & still going strong. Since your post, I did a bit of thinking. I’m wondering how a lid would go if it had a double roof with a breezeway between the two like they do on some lids of native bee boxes? Another thing to consider would be to contact some local beekeepers to see how they cope. good luck with that, cheers


Hi Jeff, suggest you have a look at some of the YouTube videos going, the boxes are specially made harder than normal polystyrene. They get thrown around a lot if you look at http://youtu.be/Eb6uO3S0VWY


Hi John, they look fairly impressive, I watched a few of his videos, looks like you’ll be on a winner with them. It’s too late for me, I have a stack of wooden boxes. Looks like they have a robust section where the frames sit on. Did you see his video where he transferred bee from a nuc to a normal box? How on earth did he not get stung? I wouldn’t dream of doing that with my bees.


Thanks Jeff,
Glad you found the videos helpful, this is how I have adapted my hive today.
Experiment. 1
Sheets of thin polystyrene from the local hardware store, two coats of exterior paint, cut to size, glue or screw on, ( batons would be fine) took me 20 mins to make and install!
Result, inside temp of hive improves immediately, airflow still the same (don’t bock air vents). Bees will use less energy to maintain temp, thus more baby bees, more honey faster. I hope!!


Hi could I please ask what winter temps do u get to where u are . Iam also in a cool snowy area and thinking about wintering the hive .



Hi Pete, we get lots of hail and sometimes rarely snow. High temp can go above 43-44c for very long periods.
The Polystyrene is suitable for all weather conditions, just make sure you paint it (at least two coats) with an exterior quality paint. It will work well in snow conditions! Also exterior wood working glue to stick sheets onto the outside of the hive!
Checked my hive today and the bees are happy and buzzing, only 8c at the moment.
Hope this helps.


Yes thank you our summers don’t get real hot 38-40 but winter is long an cold so the poly on the out side I though was a great ideas …lol I was thinking putting a blanket round…




I did some thermal camera comparisons, and one of the hives I compared was the paradise honey box (polystyrene) - I’m so impressed with these hives that I am changing all of mine over them them.

Photos/comparisons are on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thebunyipbeekeeper/posts/1625813644360606


William Rogers
*The Bunyip Beekeeper