New beekeeper here. I put my Flow Hive 2 cedar together a few days ago. Has anyone tried painting or sealing the outside of the hive with melted beeswax?
G’day Ms Sullykat. Welcome.
I’m sure someone tried to paint a hive with melted beeswax, but I’m also sure it wasn’t a big success. To work well it has to be dipped in hot wax, not painted.
Since yours is cedar and has good resistance to rot, you can oil or stain it from the outside to retain the beauty of the wood.
Hi Kathy, there is only one good way to use bees wax to protect a hive and that is by totally soaking the box in boiling bees wax for a minimum of 10 minutes. Not a viable project for a hobby bee keeper and there are big dangers involved even for the experts. If you paint the hive with several coats of paint on the outside and the edges you will get many years of good service from the wood ware with repainting every 5 years or so. Oiling will not last quite as long and need more regular re-coats,
Welcome to the world of beekeeping, @Sullykat! How exciting to set up your brand new beautiful Flow hive!
I have a “first edition” Flow made of cedar, and had originally given it a good coating of tung oil. After two seasons, I decided to sand it all down and do something different to protect the wood better from the hot/wet/dry/cold spells we get here.
I gave the super itself several coats of an exterior grade polyurethane, and I painted the roof a nice pale yellow. Even the light-ish color of the wood was getting far too hot compared to my white traditional lids, so in spite of my aversion to coating nice wood with paint I am very glad I did, no more mildew, warping or added heat in summer for the bees! And I still enjoy the pretty wood grain on the super.
Not as impressive-sounding as “hot-wax dipped” but very functional and nice-looking if I do say
Post us a pic when you finish the job, whatever you end up deciding!
Thanks everyone for the advice! Just getting started so lots of things to research! Have a great week!
This method is not ideal but I use it on internal parts of hives where they are prone to damage from moisture generated by bees, i.e. inner side of cover, both sides of crown board. I still paint hives outside with light-coloured external paint but prefer to keep internals as natural as possible.
I use heat gun with wide nozzle to heat wood and to melt wax as well as 4 inch filler blade to spread it. the process is rather slow and tedious but gives wood at least some protection.
How I do it:
Heat gun set on max. Leather gloves on
Heat small patch of wood (about two palms size) for 10-15 seconds. Put an edge of wax block on preheated patch. Keep heating wood directing air flow to wax block along the wood surface. Wax melts and creates a small pool. Put block aside, take filler blade, spread wax around heated patch while still heating it. If wax starts to bubble move heat gun away a bit. At this point wax penetrates wood quite well and I may need to add wax from the block. The idea is to achieve a state when there is small excess of wax on the surface. If I do not see any wax being pushed by the blade I add wax. When I am able to spread small amount of wax outside of heated patch - it is enough. It is easy to to see when border of heated area is reached. Wood does not absorb wax as well as heated part. Move to the next patch.
Once again this method is nowhere as good as dipping but better than just a bare wood. I still recommend to use paint outside. But for internals, if you do not want use chemical and want to have some protection, I think it is good enough.
What a great idea! I will give this a try! Thank you!
Good advice there in your post. Where is see the most failures in a bee hive is that the top and bottom edges of the boxes are left raw timber. Rain water can seap into the gap between boxes and take a long time to dry out. I wonder if your idea would work on the edges. Painting the edges is ok but with using the hive too to lever a box off the paint doesn’t last long.
Don’t see why it should work worse than anywhere else. No harm to try anyway.
Just be careful not to get wax on parts you want to paint as it will stop the paint from sticking.
If your hive is cedar you can get away with tung oil with re-application once a year or so to the outside. Still in that case I would paint the roof and base as they cop the weather the most- and I’m guessing there is a lot of weather in Florida…
If it was a pine hive I would paint- and paint well- multiple coats with a primer. Pine will rot very fast if it isn’t properly treated.
for wax dipping- I know in the USA a few places that offer it as a service- and it may be worth looking into? I wax dipped my own pine flow hives and they are standing up very well two years later. It really is a beautiful look with the natural timber too.
this place is in Pennsylvania- 1300 miles from you- but their prices are ASTOUNDINGLY low:
Hi Jack, those prices ARE astoundingly affordable. I laughed when I saw the name of the apiary. Some people might be forgiven for thinking this forum is a funny farm. Just kidding of course.
I think in a hot climate white house paint would be a better option than wax dipping. During hot weather, in the sun, I’m thinking that wax dipped timber could get hotter than white painted timber.
it’s true- in really hot weather plain wax dipped hives become slick- the wax near the surface melts. The dipping also makes the wood darker so yes it would heat up more. But the hives still stand up superbly. The best treatment of all is hot wax dipped and painted whilst still hot from from dipping. The standard Langstroth hives I now buy from Victoria are all treated like that.
those guys must be running a funny farm to offer hot wax dipping at those prices.
A couple of good points you have made there Jack. But I thought a box that was waxed would repel paint so what is the paint you use? I use Hoop Pine boxes and I’m interested in extending their life if it is practical for me in my climate that used to be wet over Summer but it still gets mid late 30’s in the shade and my hives are in open sunshine.
At present I give several coats of white paint on the box edges and outside faces with a re-paint after 6 to 8 years service.
the wax does repel paint- but not if you paint the box when it is still hot immediately after you take if out of the boiling wax. In that case the first coat is actually absorbed into the box- and you immediately do a second coat- no waiting at all. They used an oil based paint but think it works with either. With my own dipper I don’t paint after as I can only dip one side of a box at time and cannot keep the whole box hot enough to paint.