Honeyflow.com | FAQ's |

Tung oil vs hot wax dipping


I have two full flow hives I have recently assembled and they look awesome. I am in Utah and winters here generally require two brood boxes. I purchased two more brood boxes and am now considering my wood treatment options. I instally wanted to use tung oil to bring out the red cedar color, but in researching hot wax dipping I was lured it long lasting benefits. I found a local contact to do the hot wax dipping, so I won’t be trying it myself.

So my questions: Is WRC (Western Red Cedar) already weather resistant enough that just applying tung oil is sufficient? Would hot wax dipping be overkill? Does tung oil look better over time?

My understanding of hot wax dipping is that it lasts 10-15 years (depending on the environment). How often does tung oil need to be reapplied?

Thank you for your input. I really appreciate it!




I haven’t done tung oil. I have done Boiled linseed oil and was not impressed with the results. I have not done either on cedar. I have waxed dipped my hives. Very few of them are cedar, but I’m sure a few are as I used to be a carpenter and used scraps to build hives. I cook them in beeswax and rosin and that does seem to last about a decade or so. It seems to depend on the grain of the wood. I dipped them in 2004 and some still look like new and some are pretty weathered. I know that’s not a real comparison, but my guess is the hot wax will out last the tung oil by quite a bit.




I would DEFINITELY go with the hot was dipping if you can. I don’t think it is overkill at all. It is hard to find people with long experience of Tung Oil on WRC hives, but I think that Matt @beethinking has been using it for several years. If he doesn’t chime in here, you could send an e-mail to support@beethinking.com and ask - several of their employees keep bees in cedar hives and probably have Tung Oil experience. Their customer service is VERY helpful, so I am sure they would give you an answer.

In researching general woodworking web sites, I have a figure of resealing about every 2 years. Some people say that you may need to sand lightly before resealing, others just apply more seal on top. I guess it depends on what state your wood is in at that time. I only sealed my hives late last year, so I don’t have much exposure on my hives yet, and southern California weather is pretty gentle. :wink:




Thank you for the recommendation, Dawn. I sent an email to that address and Rebekah responded. I have included her response below:

Thanks for taking the time to reach out, and for your great questions! While we are not terribly familiar with the hot was dipping method, this is a practice generally used on pine since it rots easily. Western Red Cedar is what we call the 20 year wood for our hives because it can generally withstand the weather for that long.

I can’t attest for the color of the wood following hot wax dipping, but
tung oil does a great job preventing natural graying of the wood, and brings out a great cedar glow, and does increase the longevity of the wood. We would normally suggest applying it once per season.

One concern I would have with wax dipping would be that it would greatly reduce the breathability of the hive. Bees naturally inhabit porous tree cavities, which allows them to self regulate temperature and humidity within the hive.

One bottle of tung oil should be good 1 application on 2 complete hives.

I hope this helps, and please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with!
Rebekah + Bee Thinking



Are we talking heated oil or just applying it?
Has anyone compared the cost difference?



Linseed and tung are generally applied at room temperature. The beeswax and rosin are about 250 F or around 115 C



hot wax dipping is definitely more expensive and much harder to achieve. However it is a far superior way to treat the wood. The difficult is that you must completely submerge the box in wax and rosin at around 120C for 10 minutes or so. the wood must be under the molten wax until all of the moisture in the wood boils out and is replaced by the wax. The wax penetrates 100% throughout the wood. Most people who hot wax dip have giant tanks that hold over maybe 100kg’s of wax. It can take an hour or more just to get the wax up to temperature and it is potentially a dangerous thing to do. So it’s not just something that can easily be done at home.

I built a shallow fry wax dipper- but even for that I needed over 10kg’s of bees wax and 4kg’s of gum rosin. I ‘fry’ each side of the box one at a time.

If you are interested in hot wax dipping the easiest option is to try and find a commercial beekeeper who does it and see if they can dip yours for you. In the USA there are several suppliers who offer very affordable wax dipping. In Australia there are a few suppliers who provide hives already dipped.