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Use straight Tung Oil, or mix in a natural solvent?


Hi there,
I am trying to figure out whether or not I need to thin out our Tung Oil before applying to the flow hive. It’s apparently very thick- like honey, when it’s pure. Is this okay? I’ve heard of citrus solvent as a natural thinner for Tung Oil. Also, I have no idea how much Tung Oil I need to buy to cover the Flow hive with 2 coats. Thanks in advance for your advice!


Hi there,

I have sealed about 3 hives’ worth of wood with Tung Oil. I have done it with and without dilution. It is MUCH easier to do the first coat with diluted oil - it goes on more evenly and penetrates better. However, it works perfectly well if you don’t dilute it. I wouldn’t say it is as thick as honey, more like thick olive oil. I used Citrus solvent aka D-Limonene to dilute mine for the first coat only - it worked well. I apply the second coat using neat (undiluted) oil. You can use diluted oil for every coat, but you may find that you need more coats - the wood really drinks it up.

One Flow hive kit can probably be coated on the outside only with 8oz (250ml) of Tung Oil for 2 coats, but I bought 16oz bottles as I had an extra brood box, and I wanted spare oil for a 3rd coat if needed.


As Dee noted either diluting or not will work okay. I choose to to dilute mine Tung Oil even though I bought the solvent. I added four coats of the Tung Oil about 12 hours apart. Between coats before adding the next I also chose to rub the hive surface with extra fine 000 steel wool to help the grain lay down n get a smoother surface. I think that’s my call because of my wood working background. I did four coats as our region in Western Washington is usually very damp n rainy …

Again, either way will come up with great results. Enjoy the journey n happy beekeeping.

Gerald in Washington state.


Dee doesn’t use Tung Oil… Dawn does, though! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Ohhhhh ! Need my glasses again ! :heart:️:heart:️:eyeglasses: ! Sorry !


Did you make your own reducer? I haven’t found a reducer that fits the Flow Hive.



It’s a long story ! Over 55 years ago in Jr n Sr High I raised bees. I took only Agriculture instead of Wood shop classes. Two years ago at 69 years old decided I wanted to checkout woodworking … So built a small shop n filled it with equipment n tools as I needed them. I’ve also been wanting to get back into beekeeping for a bunch of years. Last late summer I ordered 3 Nuc’s for this mid April delivery ! During the winter I started building n assembling pine hive set ups. (10 frame Langstroth hives). This Spring I decided to order a Cedar 10 frame from the company that builds Flows.
So to make a story no longer … Yes ! I made my own hive reducers than fit my Cedar Hive. Wasn’t too difficult once I put my mind to it. I made a lot of extra entrance reducers ( little over sized ) and cut the down to individual hives. Custom Fit ! They all fit proper n tight so hopefully my bees don’t pop them out ! Wood does expand n contract so I allowed hopely enough extra tightness so as they shrink they stay fairly well in place !


Hi Gerald

Nice pics, looking at the last one with the bottom landing board, it looks like you did not oil the landing board itself or is this just an optical illusion. I trust that you would have oiled it and if not, was there a reason. I would think that all outside exposed timber would be treated.



Hì Max,

Yip ! It has four full coats as well. WRC has a wide amount of variation in color, hues n grain. It does look different but yet it is the same wood (cedar) n four coats (Tung Oil) that I rubbed down before each new coat with 000 steal wool then with a clean cloth rag to remove any steal filings. It is a real contrast.

When I work with woods in my small woodshop and want close grain matching I have to go thru selected boards with a trained n watchful eye. Most woods can vary a lot … That’s what makes using natural woods so interesting n challenging. :smile:., thanks for the note. It’s always nice to keep a keen eye in beekeeping …

Cheers !




I have applied 3 coats of pure Tung Oil to my WRC hive in prepartation for the weather and the Swedish elements. I was planning on one more, but at the weekend I noticed that in the sun the oil was bubbling from the grain of the wood (on the roof section - the cross grain edges). The hive was sitting on my sunroom floor drying after the third coat which was applied the day before. The temperature was 24 Degs C in the sunroom. These kinds of temperatures are easily reached in the summers here.

So it makes me think that the wood (on the roof section) has now reached it’s saturation point and doesn’t need anymore coats. I still need to make a stand for the hive, so there is time to apply another coat if i deem necessary.

FYI - I bought 500ml of Tung Oil and have at least half of that left after 3 coats to the outside sections of the hive.


Does it matter which tung oil you use? been to my local Stores and seen tung oil but doesn’t say 100% pure tung oil, say low gloss or high gloss.


In the big picture it prolly doesn’t matter. People use all sorts of stuff for painting hives, often all the odds and ends in the shed mixed up into muddy grey pink ; -)

If you care or are concerned about the safety of the honey and your bees, and are sufficiently ‘retentive’, you may join the many Flow Beeks here who are using pure tung oil, which is safe for use on cutting boards and salad bowls.

We are diluting it with citrus turps, which is also considered a safer product.

But does it matter? Not really in the big picture. Just let it cure and off gas sufficiently.

And to the original poster? Diluting the tung oil with terps allows it to absorb better and dry faster, which results in a harder deeper finish that has a better life expectancy.

One other motivator for the tung oil. It makes the hives really pretty ; -)


Hope this is not a stupid question, but do you use the tung oil in the inside of the hive as well?:worried:


It is not harmful if you do, but you don’t need to, because the bees will wax and propolis the inside for you. :wink:


thank you @Dawn_SD just order my 100% tung oil from Bee thinking, had no luck finding 100% tung oil at local stores in my area, OH! and by the way my Flow hive is all together just got to wait for my tung and pickup my Nuc in about 3 weeks. So excited here! :smile:


Much as i love Bee Thinking, Tung Oil is much cheaper from Amazon if you need any more:


Thanks, everyone! I ordered 32 oz of Tung Oil on Amazon, plus the natural citrus solvent. I really appreciated all of your input!


I just registered for a new account for the sole initial purpose of answering this question. I noticed an answer that said it didn’t really make any difference. This is absolutely NOT True! The sole purpose of the added expense, and labor of using tung oil for beehives, and any other food contact surface for that matter, is that it IS natural and safe. Beware products that use the terms “TUNG OIL FINISH” these rarely, if ever, actually contain ANY real tung oil! Rather they are a myriad of petroleum solvents, and plastic polymers which create a “finish” similar in appearance only, to that provided by real tung oil. Many people use a citrus solvent to cut (thin)their tung oil to maintain a 100% natural finish, from a product that is easier to apply than straight tung oil. I personally feel that citrus solvent, is an expense that requires more dollars, than sense. Citrus solvent is often far more expensive than the tung oil itself. Turpentine, or pure gum spirits of turpentine, is the distillate of pine tar. Which is also natural, more effective than Citrus, and costs a heck of lot less. a popular application method is the fat over lean method: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_over_lean