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Wax Dipping hives- Sourcing Timber for Hives- Ply for Hives? help appreciated!


as some forum peeps may have noticed I have designed a new beehive. The plan got increasingly elaborate- and in the end I am so happy with my own design that I plan to make quite a number of hives all at once- and also to make some hives for sale…

I am at the stage where I am ready to start cutting wood which is where I hit my first snag:

You might be surprised how hard it is to find timber available in planks up to 300mm wide and 19mm thick! Costing a hive in WRC cedar comes out to over $400 (though there is more wood in my hive than a standard hive). I have tried and failed to find hoop pine in those dimensions- in fact about the only thing I can find is good old standard furniture grade radiata pine- and it is affordable (if I buy 130 meters at once!). However it must be painted or varnished - and even then a lot of people are telling me it wont last outdoors (though my hive is more protected from direct rain that others).

If anyone in Australia can poitn me in the direction of cedar, cypress, hoop pine, or any other wood suitable for beehives- available in planks 280- 300 mm wide and 19mm thick- PLEASE let me know. I would love something that can left natural and just treated with oil like WRC or Cypress.

Failing that: pine can’t be so bad can it? must be 95% of all wood hives in Australia are pine?

Simply well painted- how well does it stand up over time? How often must you repaint?

Which brings me to WAX DIPPING:

now this seems like the best way to turn pine into super-hive-pine. I have watched this video on youtube. I have read this agricultural report- and I have read @Michael_Bush website page about wax dipping. It seems like the go. I watched the video and read the report first so didn’t think you used beeswax as a prime type of wax for dipping? They use parrafin and microcrystalline wax? But Michael used beeswax and gum rosin? This sounds far more organic and preferable to petrochemicals… but more expensive.

I am wondering how much wax is used, ultimately how much expense I can expect it to add to my hive production cost and if it is worth it. I am also looking for anyone locally who already does this (South Australia)- who could perhaps do it for me on contract? One problem may be: my main hive body is the length of two 10 frame deep supers side by side. So I would need a larger ‘vat’ than what people may have… Would it be an issue if you held one end of a plank in- and then the other? Also how desirable- or not- is painting after dipping? I assume you don’t paint @Michael_Bush?

lastly Plywood:
one option for making my hives is ply. Does anyone have any input about using marine grade play for hives? Are there problems with the frame rest rebates (rabits)? How about delamination? And toxic glues? can some grades be unpainted? Have a nice veneer?


All my hives are simple pine. Nothing wrong with it, just use some pale outdoor paint and you will be OK for years. Only paint the outside of the hive, the bees will seal the interior.



I was given some secondhand boxes last year. They are all pine, they had all been stained & varnished because the then owner wanted them to look like ‘furniture’. They were in use for 5 years without any further treatment in terms of maintaining their appearance. When I got them, I sanded (hard work) them right back & painted, if I’d had the option of wax dipping I would have gone with that. They were just a bit too much like Victorian french polished furniture for my liking. Pine could well be the easiest/cheapest option.
I do know of places that sell other timbers, but they are expensive as it is milled for specialist uses.


Thanks rob- the thing is this is a fancy hive and I was hoping to have a natural timber finish if possible- like WRC.There are more than 70 wood parts in my hive :-)- before the frames go in. However it will look great painted too- and I will paint some.

I am hoping wax dipping will offer an affordable way of avoiding paint or varnish.


Found heaps of other timbers: just not in wide planks off the shelf. If I pay to get the wood cut to spec by specialist suppliers- as example Western cedar goes for $40 per meter at 290mm x 19mm. Eek! Furniture grade Pine $7.


Exactly, I spent some time looking myself. For me it came down to it is essentially a practical object which sits outside all year round. I would rather use material that is suited to purpose. It’s light enough & cheap enough, & easy to work with. The really beautiful timber I would rather use in my home…
Or if, for you, its really important that the timber be something special, then perhaps you need to redesign it’s construction to meet the timber specifications that you can afford? Constraints are (part of) what make good design! Form follows function…


Form follows function- that has been misunderstood - form and function should be one joined in a spiritual Union.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Which is all very well with an unlimited budget…


1st of all I’d love to see your hive that you’ve designed. Attached is a video I did when my mentor, Brad was dipping hives. He charges $8 apiece to dip boxes. And he’s making money. I think he’s charging too little I paid him $10 a box. Not sure all what he’s got invested but I could ask. I do know he’s using paraffin wax and a micro bead mixture.


The initial cost of the tank and filling it are the biggest cost. I just dipped 260 boxes. I went through about 30 pounds of beeswax and 15 pounds or so of gum rosin. I guess that’s about 3 oz of 2:1 mixture (wax to rosin) per box. They need to cook about 10 minutes. at 250 F (122 C). If I get the wax much hotter it tends to boil over. Like chicken soup that gets too hot, it foams up. " Dipping" may not be the best description. “Cooking” is more descriptive. Maybe even “frying”. I don’t paint them, though people tell me you can. I always figured it would take an oil based paint put on while it’s still hot to get it to bind well, but I have not done it. I have an old stove I bought that is out away from any buildings and a tank that I bought from someone who had it custom made for dipping boxes and he sold it because he was making a bigger one. I would also like a bigger one. Mine does 1 box and 2 half boxes in one turn. Then I remove the bottom box (which was the whole box) and replace it with a new box and flip the other two over to do the other half. This is a net of 2 boxes per turn. I would prefer at least four boxes per turn. I would also prefer to have it heated with steam to eliminate flames near the wax for fire safety reasons. As it is my stove is propane and I keep a fire extinguisher handy as well as a metal lid to cover/smother it.

Here we are dipping boxes at my bee camp this May:



Budget is simply a design constraint :wink: & yes [quote=“Semaphore, post:7, topic:8011”]
joined in a spiritual Union
[/quote] absolutely.
Maybe, depending on how many you are thinking of making , of course it would be worth checking out hiring equipment to cut yourself, or there a re some great Men’s Sheds in SA & they will often help with projects, things like cutting timber…
Not meaning to be a smartass :wink: just trying to think of ways around/through the problem.
In earlier post referred to pine hives stained & varnished or one or other, they have end result in appearance of those shown wax dipped in Michael’s photo, one however had stronger ‘sheen’ due to full gloss varnish.
Perhaps it’s worth getting some timber, pine or ply & doing some experiments, with colour treatments, glues etc?

…& keep checking Gumtree…


No- no smart arsiness detected- I am happy with any input/ideas. I am going to have the parts precision cut by cnc or laser. Everything’s ready - just need the timber. Looks like I will be buying 140 meters of pine planks!

And maybe a 44 gallon drum full of wax… Or

Hopeful I can find a local wax person to ‘fry’ my hives.


Dee posted a ‘recipe’ for walnut oil & beeswax, which i have but need to find, might be good alternative to wax dip, you paint it on. Check this site out too, some beautiful & inexpensive (not always) timbers



Hi Michelle.

I have an option I use effectively at make my hives n kitchen cutting boards. Just glue two or three less wide pieces together with high quality outdoor glue. Takes the problem out of finding the wider stuff. It’s worked perfectly in woodworking projects for years.

Give it some thot. You can arrange the best grain designs together in expensive woods for less !

This kitchen bread board is made from four pieces of wood. Thinner handle is "Purple Heart, outer two was birch n inside piece was oak. Using several glued smaller boards helps keep boards from warping as they expand n contract in the weather. . These pine boxes are all laminated wood. No warping issues n cheaper.

Good luck,


Thanks everyone.

@Michael_Bush what are your thoughts on using parrafin as opposed to beeswax for this job? Also I read that after a few years wax dipped boxes look scruffy - however if you gave them a seasonal rub down/polish/external waxing could you maintain them better?

Reading a bit more widely it also seems that wax dipping has more benefits than protecting the wood- it also increases the insulation value of the wood- and helps prevent wax moth infestation? It also sterilizes the wood killing any fungal spores, etc that may already exist in the timber. Supposedly it also makes the wood harder- and would help protect the frame rebates from wear over time.


I have contacted the SA commercial apiarists group to see if there is anyone local who can help me have my hives dipped.


Thid is Dee’s recipe from thread Exterior Hive Protection.

There were others that had used different types of wax, I think one being paraffin


I bought the paraffin to do it but couldn’t bring myself to use it. It’s still in my garage. No scientific reason. It just did not feel right.

Comparing wax cooked to not painted, I’d say it keeps it quite well. If one wanted to, they could be painted. But it took a decade or so for most of them to turn mostly grey.
Just dipped:

Wax dipped after nine years out in the weather:

I have seen no difference in wax moths. I would doubt it would make any significant difference in insulation.


Yes. Probably not a lot, but enough to be noticeable.

Thid is Dee’s recipe from thread Exterior Hive Protection.

Nothing wrong with it as a coating, but there is a world of difference between coating the wood with something and cooking it for 10 minutes in “boiling oil”


of course there is, it was in reference to earlier discussion of different timbers, and finishes, not as a comparible alternative to wax dipping



You just gave me a fantastic idea, the name “Sweet larceny” burned on the front of my hive’s

I’ve only seen numbers identifying the license numbers, but never a person’s name. I always thought it was cool seeing the numbers burned/engraved on the front but never thought about putting my name of my honey there :slight_smile: thank you so much


They paint them whilst they are still hot out of the wax- the method is described in that article I linked at the top. apparently you can’t paint them well after they have cooled. But I am pretty happy with the unpainted appearance and the longevity of your boxes. Are the made of radiata pine?


[quote=“Kirsten_Redlich”]of course there is, it was in reference to earlier discussion of different timbers, and finishes, not as a comparible alternative to wax dipping

I wasn’t disagreeing, just clarifying.

Some states require a license number and only a license number. Nebraska has no requirements, so I can put whatever I like as long as it’s not fraudulent.