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What timber to use when building a hive from scratch


I am now seriously planning on building a horizontal langstroth hive. I am now considering on what material to build it with. Wanting to ‘reinvent the wheel’, I want it to look smart as it will be a feature in my front yard.

I have been considering all the timber options and like the idea of using Western Red Cedar but this is somewhat pricey. Pine is another option but I like the idea of oiling and not painting.

A local timber merchant in Sydney has suggested that I get my hands on some Eastern Red Cedar. I have done a little research in the net today and it seems as though it has similar qualities as Western Red, just having a darker red colour. This timber comes from the Eastern States of America. They say that some people can get an allergic reaction when working the wood - what about the bees ??,

Does anyone have any experience with using Eastern Red Cedar to build hives.


Not personally, but there are several hive suppliers over here in the US who use it. This is one of them (bit too much focus on religion for my taste, but the hives look nice! :blush:)

Here is another forum where they discuss ERC in a top bar hive:

Sounds like a good choice!


Thanks for the tip an info Dawn, your bloods worth bottling.

I will go ahead and order some Eastern Red but not until the merchant first sends me a discount card.

Ozark are obviously located somewhere in the ‘bible belt’ country, I see what you mean.

Stay warm, keep your socks dry and God Bless :smiling_imp:


Just use pine and paint it. Works really well and can look really great if you think about the painting. Mine are just painted an pale colour but the sky is the limit with patterms,etc.



I would seriously try 50mm PIR


Does it look good? I guess you can paint it. But from what I have read from @Schnucki, I think he is a natural wood guy…


I run 19mm pine in mine. It works fine in the mid mountains and NW NSW.



Hi Bro,

I’ve built most of my own hive bodies. The majority have been pine because of a availability n cost. But either of the Cedars would be great as well.

Pine needs the primer n finish paint for sure or wouldn’t last long here in the Pacific NW near Seattle. WRC or ERC are much lighter but softer woods. They dress up very nicely with oils like Tung oil. Sycamore wood is another good wood n oils might do well on it as well.

Enjoy building your own hive boxes. It adds to the entire beekeeping experience but not for all. It takes a desire n equipment ain’t cheap n takes aittle experience to get it correct.


Take n enjoy,


I’m in Melbourne and have a good supply of off cut red cedar. it comes in 60mm x 120mm x 600mm. I plane it and laminate it together to make 45mm thick boxes.
I would suggest if you can’t get a reasonable priced supply of cedar just use Australian pine why pay for the shipping from Yankee land?

Good luck,


Thanks for the tip Ogre

I’m currently on the Isle of Skye in Scotland having a lovely vacation with my family, man are the bees BIG here.

Prior to my holiday, I have already started to build my horizontal hive out of 25mm pine plywood after I could not source cedar at a reasonable price. Upon my return, I will complete the project which is already well under way.


Look out for white tailed eagles hunting where the ferry goes from Kylerhea to Glenelg on the mainland.
The midges have a bigger bite than bees have a sting. Good luck :slight_smile:


Thanks for the tip Dee but we are leaving the Isle tomorrow via the ferry at Armadale to Maillaiq to bed down at Fort William. Gotta get to Edinburgh by Friday for my 50th birthday. My daughter has promised me 99 cuddles & kisses if I eat Hagis for my birthday. I’ll do anything for my daughter’s affection so I’ll give it a go - you only live once.

No signs of any midges yet or white tailed eagles for that matter, too cold I guess, it’s only about 14 degrees and they call that summer. Crikey, our winters Down Under are warmer than that ! I’m just happy to see bees on the Isle, so much different looking to ours.


Is there that owre his French

Or olio that wad staw a sow,

Or fricassee wad mak her spew

Wi’ perfect sconner,

Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view

On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his

As feckless as a wither’d rash

His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,

His nieve a nit;

Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,

O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,

The trembling earth resounds his tread,

Clap in his walie nieve a blade,

He’ll mak it whissle;

An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,

Like taps o’ thrissle
Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your

An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware

That jaups in luggies;

But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,

Gie her a Haggis!


Trying to read all that really does my head in just like trying to listen to the locals up here, I just smile and keep nodding. Love the Scots as much as I love the land


ha that’s funny- I was in India once on Burns day- and there was a Scot who jumped up and recited that poem. No-one could understand a word and thought he had gone mad.


Just wondering: has anyone had experience using Pualownia wood to make beehives? Supposedly it is rot resistant- and has a high insulation index- but is very lightweight- around half the weight of pine. It is also available in wide planks- and apparently is a great nectar source for bees- as well as being a sustainably grown hard wood.



Sorry … I’ve had no personal experience with this species of wood. It’s usually not available here in the States.

I’ve done some quick research as I do with all woods I use in my woodshop. I personally see nothing wrong with it. It will need painted as it is susceptible to some insect damage if not treated. It is quick growing n usually straight grained. Often the wood dulls saw blades as the trees pull up silica fine particles with water n nutrients with its rapid grow. There is only minimum health/sensitivity warning as with most wood species.

I’d go for it a try a few hive boxes. It is also used I.naking several wood instrument n clog sandals by the Japanese.

Good luck n enjoy,


Howdy Gerald, thanks for the reply- I have been speaking to some suppliers of paulownia and will try it out if I can source planks that are wide enough. Must say I am finding it a little difficult to find any timber off the shelf here in adelaide that comes in planks 280mm wide (other than pine). I wish I had access to the cedar you can easily get in the states. It looks like cedar will cost at least 3 times what pine will cost- probably 4 times.

If anyone on the forum knows of a source for WRC in planks that are 19mm thick x 280 wide- and at least 1.5 meters long- I would love to know.

On another note- whilst looking for wide planks of timber I have found several suppliers of vintage recycled oak wide floor planks. Does anyone have any experience of using oak with hives? It’s probably a no go- as I think they would be too expensive. But 200 year old vintage oak might look amazing…


Absolutely love the idea of the oak…am sure will look incredible.


My hevans !!! go for the Oak, might be harder to work with though, lucky you.