Choosing the type of wood for your bee hive is an important decision. There are many wood choices available, but pine and cedar are the most popular. Our new cedar bee hives
offers benefits, but beekeepers have used pine with great success over the years. What kind of wood should you choose for your hive?
Because painting cedar isn’t necessary as it is with pine, you can get up and running quicker with a cedar box. Typically, pine is painted to protect it from weather conditions, but a cedar box is durable enough that it will not deteriorate as quickly in the elements. We recommend treating your cedar hive with a natural, plant-based oil, such as tung. Make sure you give your treated hive time to dry and air out.
Cedar is also lighter than pine. This weight difference isn’t large, but when you’re dealing with lots of boxes, any weight reduction is welcome. Our cedar hives are eight frames as well, which cuts down on the weight considerably.
Finally (and most importantly in our book), cedar is much longer lasting than pine. A study by the University of Maine found that found that surveyors’ cedar corner posts and rail fences were still serviceable after 50 to 60 years of use whereas pine only lasted 4 to 7 years.
Cedar is traditionally more expensive than pine. However, most beekeepers will see this up-front cost fade due to the durability and longevity of cedar over the years
Splitting can be an issue with cedar. When making hives, it’s best to use kiln dried cedar to ensure the wood is dried properly and minimize any splitting. All GloryBee cedar hives are kiln dried, and we haven’t had any complaints about our wood splitting.
Beekeepers have been building boxes out of pine since the first Langstroth hives, and the bees don’t complain.
One benefit of pine is that it is more affordable than cedar, and more readily available.
Depending on the size of your box and the thickness of the wood, the weight can be about the same, but generally, pine is a little heavier than cedar.
If you elect to go with a pine box, most beekeepers will put a coat of a primer and a coat of exterior latex paint to protect the wood. This takes time to apply and time to dry before you place your bees inside. Also, the cost of the primer and paint add to the initial cost, although this is minor if you’re planning on painting a lot of hives
Untreated pine doesn’t hold up well to the elements. This means if you don’t paint your pine, you’re looking at replacements much sooner than if you went with cedar.
So which is better?
At the end of the day, the good news is your bees don't mind either way. Weigh the benefits, your personal preferences, and start keeping bees. The decision is all yours!