Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, native to the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada, from southern Alaska and British Columbia, south to northwest California and inland to western Montana.
We decided to use Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) in our bee hives as it is a beautiful timber with a remarkably fine and stable grain structure, and is sustainably sourced in North America close to our major customer base, reducing transport mileage.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is our preferred wood certification. We are working to make 100% of our hives from FSC sources. If you can help us please get in touch. When FSC isn’t available we have a wood sourcing policy to make sure the forests are being looked after (to be published soon).
FSC is the scheme preferred by organisations like WWF and Greenpeace. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded in 1993. It aims to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. Read more on FSC at https://ic.fsc.org/en
Characteristics of Western Red Cedar
Western red cedar is a standard wood used for hives in the USA, UK and other places. It's very different from Spanish cedar or other aromatic cedars commonly used to deter moths and other insects. It's very common to find feral honey bee colonies living inside hollow western red cedar trees.
It has unique fine grain characteristics that minimises shrinkage and swelling, along with being a hard-wearing softwood.
The colour variation of the grain is cedar's most distinguishing feature and makes it highly sought after as a material for feature joinery. Visually, western red cedar is favoured for its rich and inviting colours. The colour ranges from a yellowish white colour, to pale brown through to a richer dark brown. It has a fine texture and straight grain with growth rings often visible.
Sometimes this will make our hive bodies and supers appear to be made from different woods, however this is normal for this timber.
Western red cedar also has built-in natural preservatives that provide resistance to borers, termites, rot and fungus growth. Its lack of pitch and gum veins allow cedar to readily accept semi-clear and clear finishes, which will accentuate its natural colour variations.