Give your Flow Hive a makeover
September 19, 2018
Has your Flow Hive been in the yard for a couple of years now and looking like it needs a renovation?
The method used to revamp your hive will depend largely on what you used to initially protect the hive, as well as which type of timber your Flow Hive is made from.
The easiest way to reapply your sealant of choice is by swapping over the boxes, so you’re not disrupting the bees while you work, but don’t worry if you don’t have spare boxes to work with, it is possible to work on your hive while the bees are inside—just a bit more tricky, and you'll definitely require a bee suit!
We have found that sanding back the timber is easiest when most of the bees are out foraging—i.e. the middle of the day—and reapplication of sealant in the late afternoon, once all your bees are back in the hive, allows it the most time to dry before the sun and your bees are up the next morning.
Araucaria (Hoop Pine)
All Araucaria Flow Hives and Supers should be sealed with at least 2 coats of exterior-grade good quality house paint. If you have done this, your hive should still be looking pretty snappy after several years.
If it is beginning to look worn, you may need to sand back the paint (if the paint is in good condition, you may be able to repaint over it in a pinch) and reapply, making sure to apply at least two coats, following the paint instructions.
What sealant should I use?
It is important to seal all Araucaria Flow Hives and Supers with at least two coats of exterior-grade good quality house paint (preferably non-toxic).
Please note, if you have sealed your hive with a polyurethane or marine varnish coating, we have received some feedback that this can cause condensation within the hive, as the coating does not allow the timber to breathe. This can cause an issue with the appearance of mold under the varnish as the moisture from within the hive is unable to draw through the timber to the outside effectively. We strongly recommend sanding back the timber to its natural state and reapplying an exterior-grade good quality house paint.
Western Red Cedar (Cedar)
If the body of your Cedar Flow Hive or Super is beginning to look like it needs some TLC, you have a few options.
First, using a scourer, scrub back with oxygen bleach the day before.
Allow to dry thoroughly, then re-apply the sealant. If you have used a varnish, you will need to first sand back the timber to its natural state before reapplying sealant.
What sealant should I use?
Many beekeepers use oils such as Tung oil or Linseed oil, however, we have found when finishing with oils in wet climates, mildew (black mold) can grow on the surface of your hive. While this will not affect the structural integrity of your hive, and should not have any impact on your bees, this may not be the look you were anticipating.
It can be a challenge keeping wood outdoors looking like new, especially in wetter climates. If you wish for your hive to stay mold-free and to maintain the natural timber look for as long as possible, we suggest you go to your local paint store and ask for a finish that will last outdoors.
When choosing a finish you will be faced with the choice of natural or non-natural finishes. If you go with a less natural finish we recommend you leave the inside of the timber boxes unfinished to keep the internal wood natural for the bees. However, it is advisable to coat the inside of the window covers to stop these from expanding excessively in wet weather.
Aside from mildew, wood outdoors will naturally turn to grey. If you want to prevent your hive from greying, paint stores will recommend a finish with a tint. The tint helps shield the wood from UV which is what turns the wood to grey.
If you want to paint your hive with an outdoor paint, this is a great option for protecting your hive from the weather. This will also give you the opportunity to get creative with your designs.
All Flow Hive roofs (even cedar) should be sealed with at least 2 coats of exterior-grade good quality house paint. If you have done this, your roof should still be looking pretty snappy after a few years, and not letting any rain in.
If it is needing a recoat, you may need to sand back the paint (if the paint is in good condition, you may be able to repaint over it in a pinch), and reapply, making sure to apply at least two coats, following the paint instructions.
If you need, you can cover the hole in the inner cover, and remove the roof to sand, paint and dry it away from the hive.