Beehive Components: Wooden vs. Plastic

| 4/8/2015 10:00:00 AM

Tags: Jennifer Ford, New York, beehives, beeswax,

Plastic Hives

Wooden or plastic? Beekeepers tend to have some really strong opinions on hive bodies and frames when it comes to the material they use. My husband and I have tried out both wood and plastic so I thought I would share a little about what we have experienced.

Hive Bodies and Supers

For the most part, you can purchase equipment for beehives made out of two types of material – polystyrene or traditional wood. When we first started beekeeping, my husband and I decided to try the polystyrene boxes. When more experienced beekeepers found out we were trying them, we heard a lot of comments along the lines of “better you than me”. But to tell you the truth, we have been pretty happy with them. They were easy to assemble – just push them together with a little glue, and let them dry. Give them a few coats of primer and paint, and they were ready to go. They have held up well, and we are still using the original boxes that we purchased 7 years ago. An advantage of polystyrene is that it is thick and well insulated – it helps to keep the bees cooler during the hot days of summer, and warmer in the bone chilling cold of winter. We have not had to wrap our polystyrene hives for winter as we do with our wooden hives. One disadvantage is that they are slightly more expensive than wooden hives, at least at our local dealer.

Wooden Hives

As our apiary grew, we decide to try some wooden hives. These also went together easily, but required nailing together the corners in addition to gluing them – an extra step. We decided to stain the outside with a clear, marine grade varnish, as the wood grain just looked so nice. Painting them would have been just as easy, though. We do have to wrap these hives for the winter, again, a step we don’t need with the polystyrene hives. And just like the polystyrene, the wooden hives seem to be holding up to wear and tear very well.

Overall, we have been happy with both materials. However, as our apiary grows, we are planning to purchase wooden hives. We feel that they are a more “natural” material. Wood is biodegradable, and comes from a renewable resource, as opposed to the polystyrene, a petroleum product. This probably is the very reason that many beekeepers we know prefer wooden hives

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