Frequently Asked Questions
Below are a few of the questions that frequently come up when getting started in beekeeping or when purchasing our hives. If you have any additional questions please contact us for more information.
Q: Is Red Cedar a good wood for bee hives?
A: Ozark Red Cedar is a common tree where swarms move in. The wood not only has a beautiful white and red grain, but is resistant to termites and rot. The wood is stronger when compared to pine, and in the Ozarks, a very prolific tree. We have been keeping bees exclusively in cedar for 8 years now as well as selling them to beekeepers in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. We continually receive comments that the bees are excelling in these cedar hives.
Q: Since bees are an insect, wouldn’t they reject a red cedar hive?
A: The insect resistant nature of red cedar refers to insect boring properties. Therefore, bees are just fine with red cedar.
Q: What makes Ozark Cedar Bee Hives a good investment?
A: Whether you are looking for an attractive addition to your backyard garden or a durable investment to an extensive apiary, Ozark Cedar Hives are unmatched in quality and value. As mentioned above Red Cedar is superior to pine wood in terms of termite and rot resistance. It is also a stronger wood. Esthetically, red cedar is one of the most beautiful woods of north America. The heart wood is red with the outer wood a contrasting white. When sealed with an exterior clear coat sealer these rich colors are preserved and will extend the life of the hive. For a more rustic look, the wood can be left untreated where it will weather to a grey natural look yet give many years of service. Hive bodies (or supers) are joined at the corners with finger joints (sometimes called “box joints”). Finger joints are much stronger than rabbet joints and allow at least three times more surface area for gluing. Bee Keepers who use cedar hives testify to their superiority.
Q: How are Ozark Cedar Beehives constructed?
A: Board thickness is 7/8 in. instead of traditional 3/4 in., making stronger, better insulated hives. Insides of hives are not planed smooth, encouraging the bees to coat with more propolous which recent research indicates healthier bees.
* Hive bodies (or supers) are joined at the corners with finger joints (sometimes called “box joints”). Finger joints are much stronger than rabbet joints and allow at least three times more surface area for gluing. We use exterior grade glue on all the hive components.
* We have gluing jigs to hold the supers until the glue dries. No nails or screws are necessary and are not used.
* Frames are also glued and stapled to withstand heavy loads of honey. By using a staple gun the small amount of glue on the staple heats up upon entry and makes an additional tight bond with the wood.
* Bottom boards are extra strong made with 7/8" lumber and interlocking corners.
* Top covers are solid cedar and thicker than any you will find elsewhere. It is amazing how just an extra 1/8" in the dimensions of the components make the hives solid. We guarantee that if you pick up each component of these hives and compare them side by side to conventional hives, you will be very surprised of the difference.
Q: How can I reduce the shipping costs?
A: Shipping can be reduced $5 per box if shipped to a business in a commercial area of town. If you or a group of beekeepers purchased 10 or more hive unassembled, freight shipping reduces costs significantly.
* Of course you are welcome to come by the shop and pick up your hive. We truly enjoy meeting our clients face-to-face. We are also close to Branson, MO if you want to add some entertainment to your trip.
Q: Can I assemble the hive bodies and supers myself? How easy are they to assemble?
A. Yes, many people order hive bodies/supers unassembled to reduce purchase price or to have the satisfaction of "building" their own hive. Hive bodies and supers are glued. However, in very dry climates it is necessary to also put screws in the top and bottom corners of the boxes. The bees maintain 50% or more humidity inside the box and the dry outside air will cause the boxes to warp and sometimes pulls the top corners loose. Check for unassembled prices listed below the products. Click here for a link to a youtube video for hive body/super assembly.
Q: Can I assemble the frames myself? How easy are they to assemble?
A. Yes, many people order frames unassembled to reduce purchase price. Check for unassembled prices listed below the products. Click here for a link to a youtube video for frame assembly.
Q: What kind of sealer do you use on the hives?
A: We are now using a new product to seal the hives and recommend this for the cedar hives:
Sherwinn Williams Super Deck Oil base semi transparent Cedar: 6508-82848
The oil base brings out much more of the cedar color and will last longer than the previous water base product used earlier.
For hives treated earlier with water based product, this oil base sealer can be applied after 2-years of outdoor weathering. If you want to bring out the cedar color, you can sand the surface and you will find that bright cedar color which then can be sealed with the oil base sealer. Freshly sanded wood should be allowed to air a couple of days before sealing.
There is also the option to purchase the hives untreated and apply the sealer of your choice such as Spar Urethane or other oils.
Q: I have read that Red Cedar is too expensive to use for bee hives.
A: Red Cedar purchased from a lumber yard is usually Western Red Cedar and can be very expensive. Eastern Red Cedar here in the Ozarks is very prevalent. Buying locally from small family businesses allows us to pass the savings on to you. Considering our product's esthetic and rot/pest-resistant qualities our pricing competes very well with conventional pine hives.
Q: I heard that Eastern Red Cedar is not really cedar. Is that correct?
A: That is correct. According to many Botanists, the prevalent tree in the Ozarks refered to as Cedar is really a Juniper tree. However, the wood has many qualities of cedar wood including color, its identifying aroma and resistant qualities. Eastern Red Cedar is its common name and most locals would not refer to this tree as a juniper.
Q: Do you recommend frames with plastic foundation in your hives?
A: We have observed that plastic foundation installed in wooden frames are readily accepted by bees and is our preference. During normal nectar flow, the bees start evenly along the top bar and fill the frame to the bottom with an uninterupted comb. If you prefer all wax foundation, which many beekeepers do, these frames will also serve your purposes well.
Q: How does the swarm trap work?
A: Choose an area where you know there are feral bees or have seen swarms before. Swarm traps can be several hundred yards from the parent hive. Choose a tree or old building you have easy access to. I like to back a pickup up to the tree to have a safe place to work from while making the platform and lowering the trap when full of bees. A tree about 8-12" inches in diameter works well. (Refer to picture of swarm trap to see platform). I screw the trap down to the platform from underneath to secure it.
Place three or more frames in the trap, each with about 2 inches of wax foundation connected to the top bar. If available, old frames with a propolis from previous bees work best. It's advised to bait the hive with lemon grass oil or another recognized attractant. Put a few drop of lemon grass oil on cotton balls inside a small plastic bag. Slit the bag a couple of times and place inside the trap. Check the trap once every week or two and add drops of lemon grass oil at the entrance. When a swarm moves in let them to settle a few days. Then drop the door down and simply lift the trap off the support and carry your bees home. If there are not already 6 frames in the trap add them and set the trap on the location you will have the new colony. You may wait a few days or you can transfer the 6 frames to your permanent hive and take the swarm trap back for the next swarm. Swarm traps are not a guarantee, but with several set in different locations you will greatly increase your chances of adding bee colonies the cheap and easy way.
As quoted above in the FAQ's about red cedar, bees are attracted to the fragrant wood. Any time I have the garage door open in my wood shop I have a couple of bees buzzing around the cedar.