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Use of Tung oil


What’s the recommendation on the use of tung oil on a new ware hive? Also, if used, would one only coat the outside?



I use 2 coats of tung oil on my roofs and one on my boxes. This works well for me. Only on the outside of the boxes.




I used the Tung oil on matt’s recommendation and it turned out fabulous. Looks great.


I have just assembled my Warre Hives from your store. I also have Tung Oil as well. Should I dilute it? Should I paint it on with a brush?

Thank you, and I apologize if you have already answered this.




Good question. I apply it with a lint-free rag. I pour a bit on and rub it in until it won’t take anymore. I do this twice on the roof, and then if I feel up to it, do the boxes, too.




Thank you.

To confirm, you do not dilute it.

And you pour it directly on to the wood, and then rub in.

Sounds easy enough!



I do not dilute it at all. Correct.


How long does it typically take for the Tung Oil smell to dissipate? I just applied the Tung Oil to the roofs of my new Warres and the smell is rather strong - I really wish I’d applied the oil a few months ago so it would have a chance to “off gas.” I’m putting lemongrass oil and some old comb in my new hives hoping to attract swarms but I’m afraid the Tung Oil will over-power the scent of the lemongrass and comb. Have anyone ever had the scent of Tung Oil been a detraction for bees making a hive their home?

Next time I won’t put off my winter beekeeping duties til early Spring!



I think that will depend on how thickly you applied it and how humid and warm it is. I’d say a week or two will probably be sufficient. I have installed swarms into recently tung-oiled hives and they’ve not absconded or complained at all…




I have recently applied tung oil to my new Warre Hives and was not very careful around the windows, assuming it would come off easily with some type of solvent. I am now concerned a solvent may damage the polycarbonate. Have you ever had to remove the tung oil from the window and if so, what did you use?

Thank you, JoBeth


As an update, last night I used mineral spirits and it came off, but with a lot of work. It did not seem to damage the window.

Word of caution, don’t be as liberal as I was in getting the oil all over the windows!



Thanks for the update. I just saw your other post and didn’t have a solution for you anyway! I will add that warning to the instructions so that others avoid similar problems.





I just received my hive from you. I was curious about the Tung Oil as well. My question is…Is it best to apply this to the hive before or after assembly?




Howdy, Art!

Thanks for reaching out to us here at Bee Thinking. That’s a great question, and thankfully there is no wrong time to apply the Tung Oil to your wooden-ware! Most customers, ourselves included, apply after the beehive is assembled. This ensures that you oil the correct parts, and you do not want to oil any of the interior parts where the bees reside. They will coat that with propolis!

Let us know if you have any other questions.

Cameron + Bee Thinking Team


Just as a side note. Pure Tung oil is food safe. If you have any left over you can use it to freshen up your wooden cutting board, after it has been cleaned and disinfected.


HI all, I’d like to weigh in on this topic of tung oil, its odor, and usage on bee hives. As a wood tech specialist with 23 years of experience in enviro safe wood treatments …tung oil is an option and is environmentally safe. However it does have strong odor, and if we humans find that odor strong, think what the bee’s are smelling! Tung oil is also a soft oil and will never truly dry, especially since it is pure and has no chemical dryers added to it. That softness will create a wood surface that dust, and spores will be much more likely to stick to. Your desire is to keep the wood from absorbing water, but there is another product, made in Portland, Ore (SE Burnside) called Internal Wood Stabiizer. It is non toxic, and has zero VOC"s (odor). It is easily sprayed or brushed on the wood, is clear, and it PERMANENTLY seals the wood forever. Tung oil wears off, and how do you scrub it along with environmental contaminants that have stuck to it so that you can re-coat it? Internal Wood Stabilizer won’t attract anything. It simply makes the wood so dense it cannot absorb water and there is nothing in it that would contaminate the bee’s. It is made by Timber Pro Coatings, and sold factory direct by them in Portland.


Just ordered my first Warre Hive and want to preserve it when it arrives. I see many suggest Tung Oil on the exterior. I have used Tung oil on a table sitting on my back porch and found it to mold when exposed to the outdoors. I have used Tung Oil for inside use with no problem and love it for my wood top kitchen island because it is food safe. Has anyone had a mold problem with Tung Oil on their hive? What about Teak Oil which is similar to Tung but more often used in moist environments (boats, docks, etc.)? Do you see any issues using Teak Oil instead?


Hello! Thank you for your inquiry about Tung Oil! We have had thousands of customers, in all climate types and micro-regions from hot and humid, to cold and damp use our 100% Natural Tung Oil on their beehives, we haven’t heard of any mold situations on the exterior of the beehive in use of it, though if there was a blotch appearing, a fine grit sandpaper or emory cloth would surely do the trick of removing it. I do not know anything about Teak Oil on Western Red Cedar, though you should try it and let us know what happens, we’d love to hear about the experience!

-Cameron + Bee Thinking Team


Never seen pure tung oil mold. Heck the Song Dynasty in china where tung oil first came from used the oil to waterproof ships.

Pure Tung Oil was and is one of the first truly “Green” finishes. It is all natural and contains zero VOC’s. Pure Tung oil (China wood oil) is an all-natural finishing product that provides a tough, flexible and highly water-resistant coating or wood finish. It is classed as a drying oil along with linseed, poppy seed, safflower seed, walnut, soybean, oiticica and a few other oils. Although it is relatively new to the Western world, tung oil also known as chinawood oil has been known for centuries to the Chinese, and until this century, China was the main source for the oil. It comes from the seed of the tung trees, Aleurites fordii and Aleurites montana, deciduous trees that are very susceptible to frost damage. This vulnerability has restricted the cultivation of the trees to China and South America. Tung oil (china wood oil) received wide application in China: in the building trades as a treatment for both stone and wooden structures; in marine trades as a preservative and water repellant on wooden boats. It is said to have been introduced to the West by Marco Polo. From the 13th to the 19th century, tung oil had only limited use in the West. More recently, it’s gained favor over linseed oil for wood finishing because it is faster drying and does not darken as much with age.


I also use 2 coats of tung oil on my roof. It is much helpful.