Beehive Timber Treatment

Beekeeping in Australia faces many challenges. Bees are particularly susceptible to insecticides and other chemicals used commonly in agriculture. So finding the right beehive timber treatment that is safe for your bees and honey is critical.


We have previously discussed the importance and means of preserving timber to prevent fungal decay. But many of these preservatives are harmful to bees, or can leach active ingredients into the honey. For instance, CCA is a highly effective timber preservative, but contains active ingredeints designed to kill borer and termites. These same actives are lethal to bees. In addition, these actives can potentially leach into the honey. This poses an issue for food safety.

Modern alternatives are arguably worse in their toxicity for bees. For instance, LOSP treatments usually contain a pyrethroid based insecticides as a co-active. Pyrethroids are highly lethal to bees, even when painted. They will quickly kill your bee colony. So as you are most likely aware, any form of treated pine is not suitable.

How does a beekeeper construct a hive out of relatively cheap radiata pine, treat that pine so that it lasts, and do so that is safe for the bees and honey?

Preschem has discussed the importance of registered pesticide products before. When you register a timber preservative, you supply the APVMA with data. This proves that it is safe to use for you, the environment and works as stated. The APVMA then approves the product including the label. The product is then to be used only as stated on the label. This is a legal requirement for the registrant AND the end user.

Preschem has 2 products containing 2% copper as copper naphthenate, as it’s only active ingredient:

The label on each product does not state that you can use this as a beehive timber treatment. This is also true of other products identical to ours.

Permit for use

The APVMA realise that a product can be used for purposes outside the scope of the original intended use. Rather than registering a new product, you can apply for a permit. This permit must state the exact nature of use and how to use it, as well as the data to prove that it is safe to do so.

The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council hold a permit for use with the APVMA, for timber preservatives containing 2% copper as copper naphthenate as their only active ingredient. So what does this mean?

This permit does state that you can use single active 2% copper as copper naphthenate product as a beehive timber treatment. There are conditions attached to this use which we will discuss below. So the good news is that both Timber Preserver and TWA Woodtreat LTF meet this crieteria, so are suitable for use as a beehive timber treatment.

Conditions for use

The following summary is taken directly from the permit for use No: 13026

Products containing 2% copper as copper naphthenate as a single active only may be used.

Treatment method


  • Dilute 1L of product in 1L of solvent
  • Fully immerse (weighted down with spaces) in preservative solution for minimum of 8 hours
  • Air dry for minimum of 14 days until solvent has evaporated

Soak and wrap

  • Dilute 1L Product in 0.6L of solvent
  • Soak as above (for Soak only method) for 1 hour, then while wet, wrap tightly in plastic for a minimum of 3 days
  • Air dry for a minimum of 10 days until solvent has evaporated

CRITICAL: Do not use until it’s painted with suitable food safe paint.

Observe the full safety directions of both the product and solvent selected for dilution.

Notes in addition to the APVMA approved behive timber treatment Permit

  • The solvent selected can be most hydrocarbon solvents such as kerosene, thinners or mineral turpentine
  • The minimum air dry times stated will likely be longer during winter. Be sure to
    • space and fillet (gap) the timber so it dries all round
    • if possible dry in a warm place
    • the longer you leave it, the better the drying result
  • For best results use an oil based primer first. Preferably a food safe “tanin blocking” primer from Dulux or Zinsser


Preschem provides free technical advisory service on all aspects of timber preservation including the use of these products. Call us Toll Free now on 1800 641 711