Reply by JBrow

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Posted on The wisdom of using MDF/plywood for beekeeping frames

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1368 posts in 1970 days

#1 posted 03-07-2016 03:40 PM


Since this is an economic question, a cost comparison is required to determine if sheet goods suitable for outdoor use are less expensive than the alternatives. Regarding sheet good choices:

1. MDF is designed for indoor use and is a poor choice for the outdoors.

2. Even though typical plywood is made from water resistant glues, in my experience it will fail when exposed to the elements.

3. Marine grade plywood should hold up to the elements, but confirming this at the lumber yard would be a good idea.

4. I believe (but not sure) that outdoor signs are made from Medium Density Overlay (MDO). Therefore it should hold up to the weather. However, since I have not used the material, I do not know how well it holds screws. Again I would check with your lumber dealer before committing to this choice.

5. Pressure treated plywood is design for outdoor use. However, since it is treated with toxins, it is probably a bad choice. The poisons that keep the plywood from rotting can be hazardous to the bees and the humans who eat their honey. I keep pressure treated wood materials out of my garden.

One problem that can occur with plywood and perhaps MDO is that it may not remain flat. Installing aluminum U channel on at least one vertical and horizontal surface can help keep it flat. But the channel can be expensive. 2” x 2” lumber screwed to the outside of the box will also keep the sheet good flat. Applying 2” x 2” strips vertically on the outside corners provides solid material to which the side panels can be attached. This means thinner sheet goods can be used in building the outer box.

The other consideration in using sheet goods is whether off-gassing from the glues would have an undesirable effect on the bees. You probably know better about this question than I.

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