stronger than oak, but less durable. It is favoured by It is now illegal to use creosote as it has been shown to be
makers of upholstered chairs because of its strength alone. carcinogenic. The mixing of sump oil and paraffin for
preserving wood has been illegal since the introduction ofThe elm and its two varieties, the common elm and wych
the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986.elm, were very common before the epidemic of Dutch elm
disease in the 1960s. This fungal disease affected the Be safe and use wood protection products that have been
common elm. It was spread from tree to tree by the elm approved by the appropriate regulatory authorities and then
bark beetle that is native to this country. check the product label to see whether there are any
restrictions on their use for beehives.The elm belongs to the family Ulmaceae and cultivars were
widely used as ornamental trees in the eighteenth and PLANT A TREE
nineteenth centuries. Elms are easily blown down in The subject of trees is a very large one and we should
autumn gales because of the decay of the taproot, which is remember that wherever we plant a tree we are doing what
the tree’s main anchor. Elm was a favourite tree used for we can to make our planet a more wholesome and a
coffins by rural undertakers in days gone by because of its happier dwelling place for those who come after us, if not
availability. Now it is favoured for furniture-making because 9ourselves . I am very grateful to Dr David Aston for giving
of its light brown colour. me very helpful advice for the preparation of this article
PROTECTING SOFTWOOD TIMBER FOR and, of course, to the late Harry Grainger for the idea. z
Softwood hives need protection from the elements. It is 1 The arrival of power chain saws in the 1960s was the first step
essential that the woodwork is cleaned down to remove all to bringing these timbers into commercial use as existing hand
traces of grease and dirt that will prevent perfect adhesion cross-cut saws could not penetrate the hard exterior.
to ensure that subsequent coatings will last for a few years. 2 The viaduct leaving Charing Cross Station to cross the river
Surface defects such as nail holes should be filled with Thames is interlaced with such timber structures. It also
filler in order to prevent moisture ingress. This will also possesses the properties that impede noise. Network Rail
ensure a smooth and uniform finish for further coatings. prides itself on sourcing this timber from sustainable forests
and ensures that its providers are engaged in regenerationSurface preparation can be carried out with glass paper and
schemes for replacement forests.finished off with a cloth steeped in white spirit or turpentine
3 H Grainger, Past President, BBKA, Lecture to Leeds Beekeepers’ substitute. Change the cloth frequently to avoid rubbing in
Association, March 1956.
the cleaned-off debris on newly prepared surfaces. For new 4 In his memoirs, The Passing Years, Lord Willoughby de Broke,
timber that has not been pre-treated with preservative, it is 19th Baron, mentions that it was a common feature to lay
best to apply a wood preserver (usually colourless) before down plantations that, at maturity, would give the incumbent a
applying a wood stain finish. The preserver prevents fungi capital sum, albeit it would be at least 300 years before felling.
from rotting the timber. The wood stain provides essential One of his family planted one million trees, knowing that one
protection from the damaging effects of sunlight and rain, day his heir would be a millionaire. This is the new plantation
and also gives the woodwork a pleasing and decorative at the Oaks and Battleton Holt, near the site of the Battle of
Edgehill, 1642, and also at Itchington Holt, which can be seenappearance.
from the M42 at exit 13.
The softwood used can generally be purchased with a 5 See David Cordingley, Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the
preservative pre-treatment coating. However, it needs to be downfall of Napoleon. These surveyors literally roamed the
protected where the grain has been cut or if the timber has countryside, identifying such trees for use by the Royal Navy.
been machined. Modern day hive paint systems are To build a 74-gun ship used between 3000 and 3700 loads of
designed for all types of timber and they can be used and oak just for the hull. A load consisted of 50 cubic feet of wood,
applied in all types of environment. They have excellent water roughly the equivalent of a single large tree, as much as could
be loaded onto a cart.repellency, achieved with the high ‘solids‘ content introduced
6 The term 'top dog' and 'underdog' came from the forestryinto the staining material. The manufacturers give excellent
industry, in that large sections of timber were cut over pits,product information sheets that are clear and concise.
with the sawyer in the pit as the 'underdog' getting constantly
For maximum benefit, it is essential to follow the showered with the sawdust from their labours.
manufacturer’s instructions precisely. Most modern painting 7 Harry Grainger, ibid.
coating systems are non-insecticidal but it is best to check 8 English Essayist. 1775–1834.
the instructions before application. 9 Harry Grainger, ibid.
Bee Craft Digital November 2008 Page 23
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