The word sustainability is often used vaguely, and with so many murky definitions it can be hard knowing what's actually intended. Here is what we mean when we say sustainability... We don't want to help bees while harming the forest, and we know our customers feel the same way. We source wood that is FSC® certified and responsibly grown and harvested, and are now the first hive producer to be FSC certified. We believe that beekeepers care about the environment and are committed to doing their part to help. We think beekeeping suppliers should do the same.
Here are some of the ways in which we strive to be an industry leader in sustainability practices.
After plenty of careful research, we decided to source our wood from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council®. FSC is a highly respected, third party certification that currently sets the bar for defining sustainable forest management.
FSC is an international organization that provides principles and audits with the strictest requirements to ensure lumber comes from forests that maintain natural integrity, protect indigenous rights, prohibit illegal logging and support surrounding communities.
As a result, FSC wood often commands the highest market price because of its quality and because it is harvested with minimal impact to the environment and the surrounding communities. We believe that by supporting the demand for sound forestry practices in the construction of long-lasting bee hives and woodenware, we benefit honeybee health by producing a beehive that is truly sustainable and considers all of nature. Not only is our wood FSC certified, but it all comes from sustainably-managed forests in Oregon and Northern California, reducing the carbon footprint tied to transportation, and helping the local economy.
Here at Bee Thinking, we use two types of wood to make our beehives: sugar pine and western red cedar. Both of these woods are harvested within a couple hours of our mill, which allows us to reduce our carbon footprint.
For a long time we only offered our hives in Western Red Cedar, because it was not only an ideal environment for bees, but we were able to source it from an FSC certified supplier with uncompromising forestry standards. We were eventually able to find a local source for sugar pine that not only adhered to the standards we established when sourcing cedar, but that invigorated and inspired our company sustainability efforts as a whole.
Sugar pine trees are very large and for that reason, John Muir coined them "King of the Conifers". Sugar pine trees grow very straight, are dimensionally stable (meaning they resist warping, shrinking), and process beautifully through our machines with minimal tearing or cracking, making it the ideal pine species for bee hives.
Western Red Cedar is the premier beehive material. Native to the Pacific Northwest, Western Red Cedar is rot resistant, stable, lightweight, has tight straight grain, and insulates better than pine. It is revered for its beautiful grain and coloration, and due to its decay resistance, doesn't require paint in the elements.
We work extremely hard to use every scrap and shaving left over as we create hives. We use these pieces to produce birdhouses, mason bee houses, wooden feeders, and extra cedar shavings for quilt boxes both on our website and in our retail shop. We are always working to develop the new products and accessories our customers ask for, in a way that utilizes every bit of the wood we’ve brought in and in keeping with the design aesthetics we are known for.
The reason we use Western Red Cedar and Sugar Pine is they are ideal materials for bees to thrive in. Both of these woods are light, durable and they provide excellent insulation which reduces the strain put on bees to keep the hive at a constant temperature.
Either can be treated with 100% pure tung oil for increased longevity, so they'll never be exposed to the harmful chemicals found in paint and other finishes. Finally, since these are such long-lasting woods, you won't have to continually replace your hive. Your bees will thank you for creating a steady and reliable place to call home.
We ship a lot of hives and we're incredibly conscious of the environmental impact shipping can cause. That's why Bee Thinking opts into UPS' carbon neutral shipping program. UPS buys certified carbon offsets to balance out the emissions caused by transportation of shipments. UPS has also supported projects involving reforestation, landfill gas destruction, wastewater treatment, and methane destruction. We're proud that we're able to demonstrate our clean climate commitment to our customers every time we ship a package.