Making them would be cheaper, but you also would have them rot and fall apart much faster. So replacing them, will just mean additional costs down the road.
I do have some plywood bottoms and some boxes. I try to use them in locations where I have bees that are protected by an overhang, and rain will not be hitting them all the time.
I also have tops and some boxes made from birch plywood. Once they start seperating, it seems to allow a foothold for ants, etc.
I do have some rather old supers made from plywood, but they are used a couple months each year then stored away. In this manner, you may get a good amount of years out of them. But for the main hive, I'd go with solid wood. It will be more up front but will last much longer than plywood.
Just finished making 75 boxes out of plywood (25 deeps 50 mediums). I used a lock miter joint so that there would be no exposed end grain and plenty of glue surface area. I used a polyurethane glue on the joints and vinyl ester resin to coat the handholds and top and bottom edges. I'll have to wait and see how long they last. Total cost of plywood, glue, screws, resin, primer and paint came to $4.11/box. No shipping charges! :yahoo:
I've made tops from plywood without putting the metal cap on, and left the ends exposed... but painted it really well, and so far (only 2 years in) they haven't delaminated or rotted. To paint them though, I soaked the ends in the paint for probably more than a minute so that it could seep really far into the wood.
2 yrs. ago during the house building boom, i seen alot of scrap lumber piled on a brush pile near a construction site.I stopped and talked to the contractor (told him i was a beekeeper) and ask if i could have some of the lumber on the brush pile. He said help yourself and if i wanted to come back in 3 days i could have any lumber laying on the ground around the house. ( jackpot) 1/4, 1/2, and 5 full sheets of what i call wayferboard 3/4 in. thick tongue and grove. I still have alot left after 2 yrs. makes great top covers and bottomboards. I do paint the top covers. Jack
as bjorn stated plywood will not last so long. If I needed to go the route of making boxes from plywood I would likely think about going the extra mile and dipping (you can choose a hot or cold dipping process) the boxes before I used them in the field.
I do use more than a fair bit of plywood for 5 frame nuc boxes (deeps and illinois depth)... sides, tops and bottoms. these small boxes are used seasonally and then stored.
i have been happy with the 1/2 in. and 3/4 in. thick waferboard,it is made with outside glue but i still cover it with flashing. I have almost solely went with the migratory lids because we are getting SHB's, and my thinking is with screen bottomboards and migratory lids, that cuts down on there places to hide and the bees can control them better. Jack
I use scrap 3/4 inch plywood and waferboard for my nucs. I use titebond III waterproof wood glue and I do paint them (at least to coats of exterior paint). I've made a few for the past 3 years during the winter. They've held up well so far. I've got 4 nuc colonies with Fall queens overwintering in them right now. I just finished making another 4 over the Christmas break. I've not tried it on hive boxes or supers yet but I might in the future depending on how these nucs hold up.
Yeah I looked it up and it's very similar to OSB, except that the strands aren't oriented which makes it cheaper to make (yet no less strong, which makes me wonder why OSB orients the strands). At any rate, I have a real dislike for OSB due to all the splinters I get working with it.