How To Paint a Beehive – Quick Easy Tips

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Tips for How To Paint Beehives

If you are new to beekeeping you likely purchased a new hive that needs to be painted. Even experienced beekeeper need to buy new equipment sometimes. Painting beehives is done mostly to protect the wooden wear from weather. And let’s face it, beekeeping equipment is quite an investment. Use these tips will help you understand how to paint a beehive in a safe way that does no harm to your bees.

image of a brightly painted bee hive in the old style

Paint any hive equipment several weeks before installing bees. The equipment needs time to air out.

What color should I use?  Is there a best color for beehive painting? Should I paint choose a fun color wild color like hot pink? Or, would the bees like a neutral blend better?

Perhaps, we beekeepers spend too much time agonizing over the decision of hive colors.

Does it matter to the bees?  Are painted hives better? So much to consider on this topic. Its okay to be fancy but you don’t have to extra creative.

For those of you with used beekeeping equipment-that needs sprucing up, a new coat of paint is a great idea.

picture of colored hives how to paint a beehive

Designs for Painting Bee Boxes

A quick internet search will reveal many bee hives that are painted in spectacular colors and designs.

We do this for ourselves of course, the bees could couldn’t care less. If you have artistic tendencies, I envy you! I have a hard time drawing a straight line with a ruler.

If you are like me, consider using stencils to embellish your painted bee hives. Stencils are available in every design you can imagine.

You can purchase them at a local craft store or order special stencils – that make pretty hive designs a breeze. No one has to know its not hand painted.. LOL

Do You Have to Paint a Beehive?

Is painting beehives really necessary? I mean, bees live in hollow trees and they are not painted. Does it really matter that much?

No, you do not have to paint your hives, but maybe you should.  The honey bees themselves don’t seem to care about hive color or painted vs unpainted. 

However, the major reason that most people paint a beehive is wood preservation.

Unless you purchased cypress wooden-ware, your wooden ware will be made of pine. I love the way pine wood smells but it does not hold up long term when exposed to the weather.

A coat of paint is a small price to pay to extend the life of your equipment.

Be sure the paint has time to dry and cure for a few days before adding bees.  Honey bees are very sensitive to odor.  You don’t want them to abscond or fly away in search of better accommodations.

Hive Assembly Before Painting

Wait just a minute, are you really ready to get artistic and start beehive painting with wild abandon? Maybe, but don’t get in too big a hurry.

The best paint job in the world won’t help your bees if the equipment assembly is shoddy. 

This is true whether you build your own hive or purchase one ready to paint.

And yes, this can even be a problem with beekeeping equipment that is purchased already assembled. Not everyone takes the same care when putting beehive parts together.

This is one reason I dislike purchasing pre-assembled equipment.  Suppliers never take the same care with nailing and gluing as I would.

Lets, assume you are assembling your own beehive parts.   Be sure to nail the wooden boxes together tightly.

You also used glue on all the connecting parts – didn’t you? Yes I’m sure you did.

Any good wood glue will help make your frame and box joints sturdy. Yes, you really do need to nail and glue them.

Fail to do so, and chances are that you will one day regret not using glue. Good wood glue is easily available at all home improvement stores.

Titebond is my favorite. It can be purchased locally or ordered online.

Check to make sure that your box is square and in the proper form.  Because Langstroth hive boxes are stacked, we want each one to be sturdy and square to give good support.

And… well I don’t know how to say this but – make sure the handles (and the frame rests -where the frames will sit) are not upside down.  Yes, it happens.

image of free secrets of beekeeping book

Which Hive Parts Should You Paint?

Paint only the outside parts of your beehive. The bees will take care of polishing the interior of their hive.

First, paint the outside of the bottom board (around the edges where the first box sits) it will take a lot of wear and tear over the years.

Paint the landing board or entryway too. If you want to paint the underneath “bottom” area too, that’s okay.

Be sure to paint seams, corners and exposed joints. Our goal is to coat the raw wood for protection from rain, snow etc.

After finishing the bottom board, paint the outsides of your other boxes and the wooden parts of your telescoping top. Only the wooden surfaces that are exposed to the rain need paint.

Beehive tops and bottom boards are the first pieces of beekeeping equipment to fail. This is because they are the main protectors (top and bottom) for the colony inside.

Nothing inside the hive needs paint. Do not paint frames, inside walls of the boxes, inner cover or inside of the telescoping top.

Hive Stands Prolong the Life of Equipment

Placing your hive up off the ground on a hive stand will prolong the life of your wooden-ware and help with pests.

If you would rather not purchase a hive stand, make one. Just be sure that it is sturdy. Mature hives can become very heavy.

Raising the hives up a bit can also help your paint last longer as the wood has some protection from the wet ground.

picture of a standard langstroth beehive painted white

Best Beehive Colors

Most bee boxes are painted with light colors. However, you really can choose any color that you wish.

I have seen some amazing painted hive designs. Detailed scenes with vibrant colors transform your apiary into a work of art.

From simple shapes to detailed landscapes, the possibilities are endless. We humans enjoy having fun with it (the bees really don’t care).

Why Are Beehives Often Painted White?

picture of a row of langstroth hives painted in pastel colors

Do beehives have to be painted white? Heck , no. Though, a beekeeper may choose to stick with a traditional color like white. Or maybe you would like a row of pastel hives like my “rainbow row” .

Living in the south, light colored hives are easier for the bees to cool during hot July days.  

If you live in a neighborhood and want your hives to blend into the landscape rather than stand out-tan and green colors are good choices.

Best Coating for a Beehive

What is the best beehive paint to use? Stains, varnish and various dipping materials are used by large scale beekeepers and that’s okay. 

If you understand the proper methods, this can be accomplished with ease.  For beginner beekeepers, I suggest using regular latex (water-based) paint for your hives.

This type of paint is easy to find and work with. Water clean up is easy and the paint smell goes away sooner. This is an important thing to consider when choosing bee paint.

We do not want to place a colony of honey bees in a stinky hive. The odor may cause them to leave the hive.

Many beekeepers chose to visit the “oops” section of the paint department. We beekeepers are often frugal by nature.

You may see some weird color combination in the bee yards of “oops” painters.

Final Tips on How to Paint a Beehive

Giving your new hive or old hive a fresh coat of paint can be a lot of fun. Choose a color that you like and a safe paint for your bees and get the job done.

Learning how to paint a beehive is a great way to extend the life of your equipment and keep beekeeping affordable.

Beekeeper Charlotte

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11 Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for this article.

  2. Nice article, however, you should use Titebond III as it is water proof, where as Titebond II is water resistant.

  3. Thanks for the tip Kyle. That’s a good point but I’ve always used Titebond II with not problems. But better is better right?

  4. Well written & true. WOOD that cannot resist sunshine & rain over the years mudt be painted. Kudos Charlotte Anderson

  5. Thanks Gerald, some type of paint or wood preservative will prolong them life of the wood.

  6. From a brand new beekeeper, Thanks for the tips! Headed to paint my new hives right now 🙂 Good rainy day activity.

  7. Thank you for your support,thanks.

  8. What type of paint should I use to decorate my hives?

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