Tips for How To Paint Beehives
As you prepare for bees and gather all of your beekeeping supplies, there is still one task to finish. Its time to discuss how to paint beehives correctly and whether painting beehives is even necessary!
It is not uncommon for us beekeepers to spend a lot of time agonizing over beehive painting decisions.
What color should I use? Should I paint my beehive a fun color or neutral blend? The questions go on and on.
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 a lot of time to waste.
Spring is just around the corner and your honey bees will be arriving soon. Or perhaps, you are doing a bit of Winter wooden-ware touchup?
I do this each Winter season with beekeeping equipment that is not in use. Not only does new equipment need preparation, it is a good time to check for wear on your used equipment.
Do you have what you need to get started? If so, good. You have gathered your supplies needed to assemble and paint your beekeeping equipment.
If not, don’t worry we will talk about it in a minute.
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 designs online.
No one has to know its not hand painted.. LOL
Should You Paint Beehives?
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.
Painting your bee boxes increases the longevity of the wood. By using a good paint and finishing the job before bees are put into it, you are prolonging your equipment investment.
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 fly away in search of better accommodations.
How to Paint Beehives
Proper 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.
And yes, this can even be a problem with beekeeping equipment that is purchased already assembled. Not everyone takes the same care with equipment.
Proper assembly of wooden equipment is very important. Hive components put together with care create a long lasting home for your honey bees.
This is true whether you build your own beehive or purchase one ready to paint.
The bee boxes and frames will fit together better and that makes beekeeping easier.
This is one reason I hated 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. You nailed 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.
If you do not, 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 purposed locally or ordered online.
Failure to use nails (screws are even better) and a good quality wood glue will cause you problems later.
Over the years, nails will lose their grip. Hive parts can come apart at very inconvenient times.
Check to make sure that your box is square and in the proper form. It should not be out of square.
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.
Which Parts Should You Paint?
Paint only the outside parts of your beehive. The bees will take care of polishing the interior of their hive.
Paint the outside of the bottom board and the entryway. If you want to paint the underneath “bottom” area too, that’s okay.
Be sure to cover seams, corners and exposed joints. Our goal is to coat the raw wood for protection from rain, snow etc.
Paint the bottom board, supers, and telescoping top of your hive. Only the wooden surfaces that are exposed to the rain will benefit from 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.
Do not paint the inside of the hive. This includes frames, walls of the super boxes, inner cover or inside of the telescoping to
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 have rather not purchase a hive stand, make one. Just be sure that it is sturdy. Mature hives can become very heavy.
Best Beehive Colors
We have already established the fact that you don’t have to paint your boxes. But painting them can be fun. This is a chance to express yourself.
In general, most bee boxes are painted with light colors. But, you can certainly become as creative as 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?
A beekeeper may choose to stick with a traditional color like white. Or maybe you would like a row of pastel hives like the “rainbow row” in Charleston.
I generally recommend any light color. Living in the south, light colored hives are easier for the bees to cool during hot July days.
I have seem some beautiful hives decorated with elaborate designs. They are real pieces of art on display in the bee yard.
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 Your Hives
Stains, varnish and various dipping materials are used by large scale beekeepers and thats okay.
If you understand the proper methods, this can be accomplished with ease. For beginners, I suggest sticking with regular latex (water-based) paint.
I prefer any light colored latex (water based) paint. A good quality latex paint will last for years.
This type of paint is easy to find and work with. Water clean up is easy and the paint smell goes away sooner.
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.