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Decorating Your Beehive
Decorating and Painting beehives is one of the first tasks for the new beekeeper. Bees are sensitive to odors. Therefore, any painting should be completed well before the bees arrive. You can just chose 1 fun color or paint a fancy design. It’s not just about looks -a good coat of paint will help your beekeeping equipment last longer. What’s wrong with plain white? Nothing at all. But, some beekeepers want to brighten up the bee yard just a bit more with hand painted beehives – it’s okay to go a little crazy.
What Color Should a Beehive Be Painted?
As explained in my article How to Paint a Beehive . Color doesn’t really matter a lot in beekeeping. Let’s face it, the color we use to paint hives is for our enjoyment. I doubt the bees care.
Traditionally beehives were painted solid white. And even today, you will notice a trend toward white or pastel colors. This is mostly due to lighter colors making it easier for the bees to keep the hive cool enough in Summer.
Another consideration when choosing hive colors is making it easier to identify the hives. This is handy for making beekeeper notes on hive management.
And, not having all the hives the same color may help reduce drifting. This means it helps bees return to the correct home.
Decorated Hives Can Be Works of Art
Do you drool over the beautiful works of beehive art online? I do too. The color and intricate designs of these painted hives are so beautiful.
Even those of us who are not so artistically inclined can decorate our beehives with colored paint and reusable bee stencils.
Yet, these adorable hives will still become covered with dirt, bee poop and various other substances in every day use. But that’s no reason to not make them look nice.
Simple Hand Painted Hives
Perhaps your hands are not as steady as they once were – or maybe you want the kids to be involved in your bee hive painting project.
This can be accomplished using a simple tracing technique that gives your paint brush a little guidance.
The design I used for this article was very simple. However, the same technique could also be used to create an intricate painted hive design if you wish.
Any bee hive art work should be done when bees are not in the hive. The paint fumes may unsettle the bees and result in absconding.
- bee boxes
- simple printed design
- acrylic paint - various colors
- black paint marker
- sealer spray (optional)
- art brushes - small
- Select a bee box that you wish to paint. It should have a clean surface - I find sanding and painting it white is best.
- Look online for a simple design. Coloring sheets are great. Something you will be able to trace easily.
Print your design on white paper in grayscale.
- Using a soft lead pencil (of any size comfortable), color the back of your printed sheets. Be sure to get a good coat of pencil mark on the portions with the design.
- Flip the sheet over and decide where you want the design to be painted on the box. Use tape to gently adhere the paper to the bee hive box.
- Use a pencil to trace the outline of the design. Go slow. The lines may not be crisp and perfect because we are writing on wood that is not perfect. Just trace the outline of the image.
- Remove the print and you should see a tracing of your design on the hive. Retrace any parts that may be too light to see well.
- Chose the acrylic color you want and use a small craft brush to paint inside the lines of your drawing. You may need more than 1 coat of paint.
- Bee hive wood is rough. You may have to fill in the pencil design around handles etc.
When you start to paint, begin on the outside of the design and work in towards the middle. Let paint dry well between steps.
- When the paint is dry, use a black paint marker to outline each section (if desired). Don't stress if the design doesn't look perfect. It will be fine in the bee yard.
- Let the hive dry for 30 minutes to a hour. Then if you wish, spray a light coat of spray sealer on the front design part only.
You did it and your hive will be beautiful sitting in your bee yard.
*Painting on rough bee hive wood is bumpy. If you want to do a serious job of sanding before painting - that will help.
*Consider the bees when choosing your hive design. Pick something simple and non-threatening
As you decide how to decorate your beehive – keep this in mind. Darker colors are more difficult for bees to cool in sunny regions.
If you live in a southern region try to use lighter colors as the base paint for the hive.
Avoid using toxic paint or chemicals – even on the outside of the hive. Buying a set of acrylic paint is the most economical way to paint special designs.
Remember, the hive is the home of the bees. Foraging worker bees spend a lot of time at the hive entrance. Don’t paint pictures of spiders or bee eating predators at the hive entrance.
It is fun to make your hive look nice. However, the most beautiful bee hive on Earth that is not properly maintained will fail.
Looks only counts for so much. Do your hive maintenance and regular beehive inspections.
Final Tips on Beehive Decoration
As you think about ways to jazz up your hive decor, enjoy the process. And remember, it’s really okay to just have a bee hive painted white – if that is what you enjoy seeing in the bee yard. Do your own thing.