How to Decorate Your Painted Beehives

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Preparing your new hives is one of the first tasks for the new beekeeper. It’s not just about looks -a good coat of paint protects your hive from weather and moisture. It helps your beekeeping equipment last longer. However, that does not mean you can’t come up with some cute beehive painting ideas to show off your flair.

Front of a painted beehive decorated with a hand painted design.

Of course, you don’t have to paint a beehive but most of us do. How much flair you add to your beehive decoration is up to you. Thankfully, you don’t have to be an artist to get the job done.

Beehive Painting Ideas

Where should you look for inspiration when choosing a design for your hive? Well, you can certainly go for something that is honey themed.

A drawing simulating the appearance of honeycomb is a common one. The outlined hexagon shapes used by bees can be filled with color – or not.

Or perhaps, you want the hive to blend into the surrounding area? If so, you may choose more subtle decorations for the hive.

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Beyond the Base Color

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.

Color doesn’t really matter a lot in painting hives for bees. Let’s face it, the color we use to paint hives is more for our enjoyment. I doubt the bees care.

Traditionally, beehives were painted solid white with latex water-based paint. 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. But, bright colors can also be good choices for hives – especially if you do not live in a very hot region.

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 decorated painted beehives are so beautiful. Alas, I am not an artist.

Thankfully, even those of us who are not so artistically inclined can decorate our beehives with colored paint and reusable bee stencils.

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Of course, 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 with Tracing

Perhaps your hands are not as steady as they once were – or maybe you want the kids to be involved in your beehive 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.

Most wooden beehives are made of pine, cedar or cypress wood. Pine is probably the least expensive and most common.

A coat of latex primer is always a good way to start. If you have any knots in the wood, that stain will show through if you don’t cover it up well with primer.

Lead pencils and paper needed for making a tracing design for beehive painting ideas.

Materials

With some room for substitutions, these are the materials needed to make a painted beehive design with tracing.

  • simple design printed out
  • 2 sheets of paper
  • a regular lead pencil
  • paint and brushes
  • outdoor craft paint
  • acrylic sealer
  • hive box

There are several types of paint available but buying a set of acrylic paint is the most economical way to decorate your hive with special designs. This is good for making smaller areas of color to create a design on a latex background.

Two examples of graphics on decorated beehives. One is clover and the other are hearts.

Expert Tips

As you decide how to decorate your beehive – keep this in mind. Darker colors are more difficult for bees to cool in hot weather. If you live in a southern region try to use lighter colors as the base.

You can spray a very light coat of acrylic sealer to make your colors stay pretty longer. Avoid creating a lot of painted surfaces at the hive entrance. This area is important to your bees.

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. Would you want a zombie painted on your front door (if it was not Halloween)?

Avoid using toxic paint or chemicals – even on the outside of the hive. Gloss finishes and oil-based paint can prevent the wood from breathing avoid where possible.

Honey bees are sensitive to odors. Therefore, any painting should be completed well before the bees arrive. Give the equipment a few weeks to air out before adding your new colony.

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 bees (they may leave).

We want a cute hive but it is more important that our bees are not disturbed – keep that in mind. And never paint the inside of the hive, your bees will polish it with raw propolis to keep it clean and healthy.

More Ideas

While you have all these cool art supplies, there are some other “bee-ish” things you can enjoy. These custom bee garden art poles can be as simple or complex as you wish. They look great in the garden or to give as a gift.

Involve the kids to help paint some bee rocks – they are great for play or garden decor. And give you a good opportunity to talk about the importance of bees.

And, if your crafty side is really buzzing, these bee clay pot candy jars make great gifts too.

A Final Word

It is fun to make your hive look nice and hopefully some of these beehive painting ideas will get you started. However, the most beautiful bee hive on Earth that is not properly maintained will fail. Looks only count for so much. Do your hive maintenance and regular beehive inspections.

As you think about ways to jazz up your hive decor, enjoy the process. And remember, it’s really okay to just have a beehive painted white – if that is what you enjoy seeing in the bee yard. Do your own thing.

sun drawing on painted bee hive

How to Create Painted Beehive Designs

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
Step by step directions for creating unique hand painted designs to decorate your beehives.
5 from 3 votes

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Read my Disclosure.

Tools

  • pencils
  • Paint Brushes Asst
  • Deep Hive Box

Supplies
 

Instructions
 

  • Select a bee box that you wish to paint.
    It should have a clean surface – I find sanding and painting it white is best. But you can use any base color.
    Sanding, painted white bee box image.
  • If you are not great at free-hand drawing – that’s okay.
    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.
    Printed simple design outlines of sun and rainbow image.
  • In the “old days” I used carbon paper for sheet to sheet tracing but its hard to find today. No worries.
    Using a soft lead pencil (of any size comfortable), color the back side of your printed sheets – heavily. Be sure to get a good coat of pencil mark on the portions with the design.
    Back of a beehive design sheet coated with pencil lead image.
  • 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.
    The pencil lead side goes down of course.
    Sun hive design print taped on box front image.
  • 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.
    Using pencil to trace edge of bee hive painting stencil 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.
    Pencil design traced on bee hive box before painting image.
  • Now for the fun part. It’s time to add some color.
    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.
    Color painted inside the design on beehive image.
  • Beehive wood is rough-sometimes very rough. You can sand and fill in rough spots prior to starting but it is not necessary.
    However, 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.
    Painting rainbow design on bee hive box image.
  • 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.
    Sun design painted on bee hive box image.
  • Dry and seal. Let the hive dry for 30 minutes to a hour.
    Then if you wish, spray a light coat of spray sealer (optional) on the front design part only.
    Finished beehive painted image.
Learn more about bees and using products from the hive!Join me on Pinterest – @carolinahoneyb

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