As the art of beekeeping is continuously growing in demand, many beekeepers are looking for solutions to increase their hives’ lifespan. Although some beekeepers prefer to leave their hives with natural wood, others love painting their hives to give an attractive look and acquire other benefits.
The best paint for your hive is water-based latex paint with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and rated for outdoor use. The level of VOCs needs to be less than 100 or as low as possible to be safe for the bees while protecting them and the hive from the elements. Repaint when needed.
Unlike other structures, beehives require a careful selection of paints. Therefore, it is essential to learn the best paint for beehives and other vital aspects of painting your beehives.
Do I Need to Paint My Bee Hives?
Painting your beehives comes with some benefits and drawbacks. Here are the advantages and disadvantages at a glance to help you decide whether it is the path to take.
The advantages of painting your beehive include:
- Protects your hive from potential elements that may damage the wood.
- Provides an organized farm for large-scale beekeepers.
- Blends in the beehives with their environment.
- Acts as temperature regulators.
- Enables bees to navigate to their hive, avoiding confusion.
- You can use painting as an identifying feature for you.
The disadvantages of painting your beehives include:
- Paints may contain toxic chemicals that may harm the bees.
- Some paints can cause abnormal heat to the bees’ habitat.
- Paints can contain scents that distract bees.
What is the Best Paint for Bee Hives?
Here are some qualities of the best paint for beehives you should always look for:
1. Non-Toxic Paint
You should focus on hive paints that will not harm your bees. Non-toxic paints ensure that bees live for a more extended period by providing a safe and healthy stay. Such paints need to have VOCs of less than 100 for the best results. The lower the VOC levels, the better for your bees.
2. Cool and Non-Heat Absorbing Paints
Bees are susceptible to high temperatures within their hives. Too much temperature will cause bees to migrate. Some paints are high heat absorbents that can cause bees to move away. Therefore, always use lighter-colored paint for an optimum temperature for your bees. Bees’ body colors are already meant to reduce heat on their bodies.
3. Light Reflectance Value (LRV)
Light reflectance value is another essential aspect to consider. Bees’ visibility is enhanced in ultraviolet light. Paints with high LRV can confuse their sense of sight. Red has a high LRV, while white has a moderate LRV suitable for bees’ sight.
4. Quality of the Paint
Different brands of paint come at various qualities and prices. When choosing the best paint for your hive, always look for high-quality paint. Low-quality paints are more likely to get off with extreme weather conditions.
5. Exterior Grade Latex Paint
This is a unique water-based paint composed of resins that enables it to resist chipping, fading, and peeling. It is suitable for all temperatures and moisture conditions. Exterior latex paints are available in several sheens, depending on your taste and preference.
How To Paint a Bee Hive
Here is how to paint a beehive:
- Gather the hive: Gather all the hive parts with exterior fasteners and wood glue (screws, nails, or staples). You should not paint the components before combining them.
- Get the painting equipment: Painting beehives is unique from painting other structures. You will need paintbrushes and/or paint roller (if you opt for a roller brush, you will need a brush to reach edges and handles), liners and trays, can openers for paint, painting tape to protect areas you don’t intend to paint, and a scraper or sandpaper for removing any dry glue left on the surface of the hive during assembling.
- Clean and prepare the hive’s surface: Before painting, brush and dry off all dust and particles. This will allow the paint to adhere to the wood. If you have an old hive, consider performing all necessary repairs like fixing joints. You can also use sandpaper to clean up and scrape off dirt before giving your hive a fresh coat.
- Only paint the exterior surfaces exposed to the damaging elements.
- Let the hive dry before moving it or generally touching it. You should paint the hive in warm weather then let it air for at least a week before introducing bees. This reduces the exposure of the bees to the VOCs in the paint.
If done right, you can enjoy the benefits of a printed hive after these steps. You can also paint honey bee houses for the same reasons as above.
What Hive Surfaces Do I Paint?
The following are surfaces you should paint on your beehive:
- All the surfaces of the wooden hive stand.
- All the wooden parts of the bottom board. Do not paint the screen if it is on the bottom board.
- The outside, top, and bottom edges of the slatted rack.
- The exterior, top, and bottom edges of supers or hive boxes.
- All the surfaces of the outer cover. This includes the top and bottom edges and the inner sides.
- The bee hive base.
You can give the hives the colors you desire as long as they also help the bees live better.
Best Color to Paint My Bee Hive
The best color for your beehive is white since it reflects heat. Alternatively, if you live in a colder region, a dark color is suitable as it helps your hive absorb and preserve heat. You can also blend your hive with different colors to make the hives unique to the bees.
However, the best color for your hive depends on your preference but should match the temperature conditions. Since bees don’t see some colors like red (they’ll see black instead), consider the colors they can see for the hives.
Cost Of Painting Beehives
Painting your hive is among the most affordable practices in beekeeping. One liter of paint can reliably paint 2 coats of 15 medium-sized beehives. With the different available paints in the market, most paints go for $12 to $ 20 per liter. Approximately, it will cost you $5 to paint one medium-sized beehive with two coats of paint.
Here are some standard affordable exterior paints that satisfy all the qualities of a good paint for beehives:
- BEHR Premium Plus: Goes for $ 14-$ 16 per liter depending on sheen and is available at your Home Depot.
- Valspar SeasonFlex Ultra: Depending on the sheen, it goes for $ 12-14 per liter and is available at Lowes.
If you are considering using a wood stain, here’s a more expensive option than the previous paints with low VOCs:
- PolyWhey Exterior Penetrating Wood Stain: Available at Vermont Natural Coatings at $ 20 per liter.
Should I Hot Wax Dip My Bee Hives?
Wax dipping involves submerging beehives in heated wax to make the wood more robust and waterproof. The art has the following benefits and drawbacks:
The benefits of wax dipping include:
- An excellent wood treatment that preserves wood from moisture.
- Offers treatment to interior and exterior surfaces.
- Kills AFB spores by sterilizing the equipment.
- It is a 1-time treatment that does not require repainting.
- Offers extended life to the box of between 15-20 years.
- Once dry, the boxes are ready to go.
The downsides to wax dipping include:
- Needs special equipment and skills.
- High fire risk when not carefully conducted: the hive can catch fire during the hot season when wax-dipping is not well-applied.
Tung Oil for Beehives
Tung oiling bee hives involves enhancing water resistance. The process involves applying Pure Tung Oil on Real Milk Paint to protect the beehive’s exterior. It is a natural-based finish as the Pure Tung Oil has no solvents and chemicals and is directly absorbed by wood, providing a waterproof seal. In addition, it requires recoating the hives’ exterior once per year to prevent fuss.
Here are the pros and cons of tung oil for beehives:
- Free from chemicals
- Gives a long-lasting experience
- Easy and versatile
- Adds beauty to the hive
- Takes a long time to dry
Painting your beehive is among the best ways to increase its lifespan. Protecting your beehives with the best paint for beehives is a great way to increase returns on your investment. The art comes with many benefits, including better bee habitat, farm organization, decorating your apiary, etc. You can now decide if painting your beehives is the right idea for your beehives.
University of Florida. PRESERVING WOODENWARE IN BEEKEEPING OPERATIONS.
Oklahoma State University. Beginning Honey Beekeeping Equipment and Associated Costs.
University of Georgia. Beekeeping Equipment.