How to Paint Your Beehives Like a Pro
Here are our top beehive painting and decorating tips:
- Choose the color based on your climate
- Use latex or water-based paint
- Decorate with stencils and decals
- Paint all the exposed exterior walls
Painting your beehive(s) isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but it can also be beneficial to your bees. A little bit of color on the exterior of the hive can help control the climate of the hive. Some distinctive decorations can reduce drift and even help bees find their hives easily.
Decorating your beehives can be a fun activity. It also allows you to brighten up your backyard or garden. However, for new beekeepers, the task can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t sweat it. We’ve got you covered. Follow this guide, and you’ll have vibrant, beautifully decorated hives in no time. Your bees will love it too!
Why Even Paint or Decorate Beehives?
Painting your beehive can:
- Help prolong the life of your wood.
- Reduce drift
Sometimes, when hives are arranged close to each other, bees become confused as to which one is home. When all the hives are identical, and the colony pheromones are intermingled, the bees end up going to the outermost hives.
To reduce this migration, beekeepers usually paint their beehives with distinctive colors and shapes. This helps the bees be able to differentiate between the hives and find the right colony.
Most beehives are made out of pine as it’s the most cost-effective and malleable material. However, pine isn’t as durable as other woods such as cypress or red cedar. Your beehive may not be able to withstand the harsh summers and brutal winters.
Painting beehives helps increase the wood’s longevity. By using good paint and allowing it to dry and cure properly, you’re creating a barrier between the wood and any rain, sun or snow.
Unpainted wood can easily absorb moisture, whereas painted wood cannot. That’s the reason you paint or seal the outside wood. Painting your beehive not only beautifies it but adds many seasons of life to it.
Keep in Mind
Make sure you paint the beehive before you place your bees in the hive. It’s very tricky to paint a beehive full of bees! In addition, paint has a very strong smell and bees are highly sensitive to odor.
If your beehive is made of durable wood, like red cedar, please don’t paint it. This type of wood has natural oils that help it resist the weather quite well on its own. Also, those natural oils can adversely react to paint.
Colors for Every Concern
Choose by Climate
In the past, most hives were painted white. This is a great color choice for warmer climates because of white’s light-reflective properties. White doesn’t absorb light or heat — rather, it reflects it, effectively cooling the inside of the hive.
On the other hand, if you live in a cooler climate, you should consider painting your hives with darker colors. Darker colors, such as green or brown, absorb heat and light. This will help raise the internal temperature of the beehive. Green is also the best color if you want your beehive to blend in with the foliage or greenery.
What if you want to keep that natural wood look but still want that added protection from the paint? You can use a water-based poly to seal the wood. There’s something for everyone!
Type of Paint
In terms of the type of paint to use, beekeepers use a variety of stains and varnishes. However, your best bet will be regular water-based, latex paint. It’ll last for years, is readily available and easy to work with.
Make sure you are choosing a non-toxic, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) exterior paint. This is the best for your bees’ health. VOCs can be very harmful to both people and the environment.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to apply at least three coats of paint. This is to ensure that there’s a good seal on your hive, and so you’ll be using a good amount of paint. Opt for what won’t harm your bees long-term.
Only Paint the Exterior
The inside of your beehive, whether you use a Langstroth design hive or a super box, should remain paint-free. Bees communicate with each other by scent-based pheromones. Strong smells from paint could disrupt their whole communication system. So, only paint the parts of the hive that are exposed to the weather.
Make sure to paint all the exterior walls, including the bottom board and the entryway. Only the surfaces that are exposed to the rain will benefit from the protection that paint offers.
Also, don’t forget to cover those tricky seams, corners and joints. Remember, the paint is acting as a sealant, so those small parts are also important to cover.
Get Creative with It!
Painting and decorating beehives can be a really fun way to express yourself. The bees really don’t care, either way, so have fun with it! You can decorate your beehive with anything from basic shapes and letters to detailed landscapes and abstract designs.
If you’re not artistically gifted, there are several cool tools you can use to transform your beehive. Stencils are your best friend. You can purchase a variety of stencils and outdoor decals online and go at it. There’s no right way to decorate. It’s a personal preference.
From bold, vibrant landscapes to basic shapes, the possibilities for your beehive exterior are endless. Decorating your beehive not only beautifies it but also helps it stand up to the harsh weather elements.
Painting the outside of your beehive protects and extends the longevity of the wood and helps your bees find their colony with ease. Aside from its protective advantages, it’s a chance for you to create a unique piece of art. Decorating your beehive can be a really fun activity — especially with children!