Painting hives is an excellent way to protect wood surfaces from harsh elements. However, several critical factors to consider when you decide to paint your stinger friends’ home. Should you paint the inside of your beehive?
You can paint the outside and leave the inside where the bees live unpainted. It is never a good idea to paint the inside of a beehive because bees are naturally curious insects and will inspect and chew on the painted surfaces. It could be harmful to your whole colony of bees.
If you already painted the inside of a few of your hives, don’t worry too much. The chances are good that everything will be fine. There are several reasons to leave the inside of your hives unpainted, but several reasons to paint the outside of your hives!
Reasons For Painting Hives
Many of the things we as beekeepers do are done for the health of our beloved bees. All we want to do is provide the best possible shelter for our bees to lead healthy and productive lives. When it comes to painting beehives, it’s more about making our lives better.
Here are the top reasons why beekeepers paint their hives:
Protecting The Wood
The outer surfaces of hives are exposed to rain, sun, temperature fluctuations, and everything else Mother Nature could throw at them. When the wood surfaces are left unprotected, most of them will begin to break down because of the stressful conditions.
Wet wood will rot, and flat surfaces will warp. Eventually, the wood will break down enough to the point that the hive’s interior will be left exposed. Thus, adding a protective layer of paint will keep these issues from happening for a much more extended period than bare wood would be able to handle.
Helping Hives To Blend In
Many beekeepers don’t want to draw a lot of extra attention to their hives. This could be because they’re concerned about nosy neighbors, curious kids, or even vandals. Painting a hive to blend into its environment is a good idea.
Many suburban beekeepers paint their hives in the same color as their houses or surrounding buildings. In rural areas, beekeepers often go for a color that blends into the surrounding foliage.
Regulation Of Hive Temperature
Depending on where you live, the color scheme you choose for painting your hive’s exteriors could help keep the interiors comfortable for your bees. If you live in hotter climates, painting your hives white or any other reflective light color will keep the hives cooler during the hot summer months.
In colder northern areas, painting the exterior of your hives a darker color will help to absorb more of the sun’s warmth during the winter. Keeping your hives a little warmer will make a big difference in how much honey will be needed to survive through spring.
Keeping Your Hives Organized
Many beekeepers find it fun to try out different boxes to find the right combination for their circumstances. Once a collection of boxes reach a specific size, it could take some effort to tell one size box from another size. Some beekeepers use a particular color system when painting their boxes to help them remember and tell the different sizes apart quickly and easily.
What Surfaces Should Be Painted?
The most significant rule when you are in the process of deciding to paint your hives is to mainly cover any and all surfaces that are exposed to the elements. This means you should paint the areas that are exposed to sun and rain and leave surfaces bare where your bees are walking and living.
This means you should never paint the interior of your beehives, the entryways, and all other interior spaces such as frames.
Why Not Paint The Inside Of Your Hives?
There are several reasons as to why not to paint the inside of your hives. Take a look at this list below, and you’ll see that it will definitely do your bees more harm than good if you are planning to paint the inside of your beehive.
- Most paints, even the low VOC types, contain toxic compartments that you don’t want your bees to eat. If you paint where your bees are walking and eating, they will chew through the paint.
This could cause the death of your bees, or it can spread diseases that will ruin your whole hive.
- Even if you decide on a low VOC paint, it is still a type of paint, and it will still give off gas for a long time. The smell itself is not harmful to the health of your bees, but it may drive them away from the hive.
It could also interfere with pheromone signals in the hive, which could be dangerous and misleading to the whole colony. It is important to take note that bees have evolved with the smell of wood, not paint.
- Unpainted wood can absorb moisture where painted wood can’t. This is precisely why you paint or seal the wood outside of your beehive. Unpainted wood adds some amount of controlled moisture within the hive.
The effect is not too huge, but you also don’t even need to paint the outside if you have enough ventilation in your hive.
- In nature, our wonderful bees live inside hollow logs. Of course, these logs are unpainted. So with that being said, having unpainted interior surfaces will stimulate the natural living conditions of bees more closely.
This could mean that they will make more honey and be more productive as bees in general.
- Most wood has numerous natural antimicrobial properties, more particularly, antifungal ones. By sealing the wood with paint, these extraordinary natural properties are entirely lost to the hive!
Nearly all paint comes with fungicides added to it. Fungicides are known as chemical pesticides, which certainly is not suitable for bee décor. It is much healthier for your bees to let the natural fungicides do their job than add commercially produced ones.
If you already have painted some or even all of your boxes inside, you should just let them air out immediately and for as long as possible before using them again. Don’t be too hard on yourself, though, as there are far worse mistakes to be made in beekeeping!
What Types Of Paint To Use For Painting Beehives
You’d be relieved to know that there are some alternatives you could resort to when you want to paint your beehives! There are several options on what types and brands of paint are the best when painting hives. Some beekeepers use whatever is on sale or in the discounted section of their local center to get the best deals. Others will pay premium prices for the best-rated brands in just the right custom shade to match their homes or existing hives.
No matter what factor you decide I most important to you, be sure to choose a paint that will not harm your bees. Look for water-based latex paints that are rated for exterior use with low levels of VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that evaporate out of the paint as it dries and cures, a process called off-gassing. VOCs are measured in grams per liter and are typically marked on the paint can or bucket label.
To prevent these chemicals from affecting your bees and their pheromones, look for paints with VOCs under 100. Those that are labeled 50 or lower are even safer! Some beekeepers prefer to use clear coatings or stains to protect their hives effectively without hiding the natural beauty of the wood grain.
Lastly, you should always give your paint time to off-gas. Even with a low VOC paint, you should leave plenty of time for the off-gassing process to take place before you can introduce a colony of bees to the hive. Be sure always to read the label for the paint manufacture’s listed curing time.
You can add a few days or even weeks for the paint to gas off according to your region’s temperature and relative humidity. Remember, this is a process that cannot be rushed, and your bees will thank you in their language for planning and leaving enough time to make their home as welcoming and comfortable as possible.
How To Paint Your Hives Correctly (What You Should Know)
Now that you know what to paint, what not to paint, how to paint it, and what paint to use, you can now start the mission of painting your hives safely and correctly. I have made a small and easy-to-use list with some guidelines to begin painting your hives:
Wooden hive stand– Paint all surfaces. The hive stand needs to be able to withstand the elements. If you used pressure-treated wood for your hive stands, you would not have to paint them!
Bottom board– Paint all wood surfaces. DO NOT paint the screen if you are using a screened bottom board. The bottom board gets the most abuse, so it will need to be well protected.
Entrance reducer- You should never paint this piece. It is used only sparingly and can be chewed on by your bees if used for longer periods.
Slatted rack and hive boxes– Paint the outside, with the top and bottom edges. Do not paint the inside. Some people choose not to paint the top and bottom edges because they find it causes the hive bodies to stick together during the warmer parts of the year.
Frames– Do not paint the frames. This could be extremely harmful to your bees, and it counts as the interior of your hive.
Inner cover– do not paint the inner cover. Your bees will probably chew on this part.
Outer cover– paint all wooden surfaces on the outside. Paint the top and bottom edges and inner sides. Do not paint the inside or underside. Do not paint the metal top.
We, as bee parents, of course, only want the best for our honey-making children! You wouldn’t want to live in a paint-smelling, intoxicating home, so chances are, they definitely don’t want to as well.
Painting a beehive is simple when you remember the basic principle: Paint the outside and leave the inside where your bees live unpainted. And now that you know why you should not be painting the inside of your hive, I’m sure you will refrain from doing so. While it is not necessary to paint your beehive, and some people choose not to do it at all, painting your hive will ultimately make it more durable! You can also paint your hives for decorative purposes to make your stinger friends’ home as beautiful as yours!