Bees are nature’s little wonders, buzzing about from flower to flower and transforming the nectar into sweet, delicious honey. Beneficial to humans, these flying insects help pollinate gardens and can even boost yields from certain crops without competing for agricultural resources on larger farms.
Aside from their general usefulness, beekeeping can be a fun hobby that helps you feel you’re doing your part to help the environment. If you’re considering taking up beekeeping, it’s helpful to learn how to protect the structural integrity of the hives you build without overwhelming your new friends with toxic chemicals.
So what’s the best paint for a beehive? Keep in mind that you only want to paint the exterior and never spaces where the bees actually reside inside. Even so, the first thing to consider for exterior color is the VOC (volatile organic compound level).
Exterior paints and stains with a VOC of 100 or less protect the wood but typically take weeks to dry and air out before
you invite bees inside their new home. Formulations with a 50 or lower VOC work even better, but those with 0 VOC make the best choice. One such paint with a 0 VOC is Real Milk Paint, and its natural formulation doesn’t harm bees or the environment, making it a sustainable way to protect exterior surfaces.
Another thing to consider is the LRV (light reflectance value) of the paint you select. Bees see in ultraviolet light, so paints with high reflective value can confuse their senses, with red being the worst offender and white appearing as a bluish-green.
Colors with a low LRV are hotter, while shades with a higher LRV are cooler. For example, black paint with a 0 LRV level can overheat the hives, so it’s best to avoid it. If you’re looking for a way to keep your bees warm in colder climes, however, dark colors like green with an LRV of 9 along the sides help hold in heat, while pastel hues generally run in the 74 LRV range and work well in warmer areas.
Paints typically have the LRV listed on their sample cards, and if you wish to use Real Milk Paint for color, it comes in 56 colors with endless variety of shades, if colors are mixed, for easy beehive customization. Another benefit of using Real Milk Paint on your beehives is that it won’t blister or peel up like conventional exterior paints.
Tung Oil for Beehives
For increased water resistance, you can apply Pure Tung Oil over Real Milk Paint to significantly protect the beehive exteriors. A natural finish often used to season butcher blocks and cutting boards, pure tung oil contains no solvents or chemicals and absorbs into the wood to form a waterproof seal. Additionally, after the first application, you can often just recoat the hives’ exteriors lightly once a year for fuss-free maintenance.
Application of pure tung oil is easy and requires spreading it with the grain of your beehive with a bristle brush or clean cloth, allowing it to absorb, applying more oil, repeating those steps until the wood is well saturated. Then remove the excess oil that does not absorb with a clean cloth, repeating this process the next day, then allowing the beehive to dry. Pure tung oil typically wards off mold and mildew as well, helping you keep your beehives in good order for years to come.
If you are looking for a safe way to brighten up your beehives, browse our paints and tung oils. Learn more about our green, environmentally-friendly products or contact us at 800-339-9748 with any questions.