Another thing to consider when painting hives is the LRV (light reflectance value) of the paint you select. Honey 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 or latex paints.
Best Colors for Painting a Beehive
Choosing the best colors for painting hives may seem like a purely aesthetic decision, but it can actually have practical implications for beekeeping. Honey bees are highly sensitive to colors, and the color of a beehive can affect the hive’s temperature, the bees’ behavior, and even their overall productivity. Here, we’ll explore some of the considerations when selecting the best beehive colors.
Natural Wood Tones
Many beekeepers paint beehives with natural wood tones. These hives are often made from pine, cedar, or cypress wood, which provides good insulation and breathability for the honey bees. Natural wood painted hives blend well with the environment and have a classic, rustic appearance.
Painting hives with white is a common choice among beekeepers for several reasons. First, white reflects sunlight, helping to keep the hive cooler in hot weather. Second, white hives are easily visible, making it easier for beekeepers to monitor honey bees’ activity.
Pastel colors, such as light blue, pink, or pale yellow are beekeepers paint colors of choice. Painting beehives with light colors can add a touch of personality to the hive boxes and may appeal to hobbyist beekeepers or those who want to create a visually pleasing beekeeping space. However, it’s important to choose pastel shades that are not too bright, as intense colors may disturb the bees.
Green and Brown
Green and brown beehives can blend seamlessly into natural surroundings, making them less conspicuous to potential predators and thieves. These earthy colors help hives camouflage in gardens, orchards, or wooded areas, reducing the likelihood of disturbances.
Avoid Dark Colors
Darker colors in beehives, such as black or dark brown, should generally be avoided. Dark colors absorb more heat from the sun, potentially overheating the hive, especially during hot summer months. Elevated temperatures can stress the bees and negatively impact hive productivity.
How to Paint a Beehive the Right Way
Painting beehives is an essential task in beekeeping that goes beyond aesthetics. To paint a beehive correctly, you first need to prepare all the materials needed for the paint job to ensure a seamless painting process. Then, you need to prepare wood surfaces meticulously. Ensure that the hive’s exterior is clean and dry. Remove any dirt, dust, or loose particles from the wood surface. It’s advisable to lightly sand the surface to create a smooth and even texture.
Finally, apply multiple coats of bee hive paint. Apply a minimum of two coats and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. Be thorough in covering all exterior surfaces, including the hive stand, bodies, supers, and the hive’s top cover. Pay extra attention to the landing board, as it is a high-traffic area for the honey bees. An even application of paint on all surfaces of the bee hives helps seal the wood and ensure long-lasting protection.
Tung Oil for Beehives
If you want increased water resistance, you cant apply exterior wood glue to your beehives, instead, 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 of fresh paint, 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 paint roller, 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.