View Full Version : What Color to Paint Hives?
02-20-2003, 01:10 PM
This has probably been discussed before, but not sure which board it would have been posted on.
We know that bees see colors. We know that painting hives different colors is supposed to aid the prevention of drifting.
In light of all that what colors should a person paint there hives? My thoughts are aleternate each hive with a diffent color.
02-20-2003, 01:45 PM
I used to always paint them white, but everytime I looked at that pretty wood I hated to paint it. I started using Exterior Latex base without any color and painted them with that.
Most people I know who use colors just buy the mismatched color from the hardware or paint store that the customer didn't like. In other words the color is based on the price. http://www.beesource.com/ubb/smile.gif I don't think it matters that much myself. I try to put the hives at least three feet apart and haven't had that much problem. When I put them right up against each other I have seen some robbing and fighting and drifting. If I was going to put them right up against each other I'd make like a pinwheel with each facing a different direction.
I've noticed that landmarks seem to make a difference. Like a small tree near the entrance will confuse that hive when you move them away from the tree. I think you could put various shapes or posts in front of some and they might notice that. I wonder if you painted shapes on the fronts of the hives if they would key on that?
You could even paint the different shapes different colors.
02-20-2003, 01:45 PM
I read a book recently that discussed the color bands that bees can see... As far as which color to paint the hives, I think you can use anything that you want, but, you may want to avoid using any dark colors as this may raise the temperatures inside the hive during the hot parts of the summer. This also depends on where your hives are located.
Just my 2 cents,
02-20-2003, 01:49 PM
On the subject of drifting, I've noticed the bees seem to count hives. In other words if their hive was second from one end and I put a hive between those last two hives, the bees from the hive that used to be second hive from the end will wonder into the hive that is now second from the end, even though I haven't moved their hive at all, I just added one between the last two.
02-20-2003, 03:07 PM
I read somewhere that bees are partial to blue, so that's the color I'm going to use.
02-20-2003, 04:29 PM
Everyone to his on likes, but i like to dip my hive in copper napthenate,it's easy & go's a lone way. it gives it a green look. like pressure treated wood,we have also noticed that the ant's don't seem so bad on them.also i read in the A.B.J. somewhere that bees do see shapes painted on front of hives as well as color.
02-20-2003, 05:05 PM
Where do you get the copper stuff?
Do you think that Lowes or Home Depot would carry it.
02-20-2003, 05:57 PM
I use the El Cheapo method (mismatched paint bin at Home Depot), and can usually choose between several colors of excellent ext. latex paint at 2 to 3 bux/gallon. That works for me!
In the past I have used triangles of diff colored paint on the front of the hive, and it seemed to help reduce drifting. That was when I painted the hives all white, and now I don't know that it really matters, as they are different shades and colors, and very seldom do two colors sit next to each other. As I recall I used the triangles because I read in ABC&XYZ that bees do differentiate between shapes as well as colors. Make yourself happy, as I don't think the girls care very much.
I would be careful about using chemical dips like the copper, due to possible chemical infiltration into the combs and then the honey. Beeswax acts like a chemical sponge, and if there is any transfer from the bee's feet to the wax, or perhaps from outgassing of chemical residues, you may well, by extension, be poisoning the honey. Don't know this for a fact, but it is worth thinking about.
02-20-2003, 06:40 PM
Mann lake sell's copper napthenate.also lowe's sell it in one gallon can's. ,But make sure it's 8%,as far as harming the bees or honey, that what mann lake sell's it for to treat hive's . I get mine from a commercial beekeeper it's cheaper for me because he buy's in volume.www.mannlakeltd.com
02-20-2003, 07:10 PM
I paint my Dried Seaweed Green. Get the paint from Walmart and use that color because it is excellent camouflage when my hives are setting in this treeless sagebrush grassland.
I had used a very dark brown. It did provide some extra heat. It's not needed in Texas buy very welcome here in Wyoming.
They stood out a mile away and were very obvious.
The dark brown color concealed lots of stains, etc. White supers can look pretty grungy after awhile. It's not a problem if they are stored away from sight but sometime that's not possible.
02-22-2003, 08:00 PM
About hive positon in relationship to surroundings.
Some research papers I read a long time ago came to the conclusion that honeybees orient themselves on "final approach" to their home colony by an internal system that aligns a visual "memory" map with the hive entrance. In other words, for instance let's say the hive opening faces east, the bees have a 'mental picture' of what the surrounding scene looks like directly to the north and what it looks like directly to the south. Upon their return from foraging, they begin a flight path that puts these "mental" images into alignment. When the physical flight path becomes aligned with their "mental pictures" then the entrance to their hive ought to be there. So positions of trees, buildings, even large boulders on the ground where shown to play a role in their orientation. The so-called "orientation flights" that bees make around the front entrance of their hive are supposedly the first steps in developing this "mental image" of their individual hive's location.
Assumming the above logic is correct, I've offen wondered when I go stand next to a hive and watch the bees flying in and out, is my presence confusing them upon their return flight?
02-23-2003, 05:49 AM
Occasionally one of the bees returning seems to have to buzz around you, but most just go right on in. I think they need more contratictory info that just you standing there to think it's the wrong place.
I saw a queen raising video by David Eyre of www.beeworks.com (http://www.beeworks.com) and he had all of his baby mating nucs painted a different color so they could find them easily. He just pained every one a different light pastel color.
02-23-2003, 06:55 AM
I plan on painting my hive different pastel colors. May upto four different colors.
Not sure if it will help on the drifting, well be neat to see if it helps.
Thanks for all the comments, and feel free if anyone has any other ideas why painting other colors helps.
02-23-2003, 08:44 AM
Hello TXbeeguy and Everyone,
The University of Montana has developed a automated hive that records bee activity in real time and can sample the hive enviroment,weather, etc. One of the observations made concerned the effects of a person standing or working in the yard. The researchers back in the lab could tell where the field person was located based on the increase of drift into other hives. As I recall drifting was significant to hives within tens of feet. I went back to the site but could not locate the text. See:
02-26-2003, 11:00 AM
I go the budget method and paint my hives with discount paint or gargage sale paint. Since beekeeping is for fun with me I do as much as I can with my 4 yr old daughter. Last winter building and painting equipment was our inside projects. I put a good base coat on and let her have them from there. Some sides have big flowers others have big bees. The bees don't even seem to notice. Beekeeping is a great hobby to get your family involved in; there is something for every one to do!
03-03-2003, 08:00 AM
i've got hives of many colors intentionally,i think it helps give each hive a little more individual personality,i even paint designs on them(stars,giant bees,spirals).this all may help with drifting,but i know my mind is prone to drifting too, and if i'm working a row of hives and one has a problem or needs a super or something, i can make a mental note of the color and not get them mixed up.i also have tried color coating by race,all my buckfast are in orange boxes.have fun!
03-08-2003, 06:17 PM
I paint all of my hive-top outer covers BLACK in order to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight thereby converting it to heat. Most of you are probably saying "WHAT IS THIS GUY, NUTS??!!" A few years, I would have thought so as well. However, Since I am into making bird houses and their habitats as well, I read an intersting article in some bird house making book or magazine. The short of it is that some people were trying to build the perfect Blue Bird bird house. They used light colored paint on the roof of the house. They subsequently found that IN THE SUN, the house was too hot and the birds would not nest there. They got some architectural guy who is into heat handling involved. All said and done, they decided to paint the roof BLACK because when the sun heats this surface, the air convection produced draws the air up from underneath in effect COOLING the bird house more efficiently that when NOT doing so. I applied this principal to the outer cover of the hives. To verify, I stuck a thermometer on top of the inner cover on hives with black outers and not black outers. Bear in mind that I use an insulating board between the inner and outer covers of all hives thruout the year. The results showed that the hives WITH the black painted outer covers during 90+ degree days were 10 - 15 degrees COOLER than those with white colored outter cover painted hives. I invite anyone to verify my results.
Very interesting idea John. I can see that an insulating board/ innner cover would be crutial to your results.
Interesting to read the letters about painting hives. My mentor in beekeeping used to treat his hives with creosote. I never got in to the habit and decided from the start to not treat or paint my hives. Firstly because of the contaminating aspect, and secondly becaus the Pine or Cedar that all my hives are made from breathes better without paint, and have found (over ten year period) no problem with condensation in the hives. Also, my oldest hives, althoug silver in colour now, are perfect condition.
Just thought I would add my two-bits worth...........Jon
03-13-2003, 10:53 AM
Jon, I'm intrigued by your message. What is the oldest unpainted pine hive you have? I am finishing up a TBH made of cheap white pine from Lowe's, and I was planning to paint it. But the breathability factor (not to mention the labor-savings) seems valuable if the hive will hold up. My hive will have a pitched peak roof with cedar shingles and about 3-4" of overhang on all sides. With a SBB and a topboard with a 5x9" screen vent, topped by the roof, it should have plenty of ventilation. Do you have a view on how well this hive might hold up if I left it unpainted? Thanks.
03-13-2003, 01:12 PM
Hello Harlon and Everyone,
I just finished painting my tbh. I ended up painting both the inside and outside surfaces. I haven't painted the inside of my hives before other than the bottom board.
My thinking was the tbh hive and essentially all the equipment will be in the yard all the time with little chance to refurbish, so I painted all the surfaces. The hive is essentially one unit with seperate bottom, etc.
Just Some Thoughts
Ps Harlon would you be willing to post some pictures of your TBH on beesource. I would like to see it.
03-13-2003, 01:16 PM
I've always thought painting the inside was a bad idea. Paint doesn't seem like something I would line a food container with, and that's what I think of a hive as. Also I didn't think the bees would like it. Also, I figure the wood acts like a bit of a moistier flywheel. Soaking it up and giving it off. I have painted the insides with FGMO just so the bees couldn't attach things as well. I suppose that kind of messes with tme moistier effect.
Let us know how it works out.
03-13-2003, 03:58 PM
Dennis, I don't have a digital camera, but evidently I can snailmail pictures to Barry for posting, so I'll try to take some pics and send them to him. It ain't nothing fancy, and who knows whether the bees will like it.
03-13-2003, 08:23 PM
My tbh is the most basic possible. Part of the design concept. Looking forward to the shots.
03-13-2003, 10:08 PM
Other than with cedar shingle or plastic lined houses, how many of us would leave our own homes unpainted? There is a good reason to paint and that is to prevent the on and off absorption of moisture, which does 2 things: 1) it leads to rot, 2) it produces swelling (when moist) and shrinking (when dry). This puts a lot of strain on the joints, as well as warping of the wood, and thus a shorter life for a house, a piece of furniture, a hive.
The inside is all but insulated after a season or so by the bees propolizing and by waxing the surfaces as they walk on them with "dirty" feet.
03-13-2003, 10:21 PM
About painting with copper based paints. To me it is a bad idea. One treatment for some parasitic diseases in fish such as tropical acquarium fishes, is the application for 5 days of a 0.15ppm solution of copper. This will lead to a total of just 0.75ppm of copper added. This is not an extremely high concentration in my opinion.
Now, everyone who has or had a fish tank where a parasitic infection was treated with this method will attest to the observation that all invertebrates (snails, for example) in there are dead. Copper is poisonous to invertebrates, and bees ARE INVERTEBRATES.
They might be a little nore resistant than snails, the painted copper may not initially come off as easily (until it starts pealing), but I would worry.