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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    FRANKLIN NC
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    28

    Default To Paint or Not To Paint

    There are many different theories out there about whether or not to paint your top bar hive. I would love to have a discussion on the pros and cons.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Vancouver, WA
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    128

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Theres a notion out there that painting retains moisture in the hive, which could be dangerous in winter. Most people who want to keep Top Bar beekeeping as natural as possible use a mixture of tung oil or boiled linseed oil mixed with beeswax. Protects the wood, and lets it breathe....so to speak.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Try some of these threads...

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...light=painting

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...light=painting

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...light=painting

    Ed

    ETA: These links aren't TBH specific, but rather general paint info that tends to be geared more toward Langstroth hives...

  4. #4
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    Jan 2013
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    FRANKLIN NC
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    28

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    That was alot of information...I think i will paint...lol

  5. #5
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    Jul 2011
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    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Good choice, JOANAR. All my woodenware (except for an odd piece here and there) are cypress but I primed and painted it. So far I have used Kilz II as a primer but have read some negative remarks about it and will be using Zinser 1-2-3 waterbased primer from here on out. The paint that I've been using is premium Valspar that has primer already in it. It is a one-coat paint and lays down a nice coat of paint. I've been very pleased with it so far.

    My oldest boxes have only been out in the elements for a year and three months so really not a long term evaluation (I'm wondering about the Kilz) but as I insinuated, they're still looking good.

    I have one or two boxes that I needed before I could get paint on them and even though they are cypress they are showing weathering...some splitting and cracking in the surface is evident...nothing that is weaking the structure, but that over a period of time probably will. When I get a chance I'm pulling them out of service and slopping on some primer/paint.

    I have painted most of my boxes with them sitting on a counter propped up on little pieces of wood. I did the same with my bottomboards and tops and any other hive part. In one painting session I decided to make two stacks out of the supers that I was painting and paint them all at once. I primed each box before I stacked and painted (included the edges). I didn't get back to those boxes after I painted them for a month or two. By then the stacks were more or less one solid piece...the paint is a great glue...I could carry an entire stack as one unit. But, they popped loose easy enough. I am definitely going to use the board between two supports method the next time I paint (which I need to do soon).

    I initially painted the edges with box primer and paint. The last few painting sessions I just primed them and let it go at that...the Valspar is some thick paint and tended to make the boxes stick together a lot.

    If you want to "decorate" your boxes, or maybe paint bottom boards or queen excluders or some other small part a different color Home Depot sells little "sample" containers of exterior paint that you can get tinted in any color that they sell. Lowe's has small sample containers, too, but I'm not sure if there's state as being exterior. Hmmm, or that could be right opposite...so much for my memory! Well, I just typed that and remembered once again that you're working with TBH's...I guess you could use the "samples" for trim work or for painting bees and flowers on your hive. Best wishes, Ed


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    San Mateo, Ca, USA
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    408

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    just paint the outsides. The insides can absorb moisture and breathe with the hive if unpainted on the inside

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,320

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Not painting is much less work...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
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    Jan 2012
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
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    31

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    The one thing I would NOT do again is use boiled linseed oil and beeswax! I did two TBH's and a nuc with that stuff a year ago and they all are turning black with dirt streaks and mildew. I liked the initial natural wood look but now they look terrible and are getting worse everyday.

    Funny, I was just experimenting with various methods of trying to remove the BLO and BW finish today and somebody else is recommending it. I plan to replace it with transparent Cabot Deck and Fence Stain, if I can get the old finish off.

    Sounds like you are having fun getting ready for your bees...now if the NC weather would just warm up. Today, I heard that this is the 8th coldest March here in the last 69 years!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    FRANKLIN NC
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    28

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    My bees arrive in mid April...so very soon. I am almost ready. Here in WNC today is supposed to be 49 to 50 and it is just getting warmer from there. Come on Spring!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    I hate painting, but unpainted wood looks pretty bad after a year. Not that it would fall apart but it looks bad. If you are buying premium latex full price versus not painting, you may loose money in the long run on paint. But if you get your paint as miss-tints at the big boxes it cost almost nothing (but your time). I was hoping to con my kids into painting, but I got about half of one coat on one hive painted that way.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    ..wyatt, I have a friend who was shopping at one of the large discount stores. He had his three-year-old son with him. As they passed by toys or whatever his little boy would naturally come out with "I want one!". My friend would keep on going and respond with "No job, no toy". This happened several times during the shopping trip. When they got to the checkout the 3 yo did get a small pack of M&Ms which he handed to the checkout clerk who then handed it back to the child. The young boy quickly said "Thank you". This impressed the clerk who then looked in the buggy and exclaimed "Why, you don't have a toy in there!". To which the 3-year-old responded...."No job...no toy!". Naturally, the clerk chided his daddy for being a mean person but my friend just smiled. The boy now has several jobs...picking up toys all along, throwing trash in wastebaskets, picking up a few dirty clothes, etc.,. He doesn't do a great job at it, but he makes some effort...and he gets a nickle or so doing "the job" and along the way learns what "value" is. Now, when they go to the store he has his own money (that he "worked" for...and which his daddy adds to ). But, this little boy is learning that you work for things...that there's no such thing as a free ride.

    Hmm, your kids have any video games, favorite television programs, favorite McDonalds meal, favorite...???? Don't con'em...give'em a job...if a 3-year-old can figure it out...

    Ed

    PS...if you institute some form of this "work for money(toy?)" method please don't give them my name or location.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    San Mateo, Ca, USA
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    408

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    I just used the leftover exterior latex paint that was used on the house the last time it was painted. It was free and makes my hive blend in to its surroundings (in my case its next to my house).

    Depending on your neighbors you may or may not want your hive to be easily noticeable or recognizable. Just something to factor in when considering getting the odd 'off colors' from the box stores. If your hives are out in the middle of a field on a farm then its no problem.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    1,976

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    I have 5 tbh's. The first two I made, I never painted, but used a poly finish to keep the 'wood-look'. The next three I stained with a solid stain. Looking at them all, I wish I had stained them all.

    The 'wood-look' can get pretty dumpy looking once the water/sun set. The stained ones look great.

    Adam

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Bandon, OR
    Posts
    107

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Quote Originally Posted by beepopnc View Post
    The one thing I would NOT do again is use boiled linseed oil and beeswax! I did two TBH's and a nuc with that stuff a year ago and they all are turning black with dirt streaks and mildew. I liked the initial natural wood look but now they look terrible and are getting worse everyday.
    I can attest to that...the Boiled Linseed Oil and melted Bees Wax look a beautiful golden color when first applied, but after about a year starts getting black...not pretty...but what to use that's looks nice, weathers well, and is not harmful to bees crawling all over it?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
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    3,652

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Sealing the exposed end grain will help to prevent moisture from entering the joints.

    I smear Titebond III over the exposed end grain of all of my assemblies. I also apply a bead/fillet of glue along all inside corners. It may seem excessive but when the joints are nearly impermeable to moisture it helps...

    I don't have TBH's but I have been a yacht refinisher/foreman. A sound, stable surface is easier to beautify and protect.
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    I painted these long hives, but I felt I needed to, because they are plywood with solid timber stringers (background in boatbuilding too.)

    twohives.jpg

    I'm hoping the covers of galvanized roofing will keep rain off completely, but this is a humid climate here along the Gulf.

    I'd hoped to avoid painting my Langstroth hives, because they are made of cypress, but I've learned that modern cypress is not as resistant to deterioration as the cypress that used to be available, so I painted them too. I used Behr exterior primer and exterior satin enamel, thinking that maybe the smoother surface would be more resistant to mildew.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Crenshaw County, Alabama
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    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    rhaldridge, go ahead and paint them...better now than when they're growing mold and mildrew.

    My woodenware is from Rossman (cypess) but it's not old growth stuff. I've got one or two boxes that I had to use before painting...they're not aging very gracefully.

    ed

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,015

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    For langstroths in my climate, unpainted lasts less than 1/2 as long as painted. What I do is paint inside the joints before assembly, then after assembly paint the outside. The bees do the inside with their own stuff. A couple coats of a good quality paint is cheap in the long run, both in materials, and labor. Plus after a couple of years in the weather unpainted can look downright ugly.

    Top bars may be a slightly different matter, as they are lifted high off the ground plus their shape might be better for resisting the weather. But I haven't been involved with TBH's long enough to know. Some of the painted ones look pretty!

    Quote Originally Posted by beepopnc View Post
    The one thing I would NOT do again is use boiled linseed oil and beeswax! I did two TBH's and a nuc with that stuff a year ago and they all are turning black with dirt streaks and mildew. I liked the initial natural wood look but now they look terrible and are getting worse everyday.
    Can vouch for that. I have some long hives in the back yard & thought I would do something special for them, so instead of painting put many coats of linseed oil on them. They are built of pine and cypress, and at first looked stunning. Now though, they look totally disgusting, kinda black and gross, couldn't really be worse. If I can find a paint suitable to go over old linseed oil I'll be fixing them.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Oakland, California, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    A local sideline beekeeper said she gets her paint from the the local (municipal or county or disposal company's) toxics disposal facility rather than buying it.

    Michael Bush has a few things to say about dipping your woodware in a molten blend of resin and (bees)wax. You get a 'natural' look, and suppress degradation.

    If you boxes are deteriorating from too much moisture, perhaps your hives are not getting enough ventilation. If I get mildew or set spots on the underside of my top cover I know the bees need more air. I use slabs of plywood with either two 1/8" thick shims at the front, or at all four corners if the hive is booming.

    Mann Lake sells Copper Naphthanate in buckets. I saw a hive top, box, and bottom treated with it in their store in Woodland, Ca. a couple of months ago. It's terrible smelling stuff, and I wouldn't personally use it on boxes for bees producing honey for me. (I haven't thoroughly researched it. Maybe it's only approved for pollination colonies.) The pressure treated lumber that's good for 30 years in the ground is treated with CN.

    Make your own boxes from Teak... or old-growth Redwood... or Ipy...
    Those woods are pretty resistant to moisture. :-)

    btw... Serge Labesque only paints the corners of his boxes because he believes it's important for the wood to absorb moisture/condensation in the hive... like in a tree.

    Jerry

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
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    1,501

    Default Re: To Paint or Not To Paint

    Good call on the disposal paint. I get miss-tints from the big boxes. Last year Lowe's had a 5 dollars off per can of paint. There miss-tints are 5 a gallon. I was able to get a gallon of 35 dollar paint for 30 cents after the rebate. I live very close to a Lowe's, it is actually the closest store of any kind to my house, so I'm there often (too bad they don't have bread and milk as well), so I'm able to check fairly often.

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