Painting Hives Black
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    St Albans, Vermont
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    Default Painting Hives Black

    I understand Erin MacGregor-Forbes in Maine paints her hives black (or very dark). Her idea is that Maine has a short period of really hot weather every year, and cold winters, so the dark paint elevates the annual average temperature to an overall positive effect.

    Now I've lived in Maine, and I've lived in Nova Scotia and it's a heck of a lot hotter in Maine in the summer than it is here in Nova Scotia. In Maine, they get temps in the 90's. That is very rare weather in Nova Scotia. In fact, we usually don't break 80 much. So I've been considering Erin's approach.

    Any of you have experience with dark hive colors? Would you recommend it?

    Thanks,

    Adam

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
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    229

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    I paint hives a very dark green which i believe helps thermal gain during sunny winter days AND avoids attention of two legged pests. Good summer ventilation does the trick in hot weather.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    1,463

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Could just staple black building paper on the front and remove in the summer. Have mine wraped in black paper for the winter and get a 15F rise inside the hive when the sun shines.

    If you do paint a dark colour, will need good ventilation or consider a location where the hives get early morning direct sun and then become somewhat shaded by trees by mid morning.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Keno, OR
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    722

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    I use a product called Reflectix, which is used to insulate houses, and is available at hardware stores. It is a silver bubble wrap foil that provides an R value or 3.7. The great news is that the cover still fits over it when wrapped around the hive. I also cut a piece to fit into the cover to reduce condensation. As a last step I wrap with hive with the foil of a black plastic trash bag so the hive will absorb the winter sun and warm the bees. The hive is not air tight. It has an opening in the inner cover and I make sure to cut the foil away from that area so moist air can escape the hive. The trash bag foil gets dumped in spring and the Reflectix gets put away for the next year. This product is about 1.50 per foot with a 24" width. Quite cheap when you think what a Hive Cozy costs you.
    Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association: www.klamathbeekeepers.org
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  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Summerville Ga. USA
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    144

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    What is trash bag foil?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Keno, OR
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    722

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    You know, one of those large black trash bags they sell. I just cut off the seams and it is big enough to wrap around the hive.
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    Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association: www.klamathbeekeepers.org
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  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Winhall, VT
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    1,057

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    It would seem to me to defeat the purpose of the black wrap to have insulation under it. Doesn't the insulation prevent the heat from the black wrap from getting to the hive?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,373

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    I've painted one 15/32" plywood nuc with black paint, it has a 3/4" diameter hole for an entrance and the entire bottom is covered with one piece of #8 hardware cloth. I wouldn't risk running it out where it would be in sunlight, but under the shade of a large mesquite tree, where my nuc yard is, it does fine.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
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  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
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    2,095

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    there was a commercial guy in upstate ny that painted his hives black (roger lane). he said they wintered much better and no had bad commets about the the summer heat. black radiates heat as to the reason most motorcycle and snowmobile engines are painted black. I have seen many hives painted green and that would be about the same.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Columbia county, New York, USA
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    1,526

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Like RogerCrum, I paint my hives a darkish spruce green. Blends in nicely with the trees and such around them, and we don't get as hot as Texas or Florida here in New York...but we get a lot colder in the winter!
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  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Keno, OR
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    722

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    It would seem to me to defeat the purpose of the black wrap to have insulation under it. Doesn't the insulation prevent the heat from the black wrap from getting to the hive?
    It is silver on both sides. This means it will reflect both ways. The product has an R value of 3.7, which means some temperature filtration is present. Now my hives have full sun in winter, which means they heat up nicely with the black foil and some of it will make it into the hive.
    Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association: www.klamathbeekeepers.org
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  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    10,025

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Temperature swings are much like mood swings. There is a short period when everything is perfect, but the overall effect is not good. The bees will perceive the short warm period as an opportunity to consume stores, generate brood and take flights (when the outside temp will still kill them). Black also radiates the most heat so the cold (dark) periods will be more extreme as well. We had this challenge designing solar collectors. Black is a great absorber and a great radiator.
    People have experienced the same phenomenon in their homes. By keeping the Winter temperature cooler and the Summer temperature warmer they have fewer colds and illnesses. It is going back and forth between hot and cold that stresses the systems.
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  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    I have never tried it, so it's hard for me to say for sure, but one reason I haven't is it can get VERY hot in a hurry on a summer day and they often have a lot of work to keep it cool in the summer. If you really want to try it, why not just paint ONE side black and turn it south in the winter and north in the summer?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    3,796

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Maybe Erin will chime in here and explain more fully her approach. She does have enough hives to make painting an attractive alternative to wrapping. My color for this year was a dark green and I am wrapping some and not others. Erin also leaves a medium super full of honey on the hive as part of her wintering strategy.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Boxford, Massachusetts, USA
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    219

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    It would seem to me to defeat the purpose of the black wrap to have insulation under it. Doesn't the insulation prevent the heat from the black wrap from getting to the hive?
    The insulation is like silver bubble wrap. It is silver in both sides so it would not absorb much heat with out the black. I don't know for sure how effective it will be, but it would probably make it colder in the hive without the black plastic. It hay heat the air inside the bubbles and transfer it to the hive?

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    7,815

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    My boxes are mostly painted a dark flat green for heat gain and to make them inconspicuos. They sit in full sun but it rarely breaks a hundred here and not for many days and I have top and bottom entrances.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Bergen, Norway
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    246

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    I did a little researc (googeling) on the black colour radiating more heat thing, as I was thinking along the same lines.

    Apparently the difference in heat output is hardly measurable. because the heat escapes mainly trough infrared witch is outside the visible spectrum.

    IOW - It's probably just a myth.
    I am a fresh beekeeper.
    -Keep that in mind if you think of following anything I say.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Winhall, VT
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    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    So, the net gain of the black plastic is minimized, if not negated, by the presence of two layers of silver that is intended to prevent heat transfer. One layer of black roofing felt is probably more of a net gain at lower cost IMHO.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Bow, NH, USA
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    64

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    Two words: hive cozies!

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Albans, Vermont
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    2,273

    Default Re: Painting Hives Black

    The question is not just about winter; it's about the whole year.

    Hive cozies, and winter wraps are a winter solution, which may or may not help the bees winter well. I'm wondering about paint color for regions who don't get the upper extremes of heat during the summer months, yet do get cold in the winter.

    Adam

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