Does it matter what color the hive is? We are getting ready to paint our hives and my kids wanted to know if they can paint them something other than white. I can't see that it would make a difference but wanted to make sure. Thanks, Doug
There was a thread on this about a month ago, which turned up some stunning examples of hive art.
Bottom line, no, they don't have to be white. White or light may help keep hive temperatures lower down south, but the further north you go the darker the paint can be. Missouri is mid-latitude ... maybe don't go with black but some color is probably safe.
There are those who think distinctive hive color may help the bees navigate home and reduce drifting.
My three hives are green, yellow or purpley-blue . This years bees will go gray-green, rose pink, sky blue, light pumpkin orange, and cream.
Having all your equipment the same color makes switching things around easy and economical. But in a small apiary like mine, I prefer the varied colors and don't worry about buying a few extra quarts of paint to get colors that please my eye.
Some people in urban or suburban areas prefer to have hives painted subtle, non-attention getting colors. I live on a farm with vast areas of green around me, so having a color burst is a visual asset.
But the top coat colors are only part of the story: I seal knots, corners and edges first with 1 or 2 coats of white-pigmented shellac (BIN-type product). Then two coats of primer and two top coats of my colors. And I let each coat cure as long as possible even though I am using "re-coat in 4 hours" exterior paint. Getting the painting done is much more time-consuming than it appears at first. Don't wait until the last minute!While you can pull the first round of equipment out and repaint (if you have another complete set to sub in for it), it's a pain to do that. Making the paint job as good as you can the first time saves a lot of money and hassle.
Some years ago I worked with some military equipment where they specified heat-reflecting paint as a base coat, with conventional camo colors as top coats. How they expected this to actually work is beyond me, but at the time I did not have IR temperature measurement capability, much less a thermal imager.
Today you can get a good IR thermometer for $30 or less. It should be relatively straightforward to basecoat a pine board with, say, a white paint, aluminum paint, and a bare control, then topcoat the board with the desired color. Sit it out in the sun and see how hot it gets. Who knows, maybe the Army knew what it was doing?
If I have the materials at hand and a few minutes a day to set it up, maybe I'll get a round tuit and try this some time. One shot with my thermal imager would show the resulting temperature difference.
They told me I could paint it any color I wanted, so I painted mine pastel pink. If I get a second one, I'll probably paint it pastel purple. I'm thinking Easter colors will work as a nice theme. If I could paint flowers, I would.
Put good primer on and a good base coat if you are going to have the kids "decorate" -- their artwork will last much longer. A coat of spar varnish on top will make it last even longer if you want.
I've been giving my boxes two coats of boiled linseed oil followed by a coat of alkyd primer, then whatever topcoat I have around (dark green, bluish gray, stone, and light chocolate brown at the moment, who knows what will show up this year). My nephew suggested bright yellow to complement the near John Deere green, but I'm not sure. I prefer subtle. My beekeeping friend likes to paint each box a different color, but his hives are not visible from the road like mine are.
I've had problems with primer adhesion in the past, and am hoping the linseed oil will fix that. Painting boxes takes forever, and I don't currently have heat in the shop, so have to do it either in the summer or fall, or rush in the spring.
Whatever you do, don't rush the primer and base coat -- the care you take in getting them well and properly painted will extend the lifetime of the box by a decade or so.
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