How to Paint A Beehive to Make It Last

 

Beginning Bees I Painting and Sealing a Beehive

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I still want a Top Bar Hive, and if I had a table saw to rip the top bars, mine would be finished, but since March is fast approaching, and I have two packages of bees ordered, I went ahead and bought two more Langstroth type beehives.

The problem with Langstroth hives is that they cost money, and being wood in order to protect your investment, you need to spend time Painting and Sealing a Beehive if you don’t want to keep buying new.

Knowing how to paint your beehive will protect it from the weather and make your expensive investment last longer.

I got them from Mr. Qualls at Bon Aqua Springs Apiary and Woodenware.  He is local to my area, and has been very helpful to me as a new beekeeper.  I paid a little under $300 for two complete hives.  Unless noted I bought 2 each of the following:

Essential Parts of a Hive

Frames and foundation

Wooden frames that hold the honey comb.  Most beekeepers insert sheets of beeswax foundation to help the bees build the comb size that the beekeeper prefers.  Due to the cold, (it makes them brittle and unable to be shipped) I did not order any foundation.   I did however, order 50 unassembled frames.

Screened Bottom board

This is the stand on which the hive rests. Mine is screened, which means that during the summer, and trash, dead insects, or mites can fall through the mesh keeping the hive much cleaner.

8 Frame Medium Hive body

This large wooden box is also called a “super”.  Most supers holds 10 frames of comb. However, as I want to let the bees work as close to their preferred natural conditions as possible and they normally fill 8 combs in nature, The supers I bought hold 8 frames.  One or two of these supers will be needed to provide honey to feed the bees over the winter; the rest will be harvested to provide ME honey over the winter.  I bought 8 of these, so each hive will have 4.  I bought the mediums instead of the deeps, because they are much lighter when filled with honey so if I loose interest my wife won’t have to work as hard… (Don’t worry, I’m mostly kidding).

Inner cover

Prevents bees from attaching comb to outer cover and provides insulating dead air space.

Outer cover

Provides weather protection.

Hive tool

Ideally shaped for prying apart supers and frames.

Feeders

Hold sugar syrup that is fed to bees in early spring and in fall.

I still need wax foundation for the frames, a smoker, veil, and gloves.  But other than that, everything is either in my possession or ordered.

How I Sealed and Painter the Beehive Parts

As $150 is a lot to spend on big wooden boxes, I painted them to maximize the life of exterior parts.  The first thing I did was to seal all the nail and staple holes, along with the end grain of the wood with a silicon sealer.  Taking my supplier’s advice, I bought a tube of “White Lightening” sealer, and used my fingers to rub it into the cut portions of the wood.  I had a hard time finding it, but the clerk at the hardware store knew exactly what I needed when I told him I needed it for bees.  I was surprised, but pleased nonetheless.  The sealing part was not very hard, and while a little messy I had fun doing it.

The next day, after the sealer dried, I painted the boxes with an exterior grade latex paint.  I used white, for no other reason than I had white paint on hand.  It has been said that white paint helps keep everything cool.  However, in my experience bees don’t care what it looks like, as long as there is no paint on the inside of their home.  I have read that you should use oil based paints, and other places say to use latex paint.  This is not something that I am worried about it.  If there are any paint smells to bother the bees, It will dissipate between now and March.

I really don’t like painting, but I like it better than spending money.

Now that I have finished Painting and Sealing a Beehive, the next thing to do is to assemble the frames for the honey, but that is for the next post….

Update:

after painting and sealing a beehive, my hive bodies have lasted 5 years of constant use.  Some have started to get weak and show signs they need replacing, but for the most part I am happy with the longevity.

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