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Can You Paint A Beehive With Bees In It? 8 Tips To Do It Right

Beehives out in the environment will deteriorate as the sun, and the weather takes their toll on the hives. If your hive has bees already installed and established, you may wonder what your options are for repainting your beehive to restore its look and protect the wood. Can you paint a beehive with bees in it?

You can paint a beehive while the bees are still inside. To paint the hive, you need bee-friendly paint. Start early in the morning, wear a bee suit and work quickly. Clean the hive by rubbing with your gloves. Paint the hive starting at the back. Do not paint the bottom board where the bees land.

man painting a beehive yellow

It is possible to paint your beehive with the bees still inside, but there are several considerations you should observe to make the process easier for yourself and less disturbing for the bees. Paint choice is also important for painting a hive with bees still inside.

Can You Paint A Beehive With Bees In It?

If you have been beekeeping for a while, some of your older hives may be starting to look a little worse for wear!

The outdoor elements can quickly take their toll on the condition and outward appearance of your hives, but it is not only the outward appearance that begins to suffer.

Beehives are painted to make them look good and protect the underlying wood from the sun and rain. If the paint job on your hives is beginning to look a little shabby, it means that the coat of paint has weathered and is no longer providing protection to the wood underneath.

If the weathered paint is left, the wood will bear the brunt of the outdoor environment, and the hive itself will deteriorate. If the hive is not maintained and repainted, the wooden structure of the hive will deteriorate and fall apart, requiring the replacement of the hive.

From a financial point of view, as a beekeeper, it is in your interest to keep your hives well maintained to get maximum longevity from each hive.

Can you paint the box with the bees still in it if this hive has an established colony inside? There are only two choices available to you for painting the beehive, and your choice will be influenced by the condition of your hive.

  1. If the hive only requires a coat or two of paint, you can paint the hive with the bees still inside by taking a few precautions.
  2. If the hive needs additional maintenance other than a coat of paint, it would be best to move the colony into a new hive and take the old hive back to your workshop, where you can mend the hive and repaint it at your leisure.

How To Paint A Beehive With Bees In It – 8 Tips

While painting a beehive with the bees inside can be done, you should follow some basic strategies and procedures to protect yourself and bother the bees as little as possible.

The main considerations are as follows.

  • Use bee-friendly paint
  • Wear a bee suit
  • Start early in the morning
  • Clean the hive
  • Paint the back of the hive first
  • Paint the front last
  • Do not paint the bottom board at the hive entrance
  • Work quickly

1. Use bee-friendly paint

Choosing the right paint or coating for your beehive is a key aspect of painting it while bees occupy it. You will need paint that does not produce many fumes and doesn’t take long to dry. We have an article on the Best coating for your beehive where we detail some choices.

2. Wear a bee suit

The first prerequisite for painting a hive with bees inside is to always wear a bee suit. You will be spending some time around the hive and touching the hive continuously with the paintbrush, which may aggravate the bees.

The vibrations on the beehive and your activity around the hive can annoy the bees and cause them to go into defensive mode. This will result in the bees coming out to investigate the disturbance, and if they feel threatened, they could sting.

3. Start painting early in the morning

Start early in the day, preferably before the sun gets above the horizon. It will be light enough for you to work, but the bees will be less active and less prone to taking exception to you being around the hive.

4. Clean the hive

Cleaning the hive is the first step in preparation for painting. Rub the hive down with your gloves to clean the surface of the wood, remove cobwebs and surface dirt. If you want to paint all the way to the top of the box, you could remove the lid, turn it over and lay it back down, topside down on the hive.

This will keep the hive closed but give you access to paint all the way up to the top of the box. However, doing this runs the risk of disturbing the bees and having a lot of bees flying around while you are trying to paint.

5. Paint the back of the hive first

Start painting at the back of the hive. The bees are less concerned about activity at the back of the hive than at the front entrance. If you paint the front of the hive first, you will have many bees flying around and getting stuck in the paint while you paint the rest of the hive.

6. Paint the front last

Paint the front last, taking care not to drip paint on the landing area of the baseboard in front of the hive entrance. Do not paint the front panel all the way down to the entrance. Bees climbing around the entrance will become covered in paint and track it into the hive.

7. Do not paint the baseboard in front of the hive entrance

The baseboard at the hive entrance is the landing and takeoff point for the bees. Do not paint this section of the baseboard. The bees that will come out for the day will walk in the wet paint and track it inside the beehive.

8. Work quickly and gently

Work quickly with the paintbrush but try not to bump or jostle the hive too much. This will alert the bees to danger and get them coming out of the hive to investigate.

If you have multiple layers on your hive, you must come back a few hours after painting to separate the hive layers. The paint can dry between the brood box and the super, effectively sealing the box and making it difficult to separate them at harvest time.

If you are researching this topic before getting your hives, and would rather not have to paint them, you can buy an already waxed beehive from Amazon, and you’ll be ready to go.

So, Should You Paint Your Hive With Bees In It?

If the only maintenance required to the beehive is a coat of paint, then you can paint the hive while it has bees in it.

Taking several basic precautions into account for your safety and disturbing the bees as little as possible will result in a successful and event-free beehive painting task.

Repainting the hive will improve its look and help preserve the hive for longer, allowing you to get the longevity out of the hive.

Can you paint a beehive with bees in it?
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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