Whether you need to paint a hive?

     Disputes about whether to paint or not the hives have been conducted since the 19th century. Painting the hive usually has two main objectives:

  • helping  bees to find the hive
  • protecting wood from deterioration

     Unpainted dry wood used to make beehives is water vapor permeable because of its porosity. With regard to the hive, this means that unpainted wood will skip the excess moisture from inside the hive. And let's see how things will turn in the case of painted wood?

     After drying oil paint forms a protective film which clogs the wood pores, and it becomes impervious to moisture. If we look at the painted hive from the outside, we can say that the painting has fulfilled  its protective function, and the hive is protected from external moisture (rain, sleet).

      During the consumption of one pound of honey  bee family emits with breathing around three-quarters of a pound of moisture. In summer  to this is added moisture evaporating  from the nectar. Each pound of nectar  brought into the hive gives an additional half a pound of water. With this in mind, one can reasonably say that there will be excess moisture in the hive year-round.

     As a result, the wood will accumulate excess moisture. In  summer  this fact will not create additional problems for the bee family, as the bees at  this time ventilate the hive very intensively. But in winter, the moisture, under  appropriate conditions will begin to condense on the walls of the beehive in the form  of water  or frost. Paint  begins to  swells and falls off.

falling off the paint

Protecting the hives from outside moisture

     How can we protect the hives from outside influences? 
Put the hives in the ventilated barn for winter or use waterproof material to wrap  the hives, leaving the bottom of the hive open for ventilation. But there is another solution - to use paint that makes a coating which "breathes". The main requirements for such a paint:

  • it should allow water vapor to pass
  • it should not allow  water to penetrate in the form of drops
  • coating must be resistant to atmospheric influences, first of all - water resistant

      There is a wide range of water-soluble acrylic paints that meet these requirements. One of the best choices - latex paints. Unfortunately all the colors that are sold in stores contain fungicides. So if you are obsessed with ecological purity of honey, then you have only two ways:  leave the hives unpainted or use old recipes.

How to prepare the surface for painting

     The surface is prepared for painting in the usual way: sealing of cracks and sanding  after drying. But there are two features:

  • acrylic painting can be used only on never previously painted surfaces 
  • tar should be removed from the surface if the hive is made from softwood.

Tar can be removed by turpentine. After this surfaces must be washed with warm water. The wood must have a moisture content not exceeding 20%, otherwise the paint will crack in the process of wood drying. To check the moisture content of wood, I recommend to get a simplest Digital Moisture Meter.

The old recipes for painting

  • Using boiling water-bath dissolve one part of wax in three parts of turpentine. Percolate the resulting solution. Apply while it is warm.
  • Using boiling water-bath dissolve 50 g of sea salt and 150 g of wax in 1 liter of water. Apply while it is hot on surface well heated by electric heat gun.