Beekeepers have a number of reasons for painting their beehives. This can raise, a number of questions, such as 'which paint is safe for bees?' and 'what are the alternatives to standard paint products?'
There are a number of reasons to paint your beehives, but the most important is to protect the outside of the hive against the elements: sun, rain, snow. A stronger, sturdier hive is surely also better for the bees, because it will help to keep the inside of the hive dry and cold thanks to cracks and splits in wood.
In his book, The Barefoot Beekeeper, Phil Chandler provides an inexpensive, bee-safe formula for painting hives:
He then quips:
He expands on the recipe and technique further in his top bar bee hive plans.
Beekeepers may paint their hives for reasons other than to protect the bees. Such reasons may include, for example:
In view of the above, some beekeepers may prefer to use actual paint.
If you are keen to use paint, then pay attention to your choice, and read the contents label carefully. Selecting a random paint from the bargain store could end up being a false economy that is bad for the health of your bees.
Initially, look for an Eco-paint label, but read the label nevertheless.
Select a water-based paint that is low in volatile organic compounds (even better, select zero-VOC if you can get it), and give the remaining compounds time to evaporate off after paining, before installing the honey bees. Depending on instructions on the label, you may have to wait days or even weeks, and this may affect your timings for purchasing and introducing bees.
Do not paint the inside of the hive.