Do you want to inject a new lease of life into your bee hives? There’s nothing a lick of paint can’t handle, and that includes bee hives! However, painting a hive is a lot more complex than painting a house or furnishings. Most paints are extremely toxic to bees (and humans), so you’ll need to tread carefully.
Not sure where to start? In this article, we’ve put together a list of the best paints for bee hives, what to consider before painting, and how to keep your bees safe in the process
OUR TOP PICK
First up, we have this milk paint finish by Rust-Oleum. This particular milk paint comes in black (eclipse), but it’s also available in lighter colors including light blue, yellow, white, gray, and more.
This milk paint is an eco-friendly, low VOC, and low odor pain that can dry completely in just 30 minutes, and can be repainted in as little as two hours!
There’s also no need to use extra chemicals on your beehive, as this paint can be applied on its own, without primer. This mineral-based paint is a safe option for your beehive, (see also: How To Paint Beehives)and it often produces a matte finish.
However, because milk paint comes as a dry powder that must be mixed with water to create paint, you’ll need to mix it thoroughly to avoid any lumps and bumps.
When we tested this milk paint, we found that it gives excellent coverage without any of the chemical nasties that could damage your bee hive and your bees.
For extra protection from the elements, you should coat this paint with a high-quality paint sealant to avoid run-off and damage from rainwater.
- Low VOC: Low VOC levels make this paint safe for you and your bees.
- Quick-Drying: This paint dries in as little as 30 minutes, so you won’t have to wait for hours to apply another coat.
- Comes in multiple colors: There are plenty of color options to choose from with this paint, giving you more choices over your final look.
- May require paint sealant: To give your paint protection from the elements, you may need to coat it with a quality paint sealant.
Next on our list is the chalk furniture and craft paint by Folkart. Like milk paint, chalk paint is another quality, eco-friendly alternative that’s a safe and reliable option for your beehive.
This particular chalk paint comes in an 8oz pot and is highly pigmented for excellent coverage.
Once dry, we found it gives an impressive matte finish that’s easy to paint, requires little prep, and is easy to distress, depending on the type of look you want to achieve.
Just like milk paint, this chalk paint is low VOC and can be used on multiple surfaces, making it a safer option to paint your beehive with.
When we tested this paint, we also found it incredibly easy to clean up, and very quick drying, which is ideal if you’re painting more than one beehive.
Not all milk paint comes premixed, but chalk paint does, which will save you time and effort when you’re painting.
However, to improve the longevity of this paint, you’ll want to coat it with a sealant once it’s dry to protect it from the weather.
When we tested this paint, we also found that it can come out quite watery, and may require more than one coat to get your desired look.
- Low VOC: This low VOC paint is safe for you and your bees.
- Premixed: Unlike some other eco-friendly paints, this chalk paint comes premixed, which will save you the hassle of doing any extra prep.
- Matte finish: If you want a vintage, shabby chic look, it’s easy to achieve with this chalk paint, which provides an aged, matte finish and can be easily distressed.
- Can be watery: Unfortunately, we found that this paint came out slightly watery, and it may require more than one coat to get the desired effect.
- Will need sealant: To protect the paint (and your beehive) from the elements, you’ll need to apply an extra sealant to this paint once it’s dry.
Now, let’s take a look at this high-performance semi-gloss paint by BACKDROP. This sleek, attractive semi-gloss paint not only provides excellent coverage, but it’s also water-resistant and low VOC for your peace of mind.
This semi-gloss paint comes in a generous one 0.5-gallon can, and provides around 30% sheen for an attractive finish.
When we tried this paint, we found it easy to apply, quick-drying, and extremely durable.
This paint is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it a durable, long-lasting choice for your beehives. It’s also water-resistant and low VOC for a safer painting experience, and environment for your bees.
There are also endless color options, as this paint can be tinted with a variety of shades, giving you greater creative freedom. What’s more, this paint can withstand repetitive cleaning, without any wear or tear to your paint!
However, for best results, we’d recommend using a primer beforehand and finishing off with a sealant.
- Semi-glossy finish: This paint will give your beehive a sleek appearance, with 30% sheen.
- Durable: This paint can withstand repetitive cleaning and is hard to scratch and damage, making it a long-lasting choice for your beehive.
- Water-resistant and low VOC: This makes this paint a safe, non-toxic option for your bees.
- May require primer and sealant: This paint often requires both primer and sealant for easy painting and protection from the elements.
If you’re looking for a non-toxic wood stain to use on your beehive, this walnut wood stain by Furniture Clinic will be a strong contender.
This wood stain by the Furniture Clinic will give your beehive a flawless appearance, and it uses a water-based, low-odor, and low-VOC formula to offer an attractive and safe environment for your bees.
This wood stain can be used on all surfaces, and its quick-drying formula makes it a convenient choice for larger projects.
Plus, this wood stain dries in just 10 minutes, so it’s never been easier to paint your beehive!
We found this wood stain extremely easy to use, and even easier to clean up!
We also found that this wood stain doesn’t require more than one coat to get an attractive finish, which made the whole process extremely easy.
If you don’t like the walnut finish, you can also get this wood stain in various other colors to suit all types of wood.
However, you will still need to coat this wood with a sealant after painting to protect it from the elements.
- Quick drying: This paint dries in as little as 10 minutes.
- Water-based and low VOC: So you don’t have to worry about exposing your bees, or your beehive, to dangerous chemicals.
- Multiple color choices: If you don’t like the walnut stain, you can also opt for multiple other wood stain colors.
- Will need extra coating with sealant and primer: Unfortunately, to make this paint more durable, you will need to coat it with extra sealant and primer.
Last but not least, we have this impressive microblend paint and primer. This particular pain is white, to give your beehive a clean, sleek appearance.
This professional quality paint is low odor, low VOC, and features an exceptionally smooth primer which gives your paint a sleek and glossy finish.
This paint has also been formulated with extra UV protection for even more protection for your beehive!
This paint is also water-based acrylic, which makes it a safer option for your bees and your beehive. When we tested this paint, we also found it to be extremely durable and stain resistant.
It can also withstand plenty of cleaning and scrubbing without wearing down, which makes it a long-lasting choice for your beehive.
If you don’t want a white beehive, you can also choose this formula in a variety of other colors (over 300 to be precise!), so you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Unfortunately, although this paint is advertised as low odor, we did find it had quite a strong smell, so ensure you’re painting in a well-ventilated area away from your bees.
We’d also recommend coating this with a sealant to provide extra protection from the elements.
- Low VOC and water-based: This will make a safer environment for your bees.
- Smooth primer: This paint also includes a smooth, sleek primer that’s safe for bees, and will give your hive a sleek appearance.
- Durable: This paint can also withstand plenty of cleaning without wearing down.
- Multiple color choices: This paint also comes in various color choices, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Painting a beehive isn’t as easy as painting your furniture. You’ll have plenty of extra considerations to make, and your bee's safety should be your number one priority.
Unfortunately, most paints can be toxic to our health, so it’s important to choose a paint that not only looks good but can protect the health and safety of your bees, too.
Although we’ve provided you with several safe paint options for your beehive, let’s take a closer look at the things you’ll need to consider before painting your beehive.
The Chemical Formula
Paint is toxic - fact. If you’ve ever got busy with a tin of paint and a paintbrush, you would have seen plenty of warnings on the tin listing the potential side effects, which can be anything from headaches and nausea to kidney damage.
If paint can be that damaging to our health, imagine what it can do to your bees.
This is why choosing the right paint for your beehives is more complicated than choosing a paint to cover your furniture with.
For the safety of your bees, you’ll need to choose a paint that’s low VOC and water-based. We’ve spoken about this a lot, but here’s what it means:
VOC stands for volatile organic compound level, and VOCs are essentially the chemicals that evaporate from your paint when it dries (aka off-gassing).
These organic compounds are unstable and damaging, and they can cause serious harm to the health of you and your bees.
By choosing a low-VOC paint, you’ll have less off-gassing, and protect the safety of your bees (and yourself - VOCs are harmful to humans, too!). Ideally, you should be looking for VOCs below 50.
Whether you live in a cold or warm climate, you’ll need to regulate the temperature in your hives to keep your bees happy and healthy, and the right paint can help you do it.
If you live in a warmer climate, choose a light-colored paint to help heat escape, and cool the hive off in the summer. If you live in a consistently colder climate, you should opt for a darker color to help retain heat.
Where are you keeping your hives, and will you require extra water resistance? If your hive paint needs some extra protection from the elements, we’d recommend adding a waterproof seal to your pain.
Pure tang oil is also a popular choice, which provides a natural finish and is often used to season cutting boards and blocks.
It’s solvent and chemical free, and will naturally absorb into the wood to create a durable, waterproof seal.
If you’re struggling to find the right paint for your hive, we’d always recommend choosing any paint that’s labeled as eco-friendly. Eco-friendly paints are usually milk and chalk paints (which you’ll find on our product list above).
These paints are almost always low-VOC and water-based, so you can guarantee they’ll meet the right health and safety requirements for your bees.
Although some of these paints require additional mixing, they’re exceptionally durable, have a low odor, and produce matte finishes that create a beautiful look on wooden hives.
The Benefits Of Painting Your Beehive
Need a little more convincing? Here are some of the benefits of painting your beehive:
- Extra protection from the elements: Paints and sealants will increase the longevity of your hive, and help the wood last longer.
- Color organization: If you have multiple hives and want to be more organized, we’d recommend painting your hives. This gives you the option to use a color-coding system that you can use to determine which hive is which.
- Increased appeal: Painting your hives also gives them an extra aesthetic appeal. Looks aren’t everything, but let's be honest, a pretty hive is nice to look at!
- Can help you avoid drift: Drift is most common with honeybees; if you keep multiple hives, some of your honeybees may be unable to locate their own home and ‘drift’ into another hive. Sometimes, the bees in the colony will feel threatened by the intruder bee and kill it. Color coding your hives can help avoid drift and protect your bees.
Tips For Painting Your Beehive
By now, you’ll be familiar with the best paints to use on your hive, and the benefits of painting them.
Before you get started, though, let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks to help you paint your hive safely:
- Paint the outside only: For safety and convenience, you should only paint the outside of your hive. Never paint the interior.
- Use primer: Although some eco-friendly paints won’t require a primer, we’d recommend using one, especially if you need more than one coat. Apply a primer before adding your last coat of paint: this will help protect your wood and create a seal that fights against mildew and moisture, increasing the longevity of your hives.
- Leave time to dry: Although many of these paints dry in as little as 10 minutes, we’d always recommend leaving your hives to dry off for as long as possible. Ideally, you should wait four days to a week before reintroducing your bees to the painted hive. This will give plenty of time for the paint to gas off, and reduce their exposure to chemicals and odors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Better To Paint Or Stain A Beehive?
Painting is usually more efficient than staining, as it provides an extra waterproof sealant to the hive. A sealant will seep into the wood and generate a bond, but it’s often not as effective.
What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Beehives?
Water-based (latex) paint is the best for beehives. Ensure your paint is low-VOC and low-odor to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.
What Color Should I Paint A Beehive?
This depends on your climate. Darker paints are best for cold environments, and lighter paints do better in heat.
Consider temperature regulation, your environment, and the needs of your bees before choosing a color.
Painting your beehive comes with so many benefits, and in our opinion, it’s worth it!
However, there are plenty of things to consider before you start, and choosing the right paint for your hive is essential. Painting your hive is not as simple as painting your home.
Bees are sensitive to chemicals, so you’ll need to pay extra care and attention when painting their hive.
We hope this article has helped you choose the right paint for your hive.
Remember: paint is toxic, so you’ll need to choose a water-based, low-VOC paint to protect your bees. Check the ingredients thoroughly before painting.