“How do you paint a beehive?” I hear you asking.  There’s more to how to painting a beehive than you first imagine. A painted beehive lasts longer, is more attractive, and brings a personal touch to your apiary. Let’s look at how to paint a beehive.

How much Information Do I Need Before I Paint a Beehive?

There are a few things that are mandatory before you go lashing the liquid over your hives.

    • Only paint the outside – leave your bees’ living area alone
    • Get prepped for success
    • Color matters
    • Off gas time is important
how to paint a beehive

How to paint a beehive – What Parts Of My Hive Need Painting?

Here’s a part by part breakdown of what parts of your beehive to paint and what to leave alone.

Hive Stand

If you’re using a wooden hive stand then paint all of it. The hive stand is usually in contact with the ground and therefore can spend days in contact with wet ground.

Bottom Board        

Paint some parts. Yes – all wooden surfaces. No – the screened bottom board if you’re using one.

Entrance Reducer

No, no, no! Leave the reducer alone. Bees are in regular contact with the entrance reducer and it should be left untreated.

Slatted Rack           

Paint some parts. Yes – the exterior and the top and bottom edges. No – the inside. Bees come into contact with the rack surfaces so leave this alone.

Hive Boxes and Supers

Paint some parts. Yes – the exterior and the top and bottom edges. No – the internal surfaces.


No, do not paint the frames.

Inner Cover

Nope, don’t paint this either.

Outer Cover

Paint some parts. Yes – coat the exterior surfaces and the top and bottom edges. No – internal surfaces. If your hive has a metal panel on the roof, leave this alone.

If bees come into regular contact with a particular surface of your hive – don’t paint it!!

Preparation – Prime Time for Your Beehive

Your first step in how to paint a beehive is to prime it with your beekeeping supplies. Think of this as layering your clothing before stepping outside during winter. It matters and it makes a difference. Oil based exterior primers are the go-to for longevity. Latex or water-based primers are fine and will do the job you want. These are a couple of our favorites:

INSL-X Prime Lock Plus Alkyd Primer, 1 Gallon, White

KILZ General Purpose Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer, White, 1 Gallon

Color Matters

What Color Should I Paint My Beehive?

Color does matter when looking at how to paint a beehive. Choosing the right color for your climate should be the priority for your bees’ welfare.

Your color choice is largely dictated by your climate. In the south, where hive temperature regulation in the warmer months is an issue, go white (or a light pastel color).

Lighter colored hives reflect more heat, therefore reducing the amount of energy the bees spend on cooling the hive. In the extreme north you may go for darker colors for the very same reason. If you’re looking for the best paint for longevity, it’s here:

Rust-Oleum Zinsser 1-Qt. PermaWhite Exterior Satin

Beekeepers must consider their human and floral location. Some humans are intimidated by beehives (you know, the ones who complain to the authorities).

Considering some type of camouflage could be an important consideration. Blending your hive color into the natural surroundings is largely an aesthetic value but worth considering if you’re buying. Check out this queen bee stencil:

French Bee Stencil by StudioR12 

What Is Off Gas?

Off gas is the period your paint needs to release excess VOC (volatile organic compounds). This is an important aspect to consider when thinking about how to paint a beehive. Bees really don’t like the smell of paint. You should leave your freshly painted hives off gas for a few days, even a week, before installing bees.

What Should I do With Left Over Paint?

Start looking at left over paint with a different set of eyes. Left over paint from any job is a valuable part of your beekeeping supplies. You may just have the single hive right now and it’s wearing a spanking new coat of paint. Once the beekeeping bug bites, your hives grow in number and your beekeeping supplies expand. Hives will need coating or re-coating so paying some attention to looking after excess paint will save dollars in the future.

That’s A Wrap

Okay, that’s how to paint a beehive. You should be good to go now. Keep in mind the few basic principles of what not to paint, climate and color and get creative from there. Take your time, get prepared early and enjoy it. You’re one step closer to getting your first batch ready for the honey extractor.


Happy Beehive Painting!!