Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tiny Tip: Painting Beehives Efficiently


Here's a tip I picked up at a beginner beekeeping seminar. It came in handy for me, and so I pass it on to any of you who are starting bees in Langstroth hives, and desirous of saving a little money by painting them yourselves.

Rig up a couple pieces of lumber between a pair of sawhorses.* "Thread" the hive boxes onto the lumber, and you can easily prime and paint all four sides the boxes. Just rotate the boxes around the wooden support as you cover each side. Good air circulation helps the drying too, so that you can work as quickly as possible. I got two coats of primer and two coats of paint done in an afternoon using this method. Most of the painting is now done, though I'm waiting on replacement for some boxes that were damaged in shipping.

Next up on my list of beekeeping tasks is putting starter strips on each frame, then painting them in place with wax, which I hope will make the suggestion to the ladies: "draw your comb here, please." Once again, the Backwards Beekeepers have a tutorial. It explains both the how and why.




When the starter strips are done I need to think about where the hives will be situated, get that area ready, and figure out what the hives will rest on. I will probably need to build stands for them. Will keep you posted.

* I made those saw horses with scrap wood pulled from dumpsters on home construction sites.

14 comments:

eatclosetohome said...

Brilliant!

Annabel said...

Thanks! Painting beehives sounds like fun! :)

Laryssa Herbert said...

Great idea! I'm all about finding the easy and efficient way to do things.

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

Excellent post! I need to paint my hives so I'll definitely use this tip. And I loved the video. I hadn't planned on doing it this way, but I think I will now. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

When you paint, are you using a nontoxic formula? I recognize you do not paint the interior, but bees are small, and I thought it might be important to know what type of paints would be safe to use around them. Martha nny

Kate said...

Emily, ;)

Annabel, welcome, wunderkindt.

Laryssa, glad I could help.

Amy, thanks. Glad you found the video useful.

Anon, I'm using latex paint. I'm sure it's not completely non-toxic, but it's probably the lesser of several evils. If one wanted to be purist about protecting hive boxes from rain, the best choice might be boiled linseed oil. I say might because I've never heard a beekeeper recommend this, but I don't know why I've never heard a beekeeper do so. Could be an issue there, or it could be the ones near me just don't care about such issues.

Robin said...

Ah I wish I could keep bees! I look forward to hearing all about your hives!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

We did exactly the same thing! Only we did it in our living room, and then set the boxes outside when they were dry enough to move.

How's your frame assembly going? Ours, not so well ... lucky we have til May.

Kate said...

Robin, I'm sure there will be plenty of bee-related posts here this year. It's a pretty big commitment and pretty exciting too.

Tamar, I bought assembled frames. I knew my own limits there. Much of the work of starter strips is done, which is good because I'm pretty much out of beeswax for making them. I may have to rob some of the fresh wax from my own bees to give them starter strips on the supers. If these bees survive and thrive, it's going to be a wonder.

Phillip said...

I'm just learning about bee keeping on a small scale like this. The folks from Backwards Beekeepers seem to get their bees from the wild -- is that correct? I'm pretty sure there aren't any wild honeybees where I live in Newfoundland, but I would still like to start up my own hive. I'm visiting a local honeybee farm next week to find out more. I would love to get into this. I'll be following your progress.

Kate said...

Phillip, I believe that is correct. Many places have lost their wild honey bee populations, I'm told. Too many pesticides and other challenges in the environment. As someone just starting out with bees, I would encourage you to spend this year learning all you can about bees and perhaps plan to start next spring. I could have used a full year of just reading up and learning.

Holly said...

Now you tell me. I repainted most of the boxes last year. The bulk are done and here you go teaching me an easier way. (lol) I'll try and remember for next time and I'll be sure and use your trick for the few that are left to paint this summer.
easylivingthehardway.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

As a 4th generation, 20+ years commercial beekeeper may I recomend that you also paint the small strips on the top and bottom. Also keep in touch with a local beekeeper they will be able to help you keep ahead of pests and diseases which will be your biggest challanges.

Kate said...

Hi Holly. Hope you can tuck this trick away in the memory banks for the next time it might be useful to you.

Anon, I have joined my local beekeepers association and have learned a bit by attending the meetings. I'm trying to find a dedicated mentor through that group, but so far haven't had anyone step up. Will keep trying though.