Have you ever wondered why beehives are painted using different colors? Indeed, it would be more comfortable and time saving to paint all hives with the same color. Even though some beekeepers, do this, there’s a logic behind using different colors to paint beehives. Bees can interpret colors more than we do. They can see a better spectrum than we do, from yellow to ultraviolet, they interpret them excellently – as an example, it is believed that bees see red as black. Ultra-violet which is quite difficult for us to see is handy for bees as it penetrates the clouds, making it easy for bees to orient their flight paths to where the sun is located in the sky even on a very cloudy day.
Beekeepers ensure that the population of each hive is consistent in number. If all the hives are painted using the same color and lined up in the same row, it’s quite easy for the bees to enter another colony by mistake when returning home with a stomach full of sweet nectar and their legs filled with pollen. The hive will accept the bees, and they will become part of the “family.” This action of bees is called ‘Drifting.’
This mistake will continue happening until there won’t be any bees in the hive next door. To the bees, they feel that they are in the right place. Only the beekeeper will know that something is wrong. The effect of drifting is that the neighboring hive gradually become empty and the other one becomes populated.
Honey Bees See Colors Differently
What makes bees to be unique is the way they see colors. Bees can see in the invisible world. We as humans can utilize photographic methods to mimic that world, but all resulting colors are mere approximations of what a bee might see. The truth is that we can never see colors the way bees see them.
Honeybees often see primary colors as green, blue and ultraviolet. They can effectively distinguish orange, yellow, violet, purple, blue-green as a combination of their three main colors. However, humans see primary colors as red, green and blue and we can tell the difference between about 60 other colors as a combination of our three primary colors.
Some recent studies propose the bees see yellow, orange and green as one color. Blue, purple and violet are seen as another color and ultraviolet being their third color.
Honey bees do not see red the way we see it. They see red color as black.
From this analysis, we can see why it’s crucial to paint hives with “bees color” to aid them in navigating their colonies.
Top Reasons for Painting Hives Differently
Apart from helping bees locate their hives and prevent drifting, painting beehive is essential for many reasons. Many of the tasks surrounding beekeeping are done for the benefit of bees. After all, we want to provide the best “homes” for our bees so that they can stay healthy and produce more products for our consumption. Painting hives, however, is all about making beekeeping easy for the beekeeper. Below are the top reasons for painting their hives:
Protect the Wood
The exteriors of the wood used for beehives are always exposed to severe rain, temperature changes, sun, and everything mother nature throws at them. When left totally unprotected, the wood quickly begins to deteriorate under this severe stress. Wet areas will rot away, joints will begin to crack, and flat surfaces will warp. Eventually, these problems may become severe to the point where the interior of the hive becomes exposed. Adding a fine protective layer of paint helps the wood lasts longer than bare wood.
Helps Hive Blend into the Environment
Most beekeepers do not want to draw the attention of kids, nosy neighbors and thieves to their hives. That is why they decide to paint their hives to blend into its environment. Many suburban beekeepers paint their hives in the same color as their surrounding buildings. Whichever one you want, ensure you do it the right way.
Depending on where your hive is located, the colors you choose for painting your hive’s exterior can help keep the interiors comfortable for the bees. In hotter climes, painting hives white or another reflective color makes the hive suitable for the bees during warm summer. In colder areas, a darker color can be of great help in absorbing heat and light during winter. Keeping your hives in an ideal temperature makes a big difference in how much honey is required for survival during the spring season.
Many beekeepers love to try out different arrangements and box sizes to find out the perfect combo for their condition. Once a collection reaches a particular proportion, it can take some time and effort to distinguish between them. Most beekeepers use the color system to help differentiate a box from another.
What Kind of Paints Should you Use for your Hives?
As we have earlier mentioned, there are many options on the types and brands of paints that are perfect when painting hives. Some beekeepers use whatever paint that is available to paint their beehives. This doesn’t seem right and should be stopped. When selecting paint, choose the ones that will not harm your bees. Not all paints are suitable. So, you have to be careful when choosing paints. The best way to search for suitable paints is to search for the paint online and read reviews about what others are saying about the quality and performance.
Select a Paint with Low VOCs
The most important decision you can make when painting your hive is to choose the right paint. It is recommended that you go for water-based latex paints that are excellent for exterior use with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are dangerous chemicals that evaporate out of the paint as it dries; a process popularly known as off-gassing. There are certain levels of VOCs that are allowed in paints, and you should ensure that it is marked on the paint label.
What Should Surfaces of the Hive be Painted?
the recommendation for effective painting of hives is to paint any surfaces that are readily exposed to harsh weather conditions and leave areas that bees walk and live bare. This means that the interior, entryways, and frames of the hives should be left untouched.