Bees are a type of insect that recognizes colors. However, they are not able to see the entire part of the visible spectrum (360-780nm) but only certain colors or shades.
Today we will show you why painting hives is important for bee colonies, as well as how to best perform this process.
A team of scientists from Australia discovered that these insects have a highly efficient visual system and that its secret lies in structure. The sense of sight consists of two compound eyes at the front as well as three simple eyes located at the top of their head. The compound eyes serve them to observe distant objects and enable them to look in all directions. Simple eyes are responsible for a clearer image at shorter distances as well as distinguishing ambient light. This practically means that by stimulating receptors in both types of eyes, bees can obtain information about orientation in space.
As already mentioned, bees are not able to distinguish all colors, but they are able to recognize white, yellow and blue. Red and green are not on that list because they see them as different shades of black. This is exactly what beekeepers should use as an advantage and paint their hives in one of these colors.
However, even when choosing shades one should be careful. It is always better to choose lighter shades due to the lower coefficient of absorption of solar energy. That will ensure that the hives don’t overheat in the summer. It has long been considered the other way around – that hives should be painted in darker shades, but it was later proven that bees fight cold more easily and successfully than heat.
The most commonly used material for the production of hives is wood that is healthy and of good quality and which should be well dried before any processing. It is recommended that impregnation coatings be water-based because they dry faster and don’t have unpleasant smells. When painting, varnishes should’t be used because the wood isn’t able to breathe and moisture is created in the hives. This should be avoided because moisture leads to faster tree rot and the paint peels off. Choose oil or water based paints.
The best period of painting is early spring or late autumn at temperatures up to 10 degrees. Keep in mind that the humidity should not be high, so avoid painting after or during rainy days cause of moisture. Painted hives should be left outdoors to dry, in the shade for slower drying and better absorption of paint. After drying, you can repeat this process two to three times. Do not overdo it so as that you don’t create too thick a layer of coating which can lead to cracking due to the collection and spreading of wood.
It is up to you what color you will use when painting all the hives. They can be the same color, but above the hive flights you should mark a certain color, which is visible to bees, in the shape of a circle or line. It is recommended, however, that the hives be arranged alternately according to the order of colors so that the colony has the best possible orientation when going out and returning to the hives.
Repainting the hive depends on many factors. One of them is the climate of the area you are in. Another is the quality of the wood used in making the hives as well as whether and how you previously painted the hives. Another important factor is the position of the beehives, which we have already written about. If the wood is of good quality, and already painted, but the weather conditions were extremely unfavorable or a good position of the beehive was not chosen – you will have to repaint it after a few years.
We recommend that you monitor all your hives, record all changes in your beekeeping diary on a regular basis, and if there are any problems, try to solve them as soon as possible with minimizing stress to bees.