Many beekeepers use oils such as Tung oil, however, we have found when finishing with oils in wet climates, that mildew (black mould) can grow on the surface of your hive. While this will not affect the structural integrity of your hive and should not have any impact on your bees, this may not be the look you were anticipating.

It can be a challenge keeping wood outdoors looking like new, especially in wetter climates. If you wish for your hive to stay mould free and to maintain the natural timber look for as long as possible, we suggest you go to your local paint store and ask for a finish that will last outdoors.

Watch how Halle created the dotted effect using Banksias as paintbrushes:

When choosing a finish you will be faced with the choice of natural or non-natural finishes. If you go with a less natural finish we recommend you leave the inside of the timber boxes unfinished to keep the internal wood natural for the bees.

However, it is advisable to coat the inside of the window covers to stop these from expanding excessively in wet weather. If the finish has a strong smell it is recommended to leave it a few days before installing your bees.

It's important to note that we have had limited success in treating hives with varnish. If the treatment you are using is not breathable this can result in moisture from inside the hive affecting the external finish and producing mould or discolouration under the surface of your timber treatment.

Aside from mildew, wood outdoors will naturally turn to grey. If you want to prevent your hive from greying, paint stores will recommend a finish with a tint. The tint helps shield the wood from UV which is what turns the wood to grey.

If you want to paint your hive with outdoor paint, this is a great option for protecting your hive from the weather. This will also give you the opportunity to get creative with your designs. We recommend painting Araucaria hives and all roofs with at least two coats of good quality exterior paint for the longest and most effective protection.

Cedar Flow Hive 2 oiled with painted roof – the oil finish will diminish and become grey over time. Flow Hive Hybrid in the background with painted roof
Painted Flow Hive 2 Araucaria 6 frame

Painted Flow Hive 2 Araucaria 6 frame
Paulownia Flow Hive 2 painted to ensure longevity

Here’s how to get started:

Start with assembling your hive. Make sure to leave all the fittings off the hive, as this will make your job just a little bit easier.

Use a base coat first – go for a single background colour to make the artwork stand out. We recommend using a non/low-toxic exterior-grade paint for the health of your bees.

Make sure to paint a minimum of two coats, to ensure your hive is properly weatherproof. Be sure to let each coat dry thoroughly between applications, as per the instructions provided by the paint company.

Don’t forget to paint the rear access latch and windows. We recommend painting both the inside and outside of the window covers, as this will prevent them warping over time – plus, the bees won’t be exposed to the inside covers, so it’s fine to paint these. It’s important to take care on the sides of any removable windows or doors as too much paint can create a tight fit.

Once you’ve completed the base coats, now is the time to get creative! You can get sample paint-pots from the hardware store for multiple colours, should you choose to get colourful with the design.

Make sure to let your hive dry thoroughly before attaching the brass knobs, latches and window covers. You’ll need to allow a few days for the hive to air out before housing your bees.

Add your colony, and watch them enjoy their new, beautiful home!

Halle chose to paint Australian native grass and flowers (Kangaroo Paws), drawing inspiration from the plants where the bees may forage. She even used native flowers as brushes for a striking effect.