Building Our Hives - Part 1: Wood + Paint


Saturday, April 8th, 2017


This past weekend, we got in the car and headed to in Lancaster, PA to get our supplies from the Amish!  After a few wrong turns, and some traffic from horse & buggies, we finally arrived at Forest Hill Woodworking.  Ike, the owner, specializes in building beehive supplies and has everything you need. He was recommended to us by our mentor,  Master Beekeeper, Vincent Aloyo.  After a quick chat, Ike directed us to our order and gave us instructions on how to assemble the hives. This is what we picked up: 

  • 10 Medium Supers (5 Supers per hive): These are the pine boxes which stack on top of each other and create the bee's home. 
  • 100 Assembled Foundations - Wax (50 per hive): These are the surfaces that the bees actually create their comb on. They are wax to provide a harm-free starting point for them to build. Ten foundations fit in each Medium Super, however, we will use nine to give the bees more space. 
  • Other items picked up: Two assembled inner cover, two assembled telescoping covers, two entrance reducers, two mouse guards, two hive stands unassembled, two assembled screened bottom boards with mite trays, and two hive lifting tools. 
  • Want to learn more? - see our full material list and descriptions for the use of each part of the hive. 


Once we were loaded up, we made a quick stop at Home Depot to pick up some paint. We needed to paint the hives because they are going to be outside and need to stand up to the elements of the Northeast. After some debate as to which color would be best for our bees, we settled on 'Black Sapphire', also known as dark purple.  Now, painting hives is kind of a funny thing because the color matters. If it is too dark, the hive gets too hot and bees spend much of their precious time regulating the hive's temperature. Unfortunately, we found out that our color was bad after foolishly purchasing our paint and then asking Vince to validate our decision. Vince was quick to let us know that it was simply too dark and would get too hot. Hum, well, lesson learned.  Now, we needed a new color and we went to see if we could get a simple exchange. Our conversation with the Home Depot associate, went a little like this:

  • Brothers In Bees: So we wanted to see if we can exchange this paint we just purchased.
  • Home Depot: Okay, sure.... Oh, I see it's a custom mix...
  • Brothers In Bees: yeah, so yeah.  As it turns out, we picked the wrong color, is it possible to swap it out?
  • Home Depot: Well it's a custom color that we mixed for you, and you picked the color, right?
  • Brothers In Bees:, yes we did.
  • Home Depot: you see the problem right? *sigh*, let me get my manager...

After we explained our situation, what we're trying to do, battled some confused looks, and answered some questions about why color matters for bees, we were offered 50% off the next gallon we pick. We were also, not surprisingly, strongly encouraged to confirm our color choice.  Now the question is, what color do you pick after making a mistake on color?  You pick the most bland color you can find, 'Bonjour Beige'. Yep, that's it's name and it was just simply beige. No matter what you call it, beige is beige...and beige is boring. 


After getting home from Home Depot, we needed to put together the hives.  Putting them together was relatively simple. Ike used special joints so that the hives couldn't actually be put together wrong - thank god.  We were able to follow the handwritten instructions and hammer in a pound of galvanized nails to assemble the ten Medium Supers and the two hive stands for our hives.  This was made bearable by the nice weather, great tunes on the radio and lots of beer. Maybe a bit too much beer.

While we made quick work of the assembly, it took significantly longer to paint. When painting hives in the Northeast, you should have two coats of paint since the weather is so varied throughout the year. You must also be careful to not get any paint on any of the inside surfaces.  These need to be kept clean from contaminants, as the bees, and their brood, are constantly exposed to this area.  

After a few hours of painting all the externally exposed pine, we found ourselves squinting to see if we were covering all of it. Our pick of 'Bonjour Beige' is pretty much the exact color of the wood we were painting.  So during our second coat we took a risk to mix things up. We mixed some 'Black Sapphire' and 'Bonjour Beige' to create our own custom color. All in, it took us about eight hours to get our materials, assemble the supers, apply two coats of paint to the exposed wood and set them out to dry. It was a busy Saturday but a very productive one, we were much in need of a break so we called it a night.  

Later this week, we will release a post that shows our progress on the second day where we narrowed in on the location of our apiary (a place where bees are kept), cleared the forest, excavated the earth and installed our hives

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave comments on what you'd like to know or learn about. 

Brothers In Bees