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Author Topic: My case against painted boxes  (Read 1542 times)
FlashGordon
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« on: November 02, 2013, 06:04:30 PM »

This is my first year beekeeping and I have concluded that painting boxes is probably not a good idea.  I would like to hear if anyone has an opinion on this.  I pulled off a super the fall and noticed some mold. The mould was concentrated at the painted edge of the wood and was migrating toward the huge centre. I had painted the super with two coats of high gloss acrylic floor grade paint and it had trapped the moisture in the wood causing mold.  I would think that if the sun was warming the side of an unpainted box the moisture would dissipate. 
Any thoughts?
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gov1623
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2013, 06:25:31 PM »

The sun does dry out the wood faster on unpainted boxes causing the wood to crack and split because it gets too dry.  Painted boxes last longer than unpainted boxes.
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Who Dat!!!
merince
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2013, 08:24:35 PM »

I paint mine. Some beekeepers prefer to dip them in wax or rosin.

Bare wood does not last long in my area. I use barn paint and haven't had mold issues with it.
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Vance G
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2013, 08:28:57 PM »

If that box was in use and got that wet and moldy, your bees need more ventilation would be my guess.  Bees live in wet moldy places called hollow trees and manage OK I think we worry more than they do.
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rwlaw
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2013, 08:51:02 PM »

About the only way your going to get away from not painting is to use cypress or cedar for your boxes.
I'm curious, when you say the mold was edge going to the center, is the middle by the handhold? Maybe you've got some soft grain that's catching water.
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riverrat
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2013, 09:39:23 AM »

A lot of paints have anti molding agents mixed in with them. Im like Vance I would be looking at where your keeping the bees. Sounds like there is moisture issues. A non painted box in a wet environment will not last very long. Not to mention prolonged exposure to moisture is not healthy for a hive.
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never take the top off a hive on a day that you wouldn't want the roof taken off your house
FlashGordon
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« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2013, 12:34:22 PM »

The inside of the hive is very dry and my bees have done quite well this season in their location.  The super was  brand new and was freshly painted. I was very sure to seal it with paint, probably overkill. I doubt you could pierce it with a bullet it was so hard. The mold was concentrated where the paint met the wood.   
    The lower brood boxes came from my supplier that I received my bees from.  He had splashed a thin coat yellow paint on them and they are just fine.

I'm tempted to cut up the super to see how deep and where the
Mold has penetrated.
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ChrisT
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« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2013, 12:49:51 PM »

I use deck/fence semi-transparent stain and dont seem to have a problem with mold.

I didnt want to paint but didnt want to leave them naked so the semi-transparent stain was the middle road.
Works great
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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2013, 01:28:30 PM »

Quote
The mold was concentrated where the paint met the wood.   

maybe because the wood absorbed water and the paint didn't?  mold in a hive not only not uncommon, but not a big deal.  if i worried about every bit of it i get here, i'd go nuts.  to much of it is an indication of to much space.  a bit around the edges, especially in winter, is normal for many of us.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
FlashGordon
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2013, 02:23:01 PM »

Maybe I'm over cautious but I worry about the common brood diseases that are spore related.  To me, if mold spores are growing conditions are not optimal for the bees. 
I like the idea of semitransparent stain.
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RHBee
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2013, 05:24:08 PM »

Flash,
The bees "paint" the inside of their hives with propolis. All exterior paint does is add life to the components. Polly hives don't breath. My only complaint against painting is the whole time issue.
Don't be hopelessly lost and we may be able to help further.
Ray
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Later,
Ray
FlashGordon
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« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2013, 09:46:24 PM »

After doing some research i found that the paint that i had used was an alkyd based paint (some old floor paint left over from previous house owner)  and not an Acrylic.    I found a great article on the benefits of acrylic.  search  THE BREATHABILITY OF ACRYLIC GLOSS PAINTS  in google and the first article is it.
As I thought, the paint was trapping moisture and causing rot.  If i had used an acrylic, like the bloke who painted my brood chambers,  the paint would have let out the extra moisture.  

I suggest everyone read the article before painting their next box.
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OldMech
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2013, 07:36:32 AM »

Interesting.. I hadnt considered that.. I DO have some hives painted with floor paint. I'll have to check what kind it is......
   I get a call when someone returns exterior paint.. dont like the color etc and get it for about half price. Less when they have used some of it.
   There are proponents for NOT painting, Painting, and dipping...    NOT painting doesnt seem like much of an option here..  rains a lot spring and fall, hot and dry in the summer.. so unpainted wood doesnt last very long. warps when soaked, and warps and splits when it dries out, then gets wet again...
   I paint to avoid the problems and get my boxes to last more than two or three years.. I did buy some cypress and built boxes from it to see if the cost and longevity were worth it. Verdict is still out.
   I have never dipped boxes, and dont know anyone who has...   I would THINK that the wax would penetrate the wood well, and help with the rotten corner problems..  the spot you use your tool to pop the boxes apart, the paint gets chipped and THAT is what rots away first,, creating another entrance for the bees..   IF.. the hot dipping penetrates the wood, it may reduce or eliminate that problem entirely.. not to mention the sterilizing effect..
   Wife has a candle shop.. debating on how angry she would be if I used her big wax pot to put boxes in..... shocked
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39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.
FlashGordon
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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2013, 09:04:40 AM »

Is wax dipping common?  I would think that would be the most labour intensive option.
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JWChesnut
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« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2013, 12:01:31 PM »

Traditional woodenware was painted with thin, economical paint.  Basically "whitewash" (though not lime based).
 
Hobbyists have taken to creating jewel boxes with heavy layers of paint, or alternatively coating everything with a layer of wax. 

I think the old cheap farmers approach is better.  It protects the wood from sun and drying, but is porous enough to let the moisture wick out of the hive.

There have been discussions here on UV resistant stains and varnishes, which the proponents claim are better than latex paints.  I can see how a penetrating exterior stain would emulate the old farmer's whitewashed woodenware.  I don't have a problem with a single or double coat of latex on my boxes.  Left uncovered the redwood fence boards I use for mediums dries and warps or splits from the endgrain.  Painted wood is much more stable and longer-lasting.    Pine wood boxes definitively need paint (or deck stain) protection.   I cannot endorse the various copper and anti-fungals added.

The photo's of the various wax dipping efforts I've seen are downright scarey to me.  100 lbs of melted wax over an open flame with inevitable drips and splashes is an invitation to a catastrophic flash fire.  The wax-dissolved-in-volatile solvent approach seems to carry little advantage over tried and true latex.

One final thought bears repeating:  Bee's DON'T care.  The whole adaptive genius of the honeybee is to use its social organization to modify its nest using bee-ventilation, drying, heat production, propolis sealing and comb structure.    Unlike many insects which have very specialized habitat requirements, bees are broad generalists.   They accommodate themselves.  Much of the obsession with particular nest styles, sizes, colors, coverings, ventilation, and opening location and dimensions are just beekeeper smoke.  The bee's could care less, not one wit.
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merince
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« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2013, 02:33:44 PM »

I got the wax dipping from Michael Bush site: Wax dipping

At 6-8 min per box seems like painting is a lot faster, especially for multiple boxes.
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bbbthingmaker
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2013, 08:57:35 PM »

Most of my hives are painted. I recently  used a wood preservative called  "ECO" on a few hives. It comes in a powder you mix with water.  Easy to apply and supposed to be safe.  It's not very pretty. Looks like dirty water.   In twenty years I'll let you know if it works.
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FlashGordon
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« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2013, 10:52:45 AM »

I have seen in many places people charring their woodenware with a torch.  Can anyone elighten me on this?  Does it improve longevity?
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Blacksheep
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2013, 06:32:32 PM »

The torch scortching method is used to kill wax moth spores and larvae.
This is to the inside of the hive box only.outside is painted,varnished,etc.
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FlashGordon
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« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2013, 11:48:32 AM »

Since I had started this post I have been scouring the internet for advice and resolution for the  best way to preserve hive boxes.   I've become maybe a little too obsessed but I think having a little OCD is a prerequisite to be coming a beekeeper.   
Here is a great article that may have satisfied my longing for a good answer.  https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/downloads/01-051.pdf
I'm sure most of you have read it   And hot wax dipping was mentioned above but this is a comprehensive manual for making your boxes and wooden ware last up to 20 years, sterilize and prevent AFB and other spore related hive diseases. 
The article even states that hot wax dipping is a good way to treat boxes that have had AFB.  I would never do that but resolution for that is fire.
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