When I got my hive delivered, Erica and I decided that it should be camouflaged so that the neighbors would not notice it and complain. I bought a dark brown semi-gloss house paint. After I painted it, I began to worry about the color. After all, almost all beehives are white. Was I wrong to paint it a dark color? It was a very dark brown and nothing like any beehive I’ve ever seen.
Well, bees naturally live in holes in trees and logs and other dark protected areas. In the wild their houses are always dark brown. Brown might be a better color than white.
After research, I have found that white is used because it is a clean color and stands out. It is easy for the beekeeper to see. In reality, beekeepers paint their hive with the cheapest paint around and only paint them to protect the wood. The inside of the box should not be painted. Wood preservatives may harm the bees. Latex paint is better than oil based just because the oils may vaporize and harm the bees.
There is a school of thought that says you should decorate the beehive with big bold designs so that the bees will recognize it. This will help them find the hive.
This link: Palazzo Rospo: Beautimous Bee Hives, has some nice creative work on a beehive.