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How to Store Beekeeping Equipment

When we beekeepers are ordering all these wonderful beekeeping supplies, we don’t always consider where we are going to put them. Not every piece of beekeeping equipment is needed on the hives at the same time. During the warm season, beekeepers are busy making sure their colonies have all the space needed to produce a good honey crop. However, once the busy season is over, its time to find a place to store beekeeping equipment over Winter.

Beekeeping Equipment Storage

Of course, it is not only in Winter that storage can become a problem. It is smart to have some extra boxes and hive parts on hand. You never know when a wayward swarm will buzz your way.

Open beekeepers shed to store beekeeping equipment during off season image.

Becoming a beekeeper involves learning the name and function of various types of equipment. This is true – even for the beginner beekeeper starting with a couple of hives. Colony population waxes and wanes throughout the year.

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If a beehive swarms, this causes the beekeeper to need an extra box with top and bottom. Bee things happen and they are not always expected.

The bottom line is that you will need some storage space for your bee stuff. And, the more hives you manage – the more space you will need for the extra wooden components, feeders, etc.

Organizing Beekeeping Tools & Supplies

No matter how much you try to limit your beekeeping passion to one area of the house or yard, it will certainly spill over. Likely it will take up much more space than you had anticipated. 

Your spouse (husband or wife – there are as many lady beekeepers as men !) will grow accustomed to seeing your bee stuff, tools and supplies scattered around the house, yard, storage building, car etc.

Let’s start with the small bee stuff first, for storing odds and ends (and taking them to the bee yard). I often use a little plastic household tote.

Some beekeepers like to use a 5 gallon bucket – perhaps with one of those organizers on the outside. Then your smoker and smoker fuel can go inside. 

Keeping a beekeepers bucket, tool box or tote ready to go will be a big help. In this way, you don’t have to remember every little thing each time you go out to do hive inspections.

I always keep the basic beekeeping tools in my tote.  Hive tool, spray bottle with sugar water, queen marking pen, smoker fuel, matches, etc.

And, during the off season, that little container is easily out of the way in a closet or on a workroom shelf. If you decide to get a tote, make sure it will hold your plastic spray bottle without falling out.

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Storing Beekeeping Suits and Veils Safely

Clean your beekeeping suit at the end of the season. Yes, you do need to wash it – even if it doesn’t seem to help.

Many beekeepers opt to hand wash as that is the safest way. Once dry – hang your bee suits up on a hanger somewhere. If you must pack it away, be sure it is completely dry.

Folded suits may mildew over Winter. And more than one beekeeper has lost an expensive beekeeping suit to a mouse looking for a home!

Using a Freezer for Bee Stuff

You might look in my freezer and see some beekeeping supplies from last year, or the year before, or the year before etc.  Actually a freezer is a very useful tool for a beekeeper and we usually have more than one.

In mine you may see a bag of buckwheat seed that I had left over from last year.  Buckwheat is a good forage plant for bees. 

Buckwheat will bloom only 30 days from planting and can stand up to heat.  I like to plant some in my vegetable garden after the corn has been harvested in July. 

This will provide some natural forage for the bees in August.  A time that is usually very dry in my area.

The freezer is a great place to store left over bee pollen substitute too! Seal it in a sturdy bag and the freezer helps to keep it fresh. It will be all ready for making pollen patties or using in your dry pollen feeder next Spring.

Freezing Super Frames

Another great use of the freezer, is storing frames of honey.  These partial frames of honey are safely frozen and will be given to hungry colonies in late winter/early Spring.

Storing super frames of honey in a freezer until needed image.

Freezing keeps the honey fresh and protected from wax moths and other pests.  They will be removed from the freezer and allowed to thaw the day before being placed in the hive. 

This is also a good way to store honey for human consumption at a later time. Once thawed, you will never know it has been frozen.

Storing Drawn Comb in Supers

Bee boxes that are called “honey supers” are generally not left on the hive year round. Of course, the beekeeper leaves enough honey for the bees to survive over Winter. However, the excess boxes are removed from the hive during the harvest period.

If the beekeeper extracts the honey crop by machine, valuable wax remains in the frames of the super. We call these frames with wax comb – “drawn comb”.

Giving a colony a box of drawn comb rather than just foundation is very helpful to a new hive. A lot of energy (food) is required for bees to produce wax and make comb.

Some beekeepers leave frames in the boxes and others remove them. If you plan to leave your comb in the boxes, follow the procedure to store your honey supers properly.

You can not just stack them up anywhere – they must be protected from wax moths and other pests.

Beekeeper Shed for Storage

Though not something you must have, a beekeepers shed is a wonderful answer to the problem of storing beekeeping equipment. And, yours does not have to be as ugly as mine.

An simple open shed has many advantages. The roof protects the wooden wear from rain and snow. It is a convenient place to keep my bee smoker. With the cement floor – I can even sit it down while it is still hot without worry.

The open airy shed helps protect my supers of drawn comb – because moths love dark places not open light ones.

Originally, my shed looked prettier and did not have wire around the side. However, the rascally raccoons damaged over $100 in value of drawn comb one winter. Even the opossums wanted to get in on the fun. 

Opossum wanting to eat beekeeping equipment stored in shed image.

Therefore, I sacrificed beauty for function. Surround your shed with wire or something to keep raccoons and out.

You may feel that you have a “good bead on things” and everything in its place. However, proceed with caution or your beekeeping “stuff” will take over your garage, work shed, house etc.

There are as many ways of to store beekeeping equipment as there are beekeepers. Find something that works for you and your bees.

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6 Comments

  1. Barbara Minor says:

    This is my first year of beekeeping and I only have one hive that we caught as a swarm so I’ll only have one box of comb to store…. but we hope to have much more next year and I’ve been worried how I’d store frames of empty comb. Other beekeepers were telling me to store it outside in the light and air but not telling me how, your post just showed me a great way to do it. Thank you.

  2. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Barbara, thank you so much for taking the time to tell me. I am glad it was helpful. I try to make my posts and online classes easy to understand. There is a lot to remember about this “beekeeping stuff”. LOL I also have a new post coming out on this topic in a few hours.

  3. HI, great article thanks.

    In regards to leaving the supers exposed to light and air, do you do anything prior to hanging them in your shed to prevent robbing when the supers first come off as wets?

  4. Beekeeper Charlotte says:

    Thanks Sarah,
    When I have finished extracting, I criss cross the supers under the shed and let the bees clean them. This is a somewhat dangerous move but my shed is far away from the hives. I would not do this near the hives of course.

  5. Gilbert Moreno says:

    How close to existing colonies is it safe to store extracted frames to prevent a robbing frenzy?

  6. Charlotte Anderson says:

    If it were me, I would try to have them as far away as possible. At least 100 ft or more.

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