Beekeeping is a hobby where you end up with a lot of “stuff”. When we are ordering all these wonderful beekeeping supplies, we don’t always consider where we are going to put them. The fact is – not every piece of equipment is needed on the hives at the same time. And, once the busy season is over, its time to find a place to store beekeeping equipment over Winter.
Finding a good storage system for various beekeeping supplies is often over-looked until you can’t walk through your garage. But, the truth is that you will likely always have some extra pieces on hand and they need a place to live.
Bee Hive Storage
It is not only in Winter that storage of your bee hive and various accessories can become a problem. Most beekeepers know the importance of having some extra honey supers on hand during the season.
You never know when your hive may ramp up honey production and need more room. During the busy season, supply companies are often weeks behind in delivery.
Your hives are not the same all year. Colony population waxes and wanes throughout the year. If your bees swarm, you need to have an extra brood box with top and bottom – like right now. 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.
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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 wax moths love dark places not open light ones.
I can stack empty honey supers or those with comb crisscross or hang the frames on wooden rails or a custom made frame rack.
Originally, my shed looked prettier and did not have wire around the side. However, the rascally raccoons damaged over $100 of empty comb one winter. Even the opossums wanted to get in on the fun.
Therefore, I sacrificed beauty for function. Surround your shed with wire or something to keep raccoons and out. Remember: let light in – keep animals and weather out.
Store Boxes in Closed Stack
If you want to store your boxes in a closed stack, you will need to use a wax moth preventative such as Para-moth. Today, many of us try to avoid using some of the approved chemicals.
A closed stack has a board on the bottom of the stack and another across the top to keep any insects, rats, etc out.
Then the proper amount of Para-moth crystals are placed inside the stack. I have never used this method but I know you need to plan to let the supers air out before placing them on a hive.
Storing Beekeeping Suits and Veils Safely
Clean or wash your beekeeping suit at the end of the season – at least once a year. Yes, you do need to wash it – even if it doesn’t seem to help.
This removes some of the dirt, sweat and stinger bee pheromones that may be there. But sure it is completely dry before packing it away.
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!
Beekeeper Tool Box
Let’s think about the small stuff. For storing odds and ends (and taking them to the bee yard). I often use a little plastic household tote.
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.
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.
Of course, there are also some fancy models you can find for sale from various supply stores – they work well too.
And, at the end of the season or the beginning of the next, don’t forget to clean your bee smoker. It may only need a good brushing out – but if you have used it a lot – a deep clean may be necessary.
Storing Supers with Comb
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 to store separately. If you plan to leave your comb frames in the boxes, follow these procedures to store your honey supers properly.
Using The Freezer
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.
Buckwheat will bloom only 30 days from planting and can stand up to heat. Planted in July, it 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.
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 or as part of Spring beekeeping chores.
Freezing keeps the honey fresh and protected from wax moths and hive beetle eggs. The frames 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.
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.
You may feel that you have a “good bead on things” and everything in its place. But unless you have some type of system – you will find yourself not being able to grab what you need in a hurry
There are as many ways to store beekeeping equipment as there are beekeepers. Find something that works for you and your bees.