How to Store Beekeeping Equipment
As the warm season draws to a close, it’s time to consider how to store beekeeping equipment-that is not needed. 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 keep your extra stuff.
Beekeeper Tool & Equipment Storage
Becoming a beekeeper involves learning the name and function of various types of bee equipment. It is important to have a few extra pieces beyond the immediate needs of your colonies.
This is true – even for the beginner beekeeper starting with a couple of hives. Colony population waxes and wanes throughout the year, you could need an extra box or two.
If a beehive swarms, this causes the beekeeper to need an extra box. 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.
Beekeeping Tools & Supplies
No matter how much you try to limit your beekeeper passion to one area of the house or yard, it will certainly spill over and 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 my 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.
Beekeeping Suits and Veils
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.
Most beekeepers opt to hand wash as that is the safest way. Once dry – hang your bee suits up on a hanger somewhere.
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 Storage
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!
Storing Super Frames of Honey
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.
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. You can also store honey for yourself in this way.
Storing Honey 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 harvest 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 the bees. A lot of energy (food) is required for bees to produce wax and make comb.
Before Winter arrives, decide how you plan to store your honey supers over Winter.
You can not just stack them up anywhere – they must be protected from wax moths and other pests.
Beekeeper’s Shed for Storage
Though not something you must have, a beekeepers shed is a wonderful answer to the problem of storing bee 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.
Therefore, I sacrificed beauty for function. Surround your shed with wire or something to keep raccoons and mics out.
If you have only a few boxes, you may choose to keep the empty frames frozen all Winter.
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 to store beekeeping equipment as there are beekeepers. Find something that works for you and your bees.
Use what you have if possible. That’s a great way to be more sustainable and have less waste.