Those interested in becoming a beekeeper are faced with some hefty start up costs. Beekeeping supplies are needed for the bees and you need things for the beekeeper. Sorting out which types of beekeeping equipment to buy can be quite a chore. The good news is you don’t need everything at once. Let’s sift through the wants and needs of various beekeeper supplies.
Essential Beekeeper Supplies and Tools
It is a good idea to have a bit of money set aside for your foray into the world of beekeeping. Basic equipment for your bees will most likely set you back several hundred dollars the first year. Do not let this discourage you, just be prepared with a bit of savings on hand.
In addition to the expense, is the frustration of being unsure of what you really should buy. Sadly, you often don’t really know everything you want until you have some experience.
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But every beekeeper needs basic beehive setups for the new arrivals. With proper care, your new colonies will grow-requiring additional bee boxes the first season. It is always advisable to have some extra equipment on hand for emergency situations.
Add to these considerations the fact that the world of beekeeping involves a lot of opinions and it can leave a new beekeeper unsure of how to proceed. There is not always just 1 answer to a question.
If your budget is tight, start with the basics. You can always buy more fun beekeeping gadgets next year. But, your bees must have somewhere to live when they arrive – don’t delay!
Equipment for Beekeeping
There are several different types of beehives in use. Worldwide you can see some rather interesting styles.
Each style of bee has advantages and challenges. Which is best for you depends on several factors including your location and beekeeping goals.
The Langstroth hive is the most common hive for beginners. This is the iconic hive style you have likely seen in pictures. Boxes are stack on top of each other to give the bees a home and make honey for the beekeeper.
However, you can be successful with any kind of hive – if you manage your colonies well. Poorly managed bee colonies can die in any type of hive or box. Spend some time thinking about the type of hive you wish to use.
To get the most out of your beekeeping experience, you need to know your equipment. Learn the basic parts of the your beehive and understand their function before your bees arrive.
When you want to ask other beekeepers for advice, things will go much easier if you know the names of your equipment. What one beekeeper calls a “doohicky” might be a “thing a ma bob” to someone else. Learn the proper names.
Even the common Langstroth hive has many variations you can try. Hive bottom boards come in several styles both with and without trays. There is not “right” answer but you will need to choose a type of bottom board.
Some pieces of beekeeping equipment involve serious controversy. One example is a queen excluder. Some beekeepers swear by them and others swear at them.
Will you use a queen excluder on your hive? I generally do but you have the choice. In most cases, this is not a piece of hive equipment needed during the first year. Or a least several months after bees arrive so you have some time to think.
Most beekeepers use foundation material in the wooden frames of the hive boxes. Both beeswax foundation and plastic foundation is available.
It is generally better to avoid mixing types of foundation in the hive, until the bees have drawn out the comb.
Each type of foundation has benefits and disadvantages. I prefer beeswax personally but it is more trouble to install beeswax foundation into frames.
If you are considering buying a beekeepers kit, look over the included pieces closely. A beekeeping kit can be a good deal if it contains items you will really use. Also, consider reviews of the product.
Some kits contain silly impractical items just to make it look like a better deal. This has become a bigger problem in recent years with the increased popularity of beekeeping. Try to buy from a true bee supply – even if you are ordering on Amazon or another source.
Buying Used Equipment for Beekeeping
Is buying used beekeeping equipment a great way to save money? Yes, it can be – perhaps. But there are many risks in purchasing equipment that has been used by bees.
New beekeepers are tempted by the opportunity to cut cost of beehive boxes. However, old equipment can contain disease that will wipe out your new colonies. Some diseases such as American Foul Brood can live on old equipment for over 50 years and can not be cleaned off with conventional methods.
Build Your Own Beehives
Would you like to build your own beehive? With a little woodworking skill and some good bee hive plans, it’s possible. But, be sure to follow the directions carefully or you won’t be a happy beekeeper.
Before you rush off to the store to buy wood for this special project, take some time to evaluate your reasons. With the cost of lumber, you may not save any money by building your own bee boxes.
Spacing inside a beehive is very important. Improper construction leads to excess burr comb that make inspections difficult. Learn how to build a beehive of your own without getting into big trouble by following measurements carefully..
Painting a Beehive
Bees don’t really care what color their hive is painted. But, most beekeepers paint hives to prolong the life of the wooden parts. And yes, we want the hives to either look really outstanding or blend into the surroundings.
However you decide to paint a beehive, be sure to get the job done well before bees arrive. Your equipment should air out a few weeks before bees are added.
Just a white or solid color hive is fine. Perhaps you want to have a spectacular painted hive but lack a lot of artistic talent? Yes, I just raised my hand.
No fear, there are many ways to achieve your goals of a colorful bee hive design. Templates and design aids make creative painted bee hive for non artist beekeepers.
Basic Beekeeper Tools
The bee smoker is the #1 tool for a beekeeper. When used properly, the cool, white smoke makes hive inspections easier for you and the bees. Yearly cleaning of your smoker will keep it functioning well for years.
Once you have chosen a good smoker it’s time to think about fuel. Yes, you need something to burn in there that will not hurt your bees. Be sure to research the various types of smoker fuel.
Its a good idea to experiment with various types of material to burn. Once you find the best one for you, lighting your smoker becomes much easier. Add a nice hive tool to your work box and you have the basics required to manage your hives.
Protective Gear for the Beekeeper
Every beekeeper needs some safety gear or beekeeping clothing. There are many options to choose from. Your main goal is to protect your head and face. Stings in this area are painful and can be dangerous.
Learn the facts you need to know about choosing beekeeping clothing and protective wear. There are many different styles and options to consider.
Ok, maybe you just want a good beekeeping suit. Beekeeping suits come in many different styles, colors and quality grades. Here are some tips to help you find the very best – beekeeping suit.
And of course, it will be important to periodically wash your beekeeping suit to prolong its life. Bees are not fond of stinky beekeepers.
Beekeeping Supplies for Your Apiary
Finding the best location for your beehives, is one of the first major tasks to accomplish. Many beekeepers don’t spend as much time on this as they should. After choosing the best place, it is time to decide how you will set them up.
In the beginning, your bees will start off in a single box. What will you place your wooden hives on? Using hive stands in your apiary is a great idea too.
Elevating the hives off the ground helps protect them from skunks other small predators. Your back will thank you too due to not having to bend down so far.
Many beekeepers choose to keep the ground under the beehives free of tall weeds or grass. Avoid the use of heavy mulch if you live in an area with Small Hive Beetles.
Another important consideration is protection of your colonies. Beehives are valuable and people will steal them. If theft is a concern, place hives where they can be watched or are difficult to access.
In addition, if you live in a region that has a bear population build an electric bear fence. Most beekeepers have no idea they have a bear problem until one destroys their hives.
Storing Equipment in Winter
It is easy to accumulate many pieces of beekeeper supplies. Some of your boxes will not be on the hive during Winter. They are for seasonal use – such as honey supers that are used to collect your honey harvest.
Those boxes or supers containing drawn comb need special attention to prevent damage during storage. Learning how to store honey supers during winter is a task that will face the second year beekeeper-if not the first.
Of course, it is not just your honey supers that you must have room to store. Other various pieces of supplies and equipment must have a place to be when not in use. Find a place to store beekeeping equipment that will be out of the way until needed.
All beekeepers end up some some items that they will never use. These gadgets take the beekeeping world by storm. Many will be forgotten in the next few years.
However, basic hive components, protective wear and the old standard smoker and hive tool have stood the test of time. Choose those that appeal to you and your style of beekeeping.