When i was starting with beekeeping i had limited knowledge about it so i had to read a lot and one of the first things i wanted to know was what tools and equipment i must have to start beekeeping and i will share here with you the list of equipment i believe every new beekeeper should have.
So what equipment do you need to start beekeeping ?
Here is the list of equipment to start beekeeping :
- Hive Stand
- Protective Jacket or Suit
- Rubber boots
- Hive tool
- Bee brush
- Uncaping tool
- Honey Extractor
- Books about beekeeping
First you have to provide your bees a home so you have to buy or make them a hive. There are different types of beehives and the most popular are Langstroth and Top bar hive. My favorite is Langstroth so i recommend it, but feel free to check your options maybe you find a more suitable hive for you.
You can buy a new one or to check with local beekeepers to buy used one and to save some money and this is exactly what i did. There is also an option to DIY buying part and assemble it by yourself (make a project out of it by including your close ones). There are numerous instructions and plans online including youtube tutorials that will help you
When you set up their home now you have to get the bees. Again you have an option to order/buy bees or to get wild swarm in nature for free.
If you decide to buy you have options to buy a nucleus colony or packaged bees.
Nucleus colony consists of 4 or 5 formed frames (half of the standard hive) and it includes working bees, drones and queen so you have developed mini hive that you can grow into a strong colony during the season. The second option is packaged bees where you get working bees drones and queen in a special cage and you have to slowly introduce the bees with their hive by letting them chew trough the food cap that covers the queen cage.
Hives should not be placed on the ground it should be elevated for several reasons. First, it is easier to work around it when the hive is elevated. During rain, the hive stand is helping with water drainage away from the hive and also keeps the hive away from the wet ground that is destroying the wood and creates a good environment for bee parasites and disease. It also helps with keeping the critters away. Besides parasites and critters, there are small predators that is stealing honey from the hives so if the hive is elevated it is harder for them to reach the hive.It also easier for the bees to protect their colony because if for example when a raccoon is reaching the hive he exposes his belly for the bees to attack.
Hive stand is also helping bees with ventilation to keep the right humidity and temperature inside.
As you can see you should have your hives elevated so you have an option to buy one of many types of hive stand on the market or to make it your self.
The easiest way to make the post is getting 4 or 6 cinder blocks and wooden posts (4×4). Lay the cinder blocks on the side 2 on one side and two on the other push 4×4 trough top holes making a stand. You can add an additional 2 blocks on each side if you want if higher and place the hives on top. Make sure they have enough room around it.
Pease of protective gear that protects your most important part of the body. Any sting in the face area is very painful so make sure you have protection. Bees like to explore small holes like nose or ears holes and even if the are calm and friendly bees they can sting you because you are trying to remove them from your ear. Even experienced beekeepers are wearing the veil so that tells you everything.
Protective Jacket or Suit
The most important piece of equipment for any beekeeper especially beginner is a protective suit.It helps a lot when you have to stay calm around a swarm of bees flying around your head and you have to do some delicate work around the beehive.
You can choose to take full-body bee suit or just the jacket (ventilated or not ventilated) that will protect your upper body. But I suggest for any beginner beekeeper to get full-body suite till they get comfortable around bees
Besides keeping your feet dry they are very helpful in preventing bees from crawling up your leg or stinging your feet. Ruber boot can be used for any work outdoor especially when it is raining so god thing to have at your home.
One more important piece of equipment you should have. Make sure you get leather gloves (that goes to your elbows) that will protect you from stings and one that I find very durable and easy to wear when working with bees are goatskin gloves.
You can use working gloves but they will be less efficient in sting prevention and also they are usually shorter and covers your hand just up to your wrists so part of the arm is not protected enough and bees can crawl inside your glove.
So in case you use short gloves make sure to tape or tie the end of the gloves to your wrist.
A very important and handy tool that will help when you need your bees calm to inspect the hives, collect the frames or any job around bees.Smoke masks the pheromones that bees release when threatened to alarm other bees.
A smoker also helps you to make the bees in the direction you want or just move them out of your way.
You can order it online to get a new one but if you are on the budget look for used one it will work the same as a new one.
To make the smoke you can a lot of things such as leaves, wood chips, small branches.
Just practice making smoke a few times before you start smoking the bees. You do not want to have too much smoke or to stay without smoke in the middle of your work.
A hive tool is a piece of tool you should definitely have to have. Every time you want to open the hive, move the frames or take them out hive tool will help you do it. Bees are making propolis that they are using it as insulation and frames get stuck because propolis works like a glue and you have to use the toll to make it lose. This tool is very affordable and designed for beekeeping so make sure you get one.
Very helpful item when you are collecting frames for harvesting or moving frames between the hives because even you are able to move most of the bees by taping the frame or shaking it you still have few bees stuck. For those most persistent ones brush is gentle enough to move them away but also not to hurt them in the process.
When the hive harvesting season arrives you will need an uncapping tool.It is used to remove the caps from the comb so you can extract honey from your frames.
Uncapping knife is used to remove most of the caps using the frame edges as a guide but you are not able to remove all of it so uncapping fork comes to the rescue and helps you uncap the rest of the comb. Uncapping is handy when you want to uncap the cells but to keep the comb structure so your bees do not have to make it again.
When it comes to uncapping knife you have available standard and heat that melts the wax and makes uncapping easier but it is also more expensive
If you do not plan to spend money on this equipment you can use a long kitchen knife and fork and it will do the trick but i recommend that you at least get the uncapping fork because it does not cost too much and it is very helpful.
Pease of equipment that is expensive and not necessary at the beginning. It is used by beekeepers that have many beehives so they have a lot of frames they have to harvest. If you have just a few hives you really do not need it and you can extract the honey without it. I have written an article about collecting honey without extractor that you might find helpful.
If you decide to get one try to find used one just check if all the parts are working well.
Books About Beekeeping
Before you start with beekeeping you have to research and learn a lot. Besides online articles and youtube tutorials you should have beekeeping books. When you become a beekeeper you will have to know what to do with a hive in different situations. For example, 3 hives in the same yard will behave differently and you have to recognize the symptoms and to decide what is the best solution for the exact beehive. The books that are written by experts will help you understand all about beekeeping.
Even experienced beekeepers use beekeeping books because even if you have several years of experience you will face the situation that you need help with and the books can provide the needed answers. Also, it can help improve the beekeeping process to either get more honey or helping the colony surviving hard winter.
There are several books i can recommend that are very useful especially for beginners
Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston
The Beekeeper’s Bible: Bees, Honey, Recipes & Other Home Uses by Richard Jones, Sharon Sweeney-Lynch
The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush