Are you getting ready to start keeping honeybees? Let’s make sure that you are familiar with the beekeeping tools and supplies that will help to ensure your success!
Essential Beekeeping Tools and Supplies
Each beekeeper has his or her own way of doing things… Some wear full bee suits, and some wear only a veil… Many buy pre-made hive kits, and some build their own hives… Some use a smoker, and some don’t…
As you progress in your beekeeping journey, you will figure out what works for you, but these are the tools and supplies that I recommend you start out with.
Beekeeping Tools and Supplies for Beginning Beekeepers
1. Protective Clothing
You will find some beekeepers who routinely work with their bees without protective gear. Even those beekeepers know that there are certain times when beekeeping suits are necessary.
You can use a full bee suit, a bee jacket with a veil and gloves, or just the veil. I definitely recommend using a full bee suit until you learn the temperament of your bees.
I prefer a full bee suit that is well ventilated worn with boots and gloves. The one that I use is a 3-layer mesh suit from Clearly Sustainable and I love it! The Clearly Sustainable website is down so I am linking a suit that is very similar to mine.
If you prefer to just use a veil and you like to add a little flair to your homestead, then I recommend snagging a veil from Bella Beek! These veils aren’t only gorgeous, they are functional and will keep your face bee sting free!
Quality hives that are set up properly are essential to beekeeping success.
There are a few different common types of hives:
- Langstroth Hives
- Warre Hives
- Top Bar Hives
- Horizontal Hives
The most common hive type is the Langstroth beehive so that is the one that I will cover here.
You can purchase complete hives in a starter hive kit for your first hive or purchase the hive parts individually. Here are the main components of a Langstroth hive:
- Honey supers make up the hive bodies. They come in shallow, medium, and deep sizes. Shallows and mediums are commonly used for honey to be extracted and the deeps are used as brood boxes and honey left as food for the bees.
- Wooden frames go inside the hive body. They can be purchased with or without plastic foundation. If you purchase without foundation, the bees will make their own.
- Inner cover– this covers the top super and helps to circulate air throughout the hive, it allows moisture to escape, and it provides insulation for the bees
- Outer cover– this is the top of the hive
- Bottom board– this serves as the floor of the hive.
- Landing Board– a landing board is the very bottom of the hive. It keeps the bottom board from sitting directly on the ground.
- Queen Excluder– A queen excluder is optional and based on personal preference of the beekeeper. An excluder is placed over the brood box and prevents the queen from moving up into the honey supers.
4. Hive Stand
A hive stand keeps the beehive up off the ground to reduce moisture and makes it harder for bugs and rodents to enter the hive.
You can purchase a hive stand like this or you can make your own. My hive stands are made of concrete blocks and wooden planks.
5. Entrance Reducer
Entrance reducers do just what the name says… reduce the hive entrance. They work to keep out mice and other small animals that like to invade beehives. They are also great for the winter months to reduce the amount of cold air that enters the hive.
You can purchase one or you can make your own DIY entrance reducer with hardware cloth. To make your own simply staple a small piece of hardware cloth over the entrance of your hive. This will keep out rodents, but leave a small opening for the bees to get through.
6. Hive Tool
A hive tool is a very helpful little beekeeping tool to have on hand. It will allow you to pry your hive boxes and frames apart after they have been glued together with bee propolis.
If you purchase a beekeeping starter kit, a hive tool should be included. You can purchase basic hive tools on their own here. Be sure to check out these gorgeous hive tools made by Kaylee at The Honeystead!
Frame pullers, also known as frame grips, can be used to lift heavy and sticky frames out of the honey supers and brood boxes for inspection and extraction.
8. Bee Brush
A bee brush is a large brush that can be used to gently brush bees off of frames that you are trying to inspect. It can also be used when you are removing frames to extract honey.
A honeybee smoker is another tool that will make inspecting hives and collecting honey much easier. Using the smoker allows you to go into a hive without being attacked by protective bees.
When smoke is introduced to the hive, the bees’ alarm pheromone is covered up so the guard bees have trouble alerting the rest of the colony of the intruder. The smoke also triggers the bees to start eating quickly in case there is a wildfire nearby. When the bees have full bellies, they find it more difficult to fly and sting.
Natural materials are the best bee smoker fuel… wood chips, paper scraps, cotton lint, pine needles, etc. These materials create a cool white smoke that is not harmful to the bees.
The bee smoker can be cleaned using a water and vinegar soak or with a propane torch.
10. Honey Extractor
A honey extractor is used to sling honey out of filled frames. It spins to remove the honey which then drains out of the bottom into a container of your choice.
Honey extractors are available in hand-crank and electric operations. Many local beekeeping clubs also offer extractors for their members to use.
11. Bottling Bucket and Sieve
A bottling bucket is a food grade bucket that has a drain at the bottom that makes jarring honey simple! It is used with a mesh honey sieve that you place on top as honey pours in to filter impurities out of the honey harvest.
12. Uncapping Knife
An uncapping knife is a sharp serrated knife that is used to remove the wax caps from the honey-filled frames. This allows the honey to flow freely in the extractor. The caps can then be melted down into beeswax.
13. Glass Jars
These jars can also be used as sugar water feeders for your honeybees.
Keeping records on your honeybees is very important. You will want to take notes of each hive inspection- pests in the hive, possible disease, honey stores, queen spotting, etc.- and compare the hive productivity and health from year to year.
15. Weather Protection
In the heat of summer you can add a shade cloth over the hive to keep the bees cool.
A wind break is always a good idea to keep drafts away from the bee yard.