Beekeeping Equipment

baby bobby beeI have listed here the basic equipment you will need have for when your honey bees arrive

A Modern HiveHive Types

Langstroth Hive

You can buy hives either made up as a complete unit ie, everything is made up for you by the supplier before it is shipped.  If you fancy yourself as a bit of a DIYer you can buy a hive kit which comes as a flat pack and you have to make everything up.  Obviously shipping costs come into it as a flat pack is cheaper to ship than a fully constructed hive. If you are no good with DIY ask a friend who is :)

When you are starting off the minimum requirement for a hive is a roof, header board, a brood box, at least one super but I would suggest getting two and a floor.  You will also need bee escapes that fit into the Top Board.

 

Honeybee Queen Excluder 

queen excluder plastic
Plastic
Wooden Frame Queen Excluder
Wooden Frame Queen Excluder

During the nectar flows the Queen Excluder is located between the brood box and the first super.  There are two types that you can buy either made of plastic or, of metal bounded by a wooden frame.  The latter is by far the better of the two as it is stronger and tends to stay flat.  In my experience the plastic type warps and I have had my workers get trapped when trying to move through the holes.  The excluder is made up of several columns of slots or holes that are large enough for a worker bee to get through but as the name suggests, the holes are too small to allow the queen through and stops her getting to the honey stores where she would start laying eggs.  It also stops the hungry fat drones (males) from getting to the honey stores too.

Frames (for brood and honey)

Brood Frame
Brood Frame
Super frame
Super Frame

Frames are what sits inside a hive box for the honeybees to store honey and what the queen bee lays her eggs.  If you are setting up using different size boxes you will need the correct size frame for the box.  In most hives the Brood box where the queen lays her eggs, is the largest of the boxes and requires a larger size frame (left).  The Super which is used to store honey is the smaller of the two types of boxes and requires a smaller frame (right).

 

Wax foundation

Frames with wax
Frames with wax foundation

Wax foundation is inserted into frames and is the base that the honeybees use to build their honeycomb onto.  The foundation gives the bees a head start so that they use less energy building comb and more energy making honey.  The picture on the right shows frames for a Brood box and Super with the wax foundation inserted.

 

Entrance Block

Hive Entrance Block
Hive Entrance Block

Entrance to a beehive is through the space between the floor and bottom of the brood box and therefore, is the width of the hive and between 20 – 30 mm deep.  This can be a fair size hole for the workers to protect from invading predators such as wasps and hornets.  An entrance block is usually a piece of wood with large and small notches cut into it.  Inserting the block into the hive entrance reduces the size of the entrance to whatever size notch you choose to use.  The smaller size notch is normally used in winter to cut down on the amount of cold air coming into the hive.

Mouse guard

Mouse Guard
Mouse Guard

A Mouse Guard is an essential bit of kit, if you want to stop our little four legged friends from eating your ladies out of house and home during the winter months.  If you don’t put a guard over the entrance you are apt to find a mouse making its home inside your hive where it has plenty of warmth and food (honey) for the winter.  You then end up with a hive full of starving or dead bees. The guard is usually metal with uniform holes punched into it which is large enough to let the bees out but small enough to keep mice out.

Bee Escape

Porter Bee Escape in Top Board
Porter Bee Escape in Top Board
Porter Bee Escape
Porter Bee Escape

A bee escape is a one way trap fitted into the Top/Crown/Header board and allows a honeybee a one way entry into the hive.  A top board with a bee escape fitted is used to clear bees from a super when the beekeeper wants to harvest honey out of the box.  The type of escape shown is a Porter Bee Escape and shown fitted to a top board.

 Hive Tool

Hive Tool
‘J’ Hive Tool

 

 The hive tool is a very valuable piece of equipment to have and ideally two is not too many.  It has many uses, probably too many to mention here but just to mention a couple.  The type of tool in the photo is a ‘J’ tool and the hook is useful for hooking under the shoulders of frames when doing a hive inspection.  The other end has a blade and is useful for scraping honeycomb off frames where you don’t want it to be.

Smoker

Smoker
Smoker

 

A smoker is a tool that you use to keep your bees calm while inspecting the hive.   You literally light a fire in it and then stuff it full with material that will make plenty of smoke while working the bellows on the side.

Beekeeping Suit/Veil

Bee suit
One Piece Bee Suit
Half bee suit
Half bee suit

If you don’t want to get stung or have bees buzzing in your face and hair it is advisable to be wearing some kind of protection. You will see photos of beekeepers not wearing any protection and covered in bees but I would advise against doing this until such time as you have been keeping bees for a number of years.

Suits nowadays come in a variety of colours but traditionally they are white as bees find this colour to be the most soothing.  You can buy a one piece suit that will give you complete cover from top to toe.  They are a bit time consuming to put on so if you are in a bit of a hurry a half bee suit is ideal as it can just be pulled over your head and will give you protection from the waist up.  If you are already wearing substantial clothing you could get away with wearing just a veil that just covers your head.

bee veil
Bee Veil

Bee Gloves

Beekeeping gloves
Beekeeping gloves

 

These are long gloves that are made from thick material and covering the hands and arms.   The thick material stops your  bees being able to sting you.  They extend to covering the arms and are worn over the bee suit.  When inspecting your hive it is advisable to wear Disposable Gloves over the hand part to stop propolis (bee glue) from sticking to them.   Propolis is difficult to remove and I made the mistake of trying to get rid of it by washing the gloves.  All it did was shrink the gloves, the propolis stains remained where they were and a new pair of gloves were put on my shopping list.  

Bee Brush

Bee Brush
Bee Brush

Not much to say about a bee brush really except that the clue is in the name.  It is a brush for carefully removing bees from places you don’t want them when inspecting the hive.   Note, that I said ‘carefully’, you don’t want to upset your girls by going in heavy handed and stirring them up as they will then go into stinging mode and start to attack you.   A good reason for wearing a bee suit but the general rule is don’t go upsetting your girls in the first place.

Feeder 

Feeder
Feeder

 

And finally on this list you will need a feeder.  This is to enable you to give your bees an extra feed if their honey stock in the hive starts running low during the honey flow season or when you first get them as the only honey stock they will have is what is shipped with them.

 

baby bobby bee

 

 

10 thoughts on “Beekeeping Equipment

  1. Carol

    This article reminds me of the time when my brother started beekeeping just to see what it was like. He got most of the equipment you mentioned here, but probably not as modern. Things went well, but after he checked for the first yield of honey, he only got a tiny jar. This was very discouraging for him and so he gave up on beekeeping. I enjoy using honey though. I like to use it in my baking and also in my tea every morning and evening.

    1. admin

      Hi Carol, thanks for your feedback as it is much appreciated.  I would say that your brother didn’t get the right advice/mentoring from the start else, he would have known that honey yield in the first year would not be great and it all depends on when he started in the Nectar Flow season.  I am in it for the bees as they are now on the WWF’s list of endangered species and desperately need our help to survive.   Could you imaging what your breakfast and baking would be like without honey.   In fact you probably wouldn’t be able to do any baking as most of the ingredients wouldn’t be available to use.

      Geoff

  2. Sassygirl1263

    This is well organized website , showing the details on bee keeping and what is needed for supplies when you are a bee keeper. It shows in images that better explains how and what it is about. It shows the different type of bee keeper items and . This breaks it down in a simple way what is needed to become a bee keeper.

    1. admin

      Hi and thanks for your feedback on my page as it is much appreciated.  I believe an image is better than a thousand words and hope to prove this time and again as I continue developing the website.

      Geoff

  3. John Rico

    Hey there! I’m actually interested on trying beekeeping and bee farm. I have a place to do it but I don’t know what things that I needed to start it. Luckily I found your article that talks about beekeeping equipments. But I have a question is it easy to do beekeeping? I really appreciate your response.

    1. admin

      Hi John, thanks for getting back to me with your comments, it is much appreciated.  I wouldn’t say that beekeeping is hard more like rewarding and fascinating.   For myself, I am not into the hobby for harvesting honey as i believe that my ladies have done all the hard work in making it then they should have the reward of it.   If they make too much and want to share it with me then I will take a little after all, they have been around billions of years longer than us humans.  If you are really interested you need to join your local beekeeping society as they are bound to run courses and give you advice about everything that I haven’t put on my website yet.  The more you find out about beekeeping the more you will get hooked.

      Geoff

  4. Edward Holara

    Hi Geoff,

    This website is well organized and simple for anyone at any level to read and understand. Keep it being simple but add more flavor to it as time goes by.

    You have done a great job Geoff!!!

    1. admin

      Hi Edward, thanks for your feedback as it is most appreciated.

      Simple is my watchword and plenty of visuals.

      Geoff

  5. Barb

    Hi! Thanks for this very informative and in-depth article on Beekeeping equipment.

    I’ve always wanted to be a beekeeper and never really knew what was involved or the equipment to use. It seems kind of complicated. Can you recommend a good book or guide that I could read to get me started in the right direction?

    1. admin

      Hi Barb, thanks for your feedback as it is much appreciated.   

      To answer your question.  To tell you the truth I haven’t read many books on the subject as I have tended to either get my knowledge from other beekeepers or from the internet.  If you go onto Amazon there a number of books there and most would give you a good insight into beekeeping.  You could find out if you have a beekeeping club in your vicinity and arrange to meet as they will probably be able to give you a hands on introduction.   

      You could just keep an eye on my site as most of what you will need to know I will publishing.

      Kind regards and thanks again.

      Geoff

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