Things you need as a beginner beekeeper.

February 4th, 2011
by Royal W. Draper

I thought I would post a list of items that anyone getting started in beekeeping will need. Some of these items are optional depending on how much you want to invest in your new hobby.

I believe it is best to plan ahead for and order all the items you will need for the entire season. That way you have everything you need on hand when the time comes.

A bee hive itself is made up of many components as pictured below.

The things you will need for sure are:

1 – bottom board
2 – 9  5/8″ hive bodies (brood boxes)
20 – 9 1/8″ frames
20 – sheets 8 1/2″ foundation
1 – inner cover
1 – telescoping cover

The above are what makes up the area where the bees and queen will reside throughout most of the year. The hive stand pictured is an optional piece of equipment that is used to raise the bees up off the ground and to keep grass from growing directly in front of the hive. You can just as easily put your hive on blocks or and old oak pallet. The next list is of  items that you should have and will hopefully use during your first season.

1 – queen excluder
The queen excluder is used to isolate the queen in the bottom hive bodies, thus keeping brood out of the honey supers. Some people use a queen excluder and some don’t. I have heard it referred to as a “honey excluder” as some think it slows the bees down when transporting nectar within the hive. We do use queen excluders on our hives and for us it makes pulling honey faster because we know (most of the time) that the queen is in the bottom hive bodies. An easy way to allow the bees quicker access to the honey supers is to simply drill a 3/4 inch hole in the honey super above the excluder. They come in wood and metal bound designs. The wood bound gives you a tighter seal but the metal bound is more durable.

1 – honey super or maybe more
Honey supers are  placed on top of the queen excluder above the hive bodies. You can use the same 9 5/8″ supers that you used for the brood boxes or you can use a smaller 6 5/8″ super or even a 5 11/16″ super for honey collection. We like to use all the same size boxes so we are using the larger 9 5/8″ supers however when these boxes are full of honey they can weigh in at over 80 pounds each, therefore if you feel that is going to be too heavy - you should consider using one of the smaller supers. A 6 5/8″ super will require 10 – 6 1/4″ frames and 10 – sheets of 5 5/8″ foundation each, the 5 11/16″ super will require 10 – 5 3/8″ frames and 10 sheets of 4 3/4″ foundation.

1 – syrup feeder
I feel that a syrup feeder of some kind is necessary when you are first starting out and that you should continue to feed your bees as long as you have new foundation in any of your frames. The extra sugar will help the bees to “draw out” new combs more efficiently even on a rainy day when they cannot leave the hive to forage. Feeders can be found on our Miscellaneous Supplies page. We use a 2 parts sugar to 1 part water mixture.

Next are the items you need to protect yourself.

1 – bee suit with veil
1 – pair gloves
1 – hive tool
1 – bee brush
1 – smoker

Bee suits come in all kinds of styles and price ranges from just jackets to full length suits. I really recommend getting a suit that has a zippered veil. We carry some very nice jackets with zippered veils that start at $ 39.95. I use the jacket most of the time just with boots and jeans but if you are at all concerned about being stung you should get a full length suit.

I rarely use gloves but there are times when they are needed so it is a good idea to have them on hand. They come in canvas, plastic coated and leather. The leather gloves are the most durable but are more expensive.

I hive tool is essential in beekeeping and will help you pry supers and frames apart. Another tool that is handy is a frame grip that makes pulling frames out of the hive easy, but it is not a nessacery piece of equipment.

A bee brush is used mostly when you are ready to take honey from the bees and makes it easy to gently remove bees from the honey frames.

The smoker is a must have! The basic 4 x 7 smoker is all a hobbyist beekeeper will ever need and since they are all made of stainless steel now it will last for a lifetime.

The last thing you will need is of course the bees. Now is the time to order your package bees to be shipped directly to you or to be picked up here at our location. Order 1 – 3 lb. package of bees for each hive you want to set up. You can choose to have your queen marked, clipped and marked or just plain. Marking the queen will just make it easier for you to find her when you get into the hive. Clipping the queen does prevent her from flying out of the hive but doesn’t prevent swarming as many people think.

If you have any questions whatsoever feel free to email or call us.

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