If you are a beekeeper or just deciding to get into the hobby, you may be a bit overwhelmed at times. It can seem like there is a lot that goes into keeping bees and yes, there can be. However, that is entirely up to you.
Every beekeeper out there is going to give you their opinion on what equipment you should get and how to manage your hive. And while they might have some very helpful knowledge and how they do it works for them, it may not work so well for you.
How you decide to manage your hive is a very personal choice. A choice based on your situation, how you want to set up your hive and how you want to continue to manage it. For example, the guy just down the road who has been doing this for 30-plus years could be making his living off of honey and wax production may not have the same goals as you-at least at first.
The same could be said for the beekeeper who simply keeps bees for their pollination expertise and the fun of keeping it all natural. Therefore, we have come up with a short list of the essentials.
These are bee accessories that have been tried and are proven to work. These are also extremely easy to use and are the go-to accessories for just about everybody out there. Simply put this is what you need to start out.
As you go along on this journey, it will be easy to see what you like and dislike about certain management practices. Then you can begin to make changes as you see fit, making the process completely yours.
- 20-Frame Hive 10 Deep and 10 Medium
- Complete kit that is easy to assemble
- Deep super frame and medium super frame with foundations
The Langstroth is probably the most commonly used hive. Popular enough that most people know exactly what it is when they see it. Most other hive plans are questioned about as to what they are and how they are used. Langstroth's design is to house the combs in frames as opposed to one top bar for more support. These are placed in a box with a cover. As your hive grows, you can simply add another box on top.
As they are so popular, you can find this pre-made from a variety of manufacturers and the parts are all interchangeable and easy to get replacements for. This makes it very easy to use and keeps assembly time to the very minimum. There are several brands and models to go with, most being very similar resulting in easily exchangeable parts. All are made from different varieties of wood, so do your research to make sure you are getting quality.
This type of hive was created with the beekeeper and desired production in mind. Langstroth hives are designed vertically with one to four 20″ x 10″ boxes of differing depths that house the honeycomb and brood. The bottom boxes usually hold the young larvae and the queen.
This is known as the brood box. Each box has 8-10 full four-sided frames inside that the comb is built on. This allows for more ease of use and control as the beekeeper.
The frames support the comb making it very easy to move and harvest honey in a more commercialized fashion. Often the frames include a foundation, which is a manmade material that is placed in the middle of the frame that makes the building of the comb easier for the bees, as they don't have to start from scratch every time. This allows the beekeeper to attain more honey in less time.
When new hive boxes are added, they are usually stacked on top of the already inhabited boxes, making it quick and easy to grow your hive. However, when the honey is harvested, it is taken from the bottom first.
Lifting the boxes off of the top can be difficult work as they are often very weighted with honey and bees which can add up to about 100 lbs. The hive sits on a bottom board that can be a solid piece or can have a screen it.
This helps to prevent other insects or pests from invading the hive. The entrance is found in between the brood box and the bottom board. At the top of the hive is a series of covers.
There is an inner cover that is primarily used for insulation and ventilation for the bees. The outer cover is telescopic and is purposed to direct sun, rain, and other elements from entering the hive.
Then there is sometimes a metal cover on top of this that protects the hive even more from weather exposure. The whole hive is usually made of a pine or cedar wood, which is more resistant to rot and warping and the bees are naturally drawn to it.
However, there are few on the market that is entirely made of bee-friendly plastic. The frames as well can be created from wood or plastic.
The price on the Langstroth can vary greatly depending on the size you get and if there are any additions to it such as frames with foundations and FlowHive technology.
Just a box can cost as little as , or they can be as much as around . for a larger set and more complete setup. They can be found online through various manufacturers or on websites like Amazon and eBay.
Other Bee Accessories
We picked some other bee accessories necessary for keeping bees.
|Ease of Use|
- BEE HIVE SMOKER made of stainless steel produces safe cool smoke to help calm bees and protect from stings during hive...
- MEASUREMENTS from the bottom to the tip of the nose is 11" with a canister diameter of 4"
- HEAT SHIELD protective guard that surrounds the smoker to help prevent burns. Smoker is both easy and safe to use
A well-designed bee smoker is an absolute bee accessory necessity for beekeepers no matter how much experience they have. Bees can be quite feisty, especially when they feel threatened or feel that either their home or young are in danger.
You simply coming in close contact with the hive might be enough to set them into panic mode and sound the attack alarm. However, with the help of a smoker, you can keep them calm and not bothered by you.
Smoke has a lulling effect on the bees that calms there natural defensive instincts. This keeps them from stinging you. The smoke is also very useful to get rid of pests in your hive such as the notorious varroa mite.
Good bee smokers are usually made of stainless steel materials that are durable and of good quality. They include a protective cage around the body, so it does not burn you when handling it.
They also include a hook for hanging when not in use and also allows for it to cool down more quickly than if you were to set it down on anything. A good quality one is also fairly easy to operate. While all smokers can be tricky especially to those without experience, ones that can be operated easily with one hand are well sought after. You will find this trait comes in handy frequently.
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- 2 Layer Hood, Self-supporting Collapsible Veil, Heavy Duty YKK Zippers
- 2 Way Neck Zipper
- fits up to height 6'1" -weight 188-210 lbs **
One of the most important bee accessories and something vital to beekeeping on any level is the beekeeping suit. While some very experienced beekeepers may brave their hives without them, we do not recommend it all.
A quality beekeeping suit can keep you protected from the sting of bees offering you calm confidence to handle whatever they throw at you.
If you are looking for a good beekeeping suit, there are a lot of options out there, and the price range can be quite drastic. A good one will have a facemask that is light and very breathable with a with very little to no obstructions to your vision.
It should also be a lightweight material. There are few things worse than being so uncomfortably hot while trying to deal with a whole hive of bees.
There have been some rewarding innovations made to fabrics and materials that at bee suit can be made of. Some of the best suits are made using completely mesh materials that while keeping you cool and comfortable also protects you and the bees in a better way than ever. You can find full suits or simple overlaying jackets.
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- Hive tool is the "must have" tool for the beekeeper
- Made of extra thin spring steel material
- The hive tool is a mini crow bar that is used to pry apart hive bodies and supers
As a beekeeper, you will soon learn the unequaled value of a good hive tool. Bee accessories like this come in handy on so many occasions. Common uses for this tool are scraping propolis and wax from the hive's sidewalls and frames, lifting the frames, separating boxes, separating frames, making repairs to the hive and more.
There are so many ways to use them. Instead of taking a toolbox with you to the hive, now all you need is this one tool.
A good quality one is made of a thin, durable steel material that is strong and rust and abrasion resistant. It will have a hook on one end, typically used for lifting frames, and a blunt end on the other, used for scraping.
A good one will also have a nail removal feature and be brightly colored so that if it is dropped or set down on the ground, it can be easily found. They are typically around nine inches in length and resemble a small pry bar.
|Ease of Use|
The Langstroth bee hive is arguably the most popular model of hives on the market due to its standard sizes and ease of use for the beekeeper. With that being said, there are beekeepers who are strongly opposed to its use.
This is because, as we mentioned before, the way you manage your hive is quite personal. Those who do like this model have found that it does not work for their intended use of honeybees. However, it may work for you and your needs.
It is at least a good place to start. As you learn and grow your colonies and hives you may find that you are better suited to another hive style, then again you may not be. However, no matter what your hive preferences are the other bee accessories listed here are a must. While some beekeepers find they can maintain and manage their bees without the use of bee accessories, we do not agree it is a good idea at all.
We find that they come in handy on so many occasions that it would be well worth your while to find some and try them out. We think you will find that they make working with bees much easier and more enjoyable.
As we said, there are many options to choose from for all of these bee accessories. That makes trying them out for yourself imperative. See what works for you and your hive.
You may even find different styles you like, and that may work better depending on the project you are working on. It's ok to have more than one. In fact, you will find that even with the hive style itself, many beekeepers use a variety.
Just remember to do what works for you. If you aren't comfortable when handling bees, the bees will sense this, and they will not be comfortable either. Better to be comfortable and confident than just doing what you were told.