What supplies will you need to raise bees? Here is a beginner’s guide to the items that will help you be a successful beekeeper.
By now, you’ve learned some tips on where to place your apiary. Here are some tips on interacting with your bees and the equipment that you’ll need to handle them.
There are key items to wear when interacting with bees. Always have a veil for your face and wear clothing that will protect you from stings. Full suits are available for purchase from some companies and beekeeping organizations. These may be best for the beginner. The average cost for these at the time of this writing can range anywhere from $70 to $125. Overall, try to avoid woolen or nylon materials and stick to white or light colors. Some beekeepers forgo gloves in order to manipulate the inside of the hive better, although for a beginner this is generally not recommended.
You will want to wear clothing both that will both protect you and that you don’t mind getting stained. Bees will produce waste that shows up as yellowish marks on your clothing, so you don’t want to be wearing your finest outfit. Close off all potential to getting stung by tucking your pants into your socks and your shirtsleeves into your gloves. Wrap both your wrists and ankles with some type of band to secure your clothing in place.
Be sure to wear clothing that has not previously received stings. Bees release a pheromone when they sting to alert other bees of an attacker. By wearing previously stung clothing, you are basically begging to be stung.
Besides the hives (which we'll discuss in the next article), there are three basic supplies you will always want to have when handling bees.
- Smoker: Smoke, if used properly and not excessively, will help to calm bees. A large smoker is best, as the smoke lasts for a longer time.
- Hive tool: This is a device that is used like a lever to loosen frames and boxes.
- Uncapping knife: This device will uncap the wax cells in which honey is stored, making it ready for the next step—the centrifuge.
Dealers of beekeeping equipment may be listed in the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Otherwise, you can contact the large, national beekeeping supply companies and request a catalog containing their equipment and prices. Here are some suppliers:
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, 610 Bethany Church Road, Moravian Falls, NC 28654 [(800) 233-7929];
Dadant & Sons, Inc., 51 S. 2nd Street, Hamilton, IL 62341 [(217) 847-3324];
Mann Lake Ltd., 501 S. 1st Street, Hackensack, MN 56452 [(800) 233-6663];
Walter T. Kelley Co., Inc., 3107 P.O. Box 240, Clarkson, KY 42726 [(502) 242-2012].
Some beekeeping equipment companies advertise in bee journals, a single copy of which can be requested from the publishers:
American Bee Journal, 51 S. 2nd Street, Hamilton, IL 62341 [(217) 847-3324];
Bee Culture, A.I. Root Co., 623 W. Liberty Street, Medina, OH 44256 [(800) 289-7668].