Beekeeping 101: Supplies, Clothing, and Equipment

What Do You Need to Keep Bees?

March 14, 2019

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What beekeeping supplies, clothing, and equipment will you need to raise bees? Here are the items that will help you get off to a good start.

In our previous post, we discussed some of the basics of getting started beekeeping—knowing your local laws, selecting the right location, and providing the right habitat.

Now let’s get into the clothing and equipment that you’ll need to handle your bees. 

Beekeeping Clothing

Begin with the basics of beekeeping clothing. Always have a veil for your face and wear clothing that will protect you from stings. Many styles of full beekeeping suits or beekeeping jackets are available for purchase from beekeeping supply companies. These may be best for the beginner. The average cost for these can range anywhere from $75 to $170. Overall, stick to white or light colors and a loose-fitting jacket or suit. 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. Protect your wrists and ankles. Tuck 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.

Periodically wash your beekeeping clothing. 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!

Beekeeping 101: Equipment and Clothing
More experienced beekeepers (or those with thick skin) may not even need gloves!

Beekeeping Supplies & Equipment

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:

  1. Smoker: Smoke, if used properly and not excessively, will help to calm bees. A small smoker is fine for a couple of hives. If you have 4 or more hives in your apiary, you may want a larger one. You want to produce cool white smoke. To do so, you can purchase smoker fuel or use dry pine needles in your smoker.
  2. Hive tool: This is a device that is used like a lever to loosen frames and boxes. Most beekeepers have more than one hive tool.
  3. Frame Grips: Frame grips are metal pincher devices used by many new beekeepers. They make it easier to remove frames from the hive with one hand. A useful tool to consider.

Hive Tool. Photo by Robert Engelhardt/Wikimedia.
A hive tool, used to pry apart the frames of a hive. Photo by Robert Engelhardt/Wikimedia.

Where to Find Beekeeping Supplies & Equipment

Local suppliers 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. A quick search online will yield suppliers, too.

Here are some recommended beekeeping suppliers:

  • 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];
  • Kelley Bees, 3107 P.O. Box 240, Clarkson, KY 42726 [(502) 242-2012];

Some beekeeping equipment companies advertise in bee periodicals, 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];

Now that you have all the equipment and a location for your bees, let’s decide what style of hive you want to have.

Online Beekeeping Class! 

beekeepercharlottelogo.jpgA thank you to Master Beekeeper Charlotte Anderson from South Carolina who consulted on our beekeeping series! 

Charlotte runs an online beekeeping class! An informed new beekeeper has a much greater chance of beekeeping success.

Check out Charlotte’s class to get off to a Buzzin Start!

About This Blog

Would you like to raise honeybees in your backyard? Welcome to our free Beekeeping 101 series—a beginner’s guide in 7 chapters. In this guide, we talk about how to get started raising bees, the clothing and equipment needed, different hive styles, collecting honey, and common bee diseases. If you like the idea, consider an online beekeeping class to learn more!


Reader Comments

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Thanks for creating this quick guide to help people get started. I work for a beehive manufacturer called Bee Built in Portland, Oregon that specializes in quality beehives made from sustainable wood. We ship worldwide, with shipment guaranteed within 2 business days. We're looking to find ways to support more efforts like this one and get people started successfully in beekeeping.

We've created a special coupon code for anyone to use at checkout on our site to save 10% on their order. Just enter ALMANAC at checkout! is the website

We'd love to be listed with a link under your list of dealers.


I live in Brooklyn, NY- Coney

I live in Brooklyn, NY- Coney Island. We want to raise bees as an addition to the environment and for school study!! How do we begin the search for surrounding flowers, insecticide spraying, etc? The apiary will be on the roof of a two story church building. Thanks!

Dana! Amazing coincidence! We

Dana! Amazing coincidence! We just had some honey from our local middle school this morning! Congratulations on a great idea! If you haven't already, click on the red Beekeeping button above and carefully read all of the articles (it doesn't take THAT long), which were written especially for folks like you. You'll find that plants like asters and clover can be helpful, and that you want your area to be as -cide free as possible (although it's not as though the bees are just going to hang out on your roof) -- and also that there is much to learn about beekeeping. The thing to do is to get a mentor local to your area to work with you -- which beekeepers love to do! We don't know anything about this group, but for example there apparently is the NYC Beekeepers Assn. Do some research and ask around. Good for you!

I would love to get involved

I would love to get involved in this type of extracurricular activity. Is this very profitable

As an extracurricular

The Editors's picture

As an extracurricular activity, we assume you mean hobby (no more than 20 hives), we wouldn't bet on a profit. You'd need probably need to have hundreds of hives to start making money but we've never been in that business!  For us, the bees are to help pollinate our gardens.

How do I go about employing

How do I go about employing my bees with local farmers in my area? I don't own a home or land. And I live in town. But I want to do this full time for a career. Possibly turning it into a family business and teach others. Your help and advice would be gold to me. Thank you ; D


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