What You Need to Know, and the Beekeeping Supplies You’ll Need, to Become a Successful Beekeeper
Honeybees are among the most essential animals in our ability to thrive on this planet we love so much.
However, honeybees are facing an existential crisis like never before.
Fewer bees are available to pollinate flowers, but there is something the average homeowner can do to help.
Honeybee keeping is an easy way to make a substantial impact on the bee population in your part of the world.
If more homeowners embrace beekeeping in their own back yards, and with the right beekeeping supplies on hand, we will see a vast improvement in bees and their ability to make our world continue to thrive.
So, do you want to help the bees?
Here is what you need to know.
Get Approval First
This is not a problem for homeowners that live in most rural areas where HOAs and community planning is scarce, but if you live in an area controlled by an HOA or a community with many neighbors, approval may be necessary.
Every community is different, so to avoid any fines or issues with the neighbors, get approval before beginning your beekeeping journey.
A novice beekeeper may get really excited to buy their first beehive, but just the purchase of a beehive is not enough for proper beekeeping.
Beehives must be kept up off the ground for safety of the bees.
Natural predators like skunks are attracted to the hives and placing them on the ground basically gives these predators license to dive into your beehive.
Stands should be an average of 18 inches off the ground with space between each hive.
It is possible to build your own beehive stand, but getting them level can be a little tricky.
It is often better to purchase a quality built beehive stand for the ultimate comfort and safety of your hive.
The Ground Beneath
Your hive stands are an essential tool for your beekeeping endeavor, but you must also think about the ground beneath your hives.
Mud and unleveled ground can cause problems for the bees and beekeeper, so consider using gravel or woodchips beneath the hive to keep the mud from overtaking your structure.
Having a clean environment around your beehive location will also encourage you to visit the hives often without the fear of getting mud all over your shoes.
Protection for the Beekeeper
Rest assured, while beekeeping, you will get stung from time to time.
Provided you are not allergic to honeybee stings, this will present a very mild issue.
Honeybee stings have actually proven to be very beneficial to individuals with high blood pressure as the sing releases a natural toxins into the body that help the organs work better.
Specifically, honeybee venom actually helps kidney’s function better allowing waste from the body to be evacuated.
However beneficial honeybee stings can be, they are still uncomfortable, so in the beginning, while learning the art of beekeeping, you will want to protect your skin from these stings.
Some experts on claim that a full bee suit is not necessary, but having a full suit will completely protect you from any impending stings.
The suit comes in a one piece variety or a combination of a jacket and pants.
Another bit of equipment to protect you during your beekeeping activities is the veil.
The veil is essentially a hat with a mesh face protectant. It is noted as one of the most important elements for guarding against bee stings.
Honeybee stings to the face can be very uncomfortable and dangerous, so a vail is a must.
Gloves are another piece of equipment you will want to have on hand to protect your body.
However, average gloves, will not offer much protection from stingers.
Simple gloves have holes that can easily be penetrated by the bee’s stinger, so opt for gloves that are made with a non-porous material.
As you become more experienced in your honeybee keeping activities, you will likely no longer need your
When working with bees, it is important to always keep in mind that they are living creatures and can become agitated from time to time.
We all have our ways of calming ourselves down when we get agitated and bees are no different.
Smoke has proven very helpful to a beekeeper whose hive is very active at a given time.
Having a handheld smoker available to you will allow you to maintain control over the bees while checking on the hive.
From time to time, you will find that your beehive boxes will become stuck together.
Again, keep in mind, you are dealing with a living environment for the bees, so taking great care to maintain the structural integrity of their hive is important.
A hive tool is a useful device that works much like a crowbar, but is far more gentle than a larger bar.
Break up boxes gently to avoid disturbing the bee’s environment causing them to become agitated.
Your hive can become gummed up with propolis and wax on occasion and having a bee hive scraper on hand will help remove any buildup keeping your hive nice and tidy.
It might seem like a small thing, but as we all know in our own homes, a clean house is a productive one.
In order to extract honey from your hives, you will have to puncture capped off sections of the honeycomb.
An uncapping knife can help in certain instances, but an uncapping scratcher will help get the job done a lot faster and be more effective at reaching certain cells that may be hard to reach with a knife.
This device is, essentially comb that makes it easier to get at that delicious honey when harvesting time finally arrives.
Honey Extractor When it comes time to harvest your honey, you will need a little help.
A honey extractor is the ideal tool for the job.
A honey extractor can be a little expensive, but many can be rented from certain purveyors of honeybee keeping supplies.
The reason so many people rent these devices in the beginning is that they are not sure what their honey production may be.
Someone may start out with just a few hives in the beginning and in a few seasons, have a full scale operation requiring a larger honey extractor.
Once you have established your expected output of honey you are comfortable with, you can acquire the
appropriate size honey extractor for the job.
All of the above supplies can be essential when beginning your honeybee keeping adventure, but none are as important as the hive, itself.
Which type of hive you choose will be a very important and should be given careful consideration.
There is not just one type of honeybee hive to choose from, but four main styles.
Ten-Frame Langstroth Hive
This is one of the more well known honeybee hive varieties available.
The ten frame Langstroth hive gets its name first from its inventor Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth invented back in the 1800s, but also from the design in which 10 frame boxes are housed within the structure to allow for proper honey production.
The base of the Langstroth hive is structured to allow a place for brooding bees.
The Ten Frame Langstroth Hive is known to maximize honey production and is considered as a universal
design for most beekeepers.
The drawbacks to this variety are not huge issues, but the structures can be very heavy and working the frames out of the structure to extract the honey can agitate the bee colony, so smoke is highly recommended when using this type of hive.
Eight-Frame Langstroth Hive
Basically, the eight frame Langstroth hive is the same thing as the ten frame variety, but with a significant weight difference.
The eight frame Langstroth hive is basically half the weight of its ten frame counterpart.
This is a great solution for those looking to produce smaller hives or disabled people who can find the ten frame hive too heavy to life.
The only downside to this hive is that the eight frame Langstroth hive tends to be less popular and many suppliers may not have parts for the hive if and when it requires maintenance.
Top Bar Hives
For those that choose to become a honeybee keeper for a hobby rather than for profitability or for those that have mobility issues, top bar hives can be a great solution.
These hives utilize a series of horizontal bars fixed across a trough shaped hive with a removable cover.
Bees build downward and this hive style is among the oldest in existence.
The only drawbacks to this particular style is that it offers little protection for bees in a very cold environment so it is not ideal for people living in hard winter climates.
It is also among the more inexpensive hive types, so understandably, it is attractive to many novice beekeepers.
The Warre hive is among the more uncommon honeybee hive varieties and is actually illegal in some areas, so before investing in this vertical, more natural approach to honeybee keeping, check with your local laws to ensure you are not required to have a movable box honeybee hive design.
This design is ideal for the hobbiest beekeeper, but due to the inability to remove the sections of the hive, it can be difficult to keep an eye on the health of your hive.
Beekeeping can be a hobby, an environmentally friendly activity, or a means to make an income, but no matter why you choose to invest in beekeeping, you will need certain supplies.
During your honeybee keeping journey, you will likely discover a few more supplies, but always remember, for the health and safety of your hive, only invest in high quality, certified bee keeping supplies.