Equipment – beyond the hive

This is the second in a series of posts about getting going as a beginner beekeeper.

So you’ve got a hive! Great, what’s next? There are a few more things you’ll need and I’m also going to suggest a few things you may want to get going on your first year beekeeping.

  1. A calendar and pen. Yes, that’s right not a hive tool or smoker or veil (although we’ll get to those). In order to keep track of your hives you’ll need good notes. There are, of course, lots of way to do this but my favorite and cheapest is a plain old wall calander and pen. So much of beekeeping and bee life cycle depends on the date its nice to write your notes on the appropriate date. “when was it I saw those swarm cells?” Now you know.
  2. Veil or jacket. While some experienced backyard beeks go without a veil as a beginner you probably will be more comfortable with one. At a minimum a veil to cover your head. A jacket can be nice and is what I use which gives a bit more complete coverage but can be hot mid summer.
  3. Smoker: Smokes calms the bees and masks the alarm phermone. You’ll need one
  4. Hive tool: Across between a screwdriver and the back edge of a hammer a hive tool is essential for getting your hive apart once the bees have propolised it together.
  5. Feeder: If you’re getting packaged bees you’ll need to feed them. The cheapest and simpliest way may be just to put a ziplock bag on top of the hive bars. Also popular is quart mason jars wiht a few holes poked in the lids. Some people swear by quail/chicken waterers which you can get at your local feed store.

For the true minimalist, I’d say you can stop here. ¬†As you go on you’ll quickly discover a list of other items you may want, and I”ll be discussing the more advanced items later.