Beekeeping Basic Essentials - What do you need?

Beekeeper Equipment Essentials
This easy guide is for new beekeepers needing to know what essential equipment they require for a day 1 start in beekeeping. It is assumed that you have a hive, frames with foundation (wax or plastic), bees and a suitable location for your new hive.
Preparing for Bee stings
This is often overlooked and as sure as the sun rises in the morning you will be stung by a bee at some point. The best preparation is to be sure you are not allergic, most people are not. It is normal for the sting to be quite painful at first and after 5-10 minutes, this will subside. Some localised swelling will occur and this is different for everyone. Ice will help and follow this with a good quality anti-hystamine and paracetamol. So ensure you always have some on hand, if you are allergic then seek medical advice, some beekeepers keep an epi-pen handy, just in case.
Bee Sting Prevention – A good suit
As a new beekeeper it is important to have confidence around the bees, even the most docile bees will send up one or two sentinels to persuade you to go away. So get yourself a good quality beesuit light in colour and avoid stripes or any fancy imagery or cloth. Bees take offence easily to woolly or rough materials and avoid old overalls with oil or animal scent. Be sure to have all gaps and holes covered, if there is a way in, the bees will find it.
Gloves are important for starting out, use either leather or thick latex, the bee sting can penetrate most cloth and they have a habit of stinging in the same spot.

Generally speaking, bees will not sting through the shoes however make sure your feet are totally covered, for long pants it is suggested to either wear gaters, tuck them into your socks or boots. Bees will always travel upwards, so any bees on the ground may walk up your shoes and up the leg of your pants thinking it is the way back to the hive.
Beehive Tools
This is the fun part, beekeeper tools should sturdy, where you can by stainless steel, they’ll last a lifetime. Get the best you can afford, don’t skimp as it will save in the long run.
You will need a smoker. New bees are extremely calm (unless you have received a swarm) and they may not need smoke right away but a smoker is the preferred method to calm your bees, just a few puffs in the entrance and a few more under the lid will send them scurrying to the honey stores to fill up making them docile. Again get the best you can afford, stainless steel with a leather bellows. Expect to pay around $70 - $100.

There are several types of hive tools and the Australian Tool is a favourite all around the world, after trialling both, my preference is the J-Tool, the J is a fantastic lever for getting those propolised frames unstuck. However this is a personal preference so go with what you feel is best. There is now a combo tool.

Other tools that are not essential but pretty handy to have around.
Frame Grabber helps for those who do not wish to squash bees trying to grab both ends of the frame with fat fingered gloves on, it also helps to insert the frames back into the hive and frees up a hand to sweep away bees to avoid squashing more of them.

Frame Holder, very useful to hang your removed frames on the side of the hive. No more bending down to place them on the ground only to squash a few bees clinging to the bottom of the frame. I recommend two of these, one for each side of the hive.

A bee brush, this is a soft bristle brush of horse or synthetic hair at least the width of your frame. Use the brush to gently sweep bees away from areas needing to be worked, sweeping bees off frames to be removed, away from areas to be enclosed such as just under the lid. It can also be used at the end of your inspection to sweep bees off your suit prior to removing it, the bees will find their own way back to the hive.


Any brands that are better? I’m not rich, but I prefer to buy quality brands and equipment and then keep using them a lifetime if I can. I am guessing there is cheap, good, better, and best and I’d like to know what I should look for or avoid.

I would go for stainless steel where you can, it will last a lifetime and not fail in the field. As for the protective clothing, if you have a fear of bee stings then go for a full suit, however the cheap suits may not have overlapping zips, and through experience the bees will get in and sting you on the face. If you have a local supply store, go in and checkout all the products, they generally have a cheap version of everything they sell so you can see the difference for yourself.

Hi Rodderick, Was there a particular website where you saw the frame holder (brackets) for sale? I did a quick search and didn’t see them available in the US. I suppose I could make my own if I can’t get them here.

Becky: I went through my bee catalogs (US) and every one had the frame holder.
The closest one to me is
They call it a “frame perch”. Maybe that is why you couldn’t find it?

Ah, that makes sense, thanks very much, Gayle. I kept getting that fold up thing to pull the frames out. Just bought 2 on ebay…yipee!

I just spent the last week checking prices for the same products from 12 different companies. I did a spread sheet.

I would suggest that some companies have “Lost Leaders” - some items they mark at a really good price to hook you in to believing that all their prices will be competitive - this is not the case.

They make a deliberate loss on an item to make themselves more appealing.

I made a list of my requirements including wish list items. worked out which companies did the best deal on an item and only got the necessities to start with.

Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries are for the wish list items or when you get a bit of extra pin money.

By checking loads of places you realise some charge delivery for under a certain amount, Generally over £100 was free delivery.

It takes time, you learn about products available and hopefully snatch a bargain!

Happy Hunting

I found this looking at some online vendors. They hook you with low prices then slap a $100-150 minimum order on top of it. If you land under that amount shipping is $30-40. Which makes that inexpensive langstroth box and frames now very very expensive unless you have a lot of other items to bulk it up with. What I also have found is common combinations of items, such as a box and appropriate amount of frames to fill it will land at $95, so you can’t get free shipping without picking out at least one more item that you may or may not need. Hey business is business I guess

@adagna that is why you need to do a spread sheet - it is time consuming but putting together a package often works out better especially to pay an extra quid on a small item to save on a bigger one.

Among the highs and lows of the prices the same set of items from different suppliers there can be a gem buy

@Valli Would you be willing to share your spreadsheet?

@Rodderick That makes sense and I prefer to buy once for live. Personally I do not worry about any form of sting, though I have only ever made a bee mad enough to sting me once (sale on a flower in a lawn as a kid and smooshed the bee) so if full suit is great I will, but otherwise I may at least get gloves and a good hood (will to take input from others???)

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@techieg33k the buyers I use are UK based - Your in Nebraska?

I can send you the sheet - I use open office so you can open it on Windows if you tell it to open - Doc or xls format?

@Valli Ah UK, well yeah I am in Nebraska USA so they probably will be way different.

I switched to LibreOffice after the whole Oracle OpenOffice issue.

I can send you the sheet as a sample and you can add your suppliers - some of the maths will remain as I have set some cells to show min price - or I can tell you how to do it - cell formulae

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Me too, pretty please?

; -)

@Valli that would be cool. Just need to msg you with an e-mail?

Or, if you have something like Dropbox, put a link to it here. Saves having to keep emailing.

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Thank you @BeeHiveYourself - I only ever use my dropbox for photies - if it will takes an XLS I will do that

it is ODS not XLS so wont open can I email it to someone with Microsoft and then I can up load an XLS version

Shouldn’t be a problem. Good luck! :+1: