Beekeeping is a phenomenon you rarely come across in your life unless you have a father who happens to choose it as his hobby!!! My father retired two years ago and decided to pursue beekeeping as his hobby. Let me tell you being an only child (who happens to know about technology too!) I had to do thorough research for beekeeping. And Phew what a task!!! I am glad you do not have to do it because I have created beekeeping for beginners guide.
Beekeeping Equipment for Beginners
First, you need to know about some basic items you will be needing for beekeeping as a beginner.
The first thing you will need is a hive. A hive is a place where bees live and produce honey and wax. This hive is in dome shape in natural habitats of bees but for beekeeping man-made box-like structures are used. Boxes are made of wood. These man-made hives have frames where bees make hexagonal structures called honeycombs and store honey and wax and raise their young.
I found this TFCFL 7X Auto Honey Beehive Frames Kit that best suited the purpose. It is made by dipping in 100% Beewax. For this reason, no need to paint the wood. It includes waxed foundations. Out of which 2 are Deep boxes and 1 is Medium box.
- Easy to assemble.
- Dimensions are interchangeable with the other 10 frames Langstroth beehives.
- Very unlikely that the wood will shrink or expand.
- For the beginners assembling the Frames for the first time will be a little bit tricky.
2. Beekeeping Gloves
The beekeeping gloves are the next important thing that you need to have in your inventory for beekeeping. Gloves need to be worn when inspecting the hive, caring for it, or during the extraction of honey. The gloves will keep you protected from bee stings. when you are free from fear of bee stings you can enjoy rearing bees!
Although gloves are a necessity for beekeeping. Sometimes your skin feels suffocated while wearing the gloves. In that case, choose ones that are well ventilated.
The most suitable gloves to start beekeeping for beginners were Forest Beekeeping Premium Goatskin Leather Beekeeper’s Glove. It has a white vent Long Canvas Sleeve that comes with an elastic cuff. these are made to last very long. These gloves provide maximum protection from the bee sting. These are available in size medium(M) and small(S). I used M.
- The mesh will keep arms vented.
- Comfortable wear.
- Easy to clean using rubbing alcohol.
- Leather might feel thick.
3. Beehive Smoker
Beehive smoker is a device that becomes a must-have during the inspection of the hive or while harvesting the honey. Smoke calms the bees and masks the chemicals released by the bees guarding the hive or the ones that get injured during the inspection.
The smoke is produced by the fuel-burning inside of the bee smoker. A smoker should be easy to use, made of long-lasting stainless-steel material, and have some heat protection mechanism to protect hands from getting burnt.
Always use a balanced amount of smoke for bees since large amounts are harmful and very small amounts can be ineffective for bees. The best pick for the beehive smoker is the Honey Keeper Beehive smoker.
It is made of stainless steel and comes with a heat shield. This will give protection from burns. Mounting hook for mounting and easier cool off. It contains a heat aerator that will cause the smolder to last longer.
- Highly affordable.
- Difficult to dump hot ashes.
4. Beekeeper’s Hat and Veil
People with more experience in beekeeping might not require a veil and hat but as a beginner, a beekeeper’s hat and the veil are as important as beekeeper’s gloves Just Like gloves, hat and veil give protection to the beekeeper. But instead of arms, hat and veil will protect your head, face, and neck from getting stung by bees.
Veils come in various varieties, whether you want a hat with your veil or not, is totally up to you! Humble Bee 210 Polycotton Beekeeping Veil with Round Hat is an excellent hat and veil choice. The veil is made of natural cotton and Hemp and the mesh is made of Nylon. It comes in medium and large sizes.
- Can be washed with hand.
- Visibility is good.
- Fabric is very lightweight and provides maximum protection.
- The hat is available in only one size.
5. Hive Tool
The hive tool is the next vital piece of equipment required by a beginner beekeeper. It is somewhat like a scrapper but not too much. The hive tool is used for removing debris, scrapping off bee glue, and forcing boxes apart stuck with bee glue.
Besides, it is also used for levering boxes, frames, and nail removal. So, this tool is a multipurpose tool in a beekeeper’s inventory.
Lastly, when all is set up and you have all the essentials, comes the time for actual bees! You need to buy bees for beekeeping. Apis mellifera bee is popular for beekeeping. Some experts suggest buying multiple sets to get a sense of what is happening within different hives or colonies.
A colony comprises a queen bee, worker bee, and drones. Each hive will have only one queen bee. Only the queen bee lays eggs. Worker bees are females but can not lay any eggs, their role in the colony is to find food, produce honey, wax, feed larvae, and protect the hive.
Drones are the males who mate with the queen. Hives can be filled by bees using two ways. Either Use a package (screen box with loose bees and queen bee) or a nucleus colony (queen already laying eggs and frames of comb).
Beekeeping Tips for Beginners
Types of Hive
The hives come in various varieties. The most popular ones are Langstroth, top bar hive, and warre hive. The hives can be either horizontal or vertical.
What type of hive system should be used?
After knowing about the types a beginner beekeeper has to decide which hive system to use? Every hive system has its pros and cons. What type you choose depends upon your purpose of beekeeping? If you are only planning to pollinate bees or you are planning to harvest the honey.
- Lang-troth: Lang-troth hive has boxes piled over each other. Basic parts include an outer cover is just like a roof, another cover below the outer cover to provide insulation and keeping the frames from sticking together, frames are removable wooden or plastic structures where bees make honeycomb.
The honeycomb is in the form of hexagonal cells and the cell has honey, nectar, young bees, and pollen. Foundation can be either made of plastic or bee wax and its purpose is to guide bees into making straighter honeycombs. The brood box is where the queen lays eggs. Honey is extracted from frames using centrifuges.
- Top bar hive: This is a horizontal hive. It uses wooden bars where the comb is built, instead of frames as in the case of Langstroth. No foundation is required for a top bar hive also no frames to assemble or remove. The beekeeper does not have to pick up heavy boxes which make the care of the top bar hive easier.
Since comb is built in natural style centrifuges can’t be used to extract honey. The extraction gives bee wax and honey since the comb must be removed. Bees must make a new comb each time. If pollination is the goal, then the top bar is the best choice.
- Warre hive: Similar to the top bar but a vertical one a hybrid of the top bar and Langstroth Boxes are stacked over each other having no frames. Here also comb is built on top bars inside each box. The stacking feature allows a maximum of beekeeping for beginners and the only thing left to do for you now is choosing which hive suits best your style or needs.
When to Start a Hive
The time to start a hive depends on the geography and the local weather. For only in spring the flowers bloom and bees are ready to get out for the collection of pollen and nectar. For this reason, you must order your bees sometime before you plan to start a hive. If you delay ordering bees till early spring, there is a good chance you will not be able to get bees due to unavailability. Start a hive earlier in the spring. If you start later then your hive will have lesser time to grow before winter. As a result, you might not be able to extract honey before winter.
Taking Care of Bees
Observe your bees. This will give you an understanding of their behaviors and then you can know what is happening with your bees. Check the bees frequently to prevent swarming. Do regular inspections, keep an eye for signs of diseases, and be prepared if your bees get some disease or have any other issue. Pests and mites also cause a bee colony to fail so also look out for that. Be organized. Set a plan for when to set hive, when to extract honey and when to pack them for winter.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much time is needed for beekeeping?
Time varies depending on the season. At the start of spring and during springtime should be devoted to taking care of bees. Near harvest, more time should be spent and during winter very little time.
- How many times a do beekeeper get stung?
The stinging is more at the start since a beginner beekeeper is inexperienced. But the stinging decreases as time progresses.
- How much cost is needed for beekeeping?
Beekeeping for beginners is a time consuming but fun hobby once you get the hang of it. As a beginner beekeeper, you will require patience and a great deal of learning to make a colony thrive. Now do not get discouraged if you could not manage the bees in your first year. Try again next year because the second time is a charm! Plus, you would have learned a lot from your beekeeping experience for your first time. Try to find which places are giving classes for beekeeping and get yourself enrolled in one. Do all the planning and research before the spring arrives.
Abdul Rehman Asad is a freelancer, blogger, and digital marketing trainer with more than 4 years of experience. His expertise includes content marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media marketing. He wrote content for many affiliates, events, and local business sites and rank them successfully.