Sunday, July 12, 2015

Beekeeping 101: Equipment

 If you are going to start keeping bees you'll need some basic equipment. If you pick up a catalog or attend a meeting of beekeepers you are going to hear some terms that sound confusing. Things like "hive body" and "super". Here's a simple explanation of what's what. In the picture above you can see hive bodies. The bigger boxes on the bottom. On the top are shallower boxes called honey supers.

These are frames. I run 10 frame boxes but 8 frames would be easier for me to handle since they'd be lighter when full of honey. You can see on the frames that the bees build honeycomb and fill it with either brood, pollen, or honey. The frame below has an example of all three.

Read more about what you'll find inside the hive.

Below you see the inner cover. which you put on your hive body or honey super.

Over the inner cover you put the outer or telescoping cover which sounds a lot fancier than it is. It has metal on top to protect the hive from the elements. Here's what it looks like all together. The entire hive rests on a landing board. There are several variations of this.

Read the story of an entire season!

Finally, you will need tools necessary to beekeeping.

Last and most importantly you are going to need protection. Getting stung hurts and I want beekeeping to be enjoyable more than I want to look cool. In the picture you can see both kinds of popular veils. There are several variations of all of these.

The cost of start up equipment is going to be around 500 dollars. I started off with a kit that included the basic hive, smoker, veil, gloves, hive tool, and bee brush for about 120 bucks plus shipping. The bee suit and veil I'm wearing in this pic were $65.00. You'll purchase extra equipment as your colony grows and most beekeepers advise starting off with two hives in case something goes wrong. Your first swarm of bees and queen will run about a hundred dollars. 

Read about putting the equipment together here. 

Don't let the cost prevent you from taking up this hobby if you want to. Remember you'll be able to offset part of the expense by selling your honey. Compared to something like golf which just costs money it's inexpensive. And you'll be creating something of value as well as helping save the planet and our food supply in the process.

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