Beekeeping is an increasingly popular agricultural branch. Spring is a significant season for all beekeepers and those who want to become one. Nature is beginning to flourish, and so are the flowers, signaling a possible harvest in the season.
Beekeeping has no established rules that bring success. To beekeeping, it is necessary to have a high level of knowledge in this field, plenty of goodwill and to invest a lot of effort. Furthermore, the principles of bee society in the beekeeping world has to be respected.
Everything in life has its first step, so it has the beekeeping. When you first start beekeeping, it can feel a bit overwhelming. The first steps are sometimes confusing, especially when it comes to the right choice of equipment.
Many essential tools will make your hive checks safer, more comfortable and more efficient. When it comes to beekeeping, some of the bare necessities are sting protection, beekeepers' cap, suit, bee brush, gloves to smokers and honey extractor.
The best time to buy bees is in the spring, especially in April because the dangers of bee death are already over and it is easy to determine the strength of the society, litter status, food reserve, nut value, and health of the bee community.
The beginning of beekeeping is similar for most beekeepers. For starters, it's enough to have 2 hives and work with them for over one year. After that, most beekeepers decide to increase to 10, 20, 50 hives
To be a beekeeper, one must know that bees sting. It means that rarely any contact with the bees will pass without pain. The pain is always the same; only the visible consequences are different. Every person is both resistant and allergic to bee stings.
Before you dive into a beekeeping adventure, think about whether bees are good for you.
There are scientifically proves that permanent immunity, as well as lifelong allergies to bee stings, do not exist. Any stab can be tragic and cause death if a person doesn't get prompt medical help at a critical time.
If you are ready for these challenges, the next step is to find an experienced beekeeper and ask him or her to guide you to the apiary at least a dozen times. It is crucial to feel and check the body sensitivity to stings practically.
Also, it is a good idea to get and read a book on practical beekeeping. Don't be just an observer on the apiary, be useful. When choosing equipment and accessories, knowledge and experience will be of great use.
Essential beekeeping equipment is not standardized and is increasing with serious beekeeping. Once you have purchased and installed the hives, it is time to get the beekeeping supplies. Here are some of the essential beekeeping equipment every beekeeper can’t live without:
The essential equipment for a beekeeper is a hive. Hives are where the bees live. Without the right hive, there is no successful beekeeping. The hive is a human-made beehive for the better care of bees and honey. Hives are very important for good bee breeding and good honey production.
There are several types of hives, but beekeepers most often use Langstroth (LR), standard 10-frame D.B. beehive or Slovenian AZ hive, designed by famous Slovenian beekeeper Anton Žnideršič. Polystyrene hives (made of plastic) have become popular over the last ten years because of their advantages.
Frames hang inside of a hive. They are rectangles that look like a cladding system. Inside of them, the bees will build their comb. Frames are the place where they will make honey, lay brood, and live their lives continually preparing for winter.
Using beehive frames is better than leaving bees to build honeycomb attached to the sides of the hive. They make it easier to harvest honey and other beehive products of interest to the beekeeper.
Frames for modern beehives are mainly made using wood and plastic, and make beekeeping a breeze. Beehive frames may be used with foundation or without foundation. The foundation used by beekeepers is either wax foundation or plastic foundation. Some beekeepers also use plastic foundation coated with wax in their beekeeping.
A bee cap, as well as the veil, is a necessary piece of equipment. The rest of the body should also be protected, but the head and neck are still a priority. A beekeeper’s veil is probably the essential piece of equipment the beekeeper will use to keep safe.
Bees usually tend to attack the face. The sting on the face or scalp is especially painful. This is why the veil should be a priority. Bees are naturally curious about small openings, such as nostrils and ears, so you have to protect yourself and prevent any potential stung.
There are also special beekeeping suits, but it will be an investment. In the beginning, deep boots, gloves and the cap are necessary for the protection. You can also buy a cheaper suit, which is excellent for the beginning.
If you have a limited budget as a beginner, you can use clothing that you may already have at home - such as an old jacket, long jeans, rubber boots and work gloves. Just secure everything with ribbons to keep your bees from getting into your sleeves.
Many experienced beekeepers have become so comfortable around their bees that they do not wear any gear, but the beginners should wear at least a veil.
Gloves are another inexpensive but useful tool. Can you ever imagine digging a beehive without gloves? To maximize the maneuverability, experienced beekeepers often do not wear gloves. But recommendation for the beginners is to start with gloves as a safeguard. When buying gloves, keep in mind that you want a sturdy material that will save you from the sting.
Beekeeping gloves are usually made of soft leather or other robust but flexible materials to protect against stings without jeopardizing comfort. To work with bees, you can use any work gloves, but leather ones will be a better choice. If your work gloves are shorter than the elbow, consider using some duct tape to cinch the wrists down.
The smoker is used to calm the bees and get them in the hive a little easier. Be sure to use it every time you manipulate the hives because it makes aggressive bees more docile. Smokers help keep the bees calmer so that the beekeeper can work freely in their apiary without being distracted by bees.
Bees instinctively respond to smoke, as they did millions and millions of years ago when they lived free in nature: at the first smell of smoke, bees fill their bladder and stop defending their hive.
Smoke masks the alarm pheromone of guard bees and minimizes the defensive reactions of the colony. This pheromone smells like banana, so if you notice the banana in your hive, it’s time for another puff of smoke. Never eat bananas before getting into a hive, since it can be an alarm pheromone for the bees.
Note: Don't smoke bees too much, as recent research has shown that hot smoke harms their flight activities!
When you pull up a frame from the hive, you will most likely need to brush bees off of it. A hand brush has the role of removing bees from frames. It is essential to clean it regularly. Be careful not to drop any honey on the hive, as this could cause predation.
The brush should be soft, long and delicate to prevent the injure of the bees. It is required to remove insects from the honey frame that are extracted for processing bee products. Also, it is better to buy or make a separate brush for each hive, so as not to transmit possible diseases between bee families.
A hive tool is one of your most critical pieces of equipment. Since bees love a comfortable home and glue everything in the hive, together with their resin-like propolis, sometimes you will need to pry the top of the hive or loosen the frames.
A hive tool will be useful for this kind of thing. It allows you to detach comb from hive sides, cut and scrape propolis, and pry frames. It is very inexpensive, but a necessary tool worth purchasing, instead of using something around the house.
When you want to keep the queen separated for some time, a queen catcher is a handy tool to have. Sometimes it is easier to place a queen in the catcher, so you don’t lose her in the process. You would probably like to use this tool if you are catching a swarm. If you have the queen, the hive will last as long as she does.
Last on this list of bee tools is a honey extractor. The honey extractor is a mechanical device used in the extraction of sweet honey from combs without destroying them. They can be a little more expensive, but you can look for a used extractor or make a homemade honey extractor. After a few harvests, you will have a better idea of what you need and you will make a better decision than you will when you are just starting.
Beekeeping is a dynamic activity; it is continually changing and requires a lot of research and patience. Since every honeybee colony is different and affected by environmental factors, you may see something different every time you get into your hive.
Beekeepers need to be flexible in their ability to understand why bees behave in a certain way and how specific actions can affect their well-being. Beekeeping books written by experts in this field can help you a lot here.
Among all the tools mentioned above, a good book will help you gain a good understanding of beekeeping best practices and help you make sometimes difficult decisions.
To be a beekeeper, you have to have bees first. After collecting your gear and gathering plenty of beekeeping knowledge, it's time to order your beehives! You can buy bees with or without a hive. When purchasing, be sure to consult a more experienced beekeeper or read some of our articles.
Beekeeping is a beautiful job and we are sure that you will enjoy it. Be(e) positive and head into the new season with good forecasts. The experience you will gain will be invaluable to your future as a beekeeper, so learn when the opportunity arises. We wish you a sweet, successful and buzzy year!
Do you have any other bee necessities recommendations or advice that you would give to the beginner? Please leave your comments below.