The smoker will make your life as a beekeeper so much easier. This is perhaps the most important part for anyone making a go at it for their first time. A frustrated beginner will likely become a quitter. Don’t be a quitter – Get a smoker. Smoking bees is a practice going back centuries as a proven and reliable way to calm your bees and make them easy to handle. You may, at times, be able to quickly peek in a hive without smoking first but without smoke your bees will likely get agitated quickly and their little bee butts will be on rapid fire towards any and all parts of you they can find. Do you and your bees a favor and buy a smoker here.
2. Hive Tool
A hive tool is one of those things that you think can easily be replaced with any other kind of rigid tool you have around the garage like a screw driver, putty knife or a small crowbar. While that may be true in a since there are some advantages to having the right tool for the job. Any of the hive tools on the market will be better than that old screw driver you found but if you are buying one for the first time I’d definitely recommend a hive tool that has the J-Hook on one end. This simple hook makes a world of difference when trying to break out a frame that is really jammed up with propolis. Here is a reasonably priced tool I like. The two pack is only a couple bucks more than a single.
I don’t have the full zip up bee suit or even a jacket with a hood. But what I do have is a veil. I’m ok with getting a few stings here and there on my arms, legs, torso, etc. but I DO NOT want to get stung on my face. A simple online search will give you all the reason you need. One exception to the veil only approach would be if I were to start taking on hive cutout jobs or swarm collections. Depending on the job it would be ideal to have a full zip up bee suit. When it comes to the ideal veil it all boils down to personal preference. My ideal veil is lightweight and has a draw string base to create a tight seal around the neck to keep bees out. The veil here is similar to the one I have. The only difference is mine isn’t camouflaged – I’m not able to sneak up on my bees.
4. Two Double Deep Hive Stacks
One double deep hive stack would work too. I started with one and quickly split into two hives in the first year. This is not recommended and I was lucky to have two hives or even one hive for that matter, survive the first winter. Starting with 2 hives right off the bat has a couple benefits. One reason is – if one of the hives is struggling you can quickly share brood and resources from the stronger hive in an attempt to strengthen the weaker hive. The second benefit of two hives is that you have a couple hives to learn from and compare against one another. If you only have one hive to learn from it’s hard to know if your hive is performing well or barely sustaining life and a second hive gives a better perspective. Here is a reasonable hive setup. This comes with a medium box for honey collection which is nice but I would recommend that you not harvest honey from the hive in the first year unless your bees are extremely prolific.
Last but certainly not least – The BEES! No Bees, No Beekeeping. There are a number of bee breeds that you may have come across in your research and I won’t get in to all that here. But, no matter what breed you settle on, I personally believe if you can source some local bees you’ll be more likely to have a hive that is already suited for thriving in your location. You could also set up a swarm trap in an attempt to get some feral bees. Feral bees can be a bit of a concern, however, if you live in a region that is suitable for africanized honey bees – you definitely don’t want anything to do with those little firecrackers.
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