Beekeeping Supplies & Equipment - Just What You Need!

Basic Essentials List for Beginning Beekeepers

A Bee Hive

The Hive - Langstroth (from the bottom up):

Hive Stand - This is a platform to keep the hive off the ground. It improves circulation, reduces dampness in the hive, and helps keep ants, bugs, leaves, and debris from getting into the hive. It can be made of anything solid enough to support the weight of a full beehive. Wooden hive stands are available for sale but bricks, concrete blocks, pallets, and found lumber are just as good. It’s helpful to place the legs of the stand in cans filled with used motor oil to deter ants from climbing up the legs and into the hive. The stand should be strong enough to support one hive or a number of colonies. What is important to remember is that the hive needs to be at least 6 inches off the ground.

Bottom Board - Is placed on top of the hive stand and is the floor of the hive. Bees use it as a landing board and a place to take off from. 

Entrance Reducer - Is basically a stick of wood used to reduce the size of the entrance to the hive. It helps deter robbing.

Hive Boxes/Supers - Come in three sizes: deep, medium and shallow. Traditionally, 2 deep boxes have been used as brood chambers with 3 or 4 or more boxes (medium or shallow) on top as needed for honey storage. Many beekeepers use all medium boxes throughout the hive. This helps reduce the weight of each box for lifting. If you have back problems or are concerned about heavy lifting, you could even use shallow boxes all throughout the hive. So, 6 boxes as a minimum for deep and medium. More if you wanted to use only shallow boxes. You will only need two boxes to start out, adding boxes as needed for extra room and honey storage.

Frames and Foundation - For each box you have for your hive, you will need 10 frames that fit that box. Frames can be wooden with beeswax foundation or all plastic with a light coating of beeswax. The bees don't care and will use both equally well. Foundation is intended to give the bees a head start on their comb building and helps minimize cross comb building that makes it difficult to remove and inspect. You can buy all beeswax foundation or plastic foundation with a thin coat of beeswax applied to it. Alternatively, you can provide empty frames and let the bees build their comb from scratch but that can be a bit tricky and it takes the bees longer to get established. 

Top Cover: The top cover can be as simple as a flat sheet of plywood. We prefer the top covers made with laminated pieces to make a flat board and extra cross bracing to help hold the board flat for years. Plywood tends to warp over time. You can also use a telescoping cover, but they require an additional inner cover. 

Paint - All parts of your hive that are exposed to the weather should be painted with (2 coats) of a non-toxic paint. Do not paint the inside of the hive or the entrance reducer. Most hives are painted white to reflect the sun, but you can use any light colors. Painting your hives different colors may help reduce drift between the colonies. If your hive will not be in your own bee yard, you may want to paint your name and phone number on the side of the hive.

We primarily work with the Langstroth hive but you can also use the Top Bar Hive or the Warre Hive.

Tools & Supplies:

bee brush.jpg

Bee Brush - A beekeeper needs a brush to gently move the bees from an area of observation when looking for a queen and when harvesting frames of honey. Use a brush that has long, soft, flexible, yellow bristles. Don’t use a dark, stiff brush with animal hair, or a paint brush.

duct tape.jpg

Duct Tape - You’ll have lots of uses for duct tape, might want to keep it handy.                                                                                                                                                            

 

hive tool.jpg

Hive Tool - A hive tool is the most useful piece of beekeeping equipment. It can be used to pry up the inner cover, pry apart frames, scrape and clean hive parts, scrape wax and propolis out of the hive, nail the lid shut, pull nails, and scrape bee stingers off skin. The hive tool has two parts: the wedge or blade and the handle. Hive tools are often fitted with brightly-colored, plastic-coated handles which helps the beekeeper locate the hive tool while working. 

feeder.jpg

Feeder - You may want to have a feeder with sugar syrup to give your new bees a boost in their new home. Its the helping hand they need to get started building comb.

smoker.jpg

Smoker - Examining a hive is much easier when you use a smoker. Use it to puff smoke into the entrance before opening the hive and to blow smoke over the frames once the hive is opened. This helps the beekeeper to manage the bees. Cool smoke helps to settle the bees. Smoking the bees initiates a feeding response causing preparation to possibly leave the hive due to a fire. The smoke also masks the alarm pheromone released by the colony’s guard bees when the hive is opened and manipulated. Smoke must be used carefully. Too much can drive bees from the hive. A smoker is basically a metal can with a bellows and a spout attached to it. We prefer to use a smoker with a wire cage around it. A large smoker is best as it keeps the smoke going longer. It can be difficult to keep a smoker lit (especially for new beekeepers). Practice lighting and maintaining the smoker. Burlap, rotted wood shavings, pine needles, eucalyptus, cardboard, and cotton rags are good smoker fuels.

Protective Clothing:

bee suit veil gloves.jpg

Bee Suit - For the best protection, full bee suits are recommended. You can also use a bee jacket.

But whether or not a suit is used, a beekeeper's clothing should be white or light in color (bees generally do not like dark colors and will attack dark objects). Avoid woolen and knit material. You will want to wear clothing both that will protect you and you don’t mind getting stained (bees produce waste that shows up as yellowish marks on your clothing). You’ll want to close off all potential to getting stung by wearing high top boots or tucking your pants into your socks and securing your cuffs with rubber bands or duct tape.

bee gloves.jpg

Bee Gloves - Long, leather, ventilated gloves with elastic on the sleeves help protect the hands and arms from stings.

Hat and Veil - Even the most experienced beekeepers wear a hat and veil to protect their head, face, and eyes from bee stings. Wire veils keep bees farther away from the face than those made of cloth. Black veiling is generally easier to see through. Make sure the veil extends down below and away from your neck.

That’s it!

Once you have all you need, expenses can be kept to a minimum. With the right care, equipment, tools, and clothing will last a long time. If your hive becomes overcrowded, just add another box or two. Or, you may find you’ll want to split your hive – then you’ll have two! If honey is overflowing, just add another box or two. And, great! – You’ll have lots of yummy honey!!

A note on protective clothing: There was a time when we could safely visit our bees wearing little protective clothing. With the arrival of Africanized Honey Bees into Southern California we've come to realize the potential danger of an aggressive hive and have learned to exercise caution when approaching our bees. A once gentle hive could be invaded and taken over by a small aggressive swarm in a few days. These bees are unpredictable and vigorously defend their hives. Protective clothing such as a bee suit, veil and gloves will help keep stings to a minimum in the bee yard if worn correctly.

Suppliers:

Local supplier:

Los Angeles Honey Supply Company
Pierce Beekeeping Supply Company
Pierco Beekeeping Equipment
The Valley Hive

Outside Los Angeles area:

Dadant
Better Bee
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
Glory Bee
Mann Lake
Shastina Millwork
Western Bee Supplies

Beekeeping Class 101 - What You Need To Start Keeping Bees

In our first Beekeeping Class 101 session we talked about the location for your hive, what the bees will need, and suggestions for informative reading for beginning beekeepers. We also went over the beekeeping equipment, supplies and protective clothing: What you need, and what you don’t!

Here’s the list of all you’ll really need to get started in beekeeping:

Basic Essentials List for Beginning Beekeepers:

The Hive - Langstroth (from the bottom up):

Hive Stand - This is a platform to keep the hive off the ground. It improves circulation, reduces dampness in the hive, and helps keep ants, bugs, leaves, and debris from getting into the hive. It can be made of anything solid enough to support the weight of a full beehive. Wooden hive stands are available for sale but bricks, concrete blocks, pallets, and found lumber are just as good. It’s helpful to place the legs of the stand in cans filled with used motor oil to deter ants from climbing up the legs and into the hive. The stand should be strong enough to support one hive or a number of colonies. What is important to remember is that the hive needs to be at least 6 inches off the ground.

Bottom Board - Is placed on top of the hive stand and is the floor of the hive. Bees use it as a landing board and a place to take off from. 

Entrance Reducer - Is basically a stick of wood used to reduce the size of the entrance to the hive. It helps deter robbing.

Hive Boxes/Supers - Come in three sizes: deep, medium and shallow. Traditionally, 2 deep boxes have been used as brood chambers with 3 or 4 or more boxes (medium or shallow) on top as needed for honey storage. Many beekeepers use all medium boxes throughout the hive. This helps reduce the weight of each box for lifting. If you have back problems or are concerned about heavy lifting, you could even use shallow boxes all throughout the hive. So, 6 boxes as a minimum for deep and medium. More if you wanted to use only shallow boxes. You will only need two boxes to start out, adding boxes as needed for extra room and honey storage.

Frames and Foundation - For each box you have for your hive, you will need 10 frames that fit that box. Frames can be wooden with beeswax foundation or all plastic with a light coating of beeswax. The bees don't care and will use both equally well. Foundation is intended to give the bees a head start on their comb building and helps minimize cross comb building that makes it difficult to remove and inspect. You can buy all beeswax foundation or plastic foundation with a thin coat of beeswax applied to it. Alternatively, you can provide empty frames and let the bees build their comb from scratch but that can be a bit tricky and it takes the bees longer to get established. 

Top Cover: The top cover can be as simple as a flat sheet of plywood. We prefer the top covers made with laminated pieces to make a flat board and extra cross bracing to help hold the board flat for years. Plywood tends to warp over time. You can also use a telescoping cover, but they require an additional inner cover. 

Paint - All parts of your hive that are exposed to the weather should be painted with (2 coats) of a non-toxic paint. Do not paint the inside of the hive or the entrance reducer. Most hives are painted white to reflect the sun, but you can use any light colors. Painting your hives different colors may help reduce drift between the colonies. If your hive will not be in your own bee yard, you may want to paint your name and phone number on the side of the hive.

Tools & Supplies:

bee brushBee Brush - A beekeeper needs a brush to gently move the bees from an area of observation when looking for a queen and when harvesting frames of honey. Use a brush that has long, soft, flexible, yellow bristles. Don’t use a dark, stiff brush with animal hair, or a paint brush.

duct tapeDuct Tape - You’ll have lots of uses for duct tape, might want to keep it handy.

 

hive toolHive Tool - A hive tool is the most useful piece of beekeeping equipment. It can be used to pry up the inner cover, pry apart frames, scrape and clean hive parts, scrape wax and propolis out of the hive, nail the lid shut, pull nails, and scrape bee stingers off skin. The hive tool has two parts: the wedge or blade and the handle. Hive tools are often fitted with brightly-colored, plastic-coated handles which helps the beekeeper locate the hive tool while working.

 FeederFeeder - You may want to have a feeder with sugar syrup to give your new bees a boost in their new home. Its the helping hand they need to get started building comb.

SmokerSmoker - Examining a hive is much easier when you use a smoker. Use it to puff smoke into the entrance before opening the hive and to blow smoke over the frames once the hive is opened. This helps the beekeeper to manage the bees. Cool smoke helps to settle the bees. Smoking the bees initiates a feeding response causing preparation to possibly leave the hive due to a fire. The smoke also masks the alarm pheromone released by the colony’s guard bees when the hive is opened and manipulated. Smoke must be used carefully. Too much can drive bees from the hive. A smoker is basically a metal can with a bellows and a spout attached to it. We prefer to use a smoker with a wire cage around it. A large smoker is best as it keeps the smoke going longer. It can be difficult to keep a smoker lit (especially for new beekeepers). Practice lighting and maintaining the smoker. Burlap, rotted wood shavings, pine needles, eucalyptus, cardboard, and cotton rags are good smoker fuels.

Protective Clothing:

Bee suitBee Suit - For the best protection, full bee suits are recommended. But whether or not a suit is used, a beekeeper's clothing should be white or light in color (bees generally do not like dark colors and will attack dark objects). Avoid woolen and knit material. You will want to wear clothing both that will protect you and you don’t mind getting stained (bees produce waste that shows up as yellowish marks on your clothing). You’ll want to close off all potential to getting stung by wearing high top boots or tucking your pants into your socks and securing your cuffs with rubber bands or duct tape.

Bee Gloves - Long, leather, ventilated gloves with elastic on the sleeves help protect the hands and arms from stings.

 Hat and Veil - Even the most experienced beekeepers wear a hat and veil to protect their head, face, and eyes from bee stings. Wire veils keep bees farther away from the face than those made of cloth. Black veiling is generally easier to see through. Make sure the veil extends down below and away from your neck.

That’s it.

Once you have all you need, expenses can be kept to a minimum. With the right care, equipment, tools, and clothing will last a long time. If your hive becomes overcrowded, just add another box or two. Or, you may find you’ll want to split your hive – then you’ll have two! If honey is overflowing, just add another box or two. And, great! – You’ll have lots of yummy honey!!

A note on protective clothing: There was a time when we could safely visit our bees wearing little protective clothing. With the arrival of Africanized bees into the Southern states we've come to realize the potential danger of an aggressive hive and have learned to exercise caution when approaching our bees. A once gentle hive could be invaded and taken over by a small aggressive swarm in a few days. These bees are unpredictable and vigorously defend their hives. Protective clothing such as a bee suit, veil and gloves will help keep stings to a minimum in the bee yard if worn correctly. As beekeepers, it is our responsibility to help curtail the danger to our bees, ourselves, and others.

Here’s a list of suppliers:

The Valley Hive
Los Angeles Honey Company 
Dadant & Sons 
Mann Lake Ltd. 
Walter T. Kelley Co.

We primarily work with the Langstroth hive but you can also use the Top Bar Hive or the Warre Hive. We'll be happy to share our experience with these two styles of hives, as well. 

The March 15th Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 will be held at The Valley Hive (9633 Baden Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311 tel: 818-280-6500). The topic is: Woodworking, Building Your Own Hive and Frames. You'll also learn how to care for your hives and equipment. You may want to purchase what you need at that time from The Valley Hive

The April 19th class will be back at Bill's Bees Bee Yard for a grand adventure.  We'll be taking a peek at what goes on inside the bee hive. This class is so exciting. You'll learn all about the worker bees and their 'jobs,' the drones and their 'job,' and you'll learn to find 'your queen'!  BEE SUITS ARE REQUIRED for this class and all the rest of the beekeeping classes. Any and all information, changes, scheduling, etc. is posted on the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 page and on theLACBA Facebook page.

If you haven't ordered your BEES yet, you can ORDER HERE!

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

Happy bee-ing!

Thank you, 
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

http://billsbees.com/
/ 
/beekeeping-classes-losangeles/ 
https://www.facebook.com/losangelesbeekeeping

Shastina Millwork: Hobbyist Special

 

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Bee Thinking About - July 2013

Walter T. Kelley Company  (BLOG)  7/28/13 

For many beekeepers, July is one of the more rewarding and interesting months in the apiary. The rewards may come via liquid gold if that’s what you’re after, the joy of seeing your splits come fully online, or those pollination checks making your bank balance shine. The “interesting” part is because July is often a month where promise either blossoms, or falls flat as some of the major perils of beekeeping (pests!) roll in, and lay eggs everywhere.

As always, what you need to be considering for your apiary this time of year varies by geographic region, management practices, and the weather. Here are some things to ponder.

 

A long, cool, drink: You’re probably enjoying many of those this time of the year; your bees desire them as well. Consider leaving a spigot dripping slowly, or keeping fresh water in a nearby bird bath with rocks or sponges for their safe landing.

Feed? Drought is common in many regions of the country. Not only do bees need water, but the plants they need also require water. If there’s insufficient forage, you may need to feed your bees to get them through a dearth (along with ensuring they have water as noted above).

Keep a close eye on even your most booming hives, especially those from which you’ve pulled honey. If you cut down their stores too low and they’re unable to build back up because of weather, they may really suffer. The queen will stop laying if there are insufficient stores.

Mites (growl): We all have them. The trick is to not have too many of them...

Combating mites consists of first doing mite counts to determine if there’s a problem, assuming that you will do something with the knowledge. Some beeks don’t do mite counts because they’re not going to do anything about them anyway. Their philosophy is that if the colony isn’t able to successfully keep mites in check then they don’t want to promote those genetics in the bee yard.

If that’s not your management philosophy, and if you’ve determined you have a mite problem, there are a couple tricks you can use this time of year to help knock down the mite population. Unfortunately, like almost everything in beekeeping, opinions vary on their effectiveness. Here are a few weapons:
  • Breaking the mite brood cycle, using drone comb or by making splits
  • Powdered sugar treatment
  • Miticides

Time to split? Yes, Varroa, it is time for you to split. We suspect telling them to do so won’t be that effective though!

When we say “time to split”, we’re referring to making one hive into two. If you have strong hives, and if conditions are right in your area to promote build-up for winter, consider splitting. You can typically combine them again come fall if they don’t work out.
Small hive beetles (SHB): We wish those would also go away, far, far away. See the article in this issue for more thoughts on dealing with these nasty critters. Stay on top of them; left unchecked they’re devastating.