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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Cottonwood Ca. USA

    Default Which beekeeping starter kit is the best?

    I have been looking for a while at beekeeping starter kits and think I have finally chose one that I think is the best and most complete. I am hoping that an experienced beekeeper can look at the Mann Lake deluxe starter kit and give me their opinion [URL=""]. This has been a dream of mine since I took beekeeping in college 25yrs ago. I plan on buying a kit now, continue learning, and then get my bees next spring. Thank you in advance for your help and opinion.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    IMO, none of them:

    Basically there is NOTHING in a typical beginners kit that I would buy. At all.

    This one might fare slightly better:

    The Growing Apiary Kit:
    • 2 9 5/8” Assembled 10 Frame Hive Bodies -- I don't use deeps and cut all mine down to eight frame mediums.

    • 2 6 5/8” Assembled 10 Frame Supers -- I cut all my ten frame mediums down to eight frames.

    • 20 9 1/8” Assembled #1 Frames-- These are deeps and I only use mediums.

    • 20 8 1/2” Waxed Rite-Cellฎ Foundation-- These are deeps and I only use mediums and they are large cell foundation and I only use small cell. I have a ton of this on a shelf in the basement if you want to come pick it up for free.

    • 20 6 1/4” Assembled #1 Frames-- I might have a use for the frames, but they are going to come with the foundation below.

    • 20 5 5/8” Waxed Rite-Cellฎ Foundation-- which is large cell. I have a lot of this in the basement as well, if you'd like it for free.

    • 1 Assembled Telescoping Cover-- I prefer my own that have top entrances, not to mention this is ten frame and I want eight.

    • 1 Assembled Inner Cover-- The migratory style I build doesn't require one. Inner covers are nice, but again, this is ten frame and not eight frame. I have a stack of these I haven't gotten around to cutting down if you'd like them for free too.

    • 1 Assembled Bottom Board-- If it was eight frame I might use it for something, but I'd prefer the screened bottom board.

    • 1 Entrance Reducer-- I make them out of scrap wood all the time. I'd cut this one down for eight frame and probably use it if I had it.

    • 1 Unassembled Cedar Hive Stand -- I find the typical stands like this flimsy, hard to level and of little value. There are quire a few laying around here I never use.

    The Clothing Starter Kit:
    • 1 Cotton/Poly Coverall With Elastic --not a bad coverall, but I prefer the jacket to the overalls. The jacket is much easier to get on and off and cooler in the summer. I don't like this style with the helmet at all. I much prefer the English style hood without the helmet.
    At Cuffs And Foot Openings
    (state your size SM, M, L, XL, XXL)***
    With Attached Zipper Veil

    • 1 Mesh Helmet -- I have a few of these around if you'd like them.

    • 1 Pair Vented Leather Gloves -- I prefer to just buy regular leather gloves and tuck them into my sleeves. The are MUCH easier to get on and off and MUCH cheaper.

    (state your size)***
    Plus These Additional Items:

    • 1 Pro-Feederฎ w/Float --I don't care much for frame feeders. I use them now and again because I have a lot of them around, but I wouldn't buy them again.

    • 1 Metal Queen Excluder --I don't use them except in queen rearing and a few other situations. Having ONE around is probably a good idea.

    • 1 4” x 7” Stainless Steel Smoker w/Guard --The bigger smoker is much easier to light and keep lit. I would never buy the small one.

    • 1 Package Smoker Fuel --burlap works better. I bought some of this several years ago and it's out on the porch somewhere. I tried it once and it never worked well for me. Maybe I just didn't understand how to get it to work.

    • 1 10” Hive Tool --I gave away all my regular hive tools and use nothing but the Italian ones from Brushy Mt.

    • 1 Bee Brush --This I would use.

    • 1 Beekeeper’s Handbook --I haven't read this one. I'm not sure whats in it.
    Michael Bush "Everything works if you let it." 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan


    Unlike Michael, I DO use both deeps and mediums, and in their stock 10 frame configuration (although I arrange my frames so I have 9 frames in each level, but that's another posting, isn't it?). But, as they say, if you ask 10 beekeepers for their opinion, you'll get at least 11 answers!

    The kit you speak of is divided into "The Growing Apiary Kit", "The Clothing Starter Kit", and the "Additional Items". My take on Mann Lake's Deluxe Starter Kit (price aside) is as such:

    The Growing Apiary Kit's woodenware looks like good stuff to me. This arrangement will give you two deep brood boxes, along with two honey supers. I personally feel that this is a good combination for areas with "cooler" climates, but others may have differing opinions. The Rite-Cell foundation, I think, is a waste of time. I have noticed that a lot of package deals this year seem to be featuring plastic foundation. I suspect that it's because it's easier on the store to warehouse and ship plastic foundation instead of wiring and installing wax foundation, even though it makes for less potential acceptance for the bees. And, likewise, I feel that it's harder for the absolute beginner to compensate for plastic foundation's limitations. My advice? Use wax foundation instead, at least for your first year.

    The Clothing Starter Kit, overall, doesn't look too bad for starter gear. I personally use a jacket with attached English-style hood, but that's personal preference. I started out with a light jacket and a tie down hood. This kit will afford you more protection and should make you more at ease while working your bees. I think it's important to mention that if you are intending on using formic acid (Mite-Away II) for mite control, you should stay away from jackets or beesuits made of nylon, as the acid fumes will melt the material. The suit in this kit is cotton/poly, so you should be fine. The kit also includes Vented Leather Gloves, which are a product I enjoy using. You may notice that glove use appears to be heresy around here, but I still choose to use them. (But, that's yet another post.)

    The Additional Items included is where I have issues. The Pro-Feeder (division board)is a great way to drown bees. I have heard that it's a good way to over-winter your bees with sugar, but that's a ways off, and yet a third posting, isn't it? I'll side with Michael and agree that a larger smoker is easier to keep lit, and you'll want to expand your apiary later anyhow, so why not get the big smoker now? Tell them to keep their Smoker Fuel, though. I haven't heard of anybody having good luck with this stuff once the humidity level gets high or it gets wet. The Bee Brush, at least to me, is a great way to tick off your bees and is worse than useless. Instead, I brush bees aside with the back of my gloved hand. And lastly, the Beekeeper's Handbook is EXCELLENT and should be on every beekeeper's bookshelf.

    We'll let someone else chime in and contradict me now...

    Good luck and enjoy the last hobby you'll ever need!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Brown County, IN


    Quote Originally Posted by seebees View Post
    I plan on buying a kit now, continue learning, and then get my bees next spring.
    Next spring as in 2009? If that's your plan, maybe you could "continue to learn" for a bit longer before shelling out the bucks on a starter kit. As BigDaddy noted, you'll get a wide variety of opinions. Part of the problem with starter kits, as Michael pointed out, is that you basically get a generic set of equipment and once you actually start keeping bees, you end up going in a somewhat different direction and are stuck with stuff you don't use, and wish you hadn't spent money on.

    My suggestions are to get involved with a local beekeeping club. Find some mentors. Take a beginning beekeeping class (much has changed in the 25 years since you took it in college!). Read, read, and read, including everything on Michael's website ( Develop some ideas of how you want to keep bees (8 frame or 10 frame equipment? use of chemicals or not? screen bottom boards? small cell? all mediums or deeps and shallows? etc). Then put together your own "starter kit" by getting individual components you want rather than a kit that someone else assembled.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Cottonwood Ca. USA

    Default thanks for the advice!

    I love this forum and to all those who gave me advice ..THANK YOU,


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