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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,506

    Default b) First equipment & supplies to obtain

    Focus: Covers all the basic equipment needed to begin. Type, size, cost, etc.
    Regards, Barry

  2. #2

    Default What equipment is needed to start beekeeping?

    I have this information posted on our club website (http://colonialbeekeepers.com) but I'll see if I can copy it here as well. The prices are from 2006 so they would need to be re-researched.

    What equipment is needed to start beekeeping?

    Here is a list of items with suppliers that I would presently recommend. Remember, ask 7 beekeepers a question and get 7 different answers. These choices are my opinion only. Researching these items between different suppliers may reduce costs.

    There are some assumptions that Ill be making while compiling this list:

    I am going to list products making the assumption that two packages are going to be started. It is a recommended practice to start with two so that comparisons will indicate to the new beekeeper if problems are present.

    I am going to assume that the new beekeeper has elected to go with all medium supers for building the hive so all equipment is interchangeable.

    I am going to assume that the new beekeeper wants to practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) with the new colonies.

    OK, lets get ready to hive some bees:

    1. An Instruction Manual - you'll want to have a reference manual and this one is basic and has much good information.
    Dadant - M00001 FIRST LESSONS IN BEEKEEPING $4.95


    2. Telescoping covers and inner covers - the roof and ceiling of the hive.
    Dadant - B11101 COVER TELESCOPING METAL W/INNER COVER C/1 $20.75 X 2 = $41.50


    3. Screened Bottom Board (IPM) - the floor of the hive.
    Dadant - B92901 VARROA SCREENED BOTTOM BOARD EACH $12.50 x 2 = $25.00


    4. Entrance Reducer - reduces the size of the front door until the bees are established and able to defend their colony with a full size entrance.
    Dadant - B93101 Wood Entrance Reducer $0.85 x 2 = $1.90



    5. Medium Supers (5 each) - the walls of the hive. (These can be bought in two separate buys to reduce initial costs and shipping as the colony will take time to use all ten of these supers.)
    Dadant - B31205 SUPER 6 5/8 EMPTY C/5 $47.50 x 2 = $95.00


    6. Medium Frames (50 each) - these are like rooms within the hive. They will hold the comb. 10 frames are required for each super. (These also can be bought in two separate buys as mentioned above to reduce initial costs and shipping as the colony will take time to use all this woodenware.)
    Dadant - B76150 FRAMES 6 1/4 WTB GBB C/50 $32.50 x 2 = $65.00



    7. Small Cell Foundation (IPM) - This provides the template for the bees to build comb. One sheet per frame is normally used. (These also can be bought in two separate buys as mentioned above to reduce initial costs and shipping as the colony will take time to use all this foundation.)
    Dadant - F353503SC 4.9mm Small Cell LongHook 5 5/8 Wired 50sheet Foundation $35.50 x 2 = $71.00


    8. Feeder - it will be necessary to feed sugar water to a new colony to assist it in establishing itself. There are many feeder styles but for starting out Id suggest this type and unlike the directions suggested, Id set the feeder on top of the inner cover and use the ventilated screen as a cover for the feeder. Id also use some screen to make the modification illustrated in picture "B".
    Brushy Mountain - Hive Top Feeder (Cat # 688) $16.95 x 2 = $33.90
    A.
    Note wire screen over slot in picture "B". Modification keeps bees out of reservoir and reduces number of drowned bees. Floats are not used if the screen modification is made.

    Brushy Mountain - 10-Frame Ventilated Inner Cover & Moving screen (Cat # 373) $7.95 x 2 = $15.90



    9. Smoker - it is a good practice to use smoke when you inspect your bees. It calms and disorientates them so they are easier to work. You can buy fuel but grass clipping, pine straw and other items work well and are free.
    Better Bee - Economy Smoker (SMOKEECON1) $23.95


    10. Hive Tool - will not be necessary in the beginning but as the bees establish the hive and propolize, the tool assists in separating the components.
    Better Bee - 10" Maxant Hook-End Hive Tool (HT3) $12.50


    11. Protective Clothing - a veil is the minimum protection required (you dont want to get stung in the eye!) regardless of what youve seen or heard. I like this jacket veil combination and suggest some bib type overalls to wear along with it. For more protection a coverall is the way to go!
    Better Bee - Zippered Jacket Pullover (x-Large - JPO4) $47.95


    Dadant - Hat-Veil Combo with Cotton/Poly Suit (V01170) $49.95







    12. Gloves - many suggest starting without gloves or transition to going without gloves but regardless youll want a pair to have in your kit. I suggest the non-ventilated type as there is not much ventilation and you can get stung through the screen.
    Better Bee - Deluxe Non-Ventilated Leather Gloves (Large - VGL2) $11.95


    13. Additional Nice To Have Items:
    Brushy Mountain - Frame Perch (Cat # 592) $19.95


    Brushy Mountain - Frame Grip (Cat # 764) $12.95


    SUMMARY

    $4.95 Manual
    $41.50 Inner & Telescoping Covers
    $25.00 Screened Bottom Boards
    $1.90 Entrance Reducers
    $95.00 Medium Supers
    $65.00 Medium Frames
    $71.00 Small Cell Foundation
    $33.90 Hive Top Feeders
    $15.90 Ventilated Covers
    $23.95 Smoker
    $12.50 Hive Tool
    $47.95 Jacket & Veil Combo
    $11.95 Gloves
    $450.50 TOTAL less items #13
    $19.95 Frame Perch
    $12.95 Frame Grip
    $483.40 TOTAL for all items
    Shipping costs are not included.
    Last edited by Pete0; 10-01-2008 at 02:03 PM. Reason: Removed links to pictures as they weren't working.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Toledo, Washington, USA
    Posts
    64

    Default

    Don't use typar weed blocker. The bees try to eat it and can't. It is horrible to see. You can use door screen, and a good set of coveralls, if you don't have any other protective gear. "dickies" is what I use. I made my veil with typar weed blocker wrapped over a lamp shade and secured with wire and duct tape. I wrapped a door screen around it and wired it to the chinaman hat. You should get some good gloves. Large thick pig skin, or sleeved rubber bee keeping gloves. My gloves have taken over 25 stings and I have yet to get stung through them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default

    Don't waste money on a feeder. Use an old jar and put some holes in the top and place it over the inner cover hole to feed. It works great, there is no robbing and it is free.

    Also you don't need gloves to handle your hive. The only time I use gloves is when harvesting alot of hives...only because they get really ticked and am handling lots of supers and throwing them onto the flatbed.

    Good idea on the jacket with hood. Overalls just are not needed...of course you may not want to wear your boxers with it while checking the hive.

    Pretty much everything else listed is right on. Also remember that shipping is going to be a good amount with the woodware, so if you are looking to save and are in any way handy with a saw and nailgun or just a hammer you can order one hive and then use it as a go by to build the rest.

    Lastly, I would recommend that you build a nuc or two as soon as you can to have on hand. You are going to need it to split, pick up a swarm, pick up a nuc because you want more, etc, etc. I use mine constantly.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Default

    Important decisions on equipment:

    One of the most important things to do is sort out the important decisions from the less important decisions.

    I would like to point out that there are many things in beekeeping you can easily change as you go along. There is no point stressing out over these things. There are other things in beekeeping that are an investment and are difficult to change later.

    Easy Things to Change in Beekeeping:

    You can always go to a top entrance. You only have to block the bottom one (with a 3/4" by 3/4" by 14 3/4" entrance block on a ten frame standard bottom board) and propping up the top. It's not like everything you have is outdated if you decide that you want a top entrance.

    You can always choose to put in or leave out a queen excluder. Odds are, sooner or later, you'll need one for something. They are handy for the bottom of an uncapping tank. Or as an includer when hiving a swarm etc. It's not that big of an investment to have one (or not). Nor is it that big of a problem to buy one later if you don't have one.

    You can change the race of bees VERY easily. You'll probably requeen once in a while even if you AREN'T trying to change races, and all you have to do is buy a queen of whatever race you want and requeen. So it's not that critical what breed you pick. I doubt you'll be disappointed with an Italian or a Carni or a Caucasian. And if you decide you want something else, it's not hard to change.

    Difficult Things to Change in Beekeeping:

    The bigger issues are things that are an investment you have to live with or you have to go to a lot of trouble to modify or undo.

    If you think you want small cell (or natural sized cell) you're one step ahead to use it from the start. Otherwise you'll have to either gradually phase out all the large cell comb or do a shakedown and do it all at once. If you invested money in plastic foundation, this is disappointing (I have hundreds of sheets in my basement of large cell foundation I'll never use). But at least you won't have to cut down all your equipment.

    If you buy a "typical" starter kit you'll get ten frame deeps for brood and shallows for honey. The ten frame deeps full of honey weigh 90 pounds. Some will argue that when they have brood in them they weigh less than that. That's true. But sooner or later you'll have one full of honey and you may not be able to lift it. If you go with all mediums you'll have to be able to lift 60 pound supers full of honey. If you go with eight frame mediums you'll only have to lift 48 pounds boxes. I started off with the deep/shallow arrangement and had to cut down every box and frame to mediums. Then I cut all the ten frame boxes down to eight frames. It sure would have been easier to just buy eight frame mediums from the start. Interchangeability is also a wonderful thing. It's also nice that an eight frame medium is the same size as a five frame deep. They make nice nuc boxes.

    Screened bottom boards are easy to just buy. It's harder to convert the old ones.

    If you buy a lot of ANYTHING, you may decide you hate it later. Make changes slowly. Test things before you invest a lot in them. Just because one person likes it, doesn't mean you will like it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    327

    Default bee brush

    Bee brush was not part of my starter set, but I quickly found that I needed one. Read somewhere that oldtimers used a goose feather, so I tried a wild turkey feather. Tail feather was not stiff enough, but wing feather worked great! Harvested a super last week with it, and no angry bees! Not bad for my first year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,649

    Default Request catalogs and "study" the books you read...

    I started two hives this year after reading many books and "studying" the forums. My first suggestion is to request printed catalogs from all of the major suppliers. I happened to have received a "safety bonus" from my company so when it came to ordering beekeeping stuff it was a little like a "newbie gone wild".

    I "cherry picked" my equipment, and placed orders with all of the following companies: W.T. Kelley, Brushy Mt., Mannlake, Betterbee, Miller Bee Supply, Rossman Apiaries and Dadant. Oh! I forgot about the case of "Honey Super Cell".

    Shipping costs may effect some of your choices, but I recommend that you do a lot of reading (studying) and then buy exactly what you want. There will always be someone opposed to certain types of equipment or techniques so do your research and select your supplies.

    Some of my purchases:





    Dadant
    Mann Lake Ltd.
    W.T. Kelley
    Brushy Mountain
    Note: The inner cover sold by Brushy Mt. is made from 3/8" plywood and is "... the strongest inner cover on the market today. A hole is cut in the inner cover to enable you to use a plastic bee escape. Also we cut a dado in the top rim for better ventilation and as an upper entrance/escape for the bees." I will but these the next time...

    Some inner covers are made with luan and do not have the notched out rim. BetterBee and Mann Lake use 3/4" wood for their boxes so I guess that a Brushy Mt. inner cover would be 1/4" smaller in length and width which I don't think would present a problem when used between the larger boxes and outer covers.




    Betterbee


    Miller Bee Supply
    Rossman Apiaries
    SuperCell
    Books can get expensive so use libraries, and if you don't mind used books try Alibris or Amazon used books.
    Last edited by BeeCurious; 10-04-2008 at 08:44 AM. Reason: Add info on inner covers
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,770

    Default

    Plan on WANTING more equipment than you'll NEED. That's not to say that you won't use it, it's just that some things become useful and some things become gadgets. I typically wish I had more available woodenware (ready to go) than what I have. I now build hive stands but can easily use nothing...or 4x4's or cinder blocks if I have to. So, not having a hive body is more critical than what to put it on. I have all kinds of pullovers, bee jackets, veils, hats, gloves, etc. But, I tend to only use one or two of what I bought. The rest is real handy when visitors want to satisfy their curiosity and have me show them the hives close up. Don't be afraid to try new things but don't think that you can't keep bees without them.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    first things first..

    1) good reference material... I just reviewed beekeeping for dummies and that publication looked to be very worthwile... to this list I would add my old favorite abc-xyz.

    2) good protective gear (hat, veil, coveralls and gloves).

    3) buy more frames (optimally all of one size) than you will need.... this will save on shipping down the road.

    I will list a few things from pete-o's list that I think are accessories and not essential...

    1) Inner & Telescoping Covers
    tecumseh> likely only useful if you live above the mason dixon line. for what it is expensive, cumberson and likely an excellent weekend resort for the small hive beetle.

    2)Entrance Reducers
    tecumseh>make one from an old frame (top bar with broken ears...idea acquired from mr jeffrey todd).

    3)Hive Top Feeders
    tecumseh> a mason jar with a few holes punched in the top works just fine.

    4)Ventilated Covers
    $23.95 tecumseh>unless you plan to move the hive this item is unnecessary. if you do plan to move the hive a bit of screen and a good stapler will accomplish the same task.

    the following two items may or may not be useful, but are likely much more useful to the novice than by anyone who has had past experience with the girls.

    Frame Perch
    Frame Grip

    I even have the last item which I use only when applying sucromid... works nicely for me in that context.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    mt. airy, surry county, nc
    Posts
    217

    Default

    all of these are very good!

    have to agree with tecumseh. one of the best things is reference material.
    read everything that you can get your hands on. remember there are more ways to keep bees than there are bee keepers. experience is one of the only ways to learn

    the main thing i would tell anyone starting anything is don't spend yourself to death. you don't need a full out bee suit right off the bat. you can use long sleeve shirt and pants. you should have a veil , but my great grand father used a mosquito netting under his hat all his life.

    decide what it is you want and start there. you might decide later to go another way, Micheal Bush was right, some changes can be made immediately and some takes several seasons to change

    very important! have fun don't take things too seriously. you'll impress some people and some wll think you are nuts
    "Any fool can learn, the trick is to understand - Einstein"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Default

    papa bear writes:
    but my great grand father used a mosquito netting

    tecumseh replies: well that's how I started out although a good veil and gloves are certainly thing I would place on the top of 'my' list.

    if 'over time' you got to raising greater number of bees I would then suggest a full suit is almost essential since at some point in times the girls (and by extension the beekeeper) will be having a bad hair day.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Syracuse, NY (upstate)
    Posts
    247

    Default Best Sources

    Here are the best sources for things that I have found over time and have posted in the past.

    1) Hive bodies: Dadant. They have beautiful, knot free wood and the machining is great. I've bought quite a few supers from Better Bee, but won't do it ever again. They claim the 7/8" thick wood they use makes them superior, but in reality they have to use thicker wood because it is full of knots, crack, split, missing box joint fingers, rot holes, etc. In their defense they have quickly sent out replacement pieces without cost, but unfortunately about 50% of what they send is just as bad. Also, the 7/8" thick wood means 1/4" less space inside making it difficult to fit 10 frames once they get a little propolis on them.

    2) Walter T. Kelley Co. for frames and outer covers. I have used Kelley's plastic outer covers for over 30 years and they just last forever. No ants under flashing. No painting. etc. http://go.netgrab.com/secure/kelleys...sp?product=168 However, use wooden inner covers and wooden screened bottom boards.

    3) Maxant for hive tools with "J" hook end.

    4) Dadant for extracters. Thickest stainless around and all stainless steel interior. (Maxant uses a cast aluminum reel bottom.

    -ekrouse

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Grafton, NY, USA
    Posts
    190

    Default

    hi! I would agree with almost everything that's been noted, but I do have a few comments about the following 2 items:

    [QUOTE=tecumseh;349118]first things first..

    buy more frames (optimally all of one size) than you will need.... this will save on shipping down the road.
    I will list a few things from pete-o's list that I think are accessories and not essential...

    and
    Inner & Telescoping Covers
    tecumseh> likely only useful if you live above the mason dixon line. for what it is expensive, cumberson and likely an excellent weekend resort for the small hive beetle.


    I originally bought the one piece plastic frames and they are handy, but I'm not sure how keen the bees are about them. In hindsight, I wish I had purchased at least some wooden frames and that would have given me the option for using either the plastic inserts or the historical standard wire sheets.

    Also, up here in the NorthEast you really want to have an inner cover and the telescoping cover.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
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    1,709

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ekrouse View Post
    Here are the best sources for things that I have found over time and have posted in the past.

    -ekrouse
    Have you ever tried Millers?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Toledo, Washington, USA
    Posts
    64

    Default uncapping knife... scraper

    The first thing I found, was that I needed an uncapping knife or scraper. I made a mess of my first frames, and it will take time to learn.

    How much honey will you get? Well a single... 1/2 full brood frame... gave me 5 1/2 little bears!
    Patriotically speaking...Do you know that insects have a more complex political system than we do?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,506

    Default

    I'm amazed after watching a bunch of YouTube videos of harvesting honey, who many hobbyists go to the expenses of uncapping knives (the electric or steam ones) or planes! It takes them twice as long to get the cappings off as it takes me with a $5 10" serrated knife from Target. Low tec is better in this area.
    Regards, Barry

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Lee Center, NY
    Posts
    150

    Default

    And don't forget the common table fork for scratching those low spots in the cappings. They work great for that.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,870

    Default

    OK...some may think this is an accessory however as one (of many) who has done it both ways I now consider this a necessity...

    http://i91.photobucket.com/albums/k3...e/IMG_0079.jpg

    It is a crown molding stapler and you can pick one up at Home Depot for $109...worth every penny
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
    Posts
    5,080

    Default

    and you can pick one up at Harbor Freight for 19.95.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,870

    Default

    Yea, sorry...I have been a mechanic for 30 years and never purchase the lease expensive tool....not worth the savings to me. But good point...
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

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