Essential beekeeping tools for the beginner
In previous blogs I have talked about the importance of networking with other beekeepers when you first get started. This is best done by joining a beekeeping group. If you don’t do this and you don’t have any friends who can lend or hire you some equipment then this hobby might end up being expensive.
The most important equipment to get you started is a smoker, a hive tool and protective equipment.
To understand why the smoke calms the bees you need to understand what the bee thinks when it smells smoke. To a bee colony the smoke suggests their impending destruction by forest fire and their reaction to this is to take whatever they can and get out of their hive and move to safety. The only thing they can take with them is honey. To do this they consume a large quantity which makes them docile and sluggish. Think about the last time you had an indulgent feast. At the end of the meal you retire to the lounge and sit back to relax. You are so full it is hard to move and equally hard to react to your surroundings.
A good quality smoker will put you in good stead for years. This is one item that you shouldn’t skimp on quality.
It scrapes, it levers, it holds, it separates and a whole lot more. Such a simple tool that does so much!
There are different variations but they will all do roughly the same tasks.
The hive tool is a cheap accessory that constantly punches above its weight.
Protective Equipment (suit and gloves)
For those that have a genuine allergy to bee stings you need to know that whilst a bee suit is effective it doesn’t completely remove the chance of a sting. Last year I had a particularly aggressive hive that needed to be requeened. Given the hold up with queen suppliers I had to work with them despite the discomfort. Each time I lifted the lid I was barraged with dozens of workers all willing to die for the cause and sting me relentlessly. This was fine whilst I was wearing the full length suit until one time! One hot Australian afternoon I needed to check hive beetle traps and only had a singlet on with the bee suit over the top. At the end of the quick inspection I had received dozens of stings on my shoulders and around my armpits. This was the last time I would only wear a singlet under a beesuit.
There are many types of beesuits on the market. You will have many style options including types of hood, material and full length or jacket only. Visit a supplier and get a feel for what is right for you.
Gloves need to be protective but not at the expense of losing all dexterity. This is a challenge and you should try before you buy. Get in touch with other beekeepers and see what gloves they prefer. Get a feel for them and go from there.
This should get you started and like I said at the top of the post – you need to buddy up with someone who has done this a bit and maybe they can not only lend you some knoweldge they can lend you some equipment too!