Beginning beekeeping equipment can be hard to figure out.
There’s so many options. So many styles. So many places that sell beekeeping equipment. What do you choose?
Knowing exactly what beginning beekeeping equipment to purchase and where to purchase it can be both exciting and overwhelming. When I decided I wanted to dabble in beekeeping, I had one problem:
I knew nothing about bees or beekeeping. I definitely knew nothing about what equipment I needed or which company to buy from.
But that was years ago. I got started, pulled through the hard stuff and learned from my mistakes. And now, I’m ready to help you get started.
So, in this post, I’m going to discuss:
- My beginning beekeeping equipment list featuring beekeeping tools and equipment I used to get started.
- Some must-have beekeeping supplies for beginners.
- Also, some advice for beginning beekeepers in regards to actually getting started and then surviving the first year.
The Most Valuable Piece of Advice for Beginning Beekeepers
A good mentor or friend to do beekeeping with is invaluable. Joining a local beekeeping group can help you find other beekeepers in your area who can come over and help you when needed.
I think this will be the best way to learn about the ins and outs of beekeeping. At my bee chat group, I have learned what bees I needed to order, how many hives to start and what equipment to get to have a successful first year of beekeeping. Each month, we talk about what to do the next month depending on weather, flora and timing.
Thanks to my mentor group, I feel like I have the knowledge now to give helpful advice for beginning beekeepers. I have a compiled list of beekeeping equipment and supplies. The beginning bee equipment list I will share with you will be enough for three starter hives. This list was also made to be an economical way to acquire equipment. I didn’t have a lot of money to get started. So, I will share more of that later on in the post.
Let’s take a look about what’s on the equipment list. That’s the good stuff. I’ll get into the fluffy stuff later.
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Beekeeping Tools List:
1. Bee Brush: A gentle tool to move bees around during inspection.
2. 4 X 7 Smoker w/ Shield: Smoke calms the bees and helps me to safely inspect and gather honey.
3. The Hive Tool: Used to scrape residue from frames as well as a variety of other jobs.
4. Hat/Veil Combination or Full Suit: Protect face and head from stings.
5. Plastic Coated Canvas Gloves: Keeps bees from stinging my hands. The less they sting me, the more live bees I will have.
6. Entrance Feeders: To feed my bees when food supply is low. I ordered one entrance feeder for each hive (3 Total).
7. Frame Grips: To pick up frames during inspection.
Beginning Beekeeping Equipment for Three 10-Frame Hives:
8. 9 5/8″ Hive Bodies (Carton of 5)
9. 9 5/8″ Hive Bodies (Carton of 1) – An extra set for the 3rd hive. Need 6 Total.
10. 9 1/8″ Grooved Top Bar Frames (Carton of 50)
11. 9 1/8″ Grooved Top Bar Frames (Carton of 10) – An extra set for the 3rd hive. Need 60 total.
12. Yellow Wax Coated Plasticell (Order 60)
13. Ponderosa Pine Bottom Board (Order 3)
14. Telescoping Cover with Inner Cover (Order 3)
15. Entrance Reducers (One per hive)
Recommended Beginner Hive Kit
If you’re wanting to save time and you want an already assembled kit ready for the bees, I recommend this one from Mann Lake.
It’s a 10-frame Langstroth hive kit that comes with a smoker, tools and other essentials. Also notice the FREE SHIPPING!
What to Do When You Receive Your Equipment
So, let’s say you’ve ordered the equipment from the list. Awesome! That’s the first step.
Then, it gets to your house in little pieces inside boxes. Now what? I know that was my first reaction. How do all these pieces go together?
The first thing to do is to stay calm. The second thing is to start early. If you get the unassembled bee hive kits to save some money, you have to spend some time now putting it all together.
The next step is to open the boxes filled with beginning beekeeping equipment. There are instructions inside and every piece and nail you’ll need to be able to build your hives and frames.
Finally, you’ll want to invest in some exterior paint to protect the outside of the hive boxes from weather. Most beekeepers use white but I’ve seen some pretty colorful hives as well.
Equipment needed later:
Once a surplus of honey is established, you’ll need to extend your supply list to two supers and a queen excluder per hive. So, more equipment is needed.
16. 6 5/8″ Supers (Carton of 5)
17. 6 5/8″ Supers (Carton of 1)
18. 6 1/4″ Top Bar Frames (Carton of 50)
19. 6 1/4 Grooved Top Bar Frames (Carton of 10)
20. Yellow Wax Coated Plasticell (60 Total)
21. Wood Bound Queen Excluder (3 Total)
Why Start with Three Hives?
You absolutely do NOT have to start with three hives like I did. This was recommended to me for a couple of reasons:
- To be able to compare hive health between the three.
- If you lose one, you still have two to compare.
If you have a mentor or follow my advice, chances are you can make it with one hive. But you just never know. And I had no clue, so I went with the advice of my mentor and ordered three.
Now, Where to Order Beginning Beekeeping Equipment?
Well, I had no idea. There are 20-30 companies out there who sell beekeeping equipment. I had lots of questions.
I ultimately went with Dadant because, well, my mentor orders from there. The equipment is very good quality but the shipping costs are really high.
Mann Lake is another awesome company with high quality equipment and the shipping is not as high as Dadant. We all have our own opinions about supply companies, but those are my top two that I have used and recommend.
I’ve also found some things on Amazon that I linked to up above. If you have Prime, you might be saving some money if you order through Amazon.
But the place that I now order from or shop is very local to my area and if you’re in the vicinity of Kansas, this might be a possibility for you. In Manhattan, we have a beekeeping shop called Golden Prairie Honey Farms. Not only is it locally owned, but this shop employs veterans to assemble the equipment to purchase from the shop part.
Plus, they are beekeepers so they know what beekeepers want. They keep their shop stocked with the best equipment. I’m saving money on shipping because I drive to Manhattan often so I shop there when I need something. She has also offered to deliver items to me part way at no additional charge. They are great to work with.
Talk about an awesome backyard business! Now you can see why I love to support them. If you have anything like this in your area, that is your best bet.
As far as ordering the bee starter colony in the packages, I would highly suggest finding local beekeepers who sell packages with a queen. Talk to other beekeepers in your area or do a quick search online. Ask local friends on Social Media.
Bottom line: It’s best to stay as local as possible because the bees are already adapted to your environment. This will improve the success rate of the health of the hive.
One Final Tip about Ordering Equipment
Shipping is expensive, so I ordered everything I would need now and later all at once. I highly recommend this for one shipping charge. I’ve given you the listing of the tools used in beekeeping the first year as well as the equipment you’ll need all year.
So, you can order your beginning beekeeping equipment as I did and save on shipping charges. You won’t use everything right away, so you can store the equipment needed later in a safe and dry place until your hive is ready for it.
The total bill for my supplies for three hives rounded out at around $1000 and a LOT of that was shipping. I know I could have cut that cost significantly if I could have stayed local or found a different company with cheaper shipping. So, definitely watch the shipping.
Now, What’s Keeping You from Starting?
I’ve given you the must-have beekeeping supplies for beginners to get through the first year. All the beginning beekeeping equipment will help you get started.
Now that you have the knowledge, the big thing holding you back is money. Please know that good quality equipment is the foundation for your beekeeping endeavor.
Please avoid purchasing used equipment as there’s probably a reason they are for sale. If you must to save costs, you can stick them in the freezer for a few days to super kill any inhabitants in the hive and equipment. But really…I strongly discourage that practice.
Purchasing beginning beekeeping equipment is a huge step for you. It’s the largest cost associated with beekeeping that beginners have to hurdle over. And it definitely can be done.
Check into your local area associations or USDA for any grants or loans associated with beginning beekeeping. There’s also some programs that offer mentor ship available in certain areas as well with great advice for beginning beekeepers.
Once you’ve made the jump and purchased the must-have beekeeping supplies for beginners, there’s no turning back. You’re almost a beekeeper at this point. Hopefully, I’ve helped you to answer the questions you’ve been sitting on in order to make that first leap into beekeeping with beginning beekeeping equipment.
What questions do you have about beginning beekeeping?