Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

What To Do With Used Beekeeping Equipment

8/11/2014 8:39:00 AM

Tags: beekeeping, recycling, Illinois, Julia Miller

Wine Bars

When we started keeping bees, questions came in two forms. "Do you sell honey?" and "Do you want my old equipment?" The first question was much easier to answer. "Yes, when we have surplus, we will sell." The second requires more consideration.

When people decide to stop keeping bees, they don't know what to do with all of their supplies. Since beekeeping can have some expense involved, it is natural to want to share the resources.

It can be a good thing to get used equipment from beekeepers who are ending their operation. However there are also some things to keep in mind.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Used Beekeeping Equipment

What do you know about the type of beekeeper they have been. Is this compatible with your apiary?

Did they use chemical pest treatments?

Did they monitor regularly for Varroa mites and wax moths?

Did they have an infestation of hive beetles?

Did they have foul brood?

CD rack

Some of these diseases, pests and viruses can live in an empty hive long past the active colony. You do not want to bring problems into your operation. Any equipment where a colony has been infested with foul brood is required to be destroyed.

In addition you need to know the rules in your locale. Notification is required in Illinois to move used equipment and bees from county to county. An inspection may be required. Check with your state's Department of Agriculture for the rules that apply.

You do have some options for used equipment, so don't automatically turn down the offer. Smokers, protective clothing and hive tools are easily cleaned and reused. But what about the rest of it?

Think Outside the Hive Box

After a thorough cleaning, sanding and refinishing, old hive boxes make spectacular decor. This CD rack is fashioned from shallow comb super boxes.

A combination of brood boxes and Illinois deep supers come together in a rustic bookcase.

If the boxes are not sturdy enough for bookcases, consider breaking down the boxes and fashioning other objects. These decorative wine bars were created from wood salvaged out of old supers.

Note that reusing your own equipment does not carry the same concerns listed above. In fact, using pulled comb from your own hives is a method of recycling that is a perfectly acceptable part of routine management of honeybee colonies. Bees will clean up and reuse the drawn comb. As long as you have not had significant pest infestations you can reuse frames of drawn comb for a few years. Do freeze the frames and boxes in between uses for at least 24 hours. This will kill any hive beetles or wax moths that may have taken up residence. .Replace when the comb turns dark.


The advantage to using drawn comb in hives is the bees do not have to spend time and energy maxing wax. In the honey supers they can focus on storing nectar and making honey. In the brood boxes energy is spent on foraging and raising brood.

Consider all of your options when someone offers you used beekeeping supplies. What other creative uses can you think of?

Be sure and check out our website and Facebook page for more about Five Feline Farm. There is always something new and interesting at the Farm.

Related Content

Protecting Fig Trees from Cold and Best Wood Chopping Tool

Protecting the fig tree for the winter felt like putting it to bed for a long sleep. Chopping wood w...

The New Earthineer

From the outset, Earthineer was built to support and promote sustainability and homesteading as a li...

Kidding-Season Tragedy

Preparing for kidding time is always crazy, and sometimes things never go the way you planned.

How to Find Your Honeybee Queen

Locating a queen in a hive full of thousands of bees can be hard. Here are a few tips.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.