Beekeeping for Beginners: Bee Supplies to Get Now

Hive boxes, bee smoker and a bee suit are just a few of the supplies a new beekeeper shouldn't be without. Find out what other gear you need before you start beekeeping.

  • honey bees
    Ensure a successful first year of beekeeping with the help of author and experienced beekeeper Alethea Morrison in "Homegrown Honeybees."
    Cover Courtesy Storey Publishing
  • beekeeping
    Beginner beekeepers should always use basic protection such as a helmet and vail. Gloves are a good idea too, in order to avoid bee stings.
    Photo By Fotolia/Ludmila Smite

  • honey bees
  • beekeeping

Homegrown Honey Bees (Storey Publishing, 2013) provides the essential information on beekeeping for beginners. Author Alethea Morrison gives practical instruction as well as her own personal observations in beekeeping. Find out what necessary bee supplies first-time beekeepers need in this excerpt from chapter five, "The Gear."

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: Homegrown Honey Bees.

Most beekeepers in industrialized nations use Langstroth hives. This hive style comes in two sizes, the most common of which accommodates ten frames. I use eight-frame hives because the smaller size makes them lighter, but I’m so scrawny that my nickname in my old NYC neighborhood was Olive Oyl. We can’t all be Popeye, so I don’t sweat it. Suppliers manufacture Langstroth hive boxes in both wood and polystyrene. I use wooden hives out of a preference for natural materials.

The chart below shows how heavy boxes filled with honey will be. Think conservatively and honestly about what size you can lift without killing your back.

Buyer beware. To save money you might find some used supplies from another beekeeper who is upgrading or wants out altogether. Be cautious when purchasing used frames or boxes — they could contain hidden diseases. You’ll have to weigh that risk against the obvious cost savings.

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