Having the right beekeeping equipment is crucial for the successful homestead beekeeper. If you are thinking of having a colony or two of bees on your property, here is a list of some of the tools you will need:
Bee Smoker and Fuel
A bee smoker consists of a fire chamber, bellows and a nozzle. Point the smoker at the entrance of the hive, squeeze the bellows and smoke is forced in. This dulls the receptors of the guard bees. They can't send out an alarm odor that would normally alert the older bees - who have the most venom - to defend their home.
Also, the smoke triggers other bees to gorge themselves on honey - something they do instinctively in case they have to flee and find a new home elsewhere. What this means to you is a lot less stings. That is why a good smoker is an essential part of your beekeeping equipment. At the time this article was written, the cost of a smoker and fuel ranged between $60 and $85 American dollars.
This will also protect you from stings and is well worth the investment. It keeps the bees from crawling into your clothes. It will also mask your scent - bees get really ticked off if you have a strong body odor. Also, these suits are usually white. Bees are more prone to attack people in darker colors.
The suit should also provide a hat and veil and long gloves. The gloves should be leather, good fitting and have long sleeves. The cost at the time of writing this ran from $85 to $130 in American dollars.
Tending your hive can be a messy business, and your gloves will get dirty. You will need to clean your gloves each time after you use them. One way to clean them is to wear them and wash your hands under warm water. Then dry them immediately and rub them down with olive oil. Afterward, remove as much excess oil as possible.
This is a simple pry bar, with a notch on one end for pulling nails and scraping cappings. A necessary part of your beekeeping equipment and only $6 to $10 in American dollars, depending on where you purchase it.
This tool allows you to grab a single frame with only one hand. This is handy, but be aware that it will take some hand strength. Cost for this is generally between $12 to $14 in American dollars.
Not only can you eat pollen, but it is loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Very few people are allergic to bee pollen, but it can cause the same reaction as allergies do, so taste a little before eating a lot of this.
Bee pollen is perishable, so store your fresh pollen in the refrigerator or freezer if you don't plan to use it right away. In 2008, a pollen trap cost between $35 and $65 American dollars.
This will help you look closely at the bees, inspect them for mites and look closely at larva and eggs. Just be aware that magnifying glasses can cook your bees, so make certain the sun isn't behind you when you use this. Magnifying glasses can generally be found in drug stores.
This is a simple, yet important part of your beekeeping equipment. Every time you inspect your hive, you will want to take notes. That way you have an accurate record of what your bees are up to. By observing them on a weekly basis and keeping notes, you will begin to recognize when your bees are not behaving normally and be able to treat them accordingly.
Sue Merriam is author of the website, Organic Gardening and Homesteading. To learn more about beekeeping, visit her website at http://www.organic-gardening-and-homesteading.com
Photo Credit: Michael Gäbler
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