Bee Keeping Tools

Painting the Hive Parts

All parts of the hive exposed to the weather should be protected with paint. Do not paint the inside of the hive; the bees will varnish it with propolis (a mix of plant sap and wax). The only purpose in painting is to preserve the wood. Most beekeepers use a good latex or oil-based, exterior, white paint. A light color is desirable because it prevents heat buildup in the hive during summer. Although white is a traditional color, various combinations of colors will help reduce drift between colonies.

                 New bee equipment is generally “knocked down” or un assembled when purchased, but you can also purchase assembled equipment for a higher price and shipping fee. Assembly directions are furnished by bee supply dealers and are usually easy to follow. Novice beekeepers are strongly encouraged to seek the help of a more experienced beekeeper in assembling the hive components for the first time. Beginners should purchase their equipment early so that they can put together and paint hives before the bees arrive. Sheets of foundations should not be installed in the frames until needed because storage temperatures and handling may cause the wax to stretch and warp, resulting in poorly drawn combs.
Some beekeepers find they can save money by making their own equipment or by purchasing used equipment. With both approaches, the equipment must be a standard size. When constructing beekeeping equipment, a thorough understanding of bee space is a necessity. You can consult readily available construction plans, such as those supplied on page 8, or use commercial pieces as a pattern. Many beekeepers find they can economically make covers, hive bodies, and bottom boards, but frames are more difficult and time consuming. Success depends on availability and cost of materials, proper woodworking equipment, and the beekeeper’s woodworking skills. Purchasing used equipment can present problems and is not recommended for the beginner. Initially you may have problems simply locating a source of used equipment and determining its value or worth. In addition, secondhand equipment may be of non-standard dimensions or contaminated with pathogens that cause various bee diseases, despite considerable time in storage. Always ask for an inspection certificate indicating that the state apiary inspector examined the hives and did not find any evidence of disease. For additional information and sources on beekeeping equipment and supplies, see the list of dealers

A bee smoker and hive tool are essential for working bees. The smoker consists of a metal fire pot and grate with bellows attached. The size of the smoker is a matter of individual preference. The 4 x 7 inch size is probably the most widely used. Plan to purchase/use a smoker with a heat shield around the firebox to avoid burning clothing or yourself if you intend to support the smoker between your legs as you work a colony. Some beekeepers like the model with a hook to hang the smoker over the open hive body as they inspect it, thus keeping the smoker handy at all times. To produce large quantities of cool, thick smoke, coals must be above the grate and unburned materials must be above the coals. Suitable smoker fuels

Hive Tool
The hive tool is a metal bar essential for prying apart frames in a brood chamber or honey super, separating hive bodies, and scraping away wax and propolis. Holsters to hold hive tools are available, but many beekeepers prefer to hold the hive tool in the palm of their hand to keep it accessible and to keep their fingers free for lifting boxes and frames. The hive tool should be cleaned from time to time to remove propolis, wax, and honey. This may be done simply by stabbing the tool into the ground or by burning it in the hot fire pot of a smoker. Both cleaning methods help prevent the spread of bee diseases. A screwdriver or a putty knife are poor substitutes for a sturdy hive tool and may cause frame/hive body damage.

Protective Clothing
You should wear a bee veil at all times to protect your face and neck from stings. Three basic types of veils are available: those that are open at the top to fit over a hat, completely hatless veils, and veils that form part of a bee suit. A wire or fabric veil that stands out away from the face worn over a wide-brim, lightweight hat that fits securely offers the best protection. Veils without hats, although lightweight and fold easily for transport, do not always fit as securely on the head as they should. The elastic band that fits around your head often works upward, allowing the veil to fall against your face and scalp as you bend over to work with bees. A wide variety of coveralls (bee suits) is available to beekeepers in a wide price range. The most expensive bee suits are not always the best or easiest to use. Coveralls are useful to avoid getting propolis on your clothing and greatly reduce stings if maintained properly and laundered regularly. Coveralls or shirt veils (long-sleeved shirts) made especially for beekeepers with attached, removable veils are popular. White or tan clothing is most suitable when working bees. Other colors are acceptable, but bees react unfavorably to dark colors, fuzzy materials, and clothing made from animal fiber. Windbreakers and coveralls made from ripstop nylon fabric are excellent for working bees, although they may be too hot to use in the summer. Beginners who fear being stung should wear canvas or leather gloves. Many experienced beekeepers find gloves cumbersome and decide to risk a few stings for the sake of easier handling. Form-fitting gloves (such as those suitable for lab work or household chores) reduce stings and sticky fingers from honey and propolis. Ankles with dark socks and open wrists are areas vulnerable to stings. Angry bees often attack ankles first because they are at the level of the hive entrance. You should secure your pant legs with string or rubber bands or tuck them inside your shoes or socks. Secure open shirtsleeves with Velcro, rubber bands, or wristlets to reduce stings to these sensitive areas.
You should avoid using after-shave lotions, perfumes, and colognes when working with bees because such odors may attract curious bees.
Regularly launder clothing and gloves used in inspection to eliminate sting/hive odors that might attract/irritate bees.