Guide written by:
Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester
From frames, honey supers, bottom boards and entrance feeders to hive scales, handles and racks, a beekeeper has to be equipped with various essential accessories to successfully manage an apiary. These devices help with feeding the bees and protecting them from predators as well as other activities that are directly responsible for the hive's health and the bees' welfare.
- Honey Super
- Hive scale
- Entrance feeder and drinking trough
- Tools and clothes
Beehives: a year-long job
Activity in an apiary never ceases, continuing throughout the year. While at times there may be less to do, there is always work to be done. For example, even when the bees are hibernating, someone must regularly check that the bees have sufficient food reserves and if not, provide them with the required nutrition.
During the sunny season, in the peak of beekeeping prodcution, there will be many more tasks that need doing. These may including the division and recombination of bee colonies, adjusting the honey supers if the colony grows larger, treating diseases such as varroa destructor, moving hives around, artificial swarming, breeding of queens or the most important of all, harvesting honey!
In the offseason, generally autumn and winter, there are a whole host of maintenance chores to tick off, even though they can also be done throughout the year if needed. These are things like cleaning, disinfecting and treating the frames, applying paint on hives and repairing any damaged parts. Successfully carrying out all these tasks requires a person to be properly equipped and to have the specific beekeeping accessories that are designed to complete each job.
Essential accessories to keep the apiary running
In a strong honey crop, or in other words, one in which the bee colony produces a lot of honey, it might be better to choose to harvest earlier, and multiple times, if necessary. After each harvest, the used frames will need to be replaced with new or recycled frames that have been reconfigured for the bees. Some models are equipped with wax foundations, saving the bees' time as they can skip the construction of their own structure.
Honey supers are elements that you can add or remove. They can fit a pre-determined number of frames, in which the bees store their surplus honey. During harvest, the honey super is where most of the honey is retrieved from.
Very practical in the winter, helping you to weigh your hive, which is highly recommended. Weighing allows you to get a good estimate of the bees' remaining reserves and act accordingly.
Entrance feeder and drinking trough
Feeding your bees is an obvious obligation, especially in winter, which is what the entrance feeder was designed for. All it takes is a some sugar syrup or candy! In the same fashion, installing of a drinking trough in proximity to the hive is of equal importance necessary, as bees get thirsty throughout the year.
Bee hives: habitats that need to be maintained
A clean hive promotes the well-being and good health of the bee colony it shelters. This is a basic requirement for successful breeding. To keep the hive in top condition, both in terms of clealiness and hygiene, it is important to replace at least three frames a year.
Another routine exercise is the repainting of the hive's body and the honey supers, an operation that should only be carried out once all the bees have been succesfully transferred to new or recycled hives. You can use any type of paint are long as it is not toxic, but certified organic stains or specially designed paints represent a more efficient product.
For the cleaning and disinfection of plasticframes intended for reuse, simply soak them for twenty minutes in a mixture of water and bleach, with a 6:1 ratio. If the frames are made of wood, a blowtorch is highly recommended, as it disinfects the material with its flame.
Fight and ward off predators and parasites from the hive
The fight against the destructor
Many predators and parasites pose a potential threat to a bee colony's survival in the hive. Among them, thevarroa, a small mite that feeds on the hemolymph contained in the body of the bee. To beat it, your best bet is aministering regular, thymol-based treatments, adding varroa control strips to the hive, and finally, to top it all off, applying oxalic acid.
Beekeepers can also install a trap that catchesvarroa: it consists of a metal grid placed on the floor of the hive. When the mites fall they get stuck in the trap, making it as easy as removing the floor to collect and eliminate all the parasites.
Reducing the hive entrance
During the winter it is advisable to use a entrance reducer or to modify the hive's entrance to reduce it's diameter. By doing so, you eliminate the possibility of predators gaining unauthorized entry.
Beekeeper tools and equipment
Any beekeeper is likely to be a bit of a handyman and will have a toolbox to prove it, with all kinds of small hardware supplies, including screws, wires, fixings, racks, markers, screw eyes, spacers, punch stamps, corner protectors and hive handles, to name but a few.
When it comes to the required tools, a beekeeper's toolbox is very heavy. In addition to conventional tools used by all manual workers, a beekeeper will also have a hivetool, a blowtorch, spatulas, a bee brush and a smoker. It goes without saying, but every beekeeper should also be equipped with the proper personal protective equipment: gloves, beekeeper's suit and the traditional hat and veil, all of which are indispensable accessories for handling the hive.
Getting into beekeeping is a big leap of faith. It's best to know what you are getting yourself into! To do just that follow the links below for apiculture-related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:
Guide written by:
Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester, 48 guides
For several years I have been running a garden service with a clientele of both individuals and companies. I manage a team of gardeners and ensure the creation and maintenance of green spaces. At the same time, I bring my expertise to my clients in terms of the maintenance and improvement of their gardens. In fact, as a trainee and working in the hospitality industry at the beginning of my career, I focused on landscaping in a local community where I acquired solid technical skills through in-house training and the follow-up of major projects in a rapidly changing town. On a personal level, I am equally oriented towards the art of gardening. With my wife, I created our garden from start to finish and I maintain it carefully, the same goes for the vegetable garden. As for DIYing, it’s not to be outdone. Yes, gardening is also tinkering: pergola, hut, pavement, fence, and so on...There is always something to do in a garden. After working well together, my wife and I are proud of the result and delighted to be able to take full advantage of a friendly and warm environment. So, let us give you advice and help you in your choice of tools, maintenance, or improvement of your garden, nothing could be simpler.