Essential Beekeeping Supplies

Photographs by Meg Smith

Also in beekeeper Rob Keller's trusty field kit? A blowtorch for sanitizing tools and the notebook he uses to keep meticulous records.

Aside from a Langstroth hive or two, backyard beekeeping requires very little gear—just protective garb and a couple of tools. If you can’t find the must-haves locally, shop at a trusted site such as dadant.com or betterbee.com.

Suit: Prevent bee stings—on most of your body, anyway—by donning a ventilated jumpsuit, which will set you back around $100. Then slip on tall socks, boots, and the next two accessories.

Veil and Gloves: Available in hood or hat form, for about $15, a good veil will attach to your suit. Expect to spend an additional $20 on elasticized elbow-length gloves.

Smoker: Stoking this handheld fire chamber will calm bees as you manage the hive. A 4″ × 7″ model, usually priced around $30, suffices for hobbyists. Don’t bother buying smoker fuel; just fill the cylinder with dry organic matter (shredded paper or pine needles will suffice) and ignite with a grill lighter.

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Hive Tool: Use this metal, crowbar-like device ($10 or less) to open and close the hive and separate frames for inspection.

honeybee-keller-suit

A veteran beekeeper, Keller rarely suits up anymore, but novices should make it a habit.

Keller employs a smoker, fueled by natural materials.

Keller employs a smoker, fueled by natural materials.

Plus:
How to Keep Honeybees »
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Essential Beekeeping Supplies