Surprise a beekeeper over the holiday period. Check out the PerfectBee Gift Guide for Beekeepers.
Beekeeping is a specialized hobby and, as such, a beekeeper may need a few specialized items to go through their hives and complete a typical inspection and routine tasks. Luckily, most tools in beekeeping are multi-purpose, and while a beekeeper will need a toolkit of some form, it need not be too extensive (or expensive!).
A bee smoker is a beekeeper’s best friend and helps to calm bees, sometimes reducing the chances of a beekeeper taking a sting as well. A smoker can make inspections easier for both the bees and the beekeeper. In addition to taking a lit smoker to the bee yard, don’t forget to take smoker fuel and a lighter.
Another obvious item you’ll need at most inspections is a good hive tool. This will allow you to separate propolized boxes, remove frames from the hive and clean up any burr comb that might be causing issues. Beyond these tasks, most beekeepers tend to find unexpected uses for a good hive tool as they go about their business.
A bee brush is another item often worth take to the bee yard and helps with clearing off bees from your inner cover, in-hive feeders and frames.
A logbook and a pen are other items you might consider stashing in your pocket. Taking notes in beekeeping, whether noting observations about a particular hive or particular frames within a hive, will only help you later.
Once you have your toolkit all assembled you’ll want a way to carry it all out to the bee yard, so a good toolkit can be useful. You’ll want to be wearing at least a veil, but many bee suits and jackets have enough pockets for most of a streamlined toolkit. Once your toolkit grows however, something to carry it all is best – a 5 gallon bucket, a bin or a dedicated toolkit is helpful.
While there are many other specialized tools that you may occasionally need or want (example, a frame grip), your own toolkit is worth taking along with you for every inspection. Whatever the items that make up your own beekeeping toolkit, having everything organized and together makes inspections faster and easier. It’s never a great feeling when you have a hive completely opened up, and then you realize you forgot something.