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A portion of every purchase from our website is put toward gear, tools, and resources for our students!
But what kind of gear does a beekeeper need?
Let's start with 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 suit) 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 shirtveils (long-sleeved shirts) made especially for beekeepers with attached removal 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 tend to 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. Tie open shirtsleeves with Velcro, rubber bands, or wristlets to reduce stings to these sensitive areas.
Regularly launder clothing and gloves used in inspection to eliminate sting/hive odors that might attract/irritate bees.
In addition some gear makes life easier when keeping bees. A bee smoker and hive tool are essential for working bees. The smoker consists of a metal fire pot and grates 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 include burlap, corn cobs, wood shavings, pine needles, cardboard, punk wood, bark, sumac bobs, cotton rags, dry leaves, and bailer twine. An alternative liquid smoke is available that you mix with water and spray onto the bees with a mister-type applicator—under ideal conditions and when robbing is not likely, misting with sugar syrup works as well as smoke.
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 (Figure 11). 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 a hot fire pot of a smoker. Both cleaning methods help prevent the spread of bee diseases.