Beekeeping Starter Kits (Best Kits By Budget)

Beekeeping starter kits

Updated on September 11th, 2022

We estimate that it costs about $725 to start beekeeping when you account for all the expenses incurred in your first year. However, you do not need to spend that amount to begin beekeeping.

You can purchase the essentials required to start beekeeping and add items as needed. The pace at which you need to add beekeeping supplies depends on the growth rate of your colonies. Keep ordering and delivery lag times in mind, so you are not caught unprepared.

Our recommendations in this post assume you use Langstroth hives for beekeeping. In this article we explain why we think the Langstroth hive is the best beehive for a beginner.

Essential beekeeping starter kits should include a deep hive box with a bottom board, covers, frames, foundation, essential tools, and some protective gear. As your colonies grow, you will need additional hive components and supplies available in a more expensive beginning beekeeping kit.

The best beekeeping starter kit is the one that fits your budget and gets you going. Just keep in mind that there ongoing costs to beekeeping. The less you spend on a starter kit, the more you may have to spend later on.

Check out our series of articles on how to start beekeeping for more detailed information on hive components, tools, and more.

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Beekeeping Starter Kits (Best Kits By Budget)

What Is In A Beekeeping Starter Kit?

You can buy all the items you need to start a beehive individually. However, you can lower your initial cost of beekeeping with starter kits combinations from suppliers.

To help you start beekeeping, we sorted our recommended kits into three categories: essential, basic, and deluxe.

An essential beehive starter kit contains the minimum amount of equipment and supplies to get started. As a result, these kits are generally the least expensive.

Deluxe beehive starter kits are the most expensive and generally include all items in a basic kit plus plenty of hive components to get a colony through its first year.

For more money, you can get a basic starter kit. Our basic starter kits will include the same items as an essential kit plus added equipment such as extra boxes, frames, and foundation.

What Equipment Do I Need To Start Beekeeping?

At a minimum, a beginning beekeeper kit should have basic hive components and equipment to add a bee package including:

  • One 10-frame deep hive box,
  • A bottom board,
  • Outer and inner covers,
  • An entrance reducer,
  • 10 frames and foundation for brood and honey,
  • A hive tool,
  • A bee smoker,
  • Some protective gear, typically a veil and gloves.

See our article about protective beekeeping clothing for more information.

More complete beehive starter kits may include:

  • A second 10-frame deep hive box,
  • One or two 10-frame medium hive boxes (honey supers),
  • Frames and foundation for each additional hive box,
  • A full bee suit or a bee jacket.

Note: In our lists we indicate 10-frame beehive components which is considered “standard.” However, some suppliers also offer starter kits with 8-frame components. We use 8-frame beehive boxes as they are lighter and easier to handle, especially when full of bees and honey.

Optional equipment that may be included in a kit are:

  • Smoker fuel,
  • A beginning beekeeping guide,
  • An entrance feeder.

Being new to bee keeping, you may find smoker fuel helpful, though unnecessary. Once you learn how to light a smoker and keep it smoldering, you will find plenty of free fuel to use.

Beginning guides may be helpful but thin on information. Check our list of recommended books instead.

Entrance feeders are okay, but we prefer top feeders. Top feeders hold more and are less likely to attract invaders to your beehive. However, some top feeders require extra hive bodies to enclose them.

Entrance feeders are okay, but we prefer top feeders. Top feeders hold more and are less likely to attract invaders to your beehive. However, some top feeders require extra hive bodies to enclose them.

Check out this feeder pail from BetterBee. Or try “baggie” feeding with this spacer from Mann Lake.

The cost of a beginning beekeeper kit is further influenced by whether components are delivered fully assembled and/or painted. Assembled and painted equipment have added costs but might be your best option if you do not have the time, space, tools, or inclination to build them yourself.

What Is NOT In A Beginning Beekeeper Kit?

Some things you will not find in beekeeping starter kits are:

Bees, of course, are necessary and need to be purchased separately. If possible, buy bees locally from a reputable beekeeper. With local bees you save on shipping costs, avoid shipping hassles, and my get bees adapted to your local climate.

You do not need a special beehive stand though you may want one. Consider the VIVO Black Plastic Beehive Stand on Amazon.

We recommend that you do not harvest honey in the first year. If you follow this advice, you will not need a queen excluder right away. Nor will you need any particular tools for extracting honey. (It is more important to leave honey for your bees to get through their first winter.)

See our article about feeding bees for information on sugar syrup and pollen patties.

General Comparison Of Beekeeping Starter Kits

ItemEssentialBasicDeluxe
Cost💲💲💲💲💲💲
Bee smoker
Hive tool
Bottom board
One 10- frame deep hive box
Inner & outer covers
Entrance reducer
Beekeeping veil
Beekeeping gloves
10 Deep frames & foundation
Full bee suit or a bee jacket
2nd deep box
Additional frames & foundation for extra box
Queen excluder
Two honey supers
Book and/or subscription

Essential Beekeeping Starter Kits

Mann Lake Beekeeping Starter Kit

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and painted
  • One 10-frame deep beehive body
  • 10 frames with RiteCell foundation
  • Bottom board with entrance reducer
  • Telescoping outer cover with an inner cover
  • One pair of large leather gloves
  • One Alexander bee veil
  • Bee smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Starting Right with Bees book

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • No option to select a different glove size
  • Does not include either a full bee suit or jacket

Mann Lake provides quality beekeeping supplies.

We have purchased kits, hive components, bees, and more from them.

Hoover Hives 10 Frame Starter Kit

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and dipped in 100% beeswax
  • One 10-frame deep hive body
  • 5 CellTech plastic frames/foundation
  • Bottom board with entrance reducer
  • Telescoping outer cover with an inner cover
  • Protective jacket with veil
  • Elbow-length leather gloves
  • Bee smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Starting Right with Bees book

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • No option to select a glove or jacket size
  • Only 5 frames/foundation are provided so you either need an additional 5 OR get your bees in a 5-frame nuc
  • Does not include either a full bee suit or jacket

Wax coating is a great way to protect hives from the weather. Backyard beekeepers may not have the facilities to do it themselves. Have it done by Hoover.

Hoover Hives 8 Frame Starter Kit

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and dipped in 100% beeswax
  • One 8-frame deep hive body
  • 8 CellTech plastic frames/foundation
  • Bottom board with entrance reducer
  • Telescoping outer cover with an inner cover
  • Plastic queen excluder
  • Mouse guard
  • Protective jacket with veil
  • Elbow-length leather gloves
  • Bee smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Starting Right with Bees book

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • No option to select a glove or jacket size
  • This option is for someone that prefers working with 8- frame boxes which we use
Hoover Hives 8 frame starter kit

We do not think 8-frame boxes are a major drawback. In fact, we transitioned to 8-frame boxes for weight reduction.

Enter our discount code BEEKEEPINGNEWBIES at Galena Farms for additional savings!

Dadant 10-Frame Deep Beginner’s Kit #1 Unassembled

Highlights of this kit:

  • One 10-frame deep hive body
  • 10 frames with foundation
  • Bottom board with entrance reducer
  • Telescoping outer cover with an inner cover
  • Protective veil
  • Large sting resistant gloves
  • Bee smoker and smoker fuel
  • Hive tool
  • Entrance feeder
  • First Lessons in Beekeeping book
  • Assembly instructions

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • This kit is UNASSEMBLED
  • No option to select glove size
Dadant Beginnger kit 1

Dadant is one of the oldest bee supply companies in the U.S. They provide quality, reliable products that we highly recommend.

Betterbee Beginning Kit

Highlights of this kit:

  • Assembled
  • One 10-frame deep hive body
  • 10 plastic frames and foundation
  • Bottom board with entrance reducer
  • Telescoping outer cover with an inner cover
  • Helmet & veil (with options)
  • Pair of beekeeping gloves (choice of leather or goatskin and size)
  • Bee smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Your choice of beekeeping book (or no book at a lower cost)
  • Also available unassembled or in 8-frame format

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • Outer cover is lightweight polystyrene, not wood with metal covering. Some beekeepers like these covers.
Better Bee beginning kit

Betterbee is one of our favorite suppliers of bees as they are within reasonable driving distance for us. We also purchase quality supplies through their website.


Basic Beekeeping Starter Kits

Dadant 10-Frame Add On Hobby Kit #3

Highlights of this kit:

  • Add this kit to the Dadant Kit #1 above to create a basic starter kit OR
  • Add this kit to the Dadant Master Pollinator Kit below to create deluxe starter kit.
  • Two 10-frame medium boxes (honey supers)
  • 20 frames with Plasticell foundation
  • Plastic queen excluder
  • Assembly instructions available here

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • This kit is UNASSEMBLED
Dadant starter kit add on

Dadant has local branches that may facilitate delivery, especially in these times of supply chain issues. See if there is one near you.

Mann Lake Pro Pollinator Kit

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and painted (except stand)
  • Two 10-frame deep boxes
  • 20 frames with Rite-Cell foundation
  • Telescoping cover with inner cover
  • Bee smoker with fuel
  • Hive tool
  • Bee brush
  • One economy hooded jacket (choice of size)
  • One pair of economy leather gloves (choice of size)
  • One unassembled cedar hive stand
  • A beginning beekeeping book
  • A one-year subscription to Bee Culture Magazine
  • This kit is also available with 8-frame boxes

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • No honey supers
Mann Lake pro pollinator

In addition to having a wide supply of equipment, Mann Lake has multiple pick-up locations around the country.

Dadant 10-Frame Master Pollinator Kit Assembled/Painted

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and painted
  • Two 10-frame deep boxes
  • 20 frames with Plasticell foundation
  • Telescoping cover with inner cover
  • Bee smoker with fuel
  • Hive tool
  • Bee brush
  • Entrance feeder
  • One zipper veil suit (choice of size)
  • One plastic helmet
  • One pair of economy leather gloves (choice of size)
  • One unassembled cedar hive stand
  • The Hive and Honey Bee book
  • First Lessons in Beekeeping book
  • A one-year subscription to American Bee Journal
  • Medications brochure

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • No honey supers
Dadant master pollinator kit

Combine this kit with Dadant’s 10-Frame Add On Hobby Kit #3 above and you should be able to get a colony through its first season.


Deluxe Beekeeping Starter Kits

Mann Lake 10 Frame Traditional Deluxe Beekeeping

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and painted
  • Two 10-frame deep boxes
  • 20 deep frames with Rite-Cell foundation
  • Two 10-frame medium boxes (honey supers)
  • Telescoping cover with inner cover
  • Bee smoker with fuel
  • Hive tool
  • Bee brush
  • Queen excluder
  • One cotton/poly coverall with attached zipper veil (choice of size)
  • One vented helmet
  • One pair of pro-grade goatskin gloves( choice of size)
  • The Backyard Beekeeper book (one of our recommended beginner books)

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • Expensive (but you should not need any more hive components for this colony in your first year)
Mann Lake deluxe beekeeping starter kit

Our first beehive kit was from Mann Lake and similar to this one. It has held up extremely well over the years and we highly recommend their beehives.

Keep an eye out for their specials.

Beekeeping Starter Kits Shopping Tips

Beehive starter kits are designed for beginners who want to start quickly and save some money buying a prepackaged setup. If you want to be more selective in your choices, consider buying items individually.

Protective Clothing

Kits that include protective clothing may be very limited. For example, you may not be able to select different sizes.

If a beehive kit does not offer the size you need, focus on getting the hive components in a kit and shopping separately for protective clothing.

See our article about protective bee clothing for more information.

Choice Of Foundation

Beginning kits include some form of plastic foundation. While we recommend plastic foundation for newbies, if you want to begin beekeeping with wax foundation you will need to buy that separately.

Starting with Multiple Colonies

We recommend that beginning beekeepers start with at least 2 beehives (but no more than 4).

With multiple colonies, you can lower costs buying hive components in bulk rather than in kits. However, bulk items will require assembly on your part.

Shop Quality Suppliers

Amazon makes it easy to shop for bee hive kits from various suppliers. In addition to Amazon, we recommend Mann Lake, Galena Farms, BetterBee, and Dadant.

Conclusion

It can be expensive to start beekeeping. However, beginners need not incur all the costs immediately. Starter kits are convenient ways to get your basic equipment and supplies.

You can start beekeeping with one beehive body and the requisite frames, foundation, and tools. However, the faster your colony grows, the sooner you will incur additional costs for more equipment.

If you begin with one of our recommended essential starter kits, make sure you order additional supplies in time to meet the growing space demands of your bees. Have a box ready before you need it.

A hive starter kit may not meet your needs if you have particular beekeeping plans in mind (such as using beeswax foundation instead of plastic). In that case, you will need to assemble your own starter kit through individual purchases.

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