Beekeeping Starter Kits (Best Kits By Budget 2024)

Beekeeping starter kits

Updated on December 27th, 2023

We estimate that it costs about $800 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, basic tools, and some protective gear. As your colonies grow, you will need additional hive components and supplies, or you can start with a more complete and more costly beginning beekeeping kit.

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

Beekeeping starter kits

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 kit 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, but will require additional purchase shortly after your bees arrive.

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.

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.

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

What Equipment Do I Need To Start Beekeeping?

At a minimum, a beginning beekeeper kit should have basic hive components and equipment to install your first bee colony, including:

  • One 10-frame deep hive box,
  • A bottom board,
  • Outer and inner covers,
  • An entrance reducer,
  • Ten 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 beekeeping, 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 light 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 Beginner Beekeeping Kit?

Things you will not find in beekeeping starter kits are:

  • HONEY BEES! See our article about where to get honey bees.
  • A hive stand to keep components off the ground,
  • Feeding supplies (such as pollen patties and sugar),
  • Varroa mite treatments (which is a topic you should learn about)
  • Overwintering equipment (which is not needed until the fall)
  • Honey extraction tools and equipment, which you probably won’t need until your second year of beekeeping

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 may 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

NuBee 10 Frame Beehive Starter Kit

Highlights of this kit:

  • Fully assembled and painted
  • One 10-frame deep beehive body
  • 5 or 10 CellTech Frames/Foundations (100% Wax Coated) – select the 5 Frame option if you get bees in a nuc
  • Bottom board with entrance reducer
  • Telescoping outer cover with an inner cover
  • One pair of leather gloves
  • One protective jacket with a reinforced upright veil
  • Bee smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Plastic queen excluder

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • You will still need to buy additional boxes, frames, and foundation as the colony grows, which can happen quickly.

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

NuBee 10 Frame Beehive Starter Kit on Galena Farms

Galena Farms provides quality beekeeping supplies and several styles of hive components

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

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 frames OR get your bees in a 5-frame nuc.
  • You will still need to buy additional boxes, frames, and foundation as the colony grows, which can happen quickly.

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

Hoover Hives 10 Frame Starter Kit on Amazon

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
  • 3 or 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 who prefers working with 8- frame boxes, which we use.
  • You will still need to buy additional boxes, frames, and foundation as the colony grows, which can happen quickly.

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

Hoover Hives 8 frame starter kit at Galena Farms

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

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 but comes with instructions
  • No option to select glove size
  • Entrance feeders are not a great choice
Dadant 10-Frame Deep Beginner's Kit #1 Unassembled on Dadant

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:

  • The outer cover is lightweight polystyrene, not wood with a metal covering. Some beekeepers like these covers.
  • No beekeeping suit or jacket.
BetterBee beginning kit at Betterbee

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 a deluxe starter kit.
  • Two 10-frame medium boxes (honey supers)
  • 20 frames with Plasticell foundation
  • Plastic queen excluder
  • Assembly instructions are available here

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • This kit is UNASSEMBLED
Dadant 10-Frame Add-On Hobby Kit #3 on Dadant

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

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 10-Frame Master Pollinator Kit Assembled/Painted on Dadant

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 apparently discontinued its deluxe beekeeping kit. However, you can get a deluxe kit by combining the Dadant Master Pollinator Kit and Dadant’s Add-On Hobby Kit shown above.

You can also create a deluxe kit using Mann Lake hive bodies by combining the following items:

Mann Lake 10 Frame Traditional Growing Apiary Kit

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

Drawbacks of this kit:

  • High initial outlay (but you should not need any more hive components for this colony in your first year)

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.

Add protective gear to the Mann Lake hive. We bought Mann Lake economy bee jackets which held up extremely well for years.

our budget picks for newbies

Mann Lake Economy Bee Jacket

Our Mann Lake Economy Jacket has
provided excellent protection for years.

Mann Lake Economy Bee Jacket

Mann Lake Economy Bee Suit

This is the full beekeeping suit version
of our economy jacket.

Mann Lake Economy Bee Suit

Add gloves to go along with your jacket or suit.

our glove picks

Mann Lake Vented Cowhide Leather Beekeeping Gloves

Our first gloves. Never been stung through them, but they can be hard to work with. A reasonably priced option to consider.

Humble Bee Cowhide Gloves with Reinforced & Ventilated Cuffs

Supple goat leather hands, ventilated wrists, medium-weight canvas sleeve, and elastic cuffs

Humble Bee Cowhide Gloves with Reinforced & Ventilated Cuffs on Amazon

Mann Lake Vented Goatskin
Beekeeping Gloves

Goatskin version of Mann Lake’s glove with an elastic top and vented sleeve.

Humble Bee Goatskin Gloves with Reinforced & Ventilated Cuffs

Durable cow leather hands, reinforced and ventilated wrists, heavy-duty canvas sleeves, and elastic cuffs.

Get your basic tools: a smoker and a hive tool.

our “must have” tool picks

VIVO Stainless Steel Bee Smoker

This is the bee smoker we use.

VIVO Stainless Steel Bee Smoker on Amazon

Kinglake J Hook Hive Tool

This is our go-to hive inspection tool.

Kinglake J Hook Hive Tool on Amazon

Kinglake Standard Hive Tool

Our backup tool for some jobs.

Kinglake Standard Hive Tool on Amazon

Pick a book. Our favorite is The Beekeeper’s Handbook. Beekeeping for dummies is widely recommended in online forums. The Backyard Beekeeper was included in the old Mann Lake Deluxe Kit.

our beginner beekeeping book picks

The Beekeeper’s Handbook Fifth Edition

This has been our #1 book since we started beekeeping. It’s not just for beginners.

The Beekeeper’s Handbook - Fifth Edition on Amazon

Beekeeping for dummies

Possibly the most recommended book for beginning beekeepers. Don’t be a dummy.

 Beekeeping for dummies on Amazon

The Backyard Beekeeper – Fifth Edition

The Backyard Beekeeper is geared toward the hobby beekeeper with limited space.

 The Backyard Beekeeper - Fifth Edition on Amazon

Beginner Beekeeping Kit Shopping Tips

Beehive starter kits are designed for beginners who want to start quickly and save some money by 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 a beeswax foundation instead of plastic). In that case, you will need to assemble your own starter kit through individual purchases.

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