There are dozens of potential gifts for beekeepers in your life ranging from relatively inexpensive tools and books to top of the line equipment. And there are plenty of items that beekeepers might not think to buy themselves but would love receiving.
Bears can wreak havoc on your bees and hives. An electric fence is the best way to protect your apiary. This is how electric fences work and how to set one up.
Bee suits are white because honey bees are reputed to dislike dark colors as a defense mechanism against predators such as bears, raccoons, and skunks. Equally important, white absorb less heat from the summer sun than darker colors, making whites suits more comfortable for the beekeeper than a darker suit.
A beehive is a manufactured structure that mimics a natural honey bee nesting site. Beekeepers use them to manage honey bees and harvest hive products like honey. Bee hives are typically made of wood though other materials may be used. Beehives consist of either vertically stacked boxes or a single, horizontal cavity.
The best bee smoker fuels are nontoxic organic items that smolder and do not burn quickly. Many options are free (or cheap), including cotton fibers, burlap, dry pine needles or grass, and herbs. Suppliers sell fuel. Never use chemicals, treated material, plastic, or rubber that can harm you or the bees.
Begin to add honey supers when a beehive’s upper box is about 75% full of drawn comb with brood or food. If it is early in the season, bees can use the new box for brood. If honeyflow has begun (or is imminent), using a queen excluder keeps brood out of the added honey super, reserving it for ripening nectar.
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.
Foundationless frames are beehive frames with only a top bar starter strip for bees to begin drawing wax. Without a base, foundationless frames provide a more natural building space where bees can determine cell sizes on their own. However, foundationless frames require proper setup and handling to avoid potential problems.
A queen excluder is a metal or plastic grill serving as a selective barrier between hive boxes. Gaps in the grill permit passage of worker bees but not the larger queen and drones. An excluder placed above the brood nest prevents the queen from accessing the honey supers to lay eggs.
Beehive frames and foundation create a space where bees build wax comb to store food and raise brood. Rectangular frames hold a wax or plastic sheet of foundation embossed with hexagonal cells serving as a base for drawing straight comb.