Choices, choices, choices...So many choices! An aspiring beekeeper has a daunting list of things to consider before they ever purchase their first bees.
What type of honey bees should I get? Carniolans? Italian Bees? Buckfast? Russians?
Where am I going to set up my hives? Is one hive enough or should I get two? (We always recommend starting with two beehives).
Then comes the decisions about the equipment. There are so many items out there some assembled, some unassembled. There seems to be an endless array of add on bee equipment from slatted racks to screened bottom boards and migratory covers to telescoping covers and imirie shims to Vivaldi boards. (Don’t bees just live in a box? 😫 )
It’s no wonder the new beekeeper feels so overwhelmed before they even see their first honey bee! Well here’s a simple break down of the bee equipment that your honey bees need to thrive. You don’t need a hive with all the fancy bells and whistles, bees do great as long as they have some basics.
The only equipment you absolutely need to keep your bees happy (apart from your safety clothing) is:
4. Inner Cover
6. Entrance reducer
7. Queen Excluder (for keeping your Queen out of your honey supers when the time comes)
8. At least 2 medium honey supers (but know you likely won’t get a sizeable honey harvest, if any in your first year. Supers are good to have on hand though in case the nectar flow is really heavy and your bees are awesomely going forth and bringing back nature’s bounty. Having supers at the ready will prevent a honeybound brood chamber)
10. Bee Smoker
11. Hive tool
You can choose to buy these hive woodenware pieces all unassembled, usually at a slightly lower price point, or you can choose assembled versions that cost a bit more but take the stress of building your equipment out of the picture.
Often times you can purchase complete hive kits that include all the required components fully assembled and in a bundled price that works out to be a bit less expensive than buying the pieces individually and assembling them yourself.
Whether you choose to buy a pre-bundled and assembled beehive kit or you choose to buy everything individually and build it all yourself, there is no shame in either option. That’s what makes beekeeping so wonderful, everyone does what works best for their style and needs.
All the other fancy hive equipment has a purpose, but often times it’s more for convenience of the beekeeper or to slightly improve hive living conditions. It’s not all necessary and is a matter of beekeeping management style and preference. As you become a more experienced beekeeper you can choose to start experimenting with different hive options and configurations. But get your basics down first!
It’s sort of like models of cars, some packages come with higher end features like navigational systems, self parking features or heated seats and steering wheels. You don’t have to have all the bells and whistles to have a drivable car, you just need the basics and it will still work just fine! When your income is a little higher and your comfortable with driving then you can try out some other features, but you don’t have to have it all on day one.