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What equipment will I need?

Beekeeping, like a lot of hobbies and crafts, suffers from there being a plethora of gizmos and tools available to the consumer. You can talk to one beekeeper who will recommend something and to another who will recommend something completely different, especially when it comes to types of hives to buy. 

You may get an opportunity to try out different equipment while attending a course to see what suits you best.

The quality and cost of equipment can vary considerably but there are some items where it does not make sense to skimp. 


All beekeepers will need:

Bee suit. A good quality bee suit with a clear view veil is one of the most important items you will own.  


Smoker. Buying a good quality steel smoker will last you years with a little bit of TLC by keeping it clean. 


Hive tool. There are two types of hive tool - the standard and the J-type. They are not expensive and it may be worth having both and seeing which you prefer working with. Try and buy a hive tool made from sprung steel.


Gloves. Washing-up gloves are a good starting point. More experienced beekeepers use disposable latex or nitrile gloves as they are considerably more sensitive and make beekeeping easier. We do not recommend leather gloves as they are difficult to keep clean and can lead to unhygienic practice.


Wellies. The alternative is stout shoes and very thick socks – but wellies are better!

As your beekeeping moves on, you will find that you will gradually acquire more and more equipment. then you will need somewhere to keep it all


Choice of beehive

This is an important decision as, although it is possible to change at a later date, it causes an upheaval not to mention the expense. 

Considerations will include size, construction and ease of manoeuver.

National hive
Most beekeepers in England tend to use a National hive – which comes in two sizes the standard and the 14 x 12. Some people consider the former to be a little small and tend to run a brood and a half, whereas the 14 x 12 is quite a bit larger but can put quite a strain on one's back. 

Commercial hives fall somewhere between the two in size. They are easier to construct than the national but the hand holds are very small.

WBC named after William Broughton Carr, the traditional beehive looks completely charming and affords good insulation for the bees. However, this is not for a beekeeper with many hives as it takes longer to take apart and put back together.

Langstroth hives are large and are not that common in the UK – they tend to be the hive of choice in the United States. 


Typical hive
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