Bee Equipment Essentials. There is a list of essentials that every beekeeper must have if he’s to be a successful apiarist. All beekeepers get stung from time to time but every apiarist needs certain protective equipment, and some important tools as well.
The most important piece of bee equipment that any beekeeper must have is a veil. They can be made of plastic or metal screening, nylon mesh, or mosquito netting. Whatever the material, the holes in it need to be small enough so that a bee can’t get inside. The material should be of a dark colour. This dark colour keeps reflection at a minimum, which allows the beekeeper to see better. Sometimes veils come attached to hats or helmets or sometimes they are made to be fitted over a wide brimmed hat which keeps the mesh away from the beekeepers face. This is a good idea as it keeps bees off the face. A hat or helmet is another must. It doesn’t really matter if it’s plastic or heavy cloth, as long as it covers the head and will either go over or accommodate a veil.
Gloves are another must have piece of bee equipment. There are various kinds of beekeeping gloves available and each beekeeper will figure out which one works best for him. Gloves come in leather and various cloths. Bees usually can’t sting through leather as it’s tough and their stingers are short. Leather gloves can limit a beekeeper’s dexterity, though, so sometimes a heavy cloth glove is the best choice. Whatever the choice, the gloves should either reach the beekeepers elbow so as to cover a lot of the arm, or they can be wrapped around the wrist with duct tape. Nobody wants a bee in their glove!
Beekeepers also need protective clothing. It should be light coloured as bees are not attracted to light colours. It should cover all parts of the body that aren’t covered and should be secured around the ankles and around the wrists. There are special “bee suits” available that novice apiarists might want to purchase. More seasoned veterans often wear heavy flannel shirts (it’s difficult for a bee’s stinger to penetrate heavy flannel) over jeans or overalls. It stands to reason that a beekeepers feet and ankles should be well covered!
Every beekeeper also needs a smoker. A smoker is an essential item of bee equipment because it keeps bees docile. They are calmed by the smoke and the smoke encourages them to eat honey rather than to fly around and sting. This is probably because the bees sense that they may have to evacuate the hive due to fire in the area and need to eat the honey to take it with them. A hive should never be opened unless the beekeeper has an already lit smoker.
Beekeepers will need to either own, or have a honey extractor available. This is a piece of equipment that uses centrifugal force to pull honey out of opened combs. Extractors are expensive and it’s wise to see if there are local beekeepers who would be willing to share, or local beekeeping clubs or organizations who lend them. A beekeeper only needs an extractor for a couple of days a year so borrowing one is a great idea. Sharing the cost of bee equipment like this is a great option if you live within easy reach of other beekeepers.
Finally, beekeepers need equipment to process honey and wax. Once the honey is out of the comb it needs to be cleaned of impurities so that it can be bottled and sold. If the beekeeper plans to use or sell the wax from the combs, he will also want to have equipment to process it. These two items of bee equipment, again, could easily be borrowed or shared.
Author, Nancy Ketner has been fascinated by Bees for as long as she can remember.