Scroll down this column for a basic list of equipment that new beekeepers need to acquire (click here for a PDF version of the information below). For places where you can buy equipment, click on our B link.
FYI, for more support with equipment decisions, it's wise to take a beekeeping class &/or read up on beginning beekeeping. Some good sources include:
BEEKEEPING BASICS: Click here to download a free PDF file of MAAREC's excellent handbook.
Howland Blackiston, Beekeeping for Dummies, 3rd edition. New Jersey: Wiley Publishers, Inc., 2015. Like other "Dummies" books, Blackiston's is clearly written, easy to follow, & has helpful diagrams & illustrations.
Dr. Dewey Caron, Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping. With Larry Connor. Wicwas Press: revised 2013 with color photographs.
Keith S. Delaplane, First Lessons in Beekeeping. Dadant & Sons, 2007. Dr. Delaplane, University of Georgia entomologist, has also produced a series of helpful videos with the same title.
Beginning Beekeeping Equipment List
Assume $300-400 to start
You can save $$ by capturing a swarm of free bees or joining LCBA & getting bees by participating at a carve-out (see our Swarm Capture & Colony Removals page); you can also buy used equipment, but be careful - find out why the beekeeper is selling gear. Disease spores can linger in equipment for many years. If buying used woodenware, it's wise to flame it with a propane torch or to scrub it in bleach solution.
5-Langstroth 10 Frame Medium Boxes-Commercial, Unassembled
& 50- Med frames +Wax Foundation-Unassembled
[Alternative: 2 Langstroth 10 frame Deep Boxes & 20 deep frames, plus 2 Langstroth 10 frame Medium Deep Boxes & 20 medium frames – commercial, unassembled. Some beekeepers prefer the efficiency of using 2 deeps instead of 3 mediums for brood boxes; others prefer lighter weight of medium brood boxes. Unassembled boxes should be primed & painted with non-latex paint.]
Screened bottom board with slider board
1 Nine Frame Spacer for Honey Super
Inner cover for 10 Frame Hive
Telescoping cover/sheet metal covered for 10 Frame hive
Stainless Steel Frame Holder
Smoker OR sugar/water spray bottle
Pure Cane Sugar for fall & winter feeding
Beekeeping for Dummies (Blackiston) or comparable beginner’s book
And…..Bees [3 lb. package or nuc; if you are lucky, though, you may be able to catch a swarm for free. Visit our Swarm and Colony Removal page.]
LCBA holds hive assembly workshops each year in addition to our Apprentice classes. For a photo gallery of our 2014 assembly workshops that shows members putting together assorted hive parts, click here.
Newly built hive boxes waiting for package bees. It's a good idea to elevate hive boxes about a foot off the ground - that way, less chance of moisture from rain/dew entering the hive, fewer ants, etc., strolling in, & best of all, your back will thank you for not having to bend over quite so far!
Choose your apiary location carefully:
* Bees need nearby forage.
* Bees benefit from early sunlight - so face the hives east or southeast. However--
* Bees need shelter from wind, so don't put them on top of a hill, or face hives into prevailing winds that can blow rain into the hive. It's better to violate the "directional rule" than to risk regularly exposing your colony entrance to rough weather.
* Excessive moisture can promote fungus growing inside hives, so avoid putting bees in a hollow where cold air and water pool up.
* Many beekeepers choose to put roofing over their hives to keep driving rain from directly pelting them & to give bees the chance to do cleansing flights during rainy weather; others put corrugated plastic over hives in winter to help:
Providing a clean, reliable water source right by your hive will help bees save time & energy - they don't have to hunt out water, & you don't have to worry about their getting into contaminated water. Bees need water to help regulate temperature in the hive. Below, a poultry waterer covered with bees: