Bee Season: 4 Must-Have Tools

Bee Hat and Veil

Bee Hat and Veil

Kelley's favorite tool is her hat and veil.

As a novice beekeeper, I’ve started small with one hive and the minimum of tools. I know beekeepers who need an extra room for their equipment: honey filters and extractors, frame-making gadgets and more. I’m not knocking it; in 10 years, I’ll probably be there. But for now, these are the tools I can’t live without.

1. Hive Tool

The bees seal the cracks in the hive with resin-like propolis. You use the flat end of the multipurpose hive tool to break the seal and, once you’re in the hive, scrape away excess comb. The curved end becomes a lever for prying up the frames.

2. Mini-Smoker

I love my smoker because it’s compact; I only need enough smoke for one hive. I load mine with pine needles, but you can use any fragrant fuel to calm the bees: bee tobacco, fabric (cotton or burlap), wood chips and even cardboard.

3. Gloves

Next up? Gloves. I don’t have a bee suit (hate ‘em, the uncomfortable things), so I pull on an extra shirt and use my shoulder-length gloves to protect against stings.

4. Hat and Veil

My favorite piece, though, is the veil that one of my bee mentors gave me. It belonged to Mr. Thomas, a gentleman who kept bees for more than 50 years here in east Tennessee. When he passed on, he handed it down to my mentor. When I wear it, I think about my grandmother — the first beekeeper in my life — Mr. Thomas and my generous bee mentor. I sometimes consider getting one of the new, streamlined ones. But for now, like my simple list of tools, I think I’ll keep it.

Next Up

Bee Season: A Basic Hive Setup

Start your hive hobby off right with this list of what to do first.

Bee Season: Inspecting Your Comb

The first reason to examine the comb is to check the overall health of the hive.

Got Bees? Become a Beekeeper

Learn how to get started in beekeeping and reap the rewards.

The Bee-Beauty Connection

Beekeeper Cassandra Lawson heralds the benefits of keeping bees. A number of natural beauty companies are also extoling honey's beauty benefits.

Bee Season: Can Backyard Hives Save the Bees?

Our reluctance to use chemicals on our hives is building a stronger strain of bees.

Bee Cool: Learn How to Be a Beekeeper

Beekeeping experts share their insider tips.

Animal Diaries: The Bee

Hives and head gear: Take a peek at what constitutes a bee's life.

How to Gather Honey from Beehives

Learn one way to extract honey from your backyard beehives.

Honey Do List: Cooking With Honey

Put your bees' honey to good use throughout your cooking repertoire.

13 Ways to Help the Bees

Our gardens used to buzz with bees; now these useful pollinators are disappearing. Find out what to do.