Bee Season: 4 Must-Have Tools

Bee Hat and Veil

Bee Hat and Veil

Kelley's favorite tool is her 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.

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