If you have been thinking about beekeeping as a hobby, you may find it to be enjoyable and rewarding. This article serves as an introduction to the tools needed in handing the beehive, itself.
The central piece of equipment you will need is the actual beehive. The hive must be set up and completely ready prior to the arrival of the bees. You should have at least five supers. A super is a hive body or smaller box in which surplus honey is stored. The supers are important not only because it is there honey is stored but also because this is where the honey will later be harvested by the beekeeper. Usually, the supers are located above the brood chamber. Broods are immature bees (eggs, larvae, or pupae) that have not yet emerged from their cells.
The beehive bottom is usually located below the five supers. A cover is on top. Supers are also a breeding ground for young honeybees.
Supers can be shallow or deep. Deep supers can weigh a hundred pounds when full, so the structure of the hive must be very strong. The structure should also be able to withstand wind. Toppling beehives is not a rare occurrence.
Once you have an active hive, each super will contain nine to ten frames. A frame is made of either wood or plastic and is designed to hold the honey comb.
You will also need is a smoker. This is a device in which materials slowly burns to produce a very cool smoke. This is used to subdue the bees. It is important to use a material that does not produce a warm/hot smoke, which will harm the bees.
The smoker is employed to encourage the bees to leave the hive whenever you want to collect honey. It is a simple device with a funnel, a chamber for combustion, and bellows. Many beekeepers prefer to burn old, clean burlap because it is easy to ignite and it smoulders well. Other beekeepers favor the use of dried corn cobs. They both work well.
The location of the beehive is also important. Select an area not normally visited by humans or pets. Both humans and animals will disturb the bees and may interrupt honey production. Animals and people can also be attacked by the bees if they feel threatened. This is not normally a problem with European bees, except if an intruder stumbles over the beehive or if children tease them. You need to avoid any problem by selecting a secure and isolated area.
You will also need a metal hive tool. This is used to open the hive, to pry open the frames and to scrape wax.
The next item is a bee brush, which is used to gently brush or whisk the bees away from the honey combs, and to observe the frames.
And there is the fume board. This device is used during the removal (extrication) of honeycombs. The fume board is a rectangular cover about the size of a super. It has an absorbent material on the underside. A chemical is placed on the material to drive the bees out of the supers. Of course, before honeycomb removal, most bees would have been removed first by smoke.
When looking for beekeeping equipment, keep in mind that used equipment is as good as new. Everything you need can be found on the Interest and even on online auctions.
This has been only a brief review of the basic tools used in beekeeping. You should learn much more about beekeeping before you begin. There are books available, and you may wish to speak to beekeepers that live near you.