Getting Started: Beekeeping Equipment
One new hive with bees and basic equipment costs about $200. Hive parts are cut to standard dimensions that mimic the space bees naturally leave between their combs. Always reproduce these dimensions exactly if you make your own bee hives.
A. Hive outer cover - provides weather protection.
B. Inner cover - prevents bees from attaching comb to outer cover and provides insulating dead air space.
C. Shallow honey supers - shallow supers with frames of comb in which bees store surplus honey. This surplus is the honey that is harvested.
D. Queen excluder - placed between the brood nest and the honey supers. This device keeps the queen in the brood nest so brood will not occur in honey supers. An excluder is usually not necessary if two hive bodies are used.
E. Hive body or brood chamber - large wooden box (called a "super") that holds 10 frames of comb. This space (the brood nest) is reserved for the bees to rear brood and store honey for their own use. Either one or two hive bodies can be used for a brood nest. Two hive bodies are common in cold winter regions. Beekeepers in areas with mild winters successfully use only one hive body.
F. Bottom board - wooden stand on which the hive rests. Set bottom board on bricks or concrete blocks to keep it off the ground.
G. Hive stand - Supports the hive off the ground to keep hive bottom dry and insulates hive.
Frames and foundation
Wooden frames hold sheets of beeswax or plastic foundation that are imprinted with the shapes of hexagonal cells. (Fig. 1).
A smoker is the most valuable tool for working bees. A smoker calms bees and reduces stinging. Pine straw, grass and burlap make good smoker fuel (Fig. 2).
Ideally shaped for prying apart supers and frames (Fig. 3).
Veil and gloves
These protect the head and arms from stings. After they gain experience, many beekeepers prefer to work without gloves (Fig. 4).
Feeders hold sugar syrup that is fed to bees any time during the year that energy demands are high but natural nectar not available. Winter and late summer are common times for feeding in Georgia. The Boardman entrance feeder (Fig. 5) is conveniently placed at the hive entrance, but has the disadvantage of inviting robbing. The division board feeder (Fig. 6) takes the place of one brood comb and is placed directly in the brood nest next to the clustering bees. Floats or folded hardware cloth are necessary to prevent excess bee drowning. Syrup can be placed in plastic food bags which are placed on top of brood combs and enclosed in an empty super (Fig. 7). The beekeeper gives bees access to the syrup by cutting a 5-inch slit in the top of the bag with a razor knife.
Consult the list of addresses of bee equipment suppliers at Resources: Bee Supplies. Exterior wooden parts should at least be coated with good oil or latex paint. Assemble interior frames with wood glue and nails.