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Essential Beekeeping Equipment

  1. Smoker

It is used to emit smoke when puffed to calm down honey bees. This allows for easy harvesting and hive inspection as it makes aggressive bees more docile. The Smoke masks the alarm pheromone given off by guard bees, minimizing the defensive reactions of the colony.

Features of a smoker include:

  • barrel (fire box) made of a flat iron sheet.
  • grate to hold the smoldering fuel.
  • nozzle (snout) to direct the smoke
  • bellows which compresses and pumps air into the combustion chamber (barrel).
  1. Hive Tool

It is a handheld multipurpose and a critical piece of equipment. Bees glue everything in the hive together with their resin-like propolis.

Uses of a hive tool include:

  • bent side is used as a hammer
  • sharpened end is used for; prying apart top bars and frames, as a knife for cutting honey combs during harvesting, and scrapping off propolis from inside and on the sides of the hive’s top bars and frames.
  1. Bee brush

The bee brush is used to gently brush the bees off from the comb surface.

Uses of a bee brush include:

  • honey harvest
  • repairing broken combs
  • swarm removal
  1. Bee Keeping Suit (Coverall and Veil)

This is a set of clothing made with the aim of protecting the beekeeper from bee stings when opening the hive during hive inspection and honey harvesting. It is made up of: Bee veil, Coverall, Gloves and Gumboots.

The veil is used to keep the head, neck, shoulder and face safe from bee stings. It must be black so that you can see through it well.

The coverall is one-piece of cloth that cover the trunk and limbs made of a light-colored material. There should not be any space or gap between your body and clothing to ensure the bees can’t reach in your body.

Gloves: Made of smooth leather and patched up with smooth light colored material, similar to that of the coverall. They protect the hands from bee stings. They should be worn over the sleeves of the bee suit.

Gumboots: To protect the feet and should be covered by the coverall. Wear the bee suit trousers over the gumboots to keep the bees from getting into the gumboots.

Langstroth Hive

This is an American hive named after its founder Lorenzo Lorrain Langstroth. It is rectangular in shape and categorized under movable combs with frames.

The hive has two major parts:

  • the brood chamber/
  • super box/honey super.

Bees build honeycombs into frames which can be removed with ease. The frames are designed to prevent bees from attaching honeycombs where they would either connect adjacent frames, or connect frames to the walls of the hive. The movable frames allow the beekeeper to manage the bees in a way which was formerly impossible.

During harvesting the frames are removed and inserted into an extractor, which removes the honey leaving the combs intact.

It is made up of the following parts:

  • Bottom Board – a wooden stand on which the hive rests. The bottom board should be placed on bricks or concrete blocks to keep it off the ground.
  • Top Cover – made of galvanized iron sheet which cap the entire hive and protect it from harsh environmental conditions e.g. rainfall and sunshine.
  • Frames and Foundation – wooden frames hold sheets of beeswax foundation that is imprinted with the shapes of hexagonal cells. Bees use the foundation to build straight combs.
  • Brood Chamber – a large wooden box that holds ten frames of comb. It 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.
  • Queen Excluder – it is between the brood box/chamber and the honey super. It is made of wire mesh and keeps the queen confined in the brood nest, such that brood will not occur in honey supers. An excluder is not necessary if two hive bodies are used.
  • Inner Cover – prevents bees from attaching combs to the outer cover. It also insulates dead air space against temperature changes.
  • Honey Supers – shallow supers with frames of comb in which bees store surplus honey. This surplus is the honey that is harvested and it contains 10 frames.

Advantages of using a Queen Excluder

  • The queen bee only lays eggs in the brood chamber.
  • The honey chamber contains clean honey.
  • Wax from the honey chamber is clean and white.
  • When honey is harvested, bees remain calm since there is little disturbance.
  • Bee population increases steadily thus more honey is produced in time. This is due to little disturbance of the queen and the brood.

Advantages of Langstroth Hive

  1. The comb is fixed firmly to the four sides of the frame hence facilitate easy harvesting and no fear of damaging the comb.
  2. The strength of the built-in comb allows easy transportation. It also affords easy control of a bee colony without fear of breakage before arrival at the destination.
  3. Honey is extracted by a centrifugal honey extractor, hence honey is removed without damaging the combs. Bees will not waste time and energy making new combs.
  4. During hive inspection, very few bees are crushed dead between frames, whereas many are killed by careless handling of top bars in K.T.B.H.
  5. The hive is designed with a queen excluder. Therefore the queen and brood are confined to the lower chamber without disturbance during harvesting
  6. Stealing a double or triple storey hive with a colony is difficult for a thief unlike for the K.T.B.H.
  7. A swarm of bees can be hived easily as bees easily pass through the spaces between the frame and the top of the hive.
  8. Hive boxes can easily be stacked for storage. This makes it easy to expand or contract the hive to meet the needs of the bee colony.