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Wooden Board

Beekeeping Equipment

      Bee Suits and Tunics

A full suit offers the best protection.  A suit in a slightly larger size provides air-space between the suit and the clothes underneath, an additional protection from stings and less chance of over-heating. If choosing a tunic or half-suit, wear jeans or other tough fabric trousers and boots. Fewer bees land on light brown suits. 

 

When suiting up, make sure:

  • The zips are closed and in the correct sequence

  • There are no holes in the veil

  • Put cuff thumb-loops around your thumbs

 

If the netting tends to touch your face, wear a base-ball cap underneath the hood.

For a 30 second suit-up, keep a set of boots inside the suit, step into the boots and pull the suit up.

Hive Tools

Essential piece of equipment to:

  • Lift the corner of a sealed down crown-board

  • Prise apart frames that are propolised together

  • Hook under a top bar lug to lift it slightly

  • Scrape propolis, brace comb

  • To break open a sealed queen cell if appropriate

  • To squash pests such as wasps

Can be sterilised in the smoker.

Gloves

Gauntlet gloves cover the forearm and are impermeable to bee stings - a good option for beginners. Some users prefer the rubber version, some prefer the goatskin version.

More experienced users often migrate to nitrile or other similar thin gloves that allow finer manipulation.

Propolis build-up can be removed from rubber/plastic gloves with warm soapy water, keep a bucket to hand in the apiary when doing inspections.

    

Tool Belt

Instead of putting your hive tool down, use a belt with a magnet. Useful for other small items such as a queen cage and marker.

Anchor 1

Hygiene

  • Some beekeepers have a dedicated hive tool for each hive

  • Keep a bucket with strong washing soda solution and a scourer in each apiary and clean and soak tools between inspections, making sure a clean tool is always available. Dry before using

  • Hive tool can be sterilised in smoker

  • Wash bee suit (remove hood) and wash in machine

  • Wash mold out of feeders

  • Wash gloves

Smoker

       Lighting and keeping your bee smoker lit can be a challenge, but it does not need to           be.

Step 1 – Preparing to light the bee smoker

  • First quickly inspect the smoker to make sure the screen plate at the bottom is in place and free of debris. Unless air can easily flow through this screen, you will struggle to light and keep your smoker lit. 

  • Inspect the bellows for holes. 

  • Make sure the location where you are lighting your smoker is safe - stay away from flammable materials, dry grass or vegetation

 

Paper, small twigs or pine needles are good choices to get the fire started. Matches and lighters are fine, but a candle lighter with the long wand or a small blow-torch is better and keep your hands away from the flame.

 

Choosing your fuels

Keep in mind that you need materials to start the smoker and fuel to keep the smoker going. Create a bed of smouldering 'coals' in the bottom of the smoker, then add material to the top to generate a cool smoke.

  • Pine needles

  • Evergreen branches and needles

  • Cones – Pine or Fir

  • Cut grass, slightly damp

  • Wood Stove Pellets

  • Straw

  • Rotted wood

  • Hessian

  • NO Treated wood, plastic or rubber

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2 – Lighting your smoker

You will need ½ sheet of any newspaper or similar, some egg cartons that have no glued labels etc. and a reliable material such as wood pellets.

Assuming your smoker is ready to use, crunch up the newspaper, not too tight and light it, place this in the smoker and push it down gently and give the bellows a couple of squeezes, then add the egg box in sections to the smoker. Push it down a little harder, then squeeze the bellows until you hear the change in sound and the flames roar.

Using your hive tool push the now lit material down some more then add wood pellets (just a handful), this should last you about an hour, and if you add more pellets it will last longer. Test you have a 'cool' smoke, on your glove.

You may need to practice this a couple of times to get the mix of material right for your particular needs.

Step 3 – Keeping your smoker lit

As you are working your hives, squeeze the bellows at least once every minute or two depending on the size of your smoker and the amount of coals you have at the bottom. Do not forget to add more fuel as you go, such as more grass as needed, or more pine cones, wood, or pellets if smoker is needed for some time.

PINE NEEDLES

From pine woodland or seller of pine needle mulch.

Creates a cool smoke with a pleasant fragrance and is easy to light. Use paper as a starter, balled up in the bottom of the smoker. Stuff pine needles on top while pumping the bellows until the smoker is full, then pump a few more times to keep it smouldering.

WOOD PELLETS

The wood pellets are more to create a bed of coals to keep the bee smoker going and can also create smoke as well.

 

Store pellets away from moisture or else you will end up with a lot of sawdust. These wood stove pellets tend to come in a large bag, so can last a very long time.

GRASS

Use grass that has some moisture in it. Green grass works but I find grass that has been cut for several days to weeks and left in clumps works well in producing a cool smoke. Straw is usually too dry will have to be packed in to keep it from burning too quickly.

ROTTED WOOD

Rotten wood can be used for building coals to keep the smoker going. Alder burns at a slower rate than some other woods. Break into golf ball size pieces to place in the smoker.

HESSIAN

The type used for sacks - a natural material made from the jute plant. A fairly small amount lasts quite a while and has a cool smoke.

Inspection Cloths

Two cloths, with weighted edges, used to isolate one or two frames and prevent bees walking on the top bars. Care must be taken to avoid transfer of disease between hives.

Spare Frames and Foundation

Keep a supply on hand and put them together over the winter, including super frames and foundation. Store in a closed , dry box.

Plastic frames do not need to be assembled and have plastic foundation.

Frame Stand/Hanger

It is a good idea to have the upturned roof under the hanger in the case the queen drops off the frame.

Queen Catcher and Markers

Many designs are available, including one-handed catchers. Buy a set of queen markers in all 5 colours: White, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow.

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