One of our readers (and fellow beekeeper), Tina, suggested we do a beginning beekeeper gift guide. Thanks for the suggestion.
For the beginning beekeeper, our free Guide to Raising Honeybees Download OneBlock_Bee.pdf has a list of materials, links to suppliers, and instructions on how to get started beekeeping. Did I mention it’s free?
We started our beekeeping adventure with Master Pollinator kits ($299.50 each) from Dadant & Sons. Each kit includes almost everything a person would need to get started in beekeeping, except for bees.
These kits got us started, but beekeeping, like woodworking, offers ample opportunity for equipment acquisition.
Some things, like a Country Rubes bottom board ($40), are essential to the health of the hive. It has a screened bottom for greater air circulation and a slot for a sticky board to make monitoring pest levels easier.
And the clothing...well, it’s not cocktail wear, but a beekeeper needs to be well dressed. We found that the bee suit set-up in the beginner kit needed some upgrades...
Well-made helmets fit better than cheap plastic helmets and are more comfortable to wear (and they last longer too). We like the vented helmets ($14) from Mann Lake Ltd.
And we like the round tie-on veils ($13) rather than zip-ons. Sure, bees can get inside the veil more easily, but when you’re in a hurry and just need to get out there and check the hives, it’s great to just tie on a veil rather than struggle into a clumsy suit and zip up your veil.
Gloves really need to fit. Too-big gloves are clumsy to work in and are a menace to the bees. Kimberley and I both wish for a pair of children sized gloves ($19); our small hands swim in even the small adult size gloves.
We enjoy our subscription to the American Bee Journal(from $25 per year). And there’s always something worth reading in the opus The Hive and the Honey Bee, edited by Joe M. Graham, ($36) But First Lessons in Beekeeping, by Keith S. Delaplane ($9) is better for the beginner, with lots of photos. Both books are available from Dadant.
The best advice is from Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine (from $25 per year) and the author of The Backyard Beekeeper ($20) says in his beekeeper gift guide blog at thedailygreen.com, “My advice, first off, is to get a gift certificate, because that just-starting-out beginner doesn't even know what he or she wants yet.”
So true. But he or she will know soon.