8 Must Have Tools for the Beekeeper

I have been beekeeping since 2003. That's a long time and I think I have an opinion on tools of the apiary ! But even so, I am sure someone may be able to come up with an ingenious idea to make work easier. We can buy all kinds of gadgets and fill our car with neat  bee tools but what do you really need?
This is my list that I know I can make an unplanned apiary visit if I have these tools.


Hive tool

My hive tool is actually a painter's five in one! But you could just as easily use a sturdy pocket knife. Sturdy because of the prying, you don't want a bent blade.
When bees propolis their hive, just your bare hands might not be enough to lift the boxes apart. The hive tool gives leverage and makes it easy without bumping or jarring the hive. Yikes!
5 in 1

Spray bottle

This is my smoker. I use a 1:1 sugar spray and sometimes add essential oils. Plain water is used as well. If the girls get aggressive I know with my spray bottle I can calm them and get the job done. I get mine at the local dollar store for about 3 bucks, it holds about 16 ounces.



smoker and spray bottle
Maybe this should be 2.5 ! But seriously, I am a no smoke apiary but I own a smoker. This is because sometimes an aggressive hive won't be calmed with a spray. If this is the only way in to a hive then I have the right tool. In a pinch a smoker can be fashioned from a can. Just pop some air holes/vents in the side bottom for easier burn. And as with any burning implement, be careful , do not dump ashes if you don't carry water to put on them. If you put a hot smoker in the car or among tools it will burn or melt something and maybe even catch fire! Let it cool off!!


I like a veil. I do not need more protection( most times) but a veil is nice to have. Face stings are some of the most painful. Have you ever had a bee up your nose? or in your ear??
Need I say more? A veil on hand gives me the ability to get into a face flying hive.

Water Bottle

This is more for the beekeeper than the bees. In season, in the apiary we need to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle handy and remember to drink so you can make smart decisions. Since summers are getting hotter our body will need more water. This is especially important when you do wear a full suit.
You can use leftover to put the ashes out from your smoker!

Queen Catcher/Cage

My family laughs at me because I always have a queen cage. In my purse and in my car and all over the house,  let alone in my bee bag, I have a cage. You should too! 
Swarms happen and when they do you can be prepared with just this cage or catcher. This way you can catch a swarm with just a cardboard box, know you have the queen and be on your merry way home.
Or if you need to move a queen from hive to hive, without moving frames. I have found queens on the ground with a small group of bees, I easily can pick her up but can you?? 
queen cage and a queen catcher
The time to think you should have a cage or  queen catcher is BEFORE you need one!



I am not the best record keeper. I have seen many forms of records. If you find one that suits you, great! The point here is to have some sort of dedicated notebook. Scribbles, pictures and random notes on temperature or blooms anything to get the points of interest of the day. In the end it will help you evaluate your hives. Even if you have no method to your notes, one will develop based on your apiary needs.

Entrance reducer

This does not have to be  a perfect reducer. There are times when any entrance reducer is needed. Robbing, pests, weak hive and more. An entrance reducer is something like the queen cage, have it BEFORE you need it.
I have used spanish moss, grass ,plastic grocery bags, screen, cardboard.....get the idea? These materials will all reduce any size entrance in a pinch. Just knowing that you can (and should) utilize the materials around you will take the reliance off of only bought tools! (Especially when you forgot them!)

view from the hive
So there you have it, 8 tools to have on any apiary visit.
Do you have something to add? Think I missed it ? Let me know!

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