My wife and I attempted to thru-hike the entire 2200 mile length of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia in 2016. We needed all sorts of gear from backpacks to tents to camping stoves. It was then I learned that I am what they call, ‘
a gear head.’
I love backpacking gear and equipment. But on this page we talk about another type of gear that I love:
I want to share my 17+ years of experience that I’ve had with veils and jackets to extractors and hive tools. If you want to know more about a piece of gear or equipment that is NOT on this page then leave a detailed comment below. beekeeping gear!
My hopes are that with these gear reviews, you will be better informed in order to make the crucial decisions about what might work best for you.
Click on any of the images below; they will redirect you to great deals on Amazon.com. Thanks, because your purchases help to support this Keeper, my projects and this blog!
Italian style hive tool by SULTAN/Let’s start with something simple yet crucial for every beekeepers’ tool belt. Honestly, any hive tool is better than no hive tool. But THIS hive tool is especially special to me for two reasons: 1) Its longer body gives better leverage for prying boxes and frames that are stuck with propolis and 2) Its thinner profile makes prying frames apart easier without accidentally squishing your precious honey bees in the process.
American Honey Plants by Frank C. Pellett/ So this is one of my favorite books on beekeeping. I’ve mentioned it in several blog posts and it comes highly recommended by me! American Honey Plants is a nice thick book with over 450 pages of content and hundreds of plant descriptions. But not just any plants; honey bee forage. The whole book is arranged alphabetically and covers plants from all 50 states. It also includes quite a lot of black and white photos. With this you can learn what types of plants are available in your area that you might not have known about before.
So this Square folding veil by Mann Lake was the very first veil I ever had. It’s long gone by now but I am seriously considering getting another one because I don’t always like wearing a full jacket/veil combo. Especially on hot summer days, this veil is quick and easy to put on and just as easy to fold away when done. I really like the sturdy wire screen that the veil is made of. It doesn’t snag like other ‘veils’ I’ve had and it stays away from my face while I’m working. Totally worth it.
Honey in the Comb by Eugene E. Killion/ Another old book that has completely changed the way I keep bees. The valuable information in this old book (it has that old book smell, ah!) taught me the importance of ventilation in a beehive. Ventilation is KEY for bees on so many levels: honey production, colony health, etc. On top of all that, it has incredible in-depth detail about comb honey production, which I have had impressive success with. I’ve even designed my own personal comb super that yields nice fat solid frames of honeycomb! I’ve read this book cover to cover countless times. As a bonus, it even includes queen rearing how-to. Another book that goes everywhere with me.
Vivo Large Two-Frame Stainless Steel Extractor/ Last summer I needed something on the fly for cranking out my honey crop. So I acquired a two-frame extractor. This particular one comes as a two-frame, three-frame, four-frame, and a four-frame electric. The tripod legs have holes in the feet for securing to a surface. The hand crank runs very smooth and spins out the honey in no time. The basket inside is heavy duty and quite sturdy. It comes with a gate valve for pouring into a 5-gallon bucket, which fits perfectly underneath. I am really happy with my little extractor and I know you would be too.
At the Hive Entrance by H. Storch/ A classic written by a German observer, if I’m not mistaken. The cover of this book pretty much says it all. The format inside the cover is divided into two columns and the book itself divided into seasons, so its information can be applied to anyone, anywhere. The left-handed column lists a possible observation at the hive entrance and the right-hand column explains what that observation could mean depending upon the season. The authors keen observations teach us, the beekeepers, that there are many ways to know what is happening inside of the beehive without disturbing them by opening the hive. You can’t go wrong with this.
Beehive Smoker by Hoont/ I have to tell you, I have never used this particular smoker. But, after reading the descriptions and reviews, I have to say it sounds pretty nice for beekeepers that don’t need a smoker lit for hours at a time. In other words, it’s perfect for the hobbyist. Though it mentions having a heat shield, which I highly recommend, it doesn’t show it in the picture. The stainless steel guard looks pretty nice and affordable. I still have my very first smoker after 17 years. For the most part, if you take care of what you have then it will last you a long time. But with every smoker, the bellows will eventually need replaced. But that’s okay, it just means you’ve been working it!
Goatskin Gloves by Natural Apiary/ First thing to rave about with these gloves-Goatskin! I have had cowhide gloves which are thicker but they also make your hands feel clumsy which is something we cannot afford when we’re trying to handle delicate frames with our little queens on them. So goatskin, although thinner than beef jerky, still protect your hands pretty good while leaving them dexterous and manageable. Make sure when you buy that you get the right size! I am 6’4″ and can just barely grip a basketball. So my hands are big but not as big as someone who can lift cows or other miraculous feats that require large hands. So I wear a medium. If you can’t grip a basketball then I recommend going with small.
Stainless Steel Frame Holder by Janolia Bee/ I used to think these things were silly. I decided to try one out anyways and I am SO glad that I did! This is way better than placing frames on the ground while I do my in-hive work. The frame rest holds about 3 frames and gives me a way to keep my bees calm and my queen safe if she happens to be one of the frames. This thing is really strong and I want to eventually keep one in each of my apiaries. An big plus with using this frame rest is not having to stoop or bend over.
Bear QuikFence 12/35/12 by Premier 1/ This is the BEST and ONLY bear fence that I use. And I use it in ALL of my apiaries. I go into more depth about this in this blog post. It’s quick and easy to set up and even faster to take down and move to another apiary or if you need to trim the grass. The fences come in 100 and 50 foot lengths (30.48 meters and 15.24 meters.) Premier 1 pricing is worth it to me, especially when you think of the total value of what it’s protecting. No regrets.
Intellishock 10 (battery) fence Energizer Kit by Premier 1/ For a bear fence, you need at least 1 joule of power running through your fence. That’s what the Intellishock 10 delivers. I actually use this model and the Intellishock 20, which delivers 2 joules. This particular kit is specifically for a solar-powered system, which is what I run. They also offer it for AC power if you are near any electric. This is easy to set up and even includes a Green indicator light that flashes while in-use. The indicator flashes Red when your battery is needing a recharge. Premier 1 Supplies makes their gear easy to understand for those of us who are not necessarily solar-technical, like me, but I’m learning.
Premier 1 PRS 100 Solar Energizer Kit/ Okay so I don’t own this one, yet. This is pretty much the whole shebang in one box other than the fence. This kit includes the built in 10-watt solar panel, 2-12 volt sealed lead acid batteries, and a ground rod with a 5-light wireless fence tester. It’s weather tight and they even offer a 2-year warranty. I really like the idea of this for its simplicity and how it protects the components from the elements. This is going to be my next upgrade.
Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture/ This is one of my all-time favorite, keep-on-the-shelf-forever books on permaculture. The book never talks about honey bees but it has plenty of information on how to create a permacultural environment in less-than-ideal conditions. My personal permacultural project is painstakingly slow. When I read this book it makes me wish I had what he has. Sepp has worked long and hard for the environment he lives in. Having a system where everything supports everything else is what he has done. You can do it too and if you already have beehives, then you are one step closer than many other people.
No Reins Jewelweed Salve and Soap/ I can personally account for this stuff. I bought it several years ago for a thru-hike. It is my go-to when I suspect that I may have brushed up against some poison ivy. I have yet to experience any poison ivy rashes. This is supposed to work for poison oak and poison sumac as well. How does this work with beekeeping? Well, beehives are outside and so is poison ivy. Plus, sometimes we have to go catch a swarm in a tree that may have poison ivy growing up the side of it. It really makes a perfect addition to a first-aid kit, just in case.
Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers by Harry R. Phillips/ This book is based on Mr. Phillips professional research at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. In a way, this book is a how-to be a green thumb. Imagine only buying one plant of something that you love, and being able to propagate it into dozens within a few years. And all the while you’re supporting pollinators, giving them the food and nutrition that is missing in today’s overdeveloped world. This is a must-have on my list.
Ultra Bee Pollen substitute supplement by Mann Lake/ I did a lot of online research for a supplement that didn’t include junk in its ingredients and came up with this. This is the best on the market for brood production. This is what I use and will continue to use. Click on the bucket to get some for yourself.