There are some pieces of equipment that are in the 'nice to have' category and other items that are in the 'you really ought to have this' category. The item in the first photo is a nice to have item. A bee brush, a long soft bristled brush. We use it to sweep the bees away gently as we go about whatever it is that we need to do. You don't want to swat at the bees and get them excited (or angry). Gently sweeping them off the frame is a good way to get to business. Do you need a brush? I put this one in the 'nice to have' group. Can you go about working the hives without one? Yes.
This next photo shows both a queen excluder that was mentioned in the previous post and a smoker. Some people don't use an excluder, but we want to make sure that brood isn't laid in the honey supers. Can you do without? Yes, but it might be messy when it is time to extract honey.
A smoker is used to calm the bees when you open the hive. I have not heard of anyone who does not use a smoker. It is in the 'you really ought to have' category. The smoke interrupts the alarm signal the bees send out that there is an intruder. You don't need a lot of smoke, but you also don't want the smoker to go out while you are doing something and need another puff. We use pine straw in the smoker, it produces a cool smoke, is readily available, and stays lit for a good while. We pump the bellows a few times at the front opening and also puff some smoke at the top as each box is opened.
Seen below is the inner lid. It is part of the hive box structure. It is placed on top of the hive box then the outer lid that has some sort of weather protection on the inner lid. On top of the outer lid you should place a large rock or brick to keep the lids in place.
Not easily seen in the photo below but used each and every time we go into the hives- a hive tool. It is a flat metal tool that has a hook on one end and a chiseled edge on the other end. It falls into the 'you really ought to have' category. The chiseled end helps pry the boxes apart. Bees produce something called propolis. It is a resin type substance that the bees use to seal their frames and boxes together. There are some health benefits and propolis is something that some people save and use. I know no more about that but I can tell you it seals those hives tight. If you don't have a hive tool, it will be very hard to get the boxes apart and the frames out. The hooked end is good for assisting in lifting the frames out.
In all the these photos you see Charlie's hands in leather gloves. I put gloves in the 'you really ought to have' category though there are people who work their hives with no protective gear on at all. More power to them. We don our protective gear spring, summer, and fall. Depending on what we are doing in the winter, we may or may not wear our gear. Winter time the bees are generally more docile and slow moving.
I am including this photo below as a strong suggestion that one should wear good fitting gear. I had a veil that fitted over a garden hat. I thought it was a good enough fit. HAH!! Those little ladies got inside the veil.
Shortly after that I bought my jacket with an attached hood. To me this is a 'you really ought to have' category. You see my gloves, they go up to above the elbow. I also wear rubber boots that I tuck my pants into. Charlie does not, he has some straps that Velcro around his ankles to close the pant leg. You sure don't want to have a bee fly up your pantleg. I had some white cotton scrubs that I wear when I am gardening. Wearing white helps see ticks, I am a tick magnet! These white scrubs are big enough that I can pull them on over my shorts or jeans. A couple layers of pants keeps the bee's stinger away from your leg.
Is this warm in the summer in South Carolina? Of course it is. We aren't out at the hives for long, but wearing this protective gear keeps us from getting stung.
Stay tuned for more bee posts.
©Copyright 2021 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.