Educational Guide

Equipments

Smoker

A bee smoker and hive tool are essential for working bees. The smoker consists of a metal fire pot and grate with bellows attached. The size of the smoker is a matter of individual preference. The 4 x 7 inch size is probably the most widely used. Plan to purchase/use a smoker with a heat shield around the firebox to avoid burning clothing or yourself if you intend to support the smoker between your legs as you work a colony. Some beekeepers like the model with a hook to hang the smoker over the open hive body as they inspect it, thus keeping the smoker handy at all times.

To produce large quantities of cool, thick smoke, coals must be above the grate and unburned materials must be above the coals. Suitable smoker fuels include burlap, corn cobs, wood shavings, pine needles, cardboard, punk wood, bark, sumac bobs, cotton rags, dry leaves, and bailer twine. An alternative liquid smoke is available that you mix with water and spray onto the bees with a mister-type applicator.


Brush

A brush is useful to the beekeeper. It helps, with the smoker, to guide the bees, in any case to remove the last bees from the combs to be taken. Where possible, this brush should be of traditional design and of the very best quality, entirely of natural silk. Otherwise it catches on the bees and annoys them. The brush should be kept very clean and only be used when damp to avoid bees sticking to it.


Veil

A veil is not absolutely necessary. Many beekeepers do not use them, even for difficult operations. All beekeepers, however, ought to possess at least two veils, one for themselves and one for a helper. And these veils should always be to hand during all work on hives. If there is an accident, these veils will be useful. Most beekeepers, especially beginners, wear a veil for all beekeeping work. By means of the veil they will feel safer and more confident, so they will work faster and with greater skill.

Three basic types of veils are available: those that are open at the top to fit over a hat, completely hatless veils, and veils that form part of a bee suit. A wire or fabric veil that stands out away from the face worn over a wide-brim, lightweight hat that fits securely offers the best protection. Veils without hats, although lightweight and fold easily for transport, do not always fit as securely on the head as they should. The elastic band that fits around your head often works upward, allowing the veil to fall against your face and scalp as you bend over to work with bees. A wide variety of coveralls (bee suits) is available to beekeepers in a wide price range. The most expensive bee suits are not always the best or easiest to use. Coveralls are useful to avoid getting propolis on your clothing and greatly reduce stings if maintained properly and laundered regularly. Coveralls or shirtveils (long-sleeved shirts) made especially for beekeepers with attached, removable veils are popular. You should avoid using after-shave lotions, perfumes, and colognes when working with bees because such odors may attract curious bees. Regularly launder clothing and gloves used in inspection to eliminate sting/hive odors that might attract/irritate bees.


Hive Tool

This hive tool is made specially for cleaning the tops of the top-bars which are always coated with propolis. The hive tool is also for separating the boxes and lifting them. The curved part can be used to lift the top-bars when the honey is harvested.


Extractor

The extractor is designed to remove honey from the combs with greater speed than by draining under gravity. The combs are placed in wire mesh cages in the middle of a drum which is usually of tinned metal sheeting. A rotating movement, at the rate of a kilometre in three minutes, brings about a centrifugal force on the comb. The wax is retained by the wire mesh, but the honey goes through the mesh and rains against the sheet metal wall of the tank at the bottom of which it flows out through a special tap.

Without doubt an extractor saves the beekeeper time. That is its main advantage and it is that which all inventors have sought to improve on.


Gloves

We must mention gloves, but do so to speak ill of them. Gloves are of no use, even harmful.They are useless because they do not stop the sting of an angry bee even if made of leather. They are harmful because they make movement clumsy which always causes crushing of the bees by rough and sudden movements. And all that causes the bees to get angry. It should even be said that the more gloves appear to guarantee against stings, the more they cause them, because they are more cumbersome. The helper may puff some smoke from the smoker at the place where the operator is working, accordingly around his hands. They are then completely safe. The novice beekeeper may, in order to gain steadiness of purpose, ask his helper to puff a little smoke on his hands from time to time. He may then work with more confidence.


Drinker

Bees know how to find the water they need. However, it is not without advantage to put a drinker close to the apiary. Place on a slightly inclined slab, board or sheet of metal a barrel or jar fitted with a tap. The slab is covered with sand or fine gravel. The tap is adjusted so that it drips and keeps the sand wet. Amongst beekeeping equipment can be found poultry drinkers which are also suitable for bees. These comprise a bottle upturned on a metal plate. The plate can be covered with moss, pieces of cork or pebbles.