Beekeeping Tools


The most fundamental part of a Beekeeper's kit is a Bee Suit. This piece of equipment is designed to allows the Beekeeper to work with a Hive safely. There are many different designs, but most share the following features:-

The key features are as follows:-

A - Full mesh veil - Allows vision and ventilation without giving Bees access. There is usually a rigid piece in the hood to keep the mesh away from the face. Two different types (see below).

B - Multiple Pockets - You can never have enough pockets! Hive Tools, spares, Queen Pipes all need somewhere to be kept.

C - Strong lightweight cotton or synthetic mesh - Tight-knit to reduce chance of sting penetration.

D - Elasticated or Velcro cuffs - tight to wrists to prevent access by Bees.

E - Reinforced sections - Prevent rips or tears in suit allowing Bee access.

F - Elasticated or Velcro cuffs - Same as at wrists.

G - Sturdy boots or Wellies - protects feet from Bees as well as dropping heavy Hive parts.

The two different types of mesh veil are shown below:-

Traditional Style Veil

Fencing Style Veil


Smoke masks the alarm pheromones that are released by guard bees or bees that are injured during a beekeeper's inspection. Also, the smoke causes a feeding response in the the Bees, in anticipation of possible hive abandonment due to fire.

The smoke creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the Hive and work while the colony's defensive response is interrupted, making the Hive inspection much easier.

Parts of a Smoker

A Smoker in use

The video below shows how to light and use a Smoker:-

The Hive Tool

The Hive tool is the Swiss-Army Knife for Beekeepers. This all-in-one tool that is used for leveraging frames and boxes of the Hive, shovel beeswax, scrape propolis, remove the bottom dirt and pry nails.

Standard Hive Tool

J-type Hive tool

Bee Brush

The Bee Brush is designed to gently sweep your bees away during inspection. The bristles are very soft in order to minimise fatalities. It is of great use for clearing Bees from Supers prior to harvesting or form clearing Bees from a Bee Suit after inspections.

Bee brush

Removing Bees with Brush

Queen catcher

The Queen Catcher or Queen Pipe is a tool for safely containing the Queen Bee when being moved. The piece of foam is removed and the Queen is (carefully!) trapped within the cavity. The foam is then replaced, and the Queen can be moved safely.

The Crown of thorns (baldock cage)

A Crown of Thorns is a tool for trapping a Queen Bee for inspection and marking. the spikes stick into the comb and prevent the Queen from moving about, without injuring the Queen.

Crown of Thorns

Trapped Queen Bee

In order to properly monitor the age of the Queen (as well as for ease of finding her!), all Queens should be marked with a coloured dot. This colour used depends on the year that Queen was born, allowing Beekeepers to easily monitor their Queens age.

The table below shows the standard colour convention for Queen Marking:-

Queen Born 2016

Queen born 2018

Queen born 2019


There are two common types of feeders that can be used within a Hive:-

  1. Contact Feeders

  2. Rapid Feeders

Contact feeders are inverted tubs of sugar syrup that are placed in direct contact with the Bees. This lets the Bees feed at all times of the year, even in mid-Winter.

Solid blocks of sugar fondant can also be used, to feed Bees, either by purchasing Baker's fondant or making it at home.

Note - The inverted tubs of sugar syrup do not drain out into the Hive, as when turned upside down the syrup creates a partial vacuum, which keeps the syrup within the tub.

Fondant feeding

Sugar Syrup feeding

Rapid feeders work on the same principles as the Contact feeders, giving access to food without accidentally drowning the Bees in syrup.

The Rapid feeders allow the Bees much greater access to the syrup by an entrance in a well in the centre of the feeder, but are kept separate from the bulk of the syrup by a barrier to prevent drowning.

Rapid feeders cannot be used over winter, as the Bees clustering for warmth cannot break up enough to reach and use the feeder.

Rapid feeder (barrier removed)

Rapid feeder in use

Sugar Syrup recipe

Sugar Syrup is a good source of food for the Bees, but to store it they need to evaporate most of the liquid from it. Due to this, its recommended to make the syrup more concentrated in Winter, so they Bees do not need to waste energy making it suitable for storing.

To make sugar syrup for use in a feeder the following recipes can be used:-

Winter Strength (2:1)

  1. Pour 2 kg of granulated white sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan.

  2. Pour 1 litre of hot water into the sugar.

  3. Stir until dissolved, heating gently as needed.

Summer Strength (1:1)

  1. Pour 1 kg of granulated white sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan.

  2. Pour 1 litre of hot water into the sugar.

  3. Stir until dissolved, heating gently as needed.

Note - Care must be taken to ensure that the syrup does not reach boiling point. Boiling increases the level of Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) in the syrup, which at high enough concentrations is toxic to Bees.

The HIve Frames

The Frames within a Hive are what the Bees will live on, lay their eggs, raise their larvae and store their food, so they need to be built to a high standard. The Frames for a National-type Hive are 17 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall, and are usually made of Pine.

Within the frame is usually a wired wax foundation, that gives the Bees a starting point for cell production and also making it stronger than natural comb.

Frames usually come in two sizes, Deep and Shallow. Deep frames are usually used for Brood Boxes and Shallow frames are usually used in Supers.

The video below shows a step by step guide to building Deep frames with foundation for a National-type Hive:-

Below is a step by step guide to placing Wax Foundation within a frame:-