Getting setup to keep bees is the most expensive part of beekeeping for the typical hobbyist. Here’s what I bought get get started:
Hive: hive stand, bottom board, supers, frames, inner cover, outer cover, wax foundation, and entrance reducer.
Beekeeper’s ensemble: hat/veil, gloves.
Tools: Hive tool, smoker, and feeder.
Other (to purchase or collect): dryer lint, pine straw, and sugar (the biggest bag you can find).
I bought what you might call the “cute” hive from Brushy Moutain. It’s an 8-frame Langstroth hive (I consider keeping a top bar hive but abandoned the idea to stick with something a little more mainstream) with a cutesy copper outer cover. I could have painted it pretty much any color, but unlike some of you may think, I am not a hippie, and I don’t have hippie painting tendencies. It’s a cypress hive, so I bought a nice cypress stain:
I bought the actual bees from an apiary in Centerville, Tennessee. The purchase of the bees went down very much like you might see a drug deal go down in the movies. I got a phone number on a card from a guy at a NABA meeting. The husband sells the bees, but it’s the wife I would need to talk with. I made the call and mailed in a deposit ($10). I was told that my “package” would be ready around May 5; I would be contacted when they were ready. On May 6, I received the call; would I be available to meet that night? No, I was committed elsewhere. What about later? At the BP off exit 65? Maybe; call me when you’re there. That second call never came on May 6. I reconnected with my supplier on May 8. Again, I was requested to meet that same day as the “girls” had been in the “package” since Wednesday morning and would need to be released soon. I got special permission to leave work early and drive to Dickson, Tennessee. We met at the Pilot station just off the highway. I approached the suspected deliveryman…Are you…? Yes…are you? The package and the money changed hands, pleasantries were exchanged, and I drove off with my dangerous cargo on the passenger-side floorboard. They hummed; one worker managed to sting me through the screen as I ran my fingers over it to feel the heat.
Here’s what the package looks like:
Much as the setup is the most expensive part of beekeeping for the beginning hobbyist; installation is the most nerve-wracking. My husband made a very long video (from the car) of my own installation, but my form is pretty poor, so here’s a better depiction for the curious. (Skip ahead to 2:05 for the actual dumping in of the bees–the most interesting part.)
Once you get the bees installed, it’s wait and see for at least a week…