Beekeeping in the Florida Panhandle: beekeeping equipment – part 2

Danny Bos

Danny Bost, Central Panhandle Beekeepers Association

Whatever task you attempt in life, using the right tool makes the task easier. Each task has its own set of required tools, with additional recommended tools usually not needed. Beekeeping equipment is the same. We will discuss the necessary tools you will need to start with.

Personal protective clothing differs from beekeeper to beekeeper and is an individual choice. Beekeepers usually start their journey using a standard full bee suit, covered from head to ankles, hoping to prevent the inevitable sting associated with our hobby. I was one of them, but I would still get stung. 

In Florida, full suits are extremely hot most of our seasons. Another option is a ventilated jacket with mesh sections. They allow air to flow while protecting against stings. 

The final option, which is where I am today, is using a veil to protect your face. Visit a local beekeeping supplier to ensure your protective clothing fits before purchase.

Gloves are the next layer of personal protection. They are either leather, canvas, or plastic/latex with a cloth sleeve extending to your elbows. Using gloves for other purposes, such as gardening, work, etc., is not suggested. Using gloves is a beekeeper’s choice. As for me, I use them.

A smoker, not the one used for meat, is the most valuable tool you will have. It is a handheld device for suppressing the honey bee’s defensive behavior. Visit a local beekeeping supplier to evaluate smokers to determine the right one for your hand strength and size for your bee yard.

A metal hive tool comes in several versions but two are tried-and-true. The 9-½” hive tool has a tapered flat end for prying and removing frames and one curved end for scraping. 

The J Hook hive tool has a hook end for prying frames out of supers and the opposite end for scraping. Beekeepers have multiples of one or the other, if not both, in their tool bag.

A wood-handled bee brush is used to brush bees off areas/items you need to clear, including frames, supers, or clothes. Its long, soft, flexible bristles gently move bees without causing them harm.

As previously mentioned, there is a lot of equipment we did not cover. Your beekeeping mentor will guide you to additional equipment they recommend. If you do not have a mentor, visit your local beekeeping association. 

They can assist you with equipment recommendations and where you can get them. Not having the right equipment will make your bee inspections difficult and could discourage you from doing them. The equipment mentioned will get you started in the right direction. Your bees will love you for it.

Danny Bost is the District 1 Representative for the Florida State Beekeepers Association and previous President of the Central Panhandle Beekeepers Association. He has been a beekeeper since 2019 and works in honey bee preservation and promoting beekeeping in this area.