Teaching Beekeepers and Caring for Honey Bees since 1964

Session 1 Equipment Follow-up

We had a beautiful day in Ryan’s apiary for the equipment lab. I hope that seeing some equipment in person helped with the multiple decisions that need to be made.

In hindsight, we should have had a photographer to share with the rest of the class. Did anyone take pictures that they would be able to share? Please send them to

Don’t worry if you couldn’t attend, all of the equipment is available from local or national suppliers that are listed in your resources so you can visit the local suppliers or view it online.

The BetterBee online catalog has some nice beekeeping guides for making equipment choices and management. See pages 4-5 and 70-79 for the basics by clicking on the “shoppable digital version” or requesting a paper copy. 

The AABA Essential shopping list is just that – the essentials that you need to start your bees. You will need to purchase other items through the season. The most important will be a way to test Varroa mite levels. The Varroa Easy Check is available through all dealers, but you can make your own too. We’ll get into details during the next sessions.

There are pros and cons to each choice and you are trying to balance what is best for the bees with what is best for the beekeeper. 

Decisions, Decisions: 

  1. Decide between nucs or package bees – call around now to place an order.
  1. Decide between 10-frame and 8-frame equipment (not interchangeable). 
  2. Decide between a hive that is made up of 2 deep brood chambers (heavier) OR 3 medium brood chambers (lighter but more frames to inspect).
  3. Frames and foundation – beeswax vs. plastic
  4. Standard Langstroth versus non-standard hive (pay attention to comb dimensions and hive volume for bees to build their broodnest and have room for stores).
  5. Solid or Screen bottom boards.
  6. Feeding system and year-round water source (bees collect water during warm winter days).
  7. Protective gear – veil style, jacket vs, full suit, gloves.
  8. Hive tools (get two – preferably one each of standard and j-hook or new style called hitchhiker that combines the two).
  9. Recordkeeping system 

Randy Oliver at finds:

 Successful beekeeping comes down to four general rules for good husbandry:

  1. Keep bees where there are lots of flowers all season, or provide supplemental feeding.
  1. Provide a warm, dry, sunny hive.
  2. Suppress varroa if necessary.
  3. Avoid synthetic miticides and pesticides.

Review the outline for Session 1 and read the chapters in The Beekeeper’s Handbook. Contact us if you have any questions or to review your choices before ordering at or

Session 2 will be February 3rd at 7 pm and the outline and zoom information will be sent the week before.

Debbie Hewitt, Short Course Coordinator

Ryan Smith, President

Dennis Roundy, Treasurer

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Anne Arundel Beekeepers Association · 7665 Porcelain Tile Court · Odenton, MD 21113 · USA

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