A Beekeeper’s Toolkit

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Advice from Jen Holt –
Here at the store I get a lot of questions from beekeepers about what should be included in a beekeeping toolkit.  While the options may seem endless, I have assembled a list of essential items compiled over the years through trial and error.

THE CONTENTS OF MY TOOLKIT (in no particular order of importance):

a large sturdy basket for carrying everything to the bee yard
leather gloves (2 pair)
smoker with cork plug and fire proof container for transport
blow torch for lighting smoker
two spare stick lighters (I never use matches – they seem clumsy and inefficient!)
smoker fuel organized into three bags – long burning fuel (raw cotton, dry wood chunks,                wood pellets, etc), quick starting material (pine shavings and newspaper), and a bag of          smoke sticks
duct tape
bee brush
bag of miscellaneous items including corks for hive box entrance holes, plastic mesh                        sheets for grease patties, queen cages, nuc box entrance plugs, and queen marking                 equipment
small spray bottle
scissors
top bar hive tool
frame grips
spacer tool (mine spaces 7 frames in an 8-frame hive)
assortment of standard hive tools (7″, 10″, etc)
Maxant hive tool (I have two)
frame holder
slow release queen cage
queen excluder cleaning tool
uncapping tines (or ‘cappings scratcher’) – I use this to open drone cells for mite                                  monitoring, and later for honey extracting
notebook
pens, pencils, permanent marker
camera

This is a lot of items to have on hand, but it works for me and my specific needs, and everything except the smoker can be carried in the basket.  I also take a mite sampling kit with me on occasion.  I find that having a sampling kit made up ahead of time and always ready to go motivates me to sample for mites more often.

THE CONTENTS OF MY MITE SAMPLING KIT:

large plastic tub to shake bees into (Rubbermaid or similar)
smaller plastic container for emptying and examining sample (pie plates work well too)
rubbing alcohol
wide mouth quart mason jar with lid and ring
additional wide mouth canning jar rings fitted with #8 or smaller hardware cloth
*  see www.scientificbeekeeping.com for Randy Oliver’s detailed techniques on mite sampling – this kit is a modified version of what he uses