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March 16, 2009

Building a beehive Part 3


1. To inside cover, add an additional bee escape hole to one side. This allows more ventilation and you can then use the center bee escape hole for a feeder should you need it. NOTE: If you are going to use a gallon plastic feeder over the center hole, make sure your new added hole is not covered by the feeder.

2. The main entrance size varies. The summer standard ¾” hole is too large in my opinion for most locations. Consider using the winter side (3/8”) of the bottom board always unless you are in a HOT climate. This makes it easier for the bees to defend the hive.

3. Do not add upper entrances. If you feel that you must add them, use no landing board and make them about ½” to ¾” in size.

4. Additional air vents are fine, but they should be covered with fine screen. Otherwise, pests will enter here especially at night. A few bees fanning are fine. If you see large numbers of bees fanning adjust #2, #3 or #4 as needed.

5. Add insulation to top cover or cover it with something for shade. Touch it in the summer and you will know why. All that heat radiants down on the inside cover.


1. Smoker. Generally the larger the better. 4 x 10 is the large size. If you have small hands or only one or two hives the smaller ones will be fine. Prices vary greatly, SHOP AROUND and check eBay. Copper looks pretty, but they are HOT. Get one with a cage.

2. Hive tool. Quality varies. Get spring steel. You can also use a small pry bar from your local hardware store many times.

3. Knife. General use. A thin long blade like a fish fillet knife or a long boning knife. You will use this to harvest queen cells and at other times. Wait till you find one for free.

4. Hooded jacket. Some buy suits. If you have many hives, get the suit. A jacket style with attached hood will work for about 80% of everyone. Except to pay about $50 for one. Buy a veil for guests, it fits almost everyone.

5. Sweat band. If you sweat a lot get one. You can’t wipe your head with that hooded jacket on.

6. Gloves. Don’t buy expensive beekeeping gloves to start. If you want to use gloves, try a good fitting pair first and “wash” them in the smoke from your smoker before using them so they smell smokey. Then make your decision.

7. Feeders. Buy or make one for each hive. Types vary.

8. Two 5 gallon buckets with lids. One for junk comb and scrapings, the other to store your sugar in.

9. SHB control. Use something of your choice from day ONE. If you don’t you’re a fool.

10. Queen excluder. Plastic works fine. One for each hive. Ignore the people that say you don’t need one, if you don’t use one you will always be “looking” for the queen as you work the hive, later you can use it for queen rearing.

11. Warning sign. A good idea, especially if your hives are not in your yard. Prices vary greatly.

12. 4” soft NEW paint brush or a bee brush.

13. IPM board. It’s up to you. I have gone both ways, with and without. The current thinking is to use one. If you are going to use one, consider the Freeman unit that includes SHB control.

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