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Kit List

Kit List

A number of people have contributed to this kit list, often by ‘trial and lots of error’, and we hope that beginners may find it useful. Explanations and alternatives are given in some instances and the list is by no means exhaustive. Like most things in beekeeping the list is a starting point for discussion and adaptation to suit your own way of doing things.


Full suit – as bees get under the elastic on smocks. Zip pocket for phone and car keys! Wellington boots.


J-hive tool – multifunctional and keeps fingers out of stingers way. Grinding the sharp end to a longer taper does less damage to bee boxes.
Large smoker – (4” diam) with separate internal canister (baked bean tin with holes in the base?) – easier to keep alight.

Rubberised gloves – with canvas gauntlet. Cheap and washable, almost sting proof to give confidence, but useless for fiddly work. Progress to washing up gloves when more confident.

Plastic Queen clip or cage – To catch the Queen and aid splitting and marking. A match box will do.

Water spray bottle – for when they get really feisty. Also useful to control a swarm.

Bee brush – or bunch of goose feathers.

Magnifying glass (or visit to optician) – to see the eggs.

Fine pointed tweezers – to extract dodgy looking brood for inspection.

Hives and stands

National hives – very widely available and can grow into 14” x 12” if required. Ekes very useful too when feeding/varroa treatment etc.

Flat roofs – turn upside down to rest supers on.

Plywood brood boxes – cedar supers and ply tops. Woodpecker proof and cheap for the over wintered parts. (Note: is anything woodpecker proof?  Ply is more dense than cedar and may produce more condensation on the inside.)

Hive clips – to attach floor to brood box.- Oh the times they came apart when I didn’t want them to.

Manley super frames and Hoffman brood frames. Self spacers reduce risk of losing the plastic end bits. Hoffman frames can be easily extended (Burnett extension pack, from Thorne) to make 14” x 12”.

Spare floor – to swap when cleaning your other one.

Pallet – (sawn in half) and bricks/blocks for hive stand. Cheaper and allows hive parts to be placed next to hive.

Swarm kit

Cardboard box – with lid for swarm collection. Cheaper than skeps and just as good.

Old white sheet – for swarm collection and hiving of swarms. Alternatively, gently shake the swarm into a nuc with foundation. Do this in the evening and they are less likely to abscond.


Tool tray – to carry bits to apiary. An old rucksack is useful if you need to be hands-free.

Thorne’s plastic feeder box – with lid. Large, flat. Can refill without opening the hive. Bees do not drown. Less spillage and cheap.

Blow torch – with piezzo igniter. Saves fiddly matches which blow out.

Foam strips – for temporary entrance blocks. I always carry a spare. Helps to deter robbing.

Hive ratchet straps – for hive moving – 2 per hive essential – I have had several slip and had a car full of bees!

Antihistamine cream – for stings!

Washing soda solution – for cleaning your gloves, hive tool, etc. Make a 20% solution. Caution – alkaline. Wear appropriate protective equipment.

Newspaper – plus egg boxes and wood shavings for the smoker.

2 x tea towels – for a manipulation cloth. Must be easily washable.

Drawing pins – to mark the frame / attach mouse guards.

Metal one piece mouse guards – cheap and less fiddly.

Heavy plastic sheet – for floor of car boot.