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As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. To obtain that honey, however, one must have plenty of honeybees. Becoming a beekeeper, technically known as an apiarist, is surprisingly easy and not outrageously expensive. Only a few pieces of beekeeping equipment are mandatory for entrance into the hobby. With bees included, these necessary articles will normally cost less than $500 US Dollars (USD).
The first and most important item on the list of beekeeping equipment is a hive. While hives come in several different models, the most popular is known as the Langstroth hive. The Langstroth was created in the mid-19th century by Lorenzo Langstroth, and contains partitions that allow for an easier collection of honey. Other types of hives have see-though fronts, but they are mostly novelty items, designed primarily for the purpose of watching the bees at work.
For the beginning apiarist, the other categories of indispensable beekeeping equipment include a bee smoker, a bee feeder, and a hive tool. Last, but second only in importance to the hive itself, is some form of protective beekeeping clothing. Bees tend to become a trifle irritated when one attempts to make off with their honey, which can often lead to many stings. A person can opt for a hat and mesh veil that keeps him from being stung in the face or eyes, and a pair of protective gloves, but a full-coverage bee suit is better. This suit is the beekeeper’s equivalent of a bulletproof vest.
A hive tool is simply a flat piece of curved metal that is used to open and separate the partitions in the hive, as well as scrape away wax and other substances. The piece of beekeeping equipment known as a smoker is used to pacify the bees in order to make honey collection simpler and less painful. This stainless steel device smolders, releasing a flameless, cool smoke. The smoke does not harm the bees, but it does serve to make them disoriented and subdued.
While honeybees will forage for nectar and pollen, a feeder is a handy piece of beekeeping equipment that can both stimulate the growth of a colony and prevent starvation. It generally consists of a box or pail containing a two-to-one ratio of water and granulated sugar. There are many different bee feeder designs on the market, although the device may also be homemade.
Finally, a hive is worthless without bees. Honeybees can be purchased from a number of supply centers, and are usually sold by the pound or kilogram. Prices for approximately three pounds (1.36 kilograms) of bees and a queen will run anywhere from $85 USD and up. This amount of worker bees and a queen should be an ample supply to start a hive.
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