Key Beekeeping Tools Demystified

by Chelsea Callas February 14, 2017

Key Beekeeping Tools Demystified

Not sure what a queen excluder is for? Confused about bee escapes? Not to worry. We’re here to take the fear out of choosing gear. 
 
Knowing how some of these vital tools work will drastically improve your beekeeping experience and could help your bees stay healthy and thriving. We also find that gaining an understanding of a lot of these tools leads to a more nuanced understanding of honeybee behavior. Read on to learn how to use some of the less-obvious tools in the beekeping toolbox!
 

The Smoker

the smoker

Our American Smoker is made of stainless steel and it includes a wrap-around heat shield and grate at the bottom for even burning.
 
A smoker is an invaluable tool for all beekeepers as the smoke pacifies alarmed bees.  Primarily, smoke masks the alarm pheromone given off by guard bees, minimizing their defensive reactions. Honeybee alarm pheromone smells like banana candy so if you smell bananas in your hive, it’s time for another puff of smoke. (Similarly, beekeepers should not eat bananas directly before getting into a hive, since it may be perceived by your bees as alarm pheromone!)
 
Smoke also cues honeybees to a potential wildfire nearby, prompting them to eat as much honey as they can in preparation for a potential move. Honeybees are more docile with a full stomach, due to physical difficulty in tipping their abdomens up to sting. 
 

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The 6-Way Bee Escape

A bee escape moves bees out of your honey supers for the purpose of harvesting honey. Place it between your honey super and the boxes you’d like to leave for your bees. Bees will not abandon their brood, so make sure your honey super is free of any brood comb! The bees will find their way down through it’s six tunnel-like exits, but won’t be able to find their way back up. After 24-48 hours, your honey supers will be completely bee-free. 
 
Our bee escape board is perfect for Warré hives and Langstroth hives.
 

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The Warré Bar Spacing Tool

Rake the Warré spacing tool between your Warré bars to avoid cross comb by ensuring all bars are straight and equally spaced. It’s perfectly sized to achieve proper bee space between each comb. 
 
Cross comb can occur when comb is built crookedly, rather than straight down from the top bar. The result involves multiple combs connected together making management difficult.
 

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The Queen Excluder

A queen excluder prevents the queen from laying eggs in the honey supers, ensuring your box is strictly full of honeycomb. Its small slat openings are large enough for worker bees to move through, but too small for the queen. Place it between the box you'd like to use as a honey super and the box(es) you're leaving for your bees for a box filled exclusively with honeycomb.
 

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The Top bar hive entrance disc

Achieving just the right amount of ventilation in your hive can be tricky. Our Top Bar Hive Entrance Disc is here to help. Simply attach to the inside of an entrance and rotate to adjust ventilation and exposure. This is a great tool for helping your bees stay warm throughout the winter!
 

The Frame Grip

Lifting frames securely can be somewhat of a challenge while wearing gloves. Gain more control, and keep your gloves clean by using our frame grip. This spring-loaded tool allows you to clamp down on the top of the frame or top bar to lift easily without getting sticky gloves.
 
*While this tool works with all hive styles, we recommend it for the Langstroth hive. If you do choose to use it with a top bar or Warré hive, ensure your comb is not sticking to anything on its sides before pulling up to avoid comb breakage. 
 

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The Entrance Reducer

An entrance reducer is a vital tool in keeping your bees warm during the colder months. It works simply by blocking a portion of the hive entrance, while leaving enough of an opening for bees to leave for cleansing flights. It not only reduces the ventilation passing through the hive, but it also reduces the space bees need to guard from pests. This allows them to dedicate more of their energy on clustering as a means of heat generation. 
 
We produce two different designs to fit Langstroth and top bar hive entrances. We don’t offer a Warré entrance reducer because Warré entrances are already smaller by design, but you could use a mouse guard which will reduce the open space and provide extra protection from mice and other pests.

 

Chelsea Callas
Chelsea Callas


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