A Guide to the Best Beekeeping Materials for Every Aspiring Apiarist
Beekeeping is not an easy activity to get into – it would take a complete beginner a lot of research and a little bit of budget to get started. Not to mention, you’ll also need a lot of dedication to sustain the hobby whether you’re doing it to make honey or to breed bees that will pollinate your garden.
After you’ve made up your mind to pursue beekeeping, your next agenda is to acquire proper equipment. You’ll read plenty of blogs encouraging you to build your own hives and stands from scratch. However, this might not be a good idea if you don’t have background in carpentry and woodwork, besides, you’ll find plenty of great ready-made beehives online.
To help you get started, we’ve gathered the best beehives, bee hive stands and beekeeper starter kits that you can find online. Browse through our reviews of each to determine which one will work for you the best. And if you aren’t sure how to choose one, we’ve also prepared buying guides detailing the factors you need to consider when buying beekeeping materials.
- 1 Top 10 Beehives For Sale
- 2 Buying Guide: Things To Know Before You Buy A Beehive
- 3 Best Bee Hive Stands
- 4 Best Beehive Starter Kits
Top 10 Beehives For Sale
A good beehive is the first thing you need to invest in to start your bee colony. Here are ten of the beehives you can find in the market.
Honey Keeper Langstroth Beehive 20 Frame Complete Box Kit
This Honey Keeper beekeeping box kit is a Langstroth type hive that comes with 20 frames (10 deeps frames and 10 medium sized frames) of white pine wood and a foundation made out of premium fir wood. It also features a capped telescoping roof top made of galvanize metal. For an affordable price, you’ll also get an inner cover, a bottom board, a queen excluder and an entrance reducer. It also includes some heavy-duty nails as this hive needs to be assembled. Assemble time is around two hours or so.
Mann Lake Complete Bee Hive Kit
Next, we have the Mann Lake Bee Hive Kit. This kit is perfect for absolute beginners as it comes assembled and ready for bees to live in. The package also includes 10 frames measuring 9 5/8 inches which are assembled in the hive body and another 10 frames measuring 9 1/8 inches wooden frames that is coated in RiteCell foundation. It weighs 31.6 pounds and measures 22 inches in length, 18 ½ inches in width and 13 1/7 inches in height. People who’ve bought this Mann Lake hive commend its solid structure and affordable price.
Valley Bee Supply Bee Hive
Here we have another unassembled beehive. This Valley Bee Supply hive comes with a telescoping top made of heavy gauge aluminum, three commercial medium finger joint boxes, two commercial deep finger joint boxes, a screened bottom board with a slide out tray and an entrance reducer. The hive is made from New England white pine.
This Valley Bee Supply product will fit both the needs of beginner and experienced beekeepers. However, this is not a complete bee starter kit. So, you’d need to buy the other essential tools separately. Still, this is great for those who are looking to expand their bee colony.
VIVO Complete Beekeeping 20 Frame Beehive Box Kit
The VIVO Complete Beekeeping Beehive Box Kit includes a Langstroth hive made of New Zealand pine wood with 10 medium frames and 10 deep frames. It also comes with a hexagonal surface foundation sheets, a telescopic roof and a queen excluder.
The hive will require some serious assembly. Itwill take about two hours from start to finish. The manufacturer also recommends the user to treat the wood with some chemical before using it for beekeeping. You should also know that this is a heavy duty hive that weighs around 51.3 pounds.
Honey Keeper Beehive Langstroth
As the product name implies, this Honey Keeper hive is a Langstroth type beehive. It is made out of fir wood for the foundation and white pine wood for the 10 frames that comes with it. The hive itself measures 16 ¼ inches long, 20 inches wide and 9 ¾ inches tall. Like others, this hive will require assembly. But it would be fairly easy as it comes with pre-cut dove tail joints and heavy duty nails. This Honey Keeper hive is great for those who are expanding their colony as well.
Apimaye 10 Frame Langstroth Insulated Bee Hive Set with Plastic Handy Frames
If you can afford to splurge out on your first beehive, we suggest that you do it on the Apimaye 10 Frame Langstroth Insulated Beehive Set. Its main selling point is its double insulation feature which can withstand extreme weather conditions and can prevent moisture from building up inside the hive. Meanwhile, its ventilation system resists fungus growth, a common concern with hives made of wood. The set includes 20 plastics frames that can be easily snapped on, a screened bottom board with a pollen trap. The hive itself is manufactured from food-grade UV-resistant plastic with anti-static additives.
Ware Manufacturing Home Harvest Bee Hive
If you’re an environmentalist, you should definitely consider the Ware Manufacturing Bee Hive. This hive is designed to allow bees to make honey without much stress as they can build their honeycombs naturally. Because they are left alone to make honey the natural way, beekeeping with this hive will become less labor intensive. The hive is made out of cedar wood. It also has a peaked roof design to keep your hives dry and a ventilation control feature. The hive is easy to put together and comes with all the screws you’ll need to assemble it.
Popsport Langstroth Bee Hive Complete Box Kit with Frames and Wax Foundations
This Popsport Langstroth Bee Hive Kit promises to give you no mess, no fuss and no heavy lifting in your beekeeping activities with its safe, convenient and stylish hives. The equipment is made out of natural wood and measures 23.6 inches in length, 22.4 inches wide and 12.2 inches tall. It comes with 10 frames (two of them deep frames and one medium frame) and a telescoping roof top made of galvanized steel.
Best Automatic Flow Beehives
Flow Official Flow Hive Classic Cedar
You might have read about automatic flow hives in your research into beekeeping. These nifty hives are designed to reduce the beekeeper’s hard labor to harvest honey by enabling the honey to flow out straight from the hive and onto a jar.
This Flow Official Flow Hive in Classic Cedar is one of the best hive with patented flow technology. It comes with six frames, some honey collecting tubes, a screened bottom board, an inner cover and a queen excluder.
However, this great technology doesn’t come cheap as this hive retails for around $700.
Lang Automatic Flow Bee Hive
The Lang Automatic Flow Bee Hive is a more affordable choice for those beginners who want try out automatic flow hives.
This Lang automatic flow hive comes with seven frames made out of food grade plastic, a roof, a bottom board, a brrod box, a super box, a queen excluder and an inner cover. The hive needs some assembly but that’s just about where the need for hard labor ends as you just have to wait until your honey is ready to flow out of the hive straight to your jars for consumption or selling purposes.
Buying Guide: Things To Know Before You Buy A Beehive
There are plenty of beehives available for sale in the market, but don’t let this plethora of choices overwhelm you. If you know what to look for, you’ll have no trouble finding the best beehive that will fit your needs. Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind in your search for your first hive.
Types of Hives
Beehives usually come in three types: the Langstroth, the Warre and the top-bar hive. Each have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.
The Langstroth hive is the popular choice among commercial apiarists as it is perfect for large-scale production. They come in the form of boxes which can be stacked on top of each other with each box containing around ten wire-reinforced frames inside.
The advantage of starting with Langstroth hives is that you can easily find parts for it and advice on how to maintain this type of hive as they are commonly used in the beekeeping community. What more, its frames and boxes come in standard sizes so adding and swapping parts is easy. However, you should also know that Langstroth hives requires a sizeable investment to start. They’re also pretty heavy weighing around 40 pounds each and will require a bit of heavy lifting to o=move around.
Top-bar hives are considered to be a more ‘natural’ setup for raising bees. Its simple design originates from Africa and is usually made from wood. The highlight of this hive type is its frame design which has a bar cut that fits across the hive and a honeycomb foundation.
Because of its simpler design, top-bar hives are considerably lighter and cheaper than Langstroth hives. It also makes it possible for you to extract both honey and beeswax at the same time. However, this hive type doesn’t so well in cold climates which makes it less common for American beekeepers to use them. Not to mention, this setup yields less honey as well.
If you want to get the best of both Langstroth and top-bar hives design-wise, Warre hives might be the best for you. This hive type has top bar frames for supporting honeycomb and can be stacked just like the Langstroth hives.
Warre hives are the best choice if you live in a colder climate as its design keeps the hives warm and protects the bees as well. Unfortunately, Warre hives tend to be heavy and hard to move and are quite expensive as well. They are also less common than other hive types which might make it difficult for you to find parts and replacements for it.
Assembled vs. unassembled
Another thing you need to consider is if you want an assembled or unassembled hive. This won’t really affect the condition of your bees. But it will greatly depend on your existing carpentry skills.
While assembling beehives isn’t really that difficult, you still need to make sure that everything is attached correctly to avoid future problems. You can find someone who’s experienced to help you out or go on the Internet to look for various tutorials on how to assemble a beehive. Don’t worry too much though as most unassembled beehives come with detailed instructions on how to build them. Some even come with the needed nails and wood glue so you won’t have to buy those separately.
But if you aren’t confident with your carpentry skills, you can opt for an assembled hive to ensure that your first hive is correctly assembled. Just be warned that they will cost a bit more than unassembled ones.
Starter kits or individual components
Buying beekeeping starter kits is a great choice for ultimate beginners on a budget. Most kits will have everything you’ll need to start in your beekeeping journey and will be cheaper than buying each material individually. Getting a beekeeping kit will also ensure that all your parts fit together perfectly with each other.
Beginner beekeeping kits usually cost around $99 up to $500 depending on what tools are included. Some kits only have tools included with the hive sold separately. While these kits tend to be cheaper, we recommend that you invest in more expensive ones which have the hives included in the package.
Meanwhile, buying individual components will be useful for those beekeepers who want to expand their colony or replace some broken tools.
Experienced beekeepers say wood is the best material for backyard beehives. It mimics what the bees’ natural habitat is like, so it seems logical that you keep them in a hive that is constructed of the same material.
When looking for a beehive check out what kind of wood your hive of choice is made of. Cedar and cypress are great for because they deter bugs and mold with their natural oils. Meanwhile, pine is the most popular material for beehives among apiarists. It is also the cheapest.
Although wood is the general best choice, you’ll find plastic hives better if you live in a place with a humid climate.
Best Bee Hive Stands
Once you’ve chosen your first beehive, you’ll need a good beehive stand to support it. But you might be thinking, ‘are beehive stands really necessary?’. For hygienic purposes, yes. You see, bees naturally live elevated in trees which makes it possible for them to drop out whatever unwanted objects from the hive. Hive stands will lift up your beehives off the ground to do the same. In a way, bee hive stands mimic the purpose of trees in the bee’s natural habitat.
A good hive stand should be sturdy enough to support the weight of your beehive to keep its bottom off the moist ground. Warmer more humid temperatures make the bees work faster in producing honey. Beehive stands should also be high enough to keep animals likes skunks and raccoons away from your precious hives.
The perfect hive stand shouldn’t hinder the screened bottom boards of your hive from dropping unwanted insects and objects out of the hive. Lastly, you’ll want a hive stand that is pleasing to look at. However, never compromise function for a hive stand that looks pleasing.
Considering these factors, here are three hive stands that’ll do the job well.
Top 3 Beehive Stands for Sale
Mann Lake HD-709 Adjustable Hive Stand
The Mann Lake HD-709 is an adjustable hive stand made out of sturdy zinc-plated steel. It raises the beehive to about 6 ½ inches off the ground and can accommodate around 10 frames or 8 frame bottoms.
This is a solid and heavy duty hive stand which effectively keeps unwanted insects like ants out of the beehive. It looks and feels sturdy being made out of quality metal. The height of this stand is fixed but its width can be adjusted depending on the number of frames you need to put on top of it.
Bee Smart Designs Ultimate Hive Stand
If you’re looking for a hive stand that will accommodate your beehive’s bottom board, the Bee Smart Designs Ultimate Hive Stand is a great choice. This US-made beehive stand is made out of technopolymer construction which prevents the stand from rotting or rusting over time. It raises hives to up to 12 inches from off the ground and can lift 8 or ten frames depending on which configuration you get. It also has built-in drains which help keep your hive components dry. This hive stand might be pricey, but it does its job great.
HARVEST LANE HONEY Plastic Bee Hive Stand
The Harvest Lane Honey Plastic Beehive Stand might be a better choice for you if you’re on a tight budget. Although it is built out of plastic, this stand is durable and will last you a long time. It is composed of four side slides that form the actual stand and some metal rests which ensures that the frames weight is distributed evenly to prevent the hives from toppling over. It also has frame holders to keep its load in place. The stand measures 20 inches x 20 inches x 12 inches and weighs about five pounds.
Best Beehive Starter Kits
As we’ve talked about earlier, beginner beekeepers would find beehive starter kits the most convenient. There are plenty of options to choose from within in the market which a great thing. But this also makes it harder to find just the one that’ll tick all the boxes of your list.
A good honey bee starter kit should have the following things:
As a minimum, choose a kit that has the most basic personal bee hive equipment you’ll need. It should include at least a hive tool, a veil and a bee smoker. A specialized hat is optional as you can just use a baseball cap to protect your head for the meantime. The bee veil will do most of the protecting. It will keep the bees off your face and head to avoid being stung.
Of course, any decent beekeeper kit should have a, you guessed it, a beehive. It is, after all, the most important component in the activity that is beekeeping. Make sure that the kit you’re getting comes with a hive that has at least 10 frames.
Another important component a beekeeper starter kit should have are extracting equipment. A blower should suffice for beginners. This tool is used for blowing bees off the frames and down to the floor.
Considering these, we’ve pooled three of the best bee hive starter kits you can choose from. All of them are around the same price range of $200-$250.
BuildaBeehive.com Deluxe Beehive Starter Kit – Premium Bee Hives for Beginners and Pros
The only thing that doesn’t come with this Buildabeehive.com Deluxe Beekeepers Starter Kit are the bees themselves. It is a great starter kit for beginners as it includes 8 frames of 6 5/8 inches wood, 16 sheets of a plastic-based foundation, a telescoping metal cover, a bottom board, an all-purpose hive tool, a protective bee veil, sting resistant gloves, a bee smoker for calming bees, a pound of smoker fuel and a guide book on beekeeping. However, the kit doesn’t come with hive stands. So, you’ll have to buy those separately.
Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit
The Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Kit will surely give you the bang for your buck. Although very basic, it has everything you need to get started on beekeeping. With the kit, you’ll get 10 assembled frames, a painted and assembled hive body, a 10-inch hive tool, a pair of economy gloves, an Alexander bee veil, a dome top smoker with guard and a book called, ‘Starting Right with Bees’. The good thing about this Mann Lake kit is that you can use everything right out of the box as the hive is already assembled with the frames and foundation in place.
Little Giant Farm & Ag HIVE10KIT Frame Beginner Honey Bee Kit
Another great beehive starter kit if the Little Giant Farm & Ag HIVE10KIT Frame Beginner Hive Kit. It comes with 10 Langstroth hive frames, a pair of protective gloves, a bee veil, a smoker, some smoker fuel, a bee brush, a hive tool, a frame feeder and a beekeeping book for dummies. The kits is more than enough to satisfy the needs of hobbyists and get them started in beekeeping.