Essential Beekeeping Equipment Basics: What you Actually Need to Get Set Up

This post was most recently updated on March 4th, 2020

There is an overwhelming amount of equipment available for beekeepers. There are some items that you definitely need to get started raising bees, but there are a lot of things that are just nice to have.

Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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Essential Beekeeping Equipment

Bee Suit

A bee suit is the most important equipment that a beekeeper needs.

You need a suit, gloves and a hood or veil. I recommend that you get the thickest, most layered suit that you can afford. The more layers, the less likely that you are of getting stung.

You may be able to find them second hand, but make sure that it is plenty big enough to wear over your clothes, and that it is not worn out.

The last thing you want is for the fabric to split when you bend over in the hives!

RELATED POST: Choosing a hive location


Obviously if you want bees, you need a hive. But there are many parts to a hive, some are essential, and some are merely optional. 

You can buy ready to go hives that are pre-assembled and have everything you need. 


The essential parts of the hive are:

  • Bottom board 
  • Bee box (also called a storey or a super)
  • Frames
  • Hive mat
  • Roof

Having a hive strapper is also helpful to hold the layers of the hive together.

It is possible to buy hives secondhand, but if important to check that they are in good condition and have not housed any infected bees.

Be aware that American foulbrood can not be cleaned from a hive, the only option is to burn them.

If you buy your hives secondhand, only get them from a reputable bee owner.

Here is a great tutorial on building your own hive!

RELATED: 40 bee friendly plants

Beekeeping tools

You will need a couple of hive tools and a smoker. Hive tools are required to  prise hive boxes apart and to separate frames.

A smoker is not totally necessary, but it is very helpful for new bee owners to help ensure a calm hive while you get used to handling them.

Things like vaporisers and bee blowers are useful for large scale operations, but are not needed hobby keepers.

Honey Extraction Tools

Honey is food, and will be eaten, so don’t use equipment or containers that you wouldn’t be prepared to lick.

Honey can be stored in any lidded, food safe jar. Try asking friends and family for unused jam jars.

Thoroughly wash and sterilise jars before you use them.

Extracting honey is best done in a centrifugal honey extractor, you may be able to use a local bee keepers, or if you have several hives, it is one big piece of equipment that will be worth investing in.

Overall cost of basic beekeeping equipment

The overall cost varies significantly depending on where you live, shipping costs and whether you choose to buy second hand. If you are frugal, you could look at as little as $400-600.

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