Initial equipment

There are several pieces of equipment that you need to acquire before you even think about getting bees.  You can’t put out a swarm trap, retrieve a swarm or buy a package without some place to put them and some gear to work them with.  So in this post we’ll start to discuss some of the initial equipment you can buy cheap or build yourself to save some dough!  From this post we’ll link off to other posts that go into detail on any of the items that warrant further discussion.

A home for your bees:

     Langstroth Hive:

  • Hive Body: Using 3 10 foot 2×12 boards and a table saw you can build 5 deep boxes!  We don’t need no fancy finger joints! (costs = around $35)
  • Bottom Board: A few 8 foot 2×4’s and some hardware cloth and you’ll have enough screened bottom boards for 6 hives. (costs = around $25 with enough hard ware cloth left over for all your future needs!)
  • Outer Cover: If you’re really cheap and its summer you can use campaign signs cut to size (costs = Free!!!)
    Or for a more permanent cover you’ll need 1 sheet of 3/4″ plywood and some left over pieces from your hive body work to make a telescoping outer cover (costs = around $40)  Ouch!  We need to come up with a cheaper alternative here!
  • Inner Cover: Who needs them?  But if you want one you can use a campaign sign and left over pieces from your hive body cuts (costs = Free!!!)
     Nucleus Hive:
  • Nucs: 1 sheet of 15/32″ plywood will make you 4 nice 5-frame nucs! (costs = $11)
     Frames and Foundation:
  • Frames: Here is where we bite the bullet and order something.  Go ahead and buy in bulk.  Make an order from Mannlake for over $100 and the shipping is free ( If you buy them in packs of 10 they are $1.00 each so buy 70 for each of your 5 deeps and the 4 nucs (costs = $70)
  • Foundation: We don’t need no stinking foundation!  Going foundation-less is more work and it can be daunting for a new beekeeper.  However, its a lot cheaper and some believe its better on the bees for mite control, though this isn’t proven.

So for under $200 you have enough equipment to for 5 full hives, 4 nucs,  an extra bottom board and lots of #8 hardware cloth which comes in handy for most bee projects.  If its fairly warm out you can hold off on the 3/4″ outer covers until later and that will drop your cost down by $40.  You could probably paint up one of the hives and or a couple of the nucs and sell them on craigslist and recoup a big portion of your money!!!  If you we’re really hurting for cash you could just do the 4 nucs and overwinter your bees in them while you save up dough and build your hives over the winter.  Then your initial costs would only be around $35 for frames and the plywood for the nucs.

Top Bar Hive:   (Coming Soon)


Protection and tools:

  • Smoker: another item we have to give in a buy.  Add this to your order of frames (costs = $30)
  • Veil: Buy this as well.  You can probably make one, but not for much less than what you’ll buy one for.  I got the Alexander style because I’m chea… I’m mean frugal (cost = $16)
  • Gloves: I bought theses as well just to push my total above $100 to qualify for free shipping (costs = $9)
  • Hive Tool: If you’ve got a nice putty knife you can use that, if not they’re cheap (costs = $4)
  • Lemon Grass Oil: you’ll need this to catch your bees later on.  I got mine from amazon while I was ordering some coffee for my wife so shipping was free (costs = $3)
Total here is $60.  So overall we’ve spent around $250, but if you bought everything in the list you’ve got enough equipment for a very big backyard apiary.  You have the potential to overwinter 9 different colonies!  Considering  most kits with a single 2-deep hive are going to run you about the same amount, I’d say we’ve done pretty well.

About cheapbeekeeping

I'm a geek.
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3 Responses to Initial equipment

  1. Pingback: Getting into Beekeeping | Cheap Beekeeping

  2. Pingback: How to get Bees for FREE!!! | Cheap Beekeeping

  3. Rob Richards says:

    I love this! Thank you so much! I’m going to attempt this because I am reactivating a natural produce farm. I have zero idea what I am doing with bees. Should be interesting. Thanks again! Any tips will be appreciated.

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