Equipment and Costs

Building a backyard apiary that won’t break the bank!


This page has been recently updated with items from amazon due to price and “Prime Shipping”. If you don’t already have an amazon prime account, you should seriously consider it.  Click here to learn more!

This page contains all the different equipment and estimated costs to buy or make each pieces. Along with links to other posts and pages that go into more detail on how to make each piece. I’ve made a handy spreadsheet with quick access to everything here at the top, and below you can see more details.


A home for your bees:

Langstroth Hive:

  • Hive Body: Using 3 10 foot 2×8 boards and a table saw you can build 5 deep medium boxes! I recently switched to all mediums, because it is easier to keep track of and cheaper.  Plus, they are lighter to move around when they are full of bees and honey. You’ll need 3 medium boxes for the hive body as opposed to 2 deep boxes.  I don’t use finger joints, I use pocket holes so they are a lot easier and faster to make.  Here are the videos I used to get my plans: (costs = around $30)
  • Bottom Board: A few 8 foot 2×4’s and some 1/8″ 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!) See Video
  • 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:
  • Nuc Hive 1 sheet of 15/32″ plywood will make you 4 nice 5-frame nucs! Instructions here!  These are deeps, I’m working on plans for a double-stack medium nuc, but you can put medium frames in them, you just might have some comb built off the bottom of those frames you have to trim off when you move them to hive. (costs = $11)
Frames and Foundation:
  • Frames: I used to buy from Mann Lake, but have since switched to buying from Amazon for their prime shipping.  It is still from Mann Lake, but fulfilled by Amazon.  I do all mediums to make things easier!  100 pack of Mann Lake FR812 100-Pack Unassembled Grooved Top and Bottom Endbars without Holes, 6-1/4-Inch will run you around $120.
  • Foundation: We don’t necessarily need 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.  I bought 10 sheets to cut into starter strips to give my bees a straight start on their foundation-less frames.

So for around $220 you have enough equipment to for 5 medium hives boxes, 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!!!

Top Bar Hive: (Coming Soon)


Protection and tools:

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 nice backyard apiary. You have the potential to overwinter 9 different colonies if you use some of the nucs! 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.  Next we need to get our bees!

4 Responses to Equipment and Costs

  1. robin hubbard says:

    Hi why is it harder to not use foundations in frames for a new beekeeper? thank you for your site and information. I am grateful.

    • It really isn’t that much harder, but if you don’t use foundation the bees are a little more likely to “go off course” and not build correctly in the frames. You might have cross comb or they might build at an angle if your hive isn’t completely level. Once you get a few frames of straight comb you can checkerboard with straight comb, empty frame, straight comb, empty frame… and they will usually build the empty frames out parallel to the straight come and you’ll be good, but you still have to keep an eye on them. It is no harder than using a top-bar hive.

  2. Robin Jean says:

    Thank you.

  3. Frederick says:

    Amazing! This is so resourceful. THANK YOU!!!

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