Beekeeper magic: methods to turn into a hive instrument magician


Inside: Though utilizing a hive instrument might really feel awkward at first, it should quickly turn into second nature. And when you be taught some hive instrument magic, you’ll be free to focus on your bees as an alternative of your actions.

The one merchandise each beekeeper wants

Some beekeepers shed bee fits or gloves. Some don’t use people who smoke. Others don’t even put on socks. However no beekeeper I’ve ever met labored with out a hive instrument.

However right here’s the catch: hive instruments are available in countless designs, shapes, and sizes. It might take somewhat trial and error, however as soon as you discover the appropriate instrument for you, you’ll by no means be with out it.

Hive instruments have to work below aggravating circumstances. They should be robust sufficient to separate packing containers glued along with propolis, however sufficiently small to relaxation in your hand. The ends should be sharp sufficient to scrape frames however protected sufficient to hold in your pocket. They should be skinny sufficient to slot in tight areas however stout sufficient to not break. And they need to even be straightforward to scrub and sharpen.

Fashionable kinds of hive instruments proliferate at bee provide shops. These are cheap and work properly. However specialised designs exist, too. And plenty of beekeepers make instruments they like even higher.

No guidelines exist for hive instrument design besides energy and security. Because you don’t need your instrument to bend or snap, supplies and workmanship are essential for a high quality hive instrument.

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If you’re a newly minted beekeeper, it’s possible you’ll suppose you don’t want a instrument to open your hive. However this phantasm quickly disappears. A colony of honey bees will quickly fuse its dwelling collectively in artistic and worsening methods.

Earlier than lengthy, the lid will probably be caught to the interior cowl, which is caught to the tremendous, which is caught to the brood field. When you get into the brood field, the frames are caught to the body holders or to one another and generally the facet partitions, too. To keep away from ripping combs and killing bees, it is advisable slit all these waxy connections. Therefore the hive instrument.

A number of instances, you gained’t be capable to power the frames again into the brood field with out scraping them of extra propolis or wax. Your hive instrument will assist do all these jobs and extra. 

I exploit ratcheting tie-downs on all my hives to discourage raccoons and comparable creatures from eradicating the lid. The ratchet mechanisms at all times stick so badly I can’t get them to launch with out a whole lot of cussing and moaning. After struggling for years, I lastly realized {that a} J-hook hive instrument releases these like magic.

Different beekeepers use hive instruments for stuffing gas into people who smoke, pinching queens, eradicating vermin, or cleansing boots. Actually, one can find so many makes use of for a hive instrument that you just’ll surprise why we don’t difficulty them to people at beginning. Keep in mind that the following time you’re invited to a child bathe.

The usual hive instrument that comes with most newbie kits is a double-ended metallic bar. It’s skinny and flat with one finish bent at a 90-degree angle like a paint scraper. For some elusive motive, one finish has a gap you need to use for prying nails from wooden. (In all my beekeeping years, I’ve by no means had an impulse to take away the nails from my bee packing containers throughout an inspection. However you by no means know.)

Each ends work for scraping. The bent finish is typically higher for scraping bee packing containers as a result of it doesn’t dig into the wooden just like the flat finish, particularly if the wooden is smooth. The bent finish can be good for lifting frames and prying caught packing containers. Though the usual hive instrument is okay, it’s not good. I exploit it for end-of-season clean-ups, but it surely’s not one thing I exploit in day-to-day beekeeping.

A phrase of warning: don’t carry this instrument in your again pocket with the bent finish identified. I’ve seen individuals slit garden furnishings and carve lengthy grooves within the paint of latest pickups as a result of they forgot about this weapon of their pockets. 

Once you learn to reliably use a hive tool, you will never let it out of your hand.
When you be taught to correctly use a hive instrument, you’ll by no means let it out of your hand.

The J-hook is my go-to fashion

Three options make the J-hook instrument a superb selection. First, it’s flat. Flat means it’s much less more likely to by chance reduce issues or get tangled in a garden mower. Second, it’s longer, making it higher for reaching between hive parts. And third, one finish resembles a J, permitting you to raise frames from a sticky hive.

The scraping finish is sharp and efficient. Just like the common hive instrument, it additionally has a nail remover on one finish, in case you’re feeling the urge to destroy your packing containers. Each the common and J-hook hive instruments have a painted finish that will help you discover them till the paint wears off a couple of weeks later.

Past these two frequent designs, beekeepers have designed dozens of different variations over time. For instance, I’ve one that’s lengthy sufficient to achieve the size of lengthy top-bar combs that get glued to the hive inside. Others are brief with a picket “deal with” within the heart. Some remind me of Swiss military knives, with a number of kinds of instruments sprouting from the primary stem.

I don’t suppose a proper, improper, good, or unhealthy hive instrument exists. Each beekeeper is totally different, so discovering the appropriate one for you is your best option. For me, I prefer to hold it easy. And being a klutz, I’m higher off wielding a instrument that’s not too difficult.

As a result of each beekeeper makes use of them, hive instruments are fashionable items. Personalised ones are in all places. I’ve one that claims “American Bee Journal” alongside the size and one other that claims “U Montana Grasp Beekeeper.” Pals, household, bee golf equipment, and retiring beekeepers donated hive instruments as properly. Though it’s arduous to clarify, hive instruments multiply like varroa mites.

Whatever the sheer variety of hive instruments on this planet, beekeepers misplace them continuously. Years in the past, I estimated I spent 40 % of my beekeeping time on the lookout for a hive instrument I used solely moments earlier. Go determine. Later, Bee Good Designs got here out with a cool wearable magnet which you could strap on to maintain your hive instrument shut at hand.

When you turn into expert with the hive instrument you want finest, you’ll resemble a magician, wielding it a technique or one other, and managing each process with a single implement. Then, together with your beekeeping work finished for the day, you’ll be able to stick it in a jar of peanut butter and make a sandwich for the street.

An skilled beekeeper with a hive instrument jogs my memory of a chief with a vegetable cleaver, making it do no matter he needs, rapidly and effectively. Maintain it in your palm, by no means let go, and shortly you’ll be doing the magic your self.

Honey Bee Suite

About Me

My love of bee science is backed by a bachelor’s diploma in Agronomic Crops and a grasp’s in Environmental Research. I’ve written extensively about bees, together with a present column in American Bee Journal and previous columns in Two Million Blossoms and Bee Craft. Lately, I’ve taken a number of programs in melittology and made intensive identifications of North American bees for iNaturalist. My grasp beekeeping certificates issued from U Montana. Extra right here.


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