Once you become a beekeeper, everyone you know will start buying you bee themed gifts. Your house will quickly fill up with cute, but useless bee tchotchkes. How many ceramic skeps can one person have? Okay, maybe you actually like bee trinkets so I have included a few, but I have balanced them with some much more practical items. Use this list as a guide to delight your beekeeping friends or for your own benefit if, like me, you plan to forward this list to your entire family. Each paragraph starts with a link to the item I recommend.
FOR THE PRACTICAL BEEKEEPER
E-Z Pry Hive Tool In my opinion this is the best hive tool available. Its unique design makes it easy to pry the frame up from any part of the top bar, taking the pressure off the ends and preventing damage to your frames.
Swarm Commander I am a fan of this product. It can be used in bait hives, but I have also used it when trying to catch a swarm that’s too high to reach. I simply set up my nuc box below them and applied a spritz of swarm commander. Within 15 minutes the bees came down out of the tree and moved into my nuc box!
Comb Stand Juggling frames is an acquired skill. When you don’t have an extra set of hands, it can really help to have a frame holder. This design works for Langstroth and Top Bar hives. It’s also handy if you like to take photos of your bees.
FOR NEW BEEKEEPERS
Beekeeping for Dummies The biggest hurdle for new beekeepers is learning about bees. There’s so much to know! This book is a favorite among my beekeeping students. It breaks things down into easy to understand sections.
My Online Beekeeping Class Beekeeping classes can be a huge help to beginners. If you have hands-on classes in your area a gift certificate to one will not go amiss with a new beekeeper. I’m pretty proud of my own Introduction to Beekeeping class. I have been teaching it nearly every month for five years in San Diego, California. Now you can watch an online version of my class. It’s like having me sit in your living room and explain everything you need to know about getting started beekeeping. Gift certificates are available.
Bee-friendly Seed Bombs In addition to learning all about bees, another great thing for new beekeepers to do is to start planting bee-friendly plants. Look for native plant mixes or seed bombs. This will help not only the honey bees succeed, but it creates valuable habitat for native bee species in the area.
FOR TECH LOVING BEEKEEPERS
Macro Cell Phone Camera Attachment I have tried out a number of different cell phone lens attachments and out of all of them. This design was the most clever. The lenses are part of the actual phone case which made them harder to lose and easier to use.
Phone-Friendly Gloves The number one question I get when people find out most of my photos are taken with an iPhone is, “How do you work your camera with your gloves on?” The truth is I practice a lot, but you can have a much easier time with gloves that have phone sensitive finger pads! I received a pair like this from a company called ApiSafe which I have linked above and they are perfect for anyone who struggles with this problem, although their website is decidedly confusing.
Hive Temperature Monitors – There are a number of different companies and even community based groups working on perfecting software that will monitor your hive’s temperature, humidity, weight and other stats. It’s exciting to see this intersection of tech and bees. Check out Apis Technology , Open Source Beehives, Bee Smart Technologies, Arnia or Broodminder.
Bee Sun Catcher This beautiful sun catcher made from recycled glass is my favorite bee tchotchke!
Honey Bee Tote Meet Helen Ahpornsiri who makes gorgeous nature-inspired art from pressed ferns! I commissioned her to make a honey bee for me and you can own it in the form of a tote bag, sticker or print.
Living Hive Roof Add beauty and potential forage to your apiary with these living hive roofs!
Victory Gardens for Bees by Lori Weidenhammer Even better than providing a man made home for native bees, is planting a garden especially for them. Learn exactly how to do it from this great book.
FOR LITTLE BEEKEEPERS
Kid’s Bee Suit There’s no better way to get kids involved and learning about bees than to suit them up with you. These kid’s suits from Dadant are what I use.
Observation Hive If putting your little ones in a suit is too much, bring the bees to them with an observation hive! This will allow them to observe bees without worry of being stung. I bring this easy to carry version with me for all my kids classes.
The Story of Bees Game For beekeepers who love to teach, this is an excellent tool for engaging kids in fun learning. The beekeeper leads their swarm of children on an adventure through colony life with singing, dancing and buzzing it’s always a hit.
FOR BOOKWORM BEEKS
Biology of the Honey Bee by Mark L. Winston A must read for any serious beekeeper. This book is loaded with fascinating details.
Honey Democracy by Thomas Seeley You will be amazed and amused by the research detailed in this book. Learn all about what happens when bees swarm.
Subscription to Bee Culture Magazine For all the up to date research and news on honey bees, this magazine is your best bet.
If you really want to get beeky, check out what I found in Michael Bush’s bee library!
FOR BEEKEEPERS IN THE KITCHEN
Honey Bee Tea Towels Dress up your kitchen with these cute tea towels.
Bumble Bee Plate Gorgeous bumble bee dessert plates.
Beehive Cake Mold For the bakers in your life! Who does’t want a skep cake?
FOR CRAFTY BEEKEEPERS
Candle Dipper I love this taper candle making dipper. It allows you to dip 10 candles at once with adjustable rings that change the candle height.
DIY Knit Honeycomb Hat If you’re a knitter, you can have some fun making this cute, honey comb pattern hat. I can’t wait to try it myself!
Duct Tape – I always have a roll of duct tape in my car. You never know what you’ll need it for!
Cheesecloth – Beekeepers can go through a lot of cheesecloth.
Ratcheting Straps – These are extremely useful for securing hives or for when you need to move some hives. I can’t even tell you how many I own, but I always end up needing more!
Torch Lighters – These are always handy for lighting smokers. You could even throw in some homemade smoker fuel packets to go with them!