Sunday, January 12, 2014

Think Spring: Evaluating Bee Hive Kits and the Beekeeping Starter Kit (Part II)

My beekeeping kit does not look anything like
the beekeeping kit I started with

I checked out the bee hive kits and the beekeeping starter kits offered by Betterbee, Brushy Mountain, Dadant, Kelley Bees and MannLake.

I've compiled my findings in an Excel document that you can find here. I did not take the price in consideration as the beekeeping kit prices and associated shipping are constantly changing.

My first observation is that you can save on price and on shipping by selected unassembled and unpainted hive components. Most of the hive components can be assembled with screws or nails and a bit of wood glue.

My second observation is that there is not one single bee hive kit or a beekeeping starter kit that will have everything that you need in your first year. The majority of the kits that I saw are very light on supers (or simply have none included). They do not have any provisions to help you out during the swarm season and most of them include veil and gloves which in my opinion is not adequate for a first time beekeeper.

With the above in mind, I think that the best beekeeping starter kit is Kelley Bees' "Deluxe Beginner Outfit". If I were to get this kit for a friend, I would also throw in the hardware for a single, in case a swarm happens. I would also at least add in a varroa testing kit or make one similar to the jar shown on Randy Oliver's Scientific Beekeeping.

Did you start with a kit or did you assemble your own? What was your experience? Would you recommend a kit to your friends and which one if you do? Drop me a note in the comments, please!