Thirty-one gifts for beekeepers
It’s time for my annual list of holiday gifts for beekeepers. This year I’ve added some new items, changed a few others, and included links wherever possible. Let me know if you have other suggestions!
- Honey-Maker by Rosanna Mattingly: In my opinion, this is the best honey bee book of the year and a perfect gift. You can find it at Bear Grass Press.
- Vivaldi board: An inner cover, ventilated cover, and feeder rim all rolled into one. They can be used year round and can easily hold a Swienty feeder. My favorite, made by Greg at GSLongWoodworking in Oregon, has two ventilation ports in the bottom so ventilation can occur even when a feeder is in place. Check out his site for other cool bee stuff too.
- Ventilated gabled roof: allows good weather protection and excellent ventilation. My favorite, made by Bill Castro of Bee Friendly Apiary in Maryland, is designed much like the attic space in a house and is beautiful besides.
- Bug Baffler: Much lighter and cooler than your average bee suit, the Bug Baffler is made of fine, durable netting and is reported to be extremely honey bee-resistant, according to Tim at The Backyard Arthropod Project. This one is definitely on my Christmas list.
- Hardware cloth: A roll of #8 hardware cloth has endless uses around the apiary. Amazon.com stocks it in a ten-foot roll.
- Duct tape: can’t live without it necessity in the apiary. For variety in hive design, you can get tiger stripes and even leopard skin, but it doesn’t deter bears.
- Hive tool: these get lost. So if one is good, more is better.
- Essential oils, especially spearmint, lemongrass, tea tree, or anise: used for making dietary supplements for bees. My favorite source is 100PureEssentialOils.com.
- Paint strainers, one- or five-gallon size depending on the number of hives: these can be used for filtering honey or beeswax (or paint).
- Everclear: In the past I listed isopropyl alcohol, but I’ve changed to Everclear because it is non-toxic. You can use it for removing propolis from everything that’s not propolis. You can use it for making swarm lures from dead queens. And if you have some leftover, you can always drink it . . . in moderation, of course. You can find Everclear at your local liquor store in 151 or 190 proof, depending on your state laws.
- Sugar, white granulated in 10-, 25-, or 50-pound bag: for making candy boards, syrup, or candy cakes. Also useful for pie.
- Seeds, flowers or herbs: provide bee forage—choose flowers that are attractive to bees such as five-spot, bird’s eyes, baby blue eyes, or borage. A good source for heirloom seeds is the Hudson Valley Seed Library.
- Tree or shrub: serves the same purpose as above except feeds a crowd. Try cherry laurel, California lilac, or black locust.
- Velcro ankle straps: the little darlings really like tender ankles and legs.
- Mason bee condo or bumble bee house: once hooked by honey bees, there’s no turning back—all their relations become fascinating as well.
- Drill bits, extra long, of various sizes from 1/16-inch to 5/16-inch: allows the beekeeper to make his own bee condos.
- Yellowjacket traps: for trapping . . . you guessed it . . . yellowjackets. My favorite brand, Rescue!, contains pheromones that will not attract honey bees.
- Florescent green spray paint: for marking drone frames, a useful tip learned from Randy Oliver.
- Fishing line, 50# test for wiring frames: it is still springy like wire, but it doesn’t kink or break. Forget melting it into wax, however—it doesn’t conduct electricity.
- Ratcheting tie down: for tying hives together, to each other, or to something else; they are good for hurricanes and earthquakes as well.
- Wood filler: to replace those chunks missing from your masterpiece.
- Butterfly net: a long handle is good for removing bees from inside your skylights or snaring flyaway queens. Also useful for annihilating yellowjackets. A variety of good nets can be found at the Educational Science Online Store.
- Double boiler: for melting wax; try to find one at Goodwill because it won’t be good for anything else after the first melt.
- Crock pot: an alternative to the double boiler for melting wax and a bit safer. If they already have a crockpot for cooking, don’t worry. The one for melting wax cannot easily be used for anything else.
- Uncapping knife: one of those things beekeepers skimp on, but they are really nice to have for extracting honey.
- Bee brush: because a paint brush just doesn’t work.
- Propane torch: the no-nonsense method of lighting a smoker.
- Air compressor: a small, three-gallon, 100 psi air compressor is about $50 and can save hours of time.
- Brad gun: although I use screws on my bee boxes, I use brads on the frames. A pneumatic brad gun is about $20.
- Air hose: to connect compressor to brad gun, somewhat necessary to make the system work. About $10.
- Brads: several sizes, such as one-inch, three-quarters-inch, and half-inch. If you are on a tight budget, just gift the brads. This will force the beekeeper to buy the rest.