I wasn’t joking when I said I spend 80% of my beekeeping time searching for my hive tool. I’ve never been able to hang onto the dang thing, and I sometimes lose it before I get to the first hive.
I begin by putting the tool in my hive tool pocket that’s sewn into my bee suit. But that suit hangs low, meaning the crotch is near my knees. When I walk, just bending my knee is enough to force it out of the pocket and into the grass. If I’m not wearing a bee suit, I stick it in my back pocket, which isn’t deep enough to secure it. It’s lost either way.
More lost opportunities
If I make it to the first hive, I soon get derailed by my bees. After I use it to pry off the lid and maybe remove a frame or two, I lay it somewhere or drop it. I don’t even notice it’s missing until I get to the next hive and can’t open it. Then I go back, cussing and moaning about my stupidity.
How it goes missing each time, I’m not sure, but I think I try to slide it into a pocket and miss. Down it goes and I don’t know the difference. Since I usually find it on the ground, that’s my theory.
Never done searching
Often, after I finish with my bees for the day, I see the empty hook in the shed and realize the tool is still out there somewhere — more cussing. I have to hunt it down, spending more time staring into grass and poking between weeds than I ever did beekeeping. The ticks love this.
I’ve tried painting my hive tools, tying survey tape around them, adding wrist bands, and talking to them. Nothing has worked. Each time I check my hives, it’s a repeat performance. Until now.
An attractive solution
My friend Cliff, over at BeeSmart Designs, took my complaints seriously and came up with a remarkable tool belt. The clever design will carry any kind of hive tool, it’s easy to use, and it prevents me from scratching my husband’s Model T when I squeeze by it in the garage. And I no longer need to worry about running the lawnmower over an errant metal tool.
The invention is lightweight plastic with two magnets that hold the tool in place. Mounted on little pedestals, the magnets protect the bent part of a hive tool so it’s not a scraping hazard. The belt is made of black webbing with a side-release buckle that’s quick to use.
I’m clueless about where Cliff got the magnets for these belts, but I’m surprised they don’t interfere with the earth’s magnetic field or require a permit. They are so strong it takes a good yank to remove the tool. But they are strong in a good way. So far, no tool — regardless of which type I use — has come loose on its own. And I know when it’s been reattached without looking because I can feel it and hear it click into place.
If you have any issues with lost hive tools, you should definitely give this one a try. It would make a splendid gift, too. BeeSmart Designs has innovative choices for beekeepers — like my favorite robbing screens and bottom boards — so check out their website while you’re there.
The BeeSmart Ultimate magnetic hive tool holder is available at Betterbee and other retailers. After you try it, be sure to let me know what you think!