beekeeping equipment

Twenty-five holiday trinkets for beekeepers

Here’s a list of twenty-five handy holiday gifts for your favorite beekeeper.

  1. Duct tape: can’t live without it necessity in the apiary.
  2. Hive tool: these get lost. So if one is good, more is better.
  3. Essential oils, especially spearmint, lemongrass, tea tree, or anise: used for making dietary supplements for bees.
  4. Paint strainers, one- or five-gallon size depending on the number of hives: these can be used for filtering honey or beeswax (or paint).
  5. Isopropyl alcohol: for removing propolis from everything that’s not propolis. That’s why it has p-r-o-p in its name.
  6. Sugar, white granulated in 10-, 25-, or 50-pound bag: for making candy boards, syrup, or candy cakes. Also useful for pie.
  7. 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.
  8. Tree or shrub: serves the same purpose as above except feeds a crowd. Try cherry laurel, California lilac, or black locust.
  9. Velcro ankle straps: the little darlings really like tender ankles and legs.
  10. Mason bee condo or bumble bee house: once hooked by honey bees, there’s no turning back—all their relations become fascinating.
  11. 5/16-inch drill bit, extra long: allows the beekeeper to make his own bee condo. This will save you money.
  12. Yellowjacket traps: for trapping . . . you guessed it . . . yellowjackets.
  13. Florescent green spray paint: for marking drone frames, a useful tip learned from Randy Oliver.
  14. 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.
  15. Ratcheting tie down: for tying hives together, to each other, or to something else; they are good for hurricanes as well.
  16. Wood filler: to replace those chunks missing from your masterpiece.
  17. Butterfly net: a long handle is good for removing bees from inside your skylights or snaring flyaway queens.
  18. Double boiler: for melting wax; try to find one at Goodwill because it won’t be good for anything else after the first melt.
  19. Uncapping knife: one of those things beekeepers skimp on, but they are really nice to have.
  20. Bee brush: same as above, and a paint brush just doesn’t work.
  21. Air compressor: a small, three-gallon, 100 psi air compressor is about $50 and can save hours of time.
  22. Brad gun: although I use screws on my bee boxes, I use brads on the frames. A pneumatic brad gun is about $20.
  23. Air hose: to connect compressor to brad gun, somewhat necessary to make the system work. About $10.
  24. 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.
  25. And if you are on an even tinier budget, you can always give them a free subscription to HoneyBeeSuite. That will save you the most.


Pancake-style air compressor, hose, brad gun, and box of brads—all for less than $100.

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  • Rusty, this is just great….. Could I take some of them and post to our bee club..???

    Thanks and a Very Happy Christmas to you…..


  • Thanks for giving me a list of what to buy for me! I learn something valuable everytime I visit you. Thanks Rusty!

  • May I also suggest a multi-tool….I have gotten outta many a jam with mine. Definitely think duct tape is an essential too….one more essential herb/oil I think is critical is thyme. I brew a tea for syrup that has never failed to keep the bees from serious dysentery in spring with dried thyme, spearmint, and chamomile. EXCELLENT LIST!!!

    Hope everyone, including the bees, are warm and dry…been unusually warm winter so far here!!!

  • Hi, Rusty, sorry I didn’t get this to you before this post. It’s in the Miles Kimball Christmas 2012 catalog, on p 24 – Hands-free Baggy Rack!!

    I also re-posted this on our club’s Facebook page. Thank you for such a kind thought!

    • Interesting contraption. I wonder how many gallons of syrup I have poured down the front of the stove and across the kitchen floor over the years . . . My husband starts to freak out when he sees me open a bag of sugar.

  • I was laughing at the hive tool comment. My guideline for a number of decades has been “never put it down, leave it in your left hand,” but I do leave an extra one in my misc box.

    When not in use I carry my hive tool and my smoker and a small fire extinguisher and my propane torch (gave up on Bic lighters and matches) in a metal handled pail.