Do you have a beekeeper in your life? Are you scratching your head wondering what to get them for Christmas? Here are five beekeeping gift ideas that they’ll glad to receive – probably.
Choosing gifts for family members, a partner or friend is a tricky job. The easy route is to stuff some cash into an envelope. But, this feels more like a bribe than an token of affection. Choosing something that won’t spend the rest of its life forgotten in a cupboard somewhere requires some careful thought and research.
Luckily for you if you have a beekeeper in your life I can help you out. Here are five gifts which most beekeepers would love to find in their stockings:
perfect beekeeping multitool
The king of the multi-tool is without a doubt the Leatherman. Created by Timothy Leatherman in the 1970s, this ingenious device packs a tool-kit into your pocket. The full size tools are heavy and, frankly, pretty ugly. However, Leatherman has a range of mid-sized tools which are prefect for your everyday beekeeper.
The Leatherman S2 Juice has pliers, scissors, a knife as well as a collection of screwdrivers and other gadgets which are endlessly useful around the apiary.
It is small enough to fit on your pocket and its bight orange colour means you are unlikely to misplace it.
I like this tool so much I own two.
perfect beekeeping boots
The overwhelming memory I have from my first season of beekeeping was worry. Coming a close second is how cold my damn feet were. Spend time looking for beekeeping equipment I can guarantee not a single article, beekeeping supplier or equipment manufacturer will mention boots.
Let me tell you dear reader – love your loved ones feet and buy them some decent boots.
Beekeepers spend a lot of time standing, often in cold mud. Cheap rubber welly boots are uncomfortable and cold.
High quality boots are therefore a godsend. My recommendation would be the Edgewater Hi Wellington Boots from the fine people at Muck Boots.
They are light and warm; the weather proof elasticated tops provide a snug fit which keeps any curious bees at bay.
I love them and my feet have never been cold – or indeed too hot.
I have a mild addiction to bee books which I impulse buy relentlessly. This has resulted in an embarrassingly large pile of unread volumes. The best book I did read this year was The Bee A Natural History.
It is a truly beautiful book, the binding feels lovely and the photographs are delightful. The content ranges from the history of beekeeping to the diseases and pests. Meaning that it will entertain and inform everyone from the casual reader to the seasoned beekeeper.
For God’s sake buy the hardback and not the kindle edition!
Unless a beekeeper has hives only in their gardens it is likely that’ll be carrying their tools too and from an out apiary. I carry a surprisingly large amount of kit to when I visit my bees: hives tool, smoker, gloves, queen marking kit, multitool, tapes, pens and other nic nacks.
A well organised beekeeping handbag is essential to keeping this stuff in order. The grandly named ‘Fatmax multi access tool bag‘ (I’d like meet whomever named that) has fold out sides with lots of internal pockets which prevent all your equipment piling up in the a heap at the bottom of the bag. It’s light, not too bulky and with a shoulder strap lugging stuff to and fro is pretty easy.
I’m a big fan of beekeeping rituals, lighting a smokers, eating tea and cake are some of the things that make the hobby marvellous fun. I use to enjoy knocking frames up in the spring but as you grow your hives the number of frames increases and it becomes tedious.
Behold the mighty nail gun!
ideal beekeeping nail gun
I use this Tacwise 0327to make my frames and it is far far quicker than using a hammer and nails. For £50 this is a brilliant time saving device.
Hopefully this list has given you some beekeeping gift ideas that you can delight your loved ones with.
Apart from a box of bees there are three pieces of beekeeping equipment everyone needs.
These are: a beekeeping suit, smoker to calm the bees and the bee hive skeleton key – the hive tool.
Like the fisherman’s rod or painters brush, the hive tool is the most intimate of tools. Everyone has their own preferences: weight, size and pattern. With the right combination a deep attachment to the perfect hive tool develops.
Recently I found my first and most loved hive tool which I thought lost to me.
I almost embarrassed to say how happy finding it made me. The dopey grin on my face during trip back to my house the day I found it is likely to have scared any small children that spotted me.
As soon as I got home I placed my beloved into the dishwasher. Now good as new I’ve been fondling it ever since. Still with the same silly grin. Imagine a chubby Gollum with a yellow hive tool and you will have nailed the picture I’m trying to paint here.
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering why I didn’t just order a replacement hive tool of the same model?
Well. I have a beekeeping equipment addiction spending hours ogling the array of hive tools. There is marvellous variety and many to try out
It’s one of my many guilty pleasures; I’m sure you understand.
Like Goldilocks looking for her perfect bowl of porridge here is my path to perfection.
This tool was just too thin
I bought this hive tool because it looked almost identical to my original tool. The handle was too thin and uncomfortable during twisting motions to crack the seal on boxes.
this tool was the wrong pattern
Many of my fellow beekeepers use the traditional British hive tool. It has a concaved handed and crowbar type design. During manipulations I missed the handy J hook to lever out those frames.
This is the heavyweight version of my favourite hive tool. It shouldn’t have surprised me to find it a tiny bit too heavy.
this one was just right!
This Taylor Eye Witness hive tool has the J pattern I like, a comfortable handle and is light in the hand.
When it comes to hive tools, what is the love of your life?
A sure sign that the beekeeping season is ending is when you finally ‘winterise’ your beehives; helping the bees through the winter months.
Bees don’t hibernate over winter, they cluster together inside the hive keeping warm and snacking on the honey they have produced over the summer. They have survived for millions of years without beekeepers but there are some things we can do to make their lives a little easier.
Across the front of the hives we place metal strips with holes drilled in them – called mouse guards. You don’t need to be a beekeeper to quickly grasp what these do. Mice like warm places, ideally with food – a wooden hive is both warm and has lots of food available. As surprising at it may sound mice can live in a beehive with the 10,000 winter bees snacking on both the honey and indeed the bees.
Oi!!!! mousy stay out!!!
The holes in the mouse guard are big enough for the bees to get in and out but just small enough to stop Mickey and his mates getting in.
Woodpeckers are a problem as well, Green ones in particular. The birds eat insects and some learn that these small, square and leafless trees have thousands of tasty bees inside; all they have to do is drill a hole to have lunch. To protect the hives, we wrap them in wire, keeping the woodpeckers at bay.
This transformation from charming beehives to something akin to a high security penitentiary is somewhat depressing to me. It means that the season is over and I’m making that transition from keeping bees to listening and talking about bees as I attend as many winter talks held by my local associations as possible
Most groups hold monthly meetings with guess speakers over the winter months, if you’ve never attended one I urge you to do so. Not only do you pick up all sort of useful tips and tricks but you also widen your circle of friends – which is never a bad thing.
As I wrapped my beehives in steal and wire two things cheered me up. Firstly there were bees still bringing in bright yellow pollen, a good indication that the colony was is decent shape.
Winter bee bringing in pollen
I was also, rather surprisingly, reunited with my long lost hive tool!
Behold – my lost hive tool!
I cannot express how delighted I was to find this, my first hive tool. The tool I cracked my first hive open with and that supported me through countless inspections. I lost it last year and at every inspection since I mourned its lost. Amazingly as I finished wrapping my hive in a winter coat of wire I spotted a glint of yellow under the hive floor and there it was my long lost friend
I’m taking this as a good omen for next season.