Budget Beekeeping – it makes cents
It all adds up! I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of people who have hesitated at the exorbitant cost of setting up a working hive that produces honey. There really is a fine line to be walked here. Firstly, you don’t want to go spending too much and see yourself hundreds of dollars in the red. Secondly, you don’t want shoddy equipment that simply doesn’t last. Here are a few ripper budget beekeeping ideas and products that can get you up and running with minimal hip pocket impact.
Housing and care of bees
Here we’re looking at hive bodies, inner covers, outer covers and frames. It’s easy to get overwhelmed here as the choices to the uninitiated are mind-boggling. A key budget beekeeping tip is to try and get a kit deal as you’ll end up saving on the overall expense. Going with a trusted name means the warranty and support that is available to you is priceless.
There are a few hacks available to you. When you’re looking to buy a beehive, ordering hives that require assembly is a great budget beekeeping hack. Beware that in the lower end of the market the fit and finish is not laser cut precision so you may need to put your problem solving hat on here. You can also paint your hives yourself – this is assuming you have some bee safe paint lying around of course.
A word of warning can’t go unsaid here; avoid buying second-hand hives and bee equipment in general. Bee keeping is a reasonably labor-intensive exercise and you definitely do not want to waste your hard work to find out your equipment has suffered chemical exposure or has ingrained diseases. This is not a place to cut expense corners.
CO-Z Beehive Starter Kit
It’s hard to go past this sweet little unit from CO-Z. 10 supers, 10 mediums, queen excluder, adequate ventilation and a weatherproof roof for around the $140 mark is a great deal. You will need to assemble this unit and painting is recommended for environments that get very wet. The real kicker here is its capacity. More honey than you can poke a stick at!
Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit by Mann Lake
To get started on a budget while retaining quality is an art. This Mann Lake start up is the ticket if you just want to dip your toe in the bee keeping game. Pre-assembled, painted, 10 frames, gloves, veil, smoker, an essential hive tool and a beginners’ book for under the $200 mark is exceptional. You’re also buying from one of the most trusted names in the bee game as a bonus.
Maintenance and operation equipment
Beekeeping Beginner’s Kit
For the complete beginner, an all–in–one kit makes a lot of sense. You’re looking for a kit that has a smoker, hive tool and an uncapping tool. This unit here is a winner because you get all of the above and the added bonus of a brush, entrance feeders, a frame grip and queen catchers. Not industrial grade by any stretch but all good enough to get you going – perfect for budget beekeeping!
Some people love them; some people loathe them. A few factors come into play here, namely experience and your species of bee. Either way, it is very daunting to perform any sort of hive work without one, especially for your first time. Here’s a few ways to get into your hive cheaply.
This jacket and veil set up is cheap! Note that you’ll have to use gloves and pay attention to your pants, socks and shoes. Hard to go past.
Bee Suit Alternative
Here’s a nifty little budget beekeeping hack – try basing your suit around a coverall painter’s suit. You can cheaply add pre-existing gloves and a face mask to get you started. It’s probably a good idea to add a layer of protection underneath, so your denim jeans might just do the trick here. Using rubber bands around your wrists and ankles may help to secure against any curious, wandering bees – and there are plenty of them!! Definitely NOT recommended for aggressive hives of bees.
You may not know it, or you may have forgotten, but your hive needs to be somehow raised off of the ground. Old recycled pallets, hardwood posts, bricks, breeze blocks and pavers have all done a great job of this. This is an excellent budget beekeeping idea. Dedicated stands can get very expensive. I have seen hot water heater stands used successfully in place of dedicated hive stands. Here’s an example:
Here’s the honcho! You can easily trade a week’s wages for an extractor, heated uncapping knives, tanks, commercial grade buckets and strainers. It’s highly recommended to get in touch with your local club and hire an extractor when you’re starting out. Your local apiary club really is the cornerstone of frugal beekeeping.
Can’t resist and really want your own extractor? This Vingli unit has found many fans at the entry point of extractors. The choice of using deep, medium or shallow frames is an advantage at this price point. Glass lid, height adjustability and relatively easy cranking are a bonus – again, perfect for budget beekeeping.
That’s a wrap!
Well, as you can see, there’s a bit of equipment that’s essential and, well, you may regret not having (beekeeping suit!). But beekeeping doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg – it can be done on a budget! Hopefully, you’ve saved a few dollars here and there without sacrificing the joy of beekeeping!