You are well-advised to research and compare prices for bee suits. Feeling safe and confident makes hive inspections much more pleasurable for both you and your bees! See our page listing beekeeping equipment suppliers in Ireland. These suppliers are practising beekeepers themselves and will help and advise you.
Look under beekeeping equipment and make out your draft shopping wish list. Dearest is not always an indicator of quality or best! You need to look for a suit that fits your body shape and height, and has elasticated wrist and leg cuffs (because zips don’t often last well, although, if you’re handy with a needle you could fix that part later). Longer is better. Remember, it’s not a fashion statement — it’s PPE for working with bees! Popular veil types include fencing / round and square. (I use a round veil & the boss uses a fencing type.)
Hive type is really a personal choice but, whichever you choose and as you build up your equipment, bear in mind that it’s handy to have all the same size hive parts for placing, changing and framing tasks, etc. The National hive (also known as the British Standard or BS National) is a wise choice because it’s the most popular type of hive in use in Ireland and the UK. These come in two types of material: wood or poly. The poly hive is becoming more popular as they are lighter to handle when full and come ready to use with no joints. Wooden hives are heavier and come made up or flat pack. Frames of the same type (e.g., National) are cross-compatible between wood and poly. Our demonstration apiary in Skibbereen uses several types of hive and gives you an opportunity to assess what suits you best.
Look out for the deals that include two or three supers and also include frames, so you save on initial outlay.
Having a steel hive tool is essential and they come in many shapes and sizes. This will be used to separate the boxes which are likely to be well stuck together with propolis (bee glue), as well as removing brace comb from lid/crown-board/frames, etc., during inspections and plenty more jobs.
The smoker is always good to control temperament and chase bees out of the way during inspections. There is no need to spend big here once you get proficient through regular use. There certainly is no need to buy smoker fuel, because it’s everywhere around for free! We generally use dried hay. Look for a tough water spray bottle as well. It can be used to control the bees on hot days (not many of them lately, though!)
Initially, you are advised to get a medium weight pair of latex gauntlet gloves (definitely not leather, as these are difficult to keep clean, thus can spread diseases), because, as sure as day follows night, you will get a sting on the hand. As you become more confident and proficient, you can use washing up gloves or nitrile/surgical disposable gloves, but please do wear something for hygiene purposes.
If you are totally new to beekeeping and have never been stung, it’s advisable to carry an antihistamine tablet with you just in the unlikely chance of you being highly allergic.
Bee diseases get a lot more attention now, which is a good thing because of the colossal losses encountered through the years that diminished stocks big time! So, wash your hive tool and gloves between hive visits. Hygiene in all your bee care activities can help minimiss the spread of bee diseases.