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Your Bee Equipment Order List

It's that time of year! Time to start preparing for the bee season ahead. Bees don't tend to wait around for their keepers to catch up, so it's best to be prepared with whatever you might need for the season well ahead of time.


This list is not exhaustive, but just a few things for you to consider adding to your order.


1. Fondant

It may be tempting to celebrate that your bees have survived winter during the mild, sunny days of March when the snow is beginning to melt and the bees are starting to venture out. But March is actually a critical month for bees; their population is growing, but there is not yet any forage available to feed all these new mouths.


We like to have fondant on hard so that we can quickly throw food on any colony that is starting to feel light. There are two main brands available and both will work just fine. Note that the Apipasta in this format will require a shim to make space for it under the inner cover (Apipasta now makes a larger, flatter version, but note which one you are getting!).



2. Pollen Patties


Please note that pollen patties and fondant are NOT the same thing. Fondant replaces honey, which is a carbohydrate. Pollen patties supplement pollen, which is a protein.

Your bees will find pollen in the spring much earlier than they will find nectar, so providing a pollen supplement is not usually a matter of life or death for the hive.


It can, however, give you a nice boost for brood rearing. If you have plans to split in the spring, this can be a really good thing.


If you don't want to split and are hoping to get your hive through summer without splitting or losing a swarm, then you might want to hold off on the pollen supplement so that they colony doesn't build up too quickly.




3. Honey Supers


If this is your first time wintering bees and coming into spring with an established hive, then you'll want to have honey supers ready by the time the nectar starts flowing (for us, this is when we start to see clovers on our lawns).


You can choose whether to use deeps or mediums for your honey supers. It's nice to have the flexibility of moving frames up and down with deep supers, but they are VERY heavy when they're full of honey. Mediums are lighter and tend to stay 'cleaner' since they are only used for honey, but you don't have the flexibility to move frames up and down.


If you are buying honey supers for the first time, count on 2 deeps or 3 mediums per hive (and don't forget frames and foundation!).


4. A Nuc Box

If you're in this beekeeping thing for the long haul, you're going to want to invest in a nuc box. I do my best to convince you that you need one in this article and I offer a review of a few different styles of nuc boxes here.








5. Additional Hive Setup(s)


A hive that comes out of winter in a healthy state will likely need to be split in order to prevent swarming. This can be good news if you are looking to expand your apiary. If not, you might want to start looking for a friend who wants to take your extra bees off your hands. Either way, having an additional hive setup means that you're ready for whatever comes along, whether you plan to keep the new colony or not.


6. New Frames


This one is for the. beekeepers in year 3 and beyond. It is a good habit to get into to rotate out old frames so that no comb in your hive is more than 5 years old. Old comb carries the buildup of pesticides, and mites have shown preference to reproducing in old comb cells. Order some new frames and swap out the darkest frames in your hive first thing in the spring before the queen starts to lay in them again!

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