Bee Hive Kits For Beginners

By The Buzzman | Beekeeping Reviews

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Starting out as a beekeeper is an exciting prospect. The thought of all that honey at the end of the season is surely one of the greatest end results of any hobby, ever! Beekeeping is not something you can just jump into though.

The fact is that you will need a certain amount of equipment in order to achieve some success in honey-making. You could try the simple and traditional methods, but why?

Today’s technology has made things a lot easier and quicker. So instead of trawling through sites and trying to find bits of equipment and tools, why not take the smart route? Let us introduce the beekeeping starter kit. It’s enough to get you started and it keeps things simple. That’s the beauty of them.

Don’t waste time trying to work out the finer details of what to buy. Get yourself one of the following bee hive kits and you can always upgrade as you go. It makes perfect sense and it gets you up and running in no time at all.

The sooner you start, the sooner you can get your hands on that honey. So let’s take a look at some of the top choices for buying a beehive starter kit.

Honey Keeper – Beehive Complete Box Kit

Pros

  • 20-frame hive
  • A choice of deep and medium super frames
  • Solid bottom baseboard
  • Entrance Reducer
  • Inner cover
  • Queen Excluder
  • Pre-assembled metal roof
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Hive and frames need to be assembled
  • Not all-weather resistant
  • Suited to be used in a covered area only

Summary

The box kit from Honey Keeper comes with all of the features you need to get started. The solid foundation is made up of a premium fir wood and provides a sturdy base for you to build the hive upon. The frames themselves are white pine wood and the galvanized metal roof will give you extra protection from the elements.

Existing users have mentioned that it’s best to keep this hive within a covered area for best results. It’s a Langstroth style hive and includes 10 medium frames and 10 deep frames, plus you’ve got the pre-cut, unwaxed foundations.

The hive itself needs to be assembled but it comes with pre-cut joints and heavy duty nails. We recommend using some wood glue to give the hive some added strength.

The extra features include the reduced entrance design, an inner cover and bottom board, and a queen excluder. Honey Keeper is offering a great starter set and it’s super value for money when you consider the price tag. A popular choice for many beginner beekeepers.

Hoover Hives – Complete Wax Coated Bee Hive

Pros

  • 20 x brood frames (pine, coated)
  • 10 x super frames (pine, coated)
  • 30 x plastic foundations coated with real bee’s wax
  • Metal roof cover
  • Inner cover
  • Bottom board
  • Queen Excluder
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Requires assembly
  • Pre-drilling the holes is recommended to prevent splitting the wood

Summary

The Hoover Hives beekeeping starter kit is a great option for those who are looking for some future proofing. The reason we say that is because of the 30 frame storage this hive can hold.

You might only want to start out small-scale but having the extra boxes to add later down the line is always going to be a bonus. The extra advantage that this hive brings is that it’s been made from quality materials. The fact that the wood and frames have been pre-waxed shows that this has been built to last.

The metal roof cover will keep your hive and frames safe from extreme weather. The kit also comes with an inner cover, a bottom board, and the Queen excluder. You’ve got everything you need to get started here and the price is reasonable for the number of frames on offer.

This hive will need assembling upon arrival and pre-drilling the nail holes will prevent any wood splitting. Overall, we’re impressed with the Hoover Hives kit. It doesn’t offer all of the fancy extras that some of the other kits offer, but what it does offer is a quality, basic beekeeping hive kit.

Little Giant Farm & Ag – Beginner Hive Kit

Pros

  • 10 x deep frames
  • Foundations already installed
  • Metal roof cover
  • Inner cover
  • Bottom board
  • Gloves and veil
  • Beehive smoker and smoker fuel
  • Bee brush, hive tool, and a frame feeder
  • Beekeeping for dummies book
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Small hive size that only suits a basic setup
  • The hive has not been coated for extra durability

Summary

The starter kit from Little Giant Farm & AG is a perfect option for those people who want to dip their toes into the beekeeping hobby. It comes with a 10-frame Langstroth hive that is more than enough to get you started. You can easily work with 10 frames and you’ll soon know if you want to pursue this hobby long term, if so, you can buy more hives and frames, simple!

The kit comes with all of the standard items such as the inner cover, metal roof cover, and bottom board. The great thing about this hive is that it comes pre-assembled, so no need for drilling or hammering nails. A nice bonus for those who are not the DIY types. You’ll also find that the frames have been installed to keep things simple for you.

You’ll find plenty of other useful tools and clothing in the kit. You’re given some gloves and a beekeeping veil, a bee brush and a hive tool, as well as a frame feeder. If that wasn’t enough, you also get a Beekeeping for Dummies books! A perfect reference point if at any time you need some guidance or tips on beehive best practice.

This Little Giant Farm & AG starter kit is a great option for those of you who just want to test the water (or honey!) with beekeeping. Plus, the extra tools and accessories will come in useful later down the line if you decide to upgrade to bigger hives.

Our Top Pick – Apimaye – Insulated Bee Hive Set

Pros

  • 20 x deep plastic frames
  • Pre-assembled
  • Durable plastic materials
  • Insulated to withstand colder winters
  • Screened bottom board with drawer and pollen trap
  • Entrance Reducer
  • Queen Excluder
  • Frame spacers
  • Top feeder
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Expensive (but very much worth it)

Summary

The Apimaye option is the bee’s knees of starter kits! It’s our top pick by a long way. Just by looking at it you know that it has been built with care and attention. The plastic material is going to be durable and strong. The 20 deep frames are more than enough to get you going with your first batches of honey.

Everything about the Apimaye hive is built to a high standard. The great thing is that it not only works really well as a starter hive, but it looks cool as well!

The insulated hive is perfect for those beekeepers living in more extreme weather environments. It comes with the Queen excluder and entrance excluder, plus the screened bottom board (which is useful for dealing with those pesky varroa mites).

Everything comes pre-assembled and the hive makes use of frame spacers and a top feeder. Apimaye has thought of everything with this design and we think the end result justifies the price tag. You are paying a lot more but you’re also getting a high-standard beehive. If your budget will allow then do not hesitate!

Busy Bee’s -n- More – Complete Bee Hive Kit

Pros

  • 16 x brood frames
  • 8 x super frames
  • 24 x plastic foundations (food grade and coated with beeswax)
  • Metal top cover
  • Inner cover
  • Screened bottom board
  • Hand made in the USA
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Requires assembly
  • The hive has not been coated for extra durability

Summary

A simple offering from Busy Bee’s -n- More that is a great starter beehive kit. You will be up and running in no time at all. You’ve got 24 frames in total, 16 x deep brood and 8 x medium super frames.

The 24 plastic foundations come pre-coated in beeswax and the plastic is food grade quality, so you know that you’re working with safe materials. The metal top cover, inner cover, and screen bottom board are all included as well.

This Langstroth style hive kit is handmade in the USA and features all of the essentials that you need.

You will have to assemble it upon delivery but the joints are precut and the process is straightforward. Much like the other hives that require assembly, we recommend that you pre-drill the holes to prevent splitting the wood when nailing the parts together.

The only downside is that the hive itself is not coated with any wax or sealer. It’s still a great option and for those living in more extreme weather conditions, a little coat of sealer is only going to make it even stronger.

Harvest Lane Honey – Beginner Beekeeper Kit

Pros

  • 10 x frames and foundations
  • Inner cover
  • Bottom board
  • Metal top cover
  • Hive tool and bee brush
  • Beehive smoker and pellets
  • 1 x brood box
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Small hive size that only suits a basic setup
  • Wise to swap solid bottom board for a screened version

Summary

The Harvest Lane Honey kit is a simple yet effective option for the beginner beekeeper. The hive itself is a single Langstroth design that holds 10 frames and foundations (included). The inner cover, metal top cover, and bottom board are all included as well.

The additional tools like the beehive smoker and pellets, hive tool and bee brush are all useful. You’ll find that they will all come in handy during your beekeeping routines and they should last for many seasons.

Although you can get larger hives at the same price as this one from Harvest Lane Honey. The extra tools that come with the kit make up for the lack of size.

If you prefer the tools and equipment over a larger sized hive then this option is going to make a lot of sense to you. It’s certainly worth a mention in our list of top starter beekeeping kits.

Goodland Bee Supply – Complete Beekeepers Tool Kit

Pros

  • 20 x frames
  • 20 x pre-waxed plastic foundations
  • Bee smoker and uncapping knife
  • Uncapping roller and two hive tools
  • Frame grip and frame spacer
  • Goodland Bee Supply® SS Tangential Manual Honey Extractor
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Small hive size that only suits a basic setup

Summary

The Beekeepers Tool Kit from Goodland Bee Supply is new to the market but we thought we should include it. The reason being is that it’s the only option with a specialized honey extractor. A honey extractor is an important part of the honey making process.

We think that this option shows a great example of just what is needed to make your beekeeping hobby a success. The hive itself is a Langstroth style and comes with 20 frames and pre-waxed foundations. The extractor comes with all of the necessary tools to make the process as easy as possible for you.

Goodland Bee Supply is a well-known company in the beekeeping world so you know you are dealing with professionals. The addition of the honey extractor does make the price increase quite a lot. However, when you think that this is a piece of equipment that many honey hobbyists use, the deal is actually well worth it.

It just depends on if you can make your budget stretch a little further. You can extract honey manually so a honey extractor machine is not essential, it just makes the process a lot easier. It’s definitely worth some consideration if you like the idea of the honey extractor machine. You’ll save some money when buying it all together in a kit!

Our Budget Pick – Mann Lake – Complete Bee Hive Kit

Pros

  • Pre-assembled
  • 10 x deep wooden frames
  • 10 x pre-waxed foundations
  • Bottom board
  • Entrance Reducer
  • Metal top cover
  • Inner cover
  • Made in the USA with quality pine
  • Langstroth style beehive

Cons

  • Small hive size that only suits a basic setup

Summary

The Mann Lake company is a regular amongst our top picks. They are a company who only deal with high-quality products and they always offer good value for money. This Complete Bee Hive Kit is no different and that is why it’s our Top Budget Pick.

The Langstroth hive comes pre-assembled and holds 10 deep-sized frames in total. The pre-waxed foundations are useful and provide plenty of room for your yummy honey! It comes with the standard setup parts as you would expect, the metal cover lid, bottom board, inner cover, and entrance reducer.

It’s a simple design and that is why it’s one of the best bee hive kits for beginners. This is exactly what beginners need. It’s a no-fuss hive. It’s small enough to store pretty much anywhere that you want and you’re not going to get overworked with 10 frames.

It’s just the right size to start and you can always buy another if you want to up your honey-making game later on! The price is the real winner here, at just over $100 you can’t go wrong with this Mann Lake beekeeping kit!

Buying Guide for a Bee Hive Starter Kit

You can’t really go wrong with a starter beehive kit because it includes everything that you need to get started. The great thing about these kits is that they remove the hard decisions you need to make.

Which frame should I buy? Do I need an inner cover? What size should the entrance reducer be? All of these questions are answered for you. You receive everything that you need in one delivery box!

If we were to offer some advice then it would be to opt for a Langstroth type of hive. All of our recommendations above are Langstroth designs. Choose any one of them and it will put you on the right path towards beekeeping success. The Langstroth design is perfect for beginners and makes the whole beehive management process a lot easier.

We will go into more detail about hive types in the next section. But all you need to know now is that a beekeeping kit is a wise choice for any beginner. It takes the buying questions out of the equation and leaves you with an all-in-one starter beehive. It’s the first step towards your very own honey!

What Are The Different Types Of Beehives?

As a beekeeper, you will come across four different types of beehives. The most popular and the one that takes up our reviews is the Langstroth beehive. It’s the best type for beginners as it’s so easy to get to grips with.

The other types of beehives are known as Top Bar, Warre, and the British Standard National. We’ll go into each of these in more detail now and explain the differences and pros and cons of each type.

1. Langstroth Beehive

As mentioned, this is by far the most popular type of beehive in use throughout the world. The name comes from the modern father of beekeeping, Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth. His research and inventions paved the way for all of us today.

You will find many other hives that are similar to the Langstroth but it was Lorenzo’s hard work that gave inspiration to today’s common hive design.

The beauty of the Langstroth design is that it makes beekeeping simple (as simple as it can be anyway!). You still need to put the effort in yourself. It’s built for maximum production and it’s a perfect starting point for beginners who want to start a hobby in beekeeping.

Pros

  • Harvesting honey is effective through the easy-access design
  • Maintenance and harvesting does not disturb the queen
  • Standardization of parts makes it simple to share frames between hives
  • Replacements frames are easy to find
  • The design is created for portability
  • Offers maximum brood and honey production
  • Best design for rearing queens
  • Many resources available online for advice and best practice
  • A great starting point for beginners

Cons

  • Not in keeping with natural designs that attract bees
  • Can be heavy when fully packed with frames and honey

2. Top Bar Beehive

A traditional type of beehive that has been in use for many years. The simple design is based around a triangle-shaped box that sits on legs. Screened access is then offered on either end of the hive. In recent years, beekeepers have introduced plexiglass panels to the sides.

This allows you to view the bees at work and offers a quick and easy inspection process. The Top Bar beehive doesn’t tend to use artificial foundations, letting the bees do the work themselves. Traditional beekeepers will often use this type of beehive as they like to stick to their all-natural ways.

Pros

  • DIY style of design – you can create one yourself
  • Simple use where you only work on one frame at a time – no heavy lifting
  • Bees are not disturbed especially with the plexiglass sides
  • Economical and space-saving design

Cons

  • Affected by seasonal temperatures
  • Extreme heat and cold can take its toll on bee colonies
  • No standardized equipment
  • Less advice and information on managing the Top Bar beehives online

3. Warre beehive

The Warre beehive dates back to the early twentieth century. A French pastor, by the name of Emile Warré, created “the people’s hive” after much experimentation and many prototypes. In contrast to the Langstroth design, the Warre beehive is a lot smaller and resembles more of a square design than a rectangle. Other differences include adding extra boxes to the bottom rather than the top.

Pros

  • Reduces beekeeper interaction
  • The design is able to withstand extreme changes in weather
  • Bees build their own combs from foundation-less frames
  • Sawdust and cotton layers are used to provide insulation which regulates temperature and moisture
  • Stylish design that will not look out of place in your backyard

Cons

  • Expensive to buy if you are not a DIY person
  • Requires more effort and planning on your part
  • A beehive type more suited towards advanced beekeepers
  • You’ll need at least two sets of hands to add supers due to the bottom-up build

4. British Standard National beehive

A beehive type that is very similar to the Langstroth design. The standout differences include a shallow brood chamber and the dimensions are often smaller. The open mesh flooring is a useful addition and one that is recommended for beginners to keep varroa mites at bay.

The boxes tend to be deeper on the British Standard National beehive as well. As you can tell, it’s very similar to the Langstroth but it does include unique features that might appeal to some beekeepers.

Pros

  • Easy for one person to manage
  • Up to 12 frames can be used
  • Ventilation is optimized to increase the bees health
  • Easy to monitor varroa mites
  • Frames can be placed parallel or perpendicular to the entrance

Cons

  • Not an ideal solution for high-volume, honey producers
  • Only suitable for the use of non-prolific bees

How To Catch Your First Bees

If you decide to go down the route of capturing your own bee colony, then it’s best you get up-to-date with the various techniques. We’ll outline the two most popular options for beginners. Option one is “cut and lower” and works best for swarms hanging off low, thin branches.

Option two is “shake and catch” and this works best for swarms located higher up trees on larger branches, The idea is to get as many of the bees as possible to land in your collection box. You’ll find that some bees will fly away at first but most will come back shortly to join the rest of the swarm.

The queen is usually hidden within the center of the group so you’re very likely to catch her in the first attempt. If she does happen to miss the box, don’t worry too much, she’ll find her way back to her colony pretty quickly.

Before we take a look at the two different methods, we’ve put together a list of the equipment you need to catch your swarm. Using this checklist will give you the best chance of success and also minimize the risk to you and the bees.

Swarm Catching Kit

1. Breathable cardboard box (cardboard file boxes are a great idea!)

2. Light colored material such as a bed sheet

3. Beehive brush

4. Pruning shears or clippers strong enough to cut through branches

5. Lemongrass oil (optional for ground-based swarms)

6. Protective clothing

Option 1 – Cut and Lower

This option works best with smaller branches that you are able to reach and cut with clippers, or something similar. You’ll often find swarms hanging from low-lying branches and these are your easy targets. All you need to do is place your box on the ground below the swarm.

Then carefully clip the branch off and lower the swarm down into the box. You will find that some bees will fly away but most will return once everything has calmed down.

The box will appear like a new home for the bees so it should make for an easy transition. Just stay calm when you move the swarm from tree to box and the bees shouldn’t make too much of a fuss. It goes without saying that you should take precautions and wear all of the suitable clothing and protective gear.

If you’re using either of the Langstroth or Warre hives then it’s best that you leave the frames in before you transfer the swarm from box to hive.

The bees will hang from the top of the frames and hopefully, they’ll start to feel at home soon enough. Using the Cut and Lower method is great for beginners so make sure to take your opportunity if you see a low-hanging swarm. It will be your lucky day and you’re newfound friends will appreciate the quick and easy transfer from tree to hive.

Option 2 – Shake and Catch

The Shake and Catch method is the option to choose when you spot a swarm located higher up in a tree. You’ll want to use this when either the branch is too large to cut and/or is too high to safely reach.

The method is simple and something you most likely did as a youngster, shake the branch and catch whatever that was stuck in the tree! Only this time it’s a swarm of bees and not a ball, so do take precautions!

Place your box underneath the swarm. Next, you will need to shake the branch and knock the bees into your box. The action should be carried out quickly and carefully.

You’re not going to catch all of them but as long you get a large portion of the swarm then the rest should follow. This method is likely to disrupt the bees slightly more than the Cut and Lower method. So be sure to keep your wits about you when you shaking the branch.

Protective gear is a must for this method. The Queen and any bees that fly off should return soon enough and rejoin the group.

Extra Tip – Ground Swarms

If you happen to find a swarm on the ground then lemon oil can be used to entice the bees into the box. All you need to do is spray the inside of the box with lemon oil and lay the box down on its side next to the swarm.

The scent of the lemon oil should entice them into the box. It’s a super simple way of collecting bees if you are lucky enough to find any ground-based swarms.

The bees are in the box, what now?

Once you have caught the majority of the bees you should close the lid of the box and leave just a small opening. Leave the box positioned where it is until sundown. This is vital to ensure all the bees are kept together, The scouting bees will be out and about during the day so it’s best to ensure you give them a chance to return and rejoin the group. After sundown, return to the box and tape up the lid and you can safely head back to your hive with your new honey-making friends.

It’s best not to disturb your bees for at least seven days after you have placed them in the hive. This gives them a chance to build the combs and get used to their new surroundings.

If you disrupt them too early, they may get annoyed and move on. If there is no comb or brood then there is no reason for them to stay. Give them time to do what they do best and let them develop a comfortable habitat.

Are Beginners Beehive Kits Worth it?

Beekeeping takes a lot of patience, care, and management. You’ll end up using a lot of equipment (if you want to find success). Starting off with a beehive kit for beginners is going to take a lot of the guesswork out of trying to find the right products.

Buy yourself a starter kit and you’ll be up and running straight away. You’re more likely to save money when buying everything in a “kit deal” so it makes sense really. The beauty of bee hive kits for beginners is that you’re starting off on the right foot, it takes a lot of the guesswork away.

There is a lot of information to take in when you first begin your beekeeping hobby. Give yourself a chance of making a healthy relationship with your bees from the beginning. If you can provide them with a healthy and safe environment, they’ll be happy to repay you with plenty of yummy honey! It sounds like a fair deal, right?