Beginners equipment: What do you need and how to source.

It depends what you want. Also how much you want to spend.

The first lesson is :

  • understand what you need
  • Coming back to the theme, do the introductory course before you start; you will understand what you need and where you might consider purchasing from.

The second lesson is

  • At the start only buy what you need for the first season.

The sky is the limit. But once you have the basic kit, most other things you can obtain as you need them and have learnt about them.

Basic requirements.

My advice is :

1) Two complete hive sets (i.e. floor, brood box, queen excluder, 2 supers, crown board, roof and porter bee escapes, with all the necessary frames and wax foundation). I buy mine as seconds from C Wynn Jones or Thornes 


You can buy kit that is made from furniture grade wood, but the bees do not care. As long as it is dry....

2) Hive tools (good quality and sharp. You only need one, but I always mislay one!

3) Smoker

4) Good quality suit. You can buy cheap suits – but as happened to me a cheap suit that lets bees in soon has you buying a good quality suit.


For hygiene purposes you want a suit that can be put through a 95 degree wash

5) A supply of gloves


Please do not start with heavy duty gauntlets. You will crush bees as you handle frames and this irritates the whole hive and they cannot be sterilised. Best to buy a few pairs of mariglolds.

6) Box of chlorphenamine cheaper if bought in this name (originally called portion). You will get stung and best to be prepared.

7) Source your bees

The bottom line is we spent a fortune bought a complete package, basically all sorts and at premium prices. I seemed a good idea to get a starter kit. We spent more on one hive with a super than I now buy 2 complete hives with two supers.

You might ask why buy two hives?


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  • New Appointments within the National Bee Unit
    14 January 2022
    We are pleased to announce the temporary appointment of Dhonn Atkinson as the National Bee Inspector (NBI) whilst the current NBI Cristina Ruiz is on maternity leave. Dhonn has held a variety of roles across the National Bee Unit and Animal and Plant Health Agency where he held the role of Regional Bee Inspector for the North East of England.

    Following the retirement of Keith Morgan, Colin Pavey, and shortly Frank Gellatly and the temporary promotion of Sandra Gray, we are pleased to confirm the following movements and appointments:-

    Regional Bee Inspector for Western England – Jonathan Axe has been promoted from the role of Seasonal Bee Inspector.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Eastern England - Pete Davies, an experienced manager has moved from the Central England Region.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Central England - John Geden. John joins the National Bee Unit as an experienced bee farmer.

    Regional Bee Inspector for South East – Daniel Etheridge a seasonal bee inspector has been offered a temporary promotion to manage this area.

    Regional Bee Inspector for Wales – Maggie Gill has been promoted from the role of Seasonal Bee Inspector.

    Regional Bee Inspector for North East England – David Bough a seasonal bee inspector has been offered a temporary promotion to manage this area.

    For full up to date details please visit the contacts page
  • Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancies
    21 December 2021
    The National Bee Unit currently has a Seasonal Bee Inspector (SBI) vacancy advertised in:

    East England: Norfolk.

    North East England: East Yorkshire

    Mid-South Wales: Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, South Pembrokeshire, West Carmarthenshire

    West England: South East Shropshire, South Staffordshire, North West Worcestershire

    If you are interested in applying for these jobs, full details can be found on Civil Service Jobs

    If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact the Regional Bee Inspector for the area.

    Closing date for application: 16th January 2022
  • Bee Health Advisory Forum - Science Advisor
    08 November 2021
    The Bee Health Advisory Forum brings Defra & Welsh Government policy and stakeholders together to discuss honey bee health issues and is inviting expressions of interest from applicants interested in being Bee Health Advisory Forum Science Advisors. The closing date for applications is Friday 17th December at 17:00.

    Full details about the role can be downloaded here and can be found on the Bee Health Advisory page. Please circulate to prospective advisors or feel free to apply.