Number one on the list is obviously a home for your bees. This is covered in more details in this section.
A good bee suit is essential for enjoying spending time with your bees. It should protect you from being stung and also keep the bees away from your face - making it a stress free experience. There are a wide variety of suits available including full body, upper body or even just the veil. We recommend purchasing a full body suit because it is the simplest way of guaranteeing you are bee proof. Of course, once you own a suit - you will never be short of a fancy dress costume again!
Although not essential - most beekeepers wear leather gloves to protect their hands. Alternatively, you can wear Marigolds (the height of fashion for London rooftop beekeepers) or if your bees are especially gentle, no gloves at all. However, for a new beekeeper it is best to be completely covered.
Welly boots are good protection against bees. The bees crawl upwards, so you should tuck your trousers into the boots.
The smoker is designed to produce thick cool smoke that is puffed into the hive. When the bees smell the smoke they naturally assume that their hive is on fire. Like all good organisations, they initiate a well practised fire drill and start to eat honey in preparation to leave the hive. Smoke also masks the communication between the bee so that they cannot raise the 'alarm' as you open the hive.
Lighting the smoker requires some practice. You should not have a fire - but smouldering material which produces thick cool smoke. You can use cardboard, slightly damp leaves, Hessian sack or rotten wood.
Bees make a glue called propolis from the resin of trees. It is used to seal up cracks and crevices including the moveable honeycomb. The hive tool is the Swiss army knife of beekeeping. It is a metal lever which helps you prise open parts of your hive or scrape up any mess that the bees have made.
It is good idea to keep notes on your bees. You should have a beekeeping notepad with your beekeeping equipment so that you can jot notes as you inspect the hive.