Recommended 3rd Party Products
Whether you invest in quality or have a beekeeping budget we have real world experience with the listed equipment and products below. We don’t recommend anything we haven’t purchased or used. We only give honest opinions, good or bad and are not paid, coerced, or persuaded to post these reviews, nor have we been contacted by any of the companies. Full disclosure – hive time might get a commission if you purchase the items linked to on this page.
These are NOT the recommended products for Backyard Bees! Please read the Requried Equipment List under Backyard Bees on our Product Page.
Knowledge Is Power!
The Beekeeper’s Handbook
Seemingly thousands of beekeeping books tell you what is best. Discerning which is the best for you is simply impossible – local environments, bee genetics, and simple preferences are all different for each of us.
These two books are our favorite products. As you might be able to tell from our site, we value efficiency and straight-to-the-point talk. These two books have it what it takes for you to get started AND comprehend the subject matter – in our opinion.
There are two types of beehive products you need to research: Top bar and Langstroth. Langstroth is the stackable boxes you see in all movies and shows. A top bar is a horizontal beehive MUCH more conducive to backyard beekeeping and honey harvesting.
There are currently no products on Amazon we believe are in your best interest to purchase – This does not mean you cannot or should not. There are kits and low cost items that may suit your budget or desires or style.
We have only limited experience with a couple of brands of hive components on Amazon and the brands are always changing. As commercial beekeepers we try to buy cheap but commercial quality.
There are many bee equipment companies we recommend you do business with, however, they are not interested in only providing the lowest cost. They care about quality and your perception of their brand. Take your pick, we like them all.
In no particular order here they are:
Suits and Jackets:
There is no question Ultra Breeze takes the honey on suits and jackets. Beekeepers rave about their suits and justifiably so. We own almost 60 suits, only 2 are Ultra Breeze: 10 kid size full cotton suits, 3 adult full cotton suits, and over 45 ventilated adult suits. Our ventilated suits come from 3 brands, all crap when compared to the Ultra Breeze. The zippers are better (metal), the material is stronger, the stitching is MUCH better, the veil zippers seal more simply and easier, and the suit cleans better in the washer. The suit is also lighter, less rough on the skin, and ventilates better than every other type/brand of suit/jacket we have.
The zippers on our Ultrabreeze suits have never failed or even hiccuped. And if you are an experienced beek you know that putting a veil back on after the wash is sometimes a ridiculous experience, right? Nope, not with the Ultrabreeze. The metal zippers make it a cinch without any hassle.
All you have to do it spend a few minutes reading the reviews on Amazon and you’ll be hooked – rightfully so. Put your money here and don’t buy any of the extras below and you won’t feel the sting. We will exclusively purchase these suits going forward.
Suits and Jackets:
Of the suits we own and use on a regular basis, Eco-Keeper comes in second place. We own one Eco-Keeper jacket and about 12 Eco-Keeper suits. The reason we bought these is they were the only company to provide a truly large suit. We use these for our big and tall customers.
At first we didn’t like them; they felt course and seemed cheap. However, time revealed they are actually comfortable and hold up well under stress. The zippers are half metal half plastic and are acceptable. They have never experienced a rip/tear and are much stronger than our other budget suits. They have held up just as good as our Ultra Breeze suits when compared in wear and tear. However, they stain a bit easier.
The main thing we found about them though is they really fit well. Most of the crappier/regretful bulk suits we have from china have super short legs and really long torsos that make most people feel weird. The Eco-Keepers are proportioned well.
If we had to order new suits today and were on a budget, of all the suits on Amazon we would choose Eco-Keeper.
Gloves – Buy Quality Products:
Blue Sky – But Only For The Gloves
Theory goes that bees don’t “see” white. This translates conveniently into having white bee suits for safety and for heat. If you have been around mean bees you know they will bang into your veil, specifically the black part (see-through screen).
If we encounter mean bees while wearing our jackets, you can pretty much count on you getting stung on your jeans. The reason is obvious – the blue is colored dark like black and brown of the larger mammals that demolish bee hives. You won’t see this behavior when dressed in a full white suit.
This translates into gloves. Our customers in our Bee Experience class don’t always tell us if bees are hitting their veils, they don’t know the difference. However, with these perfect gloves, made just like they are supposed to be, unlike all the companies putting out crap today, they have white gloves and yellow bands. The yellow bands attract aggressive bees and act as a barometer of agression: A lot of bees on the yellow extra-thick cuff and you have agressive bees, so on and so forth. Just a quick glance at your cuff and you know what your bee temperature gauge reads.
Buy Only WHITE Gloves
Even if you don’t purchase these gloves, please for the love of honey bees, don’t buy yellow colored gloves! Gloves and sleeves all-white makes sense and is correct. It is just crappy design and lack of knowledge you would have yellow, bee attracting gloves covering your hands. We think these white gloves with yellow cuffs are the ultimate glove. We should know, we have many, many, many pairs of each.
Full disclosure, we only will order gloves from this company. We placed a larger order a while back with them for kid suits and a lot of equipment. It didn’t go well. However, the gloves were the good choice. They have held up well, no rips and tears while experiencing heavy, disrespectful use.
We prefer our gloves leather calf/goat, with canvas upper, forearm or elbow length. Natural Apirary brand is our second choice.
Cheap Option – NONE
Don’t Buy Cheap Gloves
We understand if you have a budget. Not everyone is a jetsetting millionaire.
However, there are some places you can put your money and it is just a hole in the ground. We don’t condem or suport the purchasing of cheap gloves. They will only rip, tear, or come unseamed. We know, we have lived it.
Cheap here means around $10. You cannot make or purchase leather, stitch it together, attach a canvas upper, then charge $10 and profit. Something is wrong with that equation. As far as we can tell, gloves that begin at $25 start to be the acceptable price point.
Don’t buy yellow colored gloves (hand part), read above.
$10-$15 bucks more on gloves is going to save you money in the long run- trust us.
Rugged, ridgid, quality, tough, well-made and smokey are words that come to mind when we think of that first light with this smoker out to the bee yard. This is a taller 10″ smoker that holds much more fuel.
We tried about 10 brands for use in classes and they all are okay with the exception of this gem that is superior. Then we purchased 10 of them and will only purchase these going forward.
It holds up better and is well made with thicker gauge metal. We think this is an heirloom.
Runner Up Smoker
Coming in second for smokers is the Vivo. Lightweight, durable and well made this smoker holds up well under constant use.
We don’t regret we own 7 of these. They don’t hold as much fuel as the Goodland and the metal isn’t quite as good but an attractive price point nonetheless.
Cheap and Quality
Hive Tools Are The Same, Mostly
We prefer a no gimmick hive tool. No pointed tips, or extra functions – we can use a regular hive tool for all things and suffer no harm.
Check that your hive tool is steel for durability and is a 9″. Everything else is someone selling you something you don’t really need.
Cheap and Quality
Yes, We Think A Frame Perch Should Be Standard Issue
Commercial or backyard beeks all need a frame perch. They are incredibly handy when needing space in a hive, when searching for elusive queens, when taking pictures, and more.
Buy one and use it for a bit. Then try to do a hive inspection without it. You will find zero places to set down frames.
In the business of beekeeping classes, you can’t do business without these. People with no experience can’t bee juggling frames or setting them down willy-nilly. You have to own a perch.
Buy one immediately.
Cheap and Quality
Home Honey Processing
Don’t buy a roller, they just make it hard for honey to come out. Rollers don’t “uncap” honey.
If you are going to process honey at home you need an uncapping fork. You keep it mostly parallel to the capped honey and “tease” the caps off with this fork.It does little damage, gives you exclusively “caps” for use in candles, etc, and is kinda fun to use. When we started out we just used our serated bread knife to slice down the frame. Knives work well but take off a bunch of extra wax causing the bees much more work.
If you are only going to have 1 to 3 or 4 hives, we recommend you do not buy the plug in heated knife. t is just a gimmick you don’t really need.
Cheap and Quality
Ankle Bands Should Be Standard
You know what is worse than getting stung by a bee?
Getting a bee in your pant leg and knowing you are going to be stung.
Exercise safety: slide your suit leg over your boot then wrap these bands around each suit ankle. We don’t appreciate the color but they work wonders on keeping bees out.
Stuff You Don’t Really Need
Cheap and Quality
We Tried To Get Into Frame Grabbers
In fact, we own 25 of them of various types, with and without “integrated hive tool.”
They are pointy, akward to carry and it’s just easier to use your hands/hive tool. If you are facing over 200 frames full of honey buy one now. Most likely you will continue your life as normal if you don’t get one.
If you are still adamant then Goodland has the best. The spring action is superior on this one and the handle much better to hold a solid grip.
Beware metal cylinder handles on frame grabbers. They tend to shift in your hand yeilding many close calls.
Full disclosure: We love Goodland. Everything we have purchased from them is high quality, durable, and well designed.
Cheap and Quality
Wanna Piss Off Some Bees?
We would wager the number one way to piss off your bees is to misuse your bee brush.
While we won’t go as far as saying you would be wasting your money – there is a reason to use one while putting supers back on so don’t don’t crush a ridiculous amount of bees, we will say that we regret all the bee brushes we bought and rarely need more than one and only need it on occasion.
Hive Time owns many each of horse hair and nylon. They both seem to wear equally and have no functional difference whatsoever: they both piss off bees equally well.
Horse hair is cheaper though. Go figure.