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Author Topic: Newby with a queston-Starter kits worth it?  (Read 2416 times)
Ibmerlin
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« on: November 23, 2008, 06:20:56 PM »

Hello,

I am looking into buying the equipment that I need for beekeeping. I have found a few "starter kits" on line. Is it a better deal getting a kit or buying maybe better quality items separately? Also, It seems that with most kits I will soon need to add to the kits. Any thoughts?

Thanks Merlin
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Shawn
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2008, 07:47:01 PM »

Do a search in the search bar, there are lots of post about the starter kits. I did purchase one, before coming to this site, and found I wished I did not. I think you'll see that most people discourage the starter kit. 
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Ibmerlin
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2008, 08:02:03 PM »

Thanks, I will do a search. I did find one kit that seemed complete and interested me.
betterbee.com/products.asp?dept=219

I was thinking of buying everything separately and going for better quality.  

Thanks again
Merlin
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Shawn
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2008, 09:32:44 PM »

Most people would say get all mediums that way you have a standard size that all your stuff will fit. I bought the starter kit from better bee and it does work except that if I need to get some brood from the hive the frame wont fit in the mediums. Everyone has their own interest and ideas so go with what best suits you.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2008, 09:50:56 PM »

Yes, you will need to constantly be buying more, and more,....stuff.

Beginner kits are not all that bad. Overall, if you can get a price break, most stuff is needed anyways. Perhaps not the best you can get, but a smoker, gloves, jacket, hive tool, etc., you will need anyways.
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2008, 12:27:35 PM »

I agree with BjornBee, here. Get an "outfit and tools" kit, but decide what hive components and sizes you want and buy/build those separately. Here's a quick item-by-item run down of what you get in most "outfit and tools" kits:

Essential:
Veil - This is essential equipment. You may or may not put the veil on every time to work the hives, but you will find this to be your single best piece of protective gear. DO NOT buy one integrated with a jacket or suit. See my comments on jackets and suits for why you should get a separate veil.

Smoker - I think I have lit my smoker four or five times in the last two seasons. If you are only working a handful of hives, a spray bottle full of light sugar-syrup is just as effective. That said, if you choose to buy a smoker, get a big one only if you expect to grow beyond ten or twelve hives. Smaller smokers hold enough fuel for about an hour's burn, fuel-type depending, and are less time-consuming to clean. You will want to clean your smoker at least once per season, if you use it very much at all.

Hive tool - Longer is not necessarily better. The hook type is not necessarily better. I started with the paint-scraper type when I work in WA. When I moved to Alaska and bought all my own gear, I got a hook type and had to figure out how to use it elegantly. PICK ONE STYLE AND STICK TO IT. If you change styles, you get a new learning curve.

Suits and Jackets - These are a great confidence booster early in your beekeeping "career" but you will rapidly tire of getting into and out of them every time you work with the bees. Still, they do come in handy when you work in marginal weather or with a grumpy hive.

Gloves - Traditional goat or lamb skin beekeeper's gauntlets are great! I buy nitrile gloves at Napa in 500 count boxes, anyway, for doing auto-repair and I find I get stung less often through the nitrile than I do the animal skin. The elastic band at the end of the beekeeper's gauntlets invariably needs repair at least once per season. You can feel more through nitrile than goat/lamb skin. YMMV, but I think you'll be happier in then end with disposable nitrile gloves.

Bee Brush - I don't own one and I doubt I ever will.

Book - You will eventually accumulate quite a collection of beekeeping books. It seems most kits are coming with The Beekeeper's Handbook by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile or The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottam. These are both excellent books to start out with.

Now, other beekeepers may pick little nits about my earlier comments, but I think most will generally agree with them. Where people really start arguing is over the hive components themselves.

Type - Langstroth? British National? Dadant/Blatt? Top-bar (Kenya or Tanzania?) hive? Other? This is choice is, to some extent, pretty personal. Generally, you will be able to find the most support, locally, by using the same style hive as everyone else in your nearby area. TBH and "other" are almost entirely for the do-it-yourself type because you likely will not find anyone in you area with extensive experience working with them.

Boxes - If you are in the Americas or Australia, you probably have chosen the Langstroth because everyone else has, too. Now, you get to decide on your box size arrangement. Deeps? Mediums? Shallows? There are pros and cons to each and this choice is actually pretty personal. Just remember: for the most part, the bees don't care, so use what you like.

Frames/Foundation - Oh, boy! Really touchy subject, here. Wood or plastic? Plastic or wax foundation? Full sheet foundation, starter strip or none at all? Cell size? Wires or no wires? Again, the bees really don't much care (or they adapt easily and quickly, at any rate). This is a personal choice and almost nobody here is going to naysay your choice.

Bottoms, tops, queen excluders, feeders, etc. - Guess what? You seen it before and here it comes again: The bees don't seem to care. Use what seems right to you.

As a general rule, you don't want to get too experimental at once and especially not right out of the gate and a new-beek. Pick a standard set of "stuff" and stick to it for a couple seasons before you start doing much experimentation.
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oldenglish
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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2008, 12:55:16 PM »

Here is what I did, (from my blog) trouble with kits is that you often get things you dont need and dont get things you do need.

 Ruhl's Bee Supply in Gladstone Oregon. I found them to be very helpful with my choices, they had a great selection and Paul was more than willing to spend time with me explaining the pro & con of each piece of equipment. Here is a list of what I purchased on that first trip, hope it is helpful to anyone looking at getting started.

4 hive bodies (deeps)
4 Med Supers (westerns)
2 hive top feeders
2 screened bottom boards (entrance reducers included)
2 inner covers
2 telescoping covers
2 queen excluders
20 med frames
20 deep frames
40 deep pierco foundation
40 med pierco foundation
1 Frame rest
1 protective jacket/veil
1 pr gloves
1 smoker
1 hat & veil (for my kid or visitor to use)
1 Honey B Healthy (did not need to get it yet but what the heck)

All this came to $625, plus I miscounted on the frames so will need to buy more.
This is going to allow me to set up two hives and have enough to put two supers on each if needed, although not really expecting it this first year.

What about the other equipment you ask, hive tools, brushes, frame spacers etc are all going on the christmas wish list.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2008, 08:48:18 PM »

My problem is that there is nothing in the starter kit that is the item or the variety of the item that I would buy.  Wrong sized boxes, wrong sized frames, wrong sized cells, wrong sized smoker...
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Michael Bush
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WayneW
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« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2008, 08:06:21 PM »

I purchased a starter kit from Mann Lake, it was ok. Smoker works fine, seems well built, the woodenware was acceptable (some frames had split end bars and top bars)........ Bee suit was nice.......... It seems they give the "beginner" almost everything you need to get started, but you soon realize that the items of mixed sizes of equipment (most seem to be deeps for brood chambers and mediums for honey supers) are a problem. To quote a very wise man "There is alot to be said for interchangeability of equipment"  evil Let me see......who was that?Huh? Mike something or other Tongue

I will be making double nucs out of my deeps for transporting purchased bees, since most suppliers seem to only sell deep nucs. And using all medium equipment for my hives and such.

The nice part about the kit i bought was all i did was buy that, and bees, and i was good to go (with the exception of screened bottom board). But in hind sight, i could have done myself a favor pricing individual pieces in the sizes and styles i am going to end up with anyway.

Guess it's more of a "Do i start off NOW with enough to get by" or "Do I decide up front what i want from my beekeeping experience, and purchase accordingly". Either way, you're in for a heck of a ride............ I have found nothing more enjoyable or entrahlling than my girls Smiley
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2008, 11:17:51 PM »

It might not seem like much but little things (considerations) can have big impacts.  For example: the hobbyist, or starter smoker, is shorter and less expensive but it is also much more difficult to keep lit.  Buy the larger deeper smoker to start with and smile when every other newbee you meet is complaining about their smaller smoker is always going out and yours stays lit for hours with hardly any effort.

Uniformity of equipment can solve a lot of headaches before they occur....any frame, in any place in any hive at any time as it's benefits. 

The uniformity of size doesn't matter on deep, Western, medium, or shallow as long as it is maintained.  If you think you can still enjoy handling deep supers full of honey weighting nearly 100 lbs each in 10 years time then go with deeps, but I think most middle aged and older  men and most women would be more confortable handling mediums.

GI surplus mosquito nets make exellent veils, I have gone to preferring one myself and I keep several more for visitors.  I can roll it up and stick in my back pocket, great for swarm calls.  At $5.00 apiece from Harbor Freight, they leave a few extra dollars for where it is more wisely spent.

Keep in mind that starter kits are designed around what was popular in beekeeping over 60 years ago.  Pests, information, and science have made some changes to that standard since then. 

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kathyp
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2008, 06:42:50 PM »

i get my stuff from ruhl bee also.  they are great!!

i would suggest the jacket-veil combo.  there are a number of different ones out there.  i got the one from mann lake and really like it.  i can't see the need for a full suit even when i do cutouts. with the jacket-veil i don't get bees crawling under.

KISS is always my rule smiley.  when you have decided on the box size, the rest should be easy.  you don't need much to start.  boxes, frames, hive tool, protection, smoker, tops and bottoms.  do a search on plastic foundation.  you'll probably find that most don't think much of it for beginners.  i think screened bottom boards are worth it, but others don't like them.  you probably don't need the queen excluders.  you can always get one to try and see if you like it.

just try to keep it simple.  it's easy to spend lots of money on things that you find you'll never use.  get the basics and add as you find a need.
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Ibmerlin
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« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2008, 08:33:27 AM »

I just want to thank everyone that replied to my post. I decided to not get a kit and to go with assembling everything myself. Sorry about the long reply time but I was a bit overwhelmed. 8s, 10s.  Nucs, deeps or mediums, It seems that even after reading a few books I know still nothing. Smiley   I am going to buy must of the wood from Dadant, I live in Illinois and figure that over time I will save on shipping being so close.

I do have one question (ok two) about foundations, What size would you use for medium supers? Also Wax or PLASTICELL what are to benefits?

thanks again
Merlin
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Irwin
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« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2008, 09:43:21 AM »

I know the feeling to much info at one time will make my brain short circuit But when I do it hand's on it stays put.
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Ibmerlin
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« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2008, 10:48:08 AM »

I am the same way. When I get the bees and figure out what equipment to buy I will be ok, But for now.. Ever Answer leads to 3 new questions.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2008, 06:48:09 PM »

>I do have one question (ok two) about foundations, What size would you use for medium supers?

That depends on what kind of frame it is. Smiley  But the foundation is usually somewhere around 5 1/4".

> Also Wax or PLASTICELL what are to benefits?

The bees accept wax much more quickly.  They hesitate on plastic but use it eventually.  The other issue is cell size.  If you want small cell you'll have to either use the Mann Lake PF 100 series (PF 120s for mediums) which are one piece frame/foundation or 4.9mm wax in wood frames from Dadant, Brushy Mt. etc. or Honey Super Cell fully drawn plastic (and cut it down if you want mediums).  Otherwise, if you want large cell, every one has that.  Smiley

The plastic doesn't require any wires and won't sag on a hot day if the bees haven't drawn it yet.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm
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Michael Bush
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Ibmerlin
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2008, 07:28:35 PM »

thank you those links were very informative.
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