Getting Started – Equipment


BEFORE you get your bees, you’re going to need some gear, and do some setup. The following is a list of MUST-HAVES and a few optional items. BEFORE you get your bees, you need to have all this stuff, be familiar with its operation and setup, and set up the hive.


Always wear a bee suit!!

  • Bee suit (integrated jacket & veil, or integrated veil and overalls).
  • Gloves. Disposable nitrile or dishwashing gloves work well.
  • Pant leg belt (or duct tape).


  • Hive tool – they’re inexpensive, so you might get a spare too.
  • Smoker.
  • Smoker fuel – you can use dried leaves, or you can buy burlap or other smoker fuels.

Be very careful starting and using your smoker. Do not start a wildfire! If it’s a windy day, best not to work on your bees.


Please see here for an overview of a typical beehive.

We recommend starting with a Langstroth hive – by far the most common type of hive.

The minimum to get started:

  • Hive stand – highly recommended – it is best to get the hive up off the ground.
  • Bottom board – either a solid or “screened” bottom board. You can always change it later.
  • Deep hive body (see below about 8 vs 10 frame bodies).
  • Frames for the deep body – 9 1/8″ black waxed.
  • Cover – telescoping cover w/ inner cover recommended, but “migratory cover” ok too. Make sure it matches your body (number of frames)!


  • Water source. Your bees need water. Don’t make them go to your neighbor’s swimming pool for water.

Nice to Haves

  • Propane torch to start the smoker. Much quicker and easier than a match or lighter.
  • Feeder, syrup and pollen patties.
  • Notebook and pen.
  • Camera / phone.
  • Mint candy or gum – your breath (CO2) can agitate the bees. DO NOT eat bananas around your bees, or have any banana smell or material on your person when near your bees. It has a chemical compound similar to bee alarm pheromone and will agitate your bees to sting you.

Getting Started

Reasons to NOT get bees

  • You will get stung
  • Expense (see below for an example budget)
  • Requires a time commitment, especially when the weather is good
  • Physical
  • Messy
  • Migratory hives
  • Disappointment - despite best, most knowledgeable efforts, hive sometimes perish

Reasons to get bees

There are many great reasons to consider becoming a beekeeper, including:

  • Pollination
  • Help honeybees
  • Honey
  • Sustainability
  • Interesting hobby
  • Connect with the environment
  • Challenging
  • Bragging rights - it’s a pretty cool hobby

Becoming a Beekeeper

If you wish to have bees on your property, but are not sure you want to tend them yourself, please reach out to GBA and see if anyone in the club would like to manage a hive for you. 

If you'd like to work with bees, but cannot or do not wish to have hives in your yard, the Adopt A Hive program might be the ticket. Please contact Steve Mink at for more information.

So, you want to become a beekeeper:

  • Bees are typically delivered in the spring, usually in March or April. If you are getting a “package”, you must install it as soon as you get it, so your hive needs to be ready, you have the required equipment (particularly a suit!), and your brain has some basic information.
  • If you’re getting a “nuc”, you have a little more wiggle room on the hive, but you will still need a suit and tools. Best to install the nuc ASAP.

Next Steps


  • Start with 2 hives.
  • Be prepared. Have your hives and gear ready for receiving your first bees.
  • Join GBA.
  • GBA wants to support you. Reach out to the club and to members for help and advice. Members will be willing to come to check out your hives with you.

Click here to view or download a PDF of "Getting Started".