Hive World offers a varied selection of hive tools to enable you to find the most convenient for your purpose.
As with any tool-of-trade, choice of a suitable hive tool is a personal matter. The hive tool will be your most important piece of equipment during your hive checks. Therefore, you need to be comfortable with handling it. It is also important to be aware of the best way of using each function.
Hive tools have three main functions:
- Firstly, to slide in between the hive mat and the top super, or between supers, and gently lever them apart. To do this you need to break the propolis the bees use to glue them together.
- Then, to separate frames within the hive and lift them slightly to enable you to remove them for inspection. Lifting them also lets you know if the frames are joined on to frames underneath. (Bees can join these together with brace comb. When you lift the top super off, the frames below come too!!).
- Finally, to scrape propolis, wax and other bee products from the hive and frames in order to keep them tidy during inspections. This also needs to be done when cleaning down at the end of the season.
There are numerous other uses including rubbing out queen cells or prodding wooden hives to check for rot etc., .
Types of Hive Tool:
The two basic styles of hive tool are the standard and the J-hook. There are other unusual variations, but they need special instructions!
The standard hive tool is a flat piece of metal bent through ninety degrees at one end to give a short stub section around 20mm long. Both ends are tapered to a thin edge like a paint scraper. This is the Kelly or American style. On the other hand, the J-hook is a similar flat piece of metal but has only one end tapered like a paint scraper. The other end is shaped into a J shape.
Using Your Hive Tools:
The long thin tapered end on both tools is used to gently
slide in between the hive mat and the supers in order to access the frames inside. (Gently is important here, or you can damage the hive boxes). The best way is to break the seal all around the hive box before you start to separate.
In order to separate the frames, place the bent end of the tool between adjacent frames and twist to lever one against the next thus separating them. With both ends free, the frame can be lifted and inspected. this is where the J-hook is useful. Insert the J section under the end of the frame to be lifted, resting the lug on the back on the adjacent frame. This makes it easy to lever back and lift. You can then remove the frame without squashing any bees that may be in between the ends of the frames.
When scraping and cleaning wax etc., from frames and hive sections, the bent end of the standard tool is marginally better and less likely to dig in to the hive side than the scraper end. However, the scraper end on the J-hook is fine to use.
The hive tool should be made of stainless steel. Ordinary steel will rust and this could end up in your honey. Painting one end helps you locate the tool when lost.