Tools of the Trade

The Bee Lab

honey bees

Bees pollinate the crops that provide 35 percent of the food that winds up on the table—apples, onions, cranberries, almonds and more—a service worth $15 billion to $18 billion to the ag industry. But the disruption of natural habitats, reduced forage for bees, the widespread overuse of pesticides and numerous bee diseases and parasites have created a crisis for all bees.

Honeybees collect nectar from flowers within a radius of around 3 miles. The nectar is taken back to the bee hive or nest, where it is dropped into hexagonal shaped cells, which bees make out of wax. Once most of the water has evaporated, the bees cap the cells with wax to store the honey.

tools for beekeeping

bee smokerBeekeepers use a smoker to blow smoke into a beehive before managing the hive. Although European honey bees are known for their gentle nature, a smoker helps calm the bees while the beekeeper inspects the colony. The classic smoker consists of a firepot, bellows and a nozzle to direct smoke. The bellows force air through the fuel-filled firepot, while smoke exits through the nozzle.

The iconic round hat and veil keeps bees well away from the apiarist's face.

Ana Heck of the Bee Squad carefully uses a hive tool to separate the honey filled frames within the hive.