The 6 Best Beekeeping Starter Kit for Beginners

If you’re ready to find out the buzz about beekeeping, you’ll need the know-how and the right equipment. Finding the right beekeeping starter kit will depend on your climate, location, experience level, and the hive type you’re working with, but our top pick has you covered in every scenario. Does it offer everything you need to keep your bees buzzing? Let’s find out.

6 Beekeeping Starter Kits To Jumpstart Your Backyard Beekeeping 

If you don’t have the time to read the specifics of each product, we’ve got you covered. Check out the product table below for a quick summary of our choices for the best beekeeping kits and the pros and cons of each.

Image Product Details
Best Overall Best Overall Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beehive Starter Kit Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beehive Starter Kit
  • Includes mite shield to protect from SHB invasion
  • Includes all of the premium accessories you could use
  • Offers more than most beginners might need.

Runner Up Runner Up Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit
  • Factory assembled for a perfect finish
  • Suited for hobbyists and experienced beekeepers
  • More expensive than similar options

Budget Pick Budget Pick Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit
  • Great value for price
  • Perfect for starting a hive from nuc
  • Kit only includes five standard frames

Harvest Lane Honey Beekeeping Starter Kit Harvest Lane Honey Beekeeping Starter Kit
  • Comes fully pre-assembled and ready for use
  • Includes an internal feeding attachment
  • No safety gear included

Mann Lake HK-125 Beehive Starter Kit
  • Fully assembled and painted for use out of the box
  • Long-lasting accessories
  • Doesn’t include a feeder attachment
NuBee Beekeeping Starter Kit NuBee Beekeeping Starter Kit
  • Dark frames make it easy to spot eggs for breeding
  • Suitable for splitting hives
  • Low frame count

Still unsure which beekeeping starter kit is best for you? Continue reading for an in-depth review (plus what’s included) for each kit.

1. Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beekeeping Starter Kit – Best Beekeeping Starter Kit

Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beehive Starter Kit

Specifications

  • Frames: 10

  • Safety Gear: Veil and gloves

The Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beekeeping Starter Kit stole the top spot on our list of the best beekeeping starter kits. It gives you everything you need to start (of course, except the bees). You can even get a copy of Beekeeping For Dummies, a helpful guide to beekeeping with a lighthearted twist to make learning fun.

The hive body itself is a premium pre-assembled Langstroth hive with a telescoping cover, a vented inner cover, wood frames, and a screened bottom board offering the best mix of protection and ventilation for your beehive. With the Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beekeeping Starter Kit, you won’t need to worry about insulation or ventilation except in the most extreme climates.

The starter bee hive kit includes a ton of helpful accessories, including a mite grid to protect your hives if you live in an area affected by Small Hive Beetle (SHB) infestations (1).

“Small hive beetles native to South Africa have become serious pests of honey bees, especially in the southeastern region of the United States.”

If you live in an area affected by small hive beetles, be sure to check our buying guide section for more info on how to protect your hive and honey harvest from the deadly invaders.

Beekeeping kit includes: 

  • Hive Tool
  • Smoker with Smoker Fuel
  • Bee Brush
  • Frame Feeder
  • Gloves & Veil
  • Beekeeping for Dummies book
  • Screened Bottom Board
  • Entrance Reducer
  • Mite Grid

The Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beekeeping Starter Kit is an ideal choice for anyone getting started with beekeeping but has pests or ventilation issues. The included accessories allow you to protect your hives from Small Hive Beetle (SHB) infestations, invading bees, or yellow jackets.

2. Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit – Runner-Up

Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit

Specifications

  • Frames: 10

  • Safety Gear: veil and gloves

The Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit is so close to being our top choice, but it takes the second spot instead. The high-quality hive body arrives fully put together and painted to protect it from the elements making it easy to establish a new hive quickly.

While it has some nice finishing touches, this starter kit doesn’t include a few helpful accessories that beginners may need, like a feeder, a bottom screen, and a mite grid. Hobbyists and experienced beekeepers won’t miss the inclusion.

The included safety veil and gloves are also better suited to a more experienced beekeeper or someone comfortable working with bees. You won’t have chest or leg coverage with this gear.

When you purchase the Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit, you’ll also be supporting local businesses with a product made in the USA. Enjoy free shipping on this starter kit anywhere in the continental US. The hive box’s high quality and included equipment make it a great entry point.

Beekeeping kit includes: 

  • Hive 
  • Wood Frames with Waxed Yellow Rite-Cell Foundation
  • Telescoping Cover with Inner Cover
  • Painted Bottom Board with Reducer
  • Hive Tool
  • Top Smoker with Guard
  • Starting Right with Bees Book

The Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit is a great all-around starter kit. However, the exclusion of some beginner-friendly accessories makes this hive best suited for more established beekeepers who already have all the extras.

3. Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit – Budget Pick

Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit

Specifications

  • Frames: 5

  • Safety Gear:  Leather Gloves, Jacket, Veil

The Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit is our pick for the most budget-friendly. This starter bee hive kit isn’t the cheapest option on our list, but the cost difference gets you a better quality option that will last you through the years and seasons. 

The smaller five-frame hive box is for anyone with a limited beekeeping space or looking to get started with beekeeping as a hobby.

The Langstroth style wooden hive box, deep plastic brood frames, and solid bottom board have been dipped in 100% authentic beeswax, offering a long-lasting organic finish to withstand the weather without warping. The resulting product is an attractive option that won’t need you to spend any time or money finishing before you introduce your bees.

Even though it’s affordable, this kit doesn’t skimp on safety. It includes quality leather gloves, a jacket, and a veil to keep you sting-free and covered everywhere except the legs.

Beekeeping kit includes: 

  • Deep Brood Box
  • CellTech Deep Brood Frames/Foundations 
  • Wax Coated Solid Bottom Board
  • Telescoping Top Cover & Inner Cover
  • Entrance Reducer

Are you looking for an attractive, affordable beehive starter kit you can use with Nuc frames? The Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit will last your hive through the generations and includes everything you need to care for your bees.

4. Harvest Lane Honey Beekeeping Starter Kit

Harvest Lane Honey Beekeeping Starter Kit

Specifications

  • Frames: 10

  • Safety Gear: N/A

The Harvest Lane Honey Beekeeping 10 frame Starter Kit includes everything you need to get started with your first beehive, and you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money nor spend hours trying to figure out how the pieces fit together. 

From the moment you unpack this starter bee hive kit, it’s ready to go, with the hive box and accessories fully assembled. The entire starter beekeeping kit is constructed with high-quality wood. It comes with all the items you need to start in a hive box and some extras, including a metal telescoping top cover, an internal feeder, and a wooden entrance reducer. 

The internal feeder included in this hive takes the space of a frame, but you can order additional standard frames if you prefer a different feeder style or want more room for your bees.

To ensure your hive will thrive, always test any hive box and all of its accessories before you introduce your bees.

Before you introduce your bees to this hive, be sure you purchase some kind of safety equipment. It’s not included in this starter kit, but you’ll need to protect your head and hands. Bees are generally docile, but safety gear will protect you from the occasional sting when tending to them up close. 

Beekeeping kit includes: 

  • Hive Tool
  • Bee Brush
  • Smoker
  • Pellets
  • Brood Box
  • Frames & Wax Foundation
  • Inner Cover
  • Solid Bottom Board
  • Entrance Reducer
  • Flat Top

The Harvest Lane Honey Beekeeping Starter Kit is best suited to a more established beekeeper with their beekeeping clothing or someone who doesn’t mind purchasing it separately. Need a hand? Check out our guide to finding a quality beekeeping suit.

5. Mann Lake HK-125 Beekeeping Starter Kit

Specifications

  • Frames: 10

  • Safety Gear: Gloves and bee suit

The Mann Lake HK-125 Beekeeping Starter Bee Hive Kit is a great all-around choice for hobbyists and expert beekeepers because of its heavy-duty, no-fuss construction and included beekeeping accessories. 

Unlike the Harvest Lane model, you won’t have to spend more money on a suit because there is one already included in the starter kit. You’ll also receive a vented helmet and pro-grade durable goatskin gloves for complete head-to-toe protection. 

The hive body is delivered to you fully assembled and painted, so you can just set it up with the included accessories and introduce bees to get started.

The included natural Waxed Rite-Cell Foundations will guide your bees in creating manageable honeycomb without introducing plastics or other inorganic materials. Plastics are entirely safe to use in beekeeping, but they can degrade over time, and some beekeepers prefer to replicate a natural environment.

The included book, “The Backyard Beekeeper,” is a great reference to have on hand as you enter the exciting world of home beekeeping. If you’re looking for another great resource, check out our article on the Best Bee Hive available.

Beekeeping kit includes: 

  • Assembled Hive Bodies
  • Assembled Supers
  • Frames with Natural Waxed Rite-Cell® Foundation
  • Telescoping Cover with Inner Cover
  • Bottom Board with Reducer
  • Hive Tool
  • Bee Brush
  • Smoker with Smoker Fuel
  • Bag of Pellets
  • The Backyard Beekeeper Book
  • Metal Queen Excluder
  • Vented Helmet
  • Pro-Grade Goatskin Gloves

This Mann Lake starter beekeeping kit is best suited for backyard apiaries in a warmer climate because it doesn’t have a feeder attachment. But its overall construction is durable enough to stand up to all sorts of weather conditions.

6. NuBee Beekeeping Starter Kit

NuBee Beekeeping Starter Kit

Specifications

  • Frames: 5

  • Safety Gear: Gloves, Jacket, Veil

This NuBee Beekeeping Starter Kit includes everything you need to keep your bees buzzing happily at a reasonable price point. The Hive Box provided is large enough to fit ten frames, though it only contains five wax-coated frames when you receive it. 

The frames aren’t missing. This starter kit is “Nuc Ready,” meaning it can accept the frames your bees were split from (2).  

“A nuc has bees in all life phases, including newly laid eggs, larvae, and pupae. Adult workers in all roles will be present on the nuc.”

The foundations are made with dark food-grade plastic to make it easy to spot and monitor brood eggs laid on them. It allows you control over the population of your hive. Keep an eye out for queen cells, which you can use to split off a new hive.

Bees can get a little defensive when the hive is expanding, but this NuBee Starter Kit has you covered with an included smoker to help calm your bees while you use the included hive tool to inspect and manage your hive.

Beekeeping kit includes: 

  • Deep Brood Box
  • CellTech Deep Brood Frames/Foundations
  • Metal Capped Telescoping Top Cover & Inner Cover
  • Solid Wooden Bottom Board
  • Leather Gloves
  • Jacket
  • Reinforced Veil
  • Smoker
  • Curled Hive Tool

This starter beehive kit is perfect for anyone looking to establish a hive using a Nuc frame setup. It’s also a great choice if you’re looking to breed your bees or split off additional colonies.

Starter Bee Hive Kit Buying Guide 

Depending on where you are in your beekeeping journey, you’ll need different things from a beehive starter kit. Some features are a must in every starter kit and others that you can hold off on. We’ve got the scoop on the ones you can’t miss down below.

Essential Features For Your Beekeeper Kit

There are some things you want in a starter kit, and there are some things you need. Knowing the difference can save you a lot of time, money, and experimentation as you work your way into the world of beekeeping. These are the features we feel are must-haves for the average beekeeping starter kit for beginners. 

a. Screened Bottom Board

While nearly all kits for beginner beekeepers will include some bottom board for the hive, most experienced beekeepers recommend starting with a screened bottom board. This feature can improve your hive’s ventilation, keeping it temperate in the warmer months and dry in the cooler months. Our top choice for the best beekeeping starter kit, The Little Giant HIVE10KIT Beekeeping Starter Kit, has a screened bottom board to benefit your hive.

b. Queen Excluder

A queen excluder allows you to control your hive’s population growth and generally makes your bees easier to work with. A docile hive is much easier for a beginner beekeeper to handle, which is why a Queen Excluder is an excellent feature in any starter kit. 

If you decide you want to let your queen live free in your colony, you can remove the queen excluder at any time. 

c. Safety Equipment

You should always wear safety equipment when handling bees, at least any place you don’t want to get stung! Many of the best beekeeping starter kits include gloves, a face and head cover, and other beekeeping clothes. If your favorite beekeeping starter kit doesn’t have any safety gear, check out our guide to finding a quality beekeeping suit.

a man wearing a beekeeping jacket while checking a small frame with honey bees

Safety equipment comes in all styles. You’ll need to choose how much of your body you’d like to protect. We recommend never tending to your hive without protection for your face, neck, and hands. You can do this with separate pieces, as offered in many of our starter kits, or with an all-in-one option like a beekeeping jacket or full beekeeping suit, which covers your body from head to toe.

d. Hive Cover

Nearly all beekeeping starter kits include an inner hive cover, but that doesn’t mean you can skip out on grabbing an outer hive cover. You wouldn’t want to live in a house without a roof. Why would you want to leave your bees without an outer hive cover? 

Without an outer hive cover, you’re putting the colony at risk from the elements while drastically reducing the durability of the beehive.

The most common outer cover style included in a basic beekeeping starter kit is a metal telescoping hive cover that extends down a little over the sides of your hive. This style of hive cover is desirable for its ventilation and insulation properties. Our budget beekeeping starter kit choice, the Hoover Hives Beekeeping Starter Kit, includes a great example of a high-quality metal telescoping hive cover.

What’s the difference between an inner hive cover and an outer hive cover? The outer cover is larger than the rest of the hive, fitting over the box’s inner cover and extending slightly over the sides to offer better protection from the elements. The inner cover provides a layer of insulation to maintain temperature. They are also used to prevent frames and honeycomb from sticking to the outer cover. Both covers should be used together to help your hive thrive and make your job as a beekeeper much easier.

Upgradable Features In Your Bee Hive Starter Kit

Now you know what you need, but what about what you might want for later? There are still many accessories you may want to upgrade with later on to improve your bees’ quality of life.  Some are low-cost game-changers, but there are a few luxury items that can simplify your job as a beekeeper.

a. Entrance Reducer

Entrance reducers are a small attachment to add to your hive, making the entrance smaller, as the name implies. The reduced entrance size adds a layer of protection to your hive, keeping dangerous invaders like wasps, yellow jackets, and invading bees from wreaking havoc on your hive. Many beekeepers who aren’t concerned about invaders also use entrance reducers on a seasonal basis to offer protection from the weather and keep the inside of the hives dry. They can also protect hives through their annual development cycle, which puts them in a weakened state. 

Despite how useful they are, not every hive needs an entrance reducer. If you don’t need to worry about the weather or any unwanted visitors crashing your hive, you can hold off on buying an entrance reducer. If you change your mind later, you can add or upgrade to a quality entrance reducer for less than $20, choosing materials like metal, plastic, and wood. Some options are adjustable, or you can get one directly from most hive box manufacturers. 

b. Smoker

Most beekeeping starter kits include a smoker to help calm and distract your bees while you’re handling the hive. You won’t need anything more than what is provided until you are a more experienced beekeeper. There are so many ways to handle your hive, and many beekeepers choose to manage theirs without any smoke at all.

Curious about using the smoker included with your hive? This video is a great resource:

The effect of the smoke will last around 20 minutes each time, with no permanent impact on the bees. Some organic beekeepers argue that the use of a smoker will taint the flavor or even the quality of your honey, but plenty of honey producers use smokers without issues.

c. Feeder 

Depending on the climate you live in, you may not need to purchase a feeder for your beehive, but it can offer critical support to your beehive in the cooler months of the year. Our runner-up beekeeping starter kit choice, the Mann Lake Basic Beekeeping Starter Kit, doesn’t include a feeder, making it perfect for use in warmer climates. 

If you decide to add a feeder to your hive, you’ll need to choose between an internal or external hive feeder. Internal feeders will replace a frame in your hive, while external feeders are an external attachment for feeding your hive. You can even buy feeders that do double duty as an entrance reducer, but watch out for small visitors like ants stealing food from your bees!

d. Honey Super 

A honey super is a box very similar to the hive box, but it fits on top of the hive box, allowing bees to produce more honey for you to harvest. Most beginner beekeeper kits will include some sort of honey super box to get you started. If you want to get a bountiful honey harvest without hurting your hive, you’ll eventually need to upgrade your super or have an extra super box.

multiple 2-layer bee hive boxes on the hill

You’ll want something that matches up in size with your hive box, so if you are raising bees just for the honey, be sure to get a kit that accommodates a large super box.

e. Honey Extractor

You won’t find it in many starter kits, but a honey extractor is the sweetest part of any beekeeper’s setup. Well, it helps you collect the sweet stuff anyway. Ready to start harvesting your honey? Read our guide to help you pick the best extractor. There are manual and electric, some of which can harvest up to 8 frames at once.

If you’re looking for a fully organic beekeeping experience, professionals recommend using a manual extractor that relies on physical labor to extract your honey. You can also save money and extract honey manually, but the process is labor-intensive unless you’d like to use the honey and comb it in its raw form. The honeycomb is fully edible if you are adventurous enough to try it.

f. Creaming Machine

A creaming machine is definitely a luxury accessory, but if you’re harvesting a lot of honey, it might be a worthwhile splurge. A creaming machine will make it easier for you to crystalize honey and shelf-stable for years to come. 

You don’t need a fancy or expensive machine to do the job, though, especially when you’re just starting. You can do the whole process by hand if you only have a small amount of harvested honey that you’d like to cream.

FAQ

You should have at least two beehives to start with.  You can work with just one hive until you feel comfortable expanding, but you run the risk of losing everything if your solo hive collapses. The advantage of having two hives is that it offers a ‘back up’, making it easier to establish a new hive if one of yours fails to thrive.

Depending on the area you live in, you may need even more hives to establish a thriving colony. In areas struggling with Small Hive Beetle (SHB) infestations, experts recommend starting with a minimum of four hives to protect your colony from failing as SHB larvae will quickly destroy the honeycomb, weakening or completely demolishing the hive.

Your hive should be around 30 feet from any area you or your neighbor will use for leisure. You might be safer in a smaller space, but you don’t want to interrupt the bees’ flat path or make them feel the hive is threatened. If you aren’t tending to your bees, keep a distance! 

Take additional measures to protect your hive if you have children, pets, or interested neighbors. A privacy hedge or fence is a great option. Be sure that curious pets or children cannot access or interact with the hive unsupervised. Serious injury could occur if the hive were knocked over.

You get an average of 25lb (11kg) of honey from one hive. A thriving colony can produce twice or even three times more honey than it needs, and in a good season, a single hive can produce more than 60lb (27kg) of harvestable honey.

You can supplement your bees with sugar syrup through autumn and early winter to support the hive in place of the honey you harvest. You may need to provide them with syrup even if you aren’t harvesting honey in these months, but the costs are minimal

Yes, you can split a beehive without a queen. When worker bees detect that a hive is queenless, they will quickly establish a new queen. The process takes time, though. The queen will need to be established, develop, and then begin laying eggs. The hive needs to be monitored and supported through the split, making this method best suited to people with more experience keeping and maintaining a hive. A queen rearing app like the “Queen Calendar” can help you with this. Check out our review of it here.

If you’re concerned about your hive’s stability, you can introduce a purchased queen when you do the split. Be sure to introduce her properly. Inspect the hive to ensure there are no queen cells present. Then, you will need to introduce the queen to the split hive within 24 hours to reduce the chances of rejection. The use of an introduction or mating cage is recommended for the safety of the queen.

Beekeepers use smoke to calm and control bees since ancient times, though understanding the effect wasn’t established until much later.

Smoke can mask alarm pheromones released by guard bees, such as isopentyl acetate. This subdued response makes it possible for the beekeeper to work on the occupied hive with minimal risk to themselves or the bees.

Some beekeepers prefer to avoid using smoke to preserve the ‘natural’ hive process. You won’t get the same results, but you can open the hive in dry, still sunny conditions or winter and take advantage of the bees’ natural calm periods. 

If you need a little extra help, you can also use a homemade spray using water, sugar, and essential oils lightly applied to a bee manipulation cloth. Do not attempt this method without proper research, or you risk injury and loss to your hive.

  1. Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research. Retrieved from: https://www.ars.usda.gov/southeast-area/baton-rouge-la/honeybeelab/docs/small-hive-beetles/
  2. Obtaining And Installing A Nucleus Colony. Retrieved from: https://www.perfectbee.com/your-beehive/starting-a-beehive/obtaining-and-installing-a-nuc-colony
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