Some people who are interested in beginning beekeeping are put off from getting started due to the high cost of some new pieces of beekeeping equipment. Purchasing old beekeeping equipment is one solution to this issue that might be considered.
Even though purchasing secondhand gear might give you cost reductions, this may not always be the best option. Used beekeeping equipment has a greater risk of carrying pathogens and parasites than new equipment does. If you are just starting out in beekeeping, the best used equipment to buy is anything that can be readily cleaned and sanitised. This will help you avoid any difficulties related to infection, which may cost far more than you thought you were going to save when you bought the equipment.
Clothing, e.g. bookkeeping suits and jackets etc. used when raising bees may be readily washed and sanitised before and after use, though the dark stains left by propolis can be difficult to shift. All that is required of you is to ensure that the suit and the hat are in satisfactory shape, devoid of any holes or excessive wear and tear.
Another piece of gear that, even if you get a secondhand version of it, is not very likely to give you any difficulties is the smoker. The smoker doesn’t come into direct contact with the hive very often, and the high temperature should ensure that any potential contamination is eliminated.
Another area in which acquiring secondhand equipment might be a cost-effective way to save expenses is in the area of extractors and other machinery used in the preparation of honey. Following the recommended methods results in a significantly decreased risk of introducing contamination due to the fact that many extractors and pieces of processing equipment may be cleaned and sterilised on their own.
Buying an old hive is a different story, and it might provide a significant challenge for a beekeeper who is just starting out. Because the hive is the location in the colony where pest and disease issues are most likely to arise, you will need to make sure that the hive you acquire is clear of both diseases and pests. Buying from a reputable seller in your area is the safest way to go.
When shopping for a secondhand hive, make sure to do so only from disease-free apiaries. But how do you know that they are disease free? In the first instance, inquire about the inspection history of any used hive that you are contemplating buying, and if the hive is going to be acquired with the bees, it is in your best interest to request a honey culture test so that you may evaluate the state of the colony’s health.
There are no guarantees when buying used hives. The seller may be selling what he genuinely thinks is a clean disease-free hive, but it may have foulbrood spores in there that he is completely unaware of. But, s/he cannot give you a guarantee that your bees will be disease free since he has no control over the condition of the bees you put in there, which may be infected with something that has not yet surfaced. Though, if he is feeling generous, it is possible that the seller may sympathise with your situation and replace the “faulty hive”.
Finding out what an appropriate price is for a secondhand hive is still another challenge for novice beekeepers. Because beehives are made out of wood, the length of time they may be used effectively depends on how well the wood has been preserved from exposure to the elements e.g. painted or treated with oils etc.
Constructing your own hive might be a time and money saving alternative to purchasing a secondhand one. It is not possible for everyone to build their own hive because it requires some knowledge of woodworking, but doing so can result in huge cost savings.
Hive tools are usually easy to sterilize using chemicals or heat. This is because they are usually made from plain metal. But, some have a wooden handle, which would be porous and may harbour bugs or spores etc. So be careful. You may want to give them a skip since they are not expensive to buy new.
It’s important to note that not every piece of secondhand beekeeping equipment is tainted, and many professional beekeepers do sell off clean, usable equipment. The problem is that a person without much expertise might not know how to thoroughly inspect the equipment and the seller.
You may save a large amount of money on the early start-up expenditures of your beekeeping hobby by purchasing secondhand beekeeping equipment. Simply be extremely precise about the equipment and supplies that you purchase, and bear in mind that certain old beekeeping equipment might come with unanticipated implications if you are not careful with it.
Why do Some Beekeepers Sell Their Equipment?
Beekeeping can at some times of year take up a lot of time. For example when doing swarm prevention inspections in early summer and harvesting, extracting and jarring in late summer.
Even if you have the time to spare for your hobby, many beekeepers are what you might call mature and the strain of lifting heavy boxes of honey frames may now be more than they can handle.
Your finances may no longer support this hobby. Changing circumstances may mean a move to another city or country etc.
Sometimes an enthusiastic beekeeper just bites off more than they can chew. Or can’t stop collecting new swarms until eventually, they realize that they have to downsize.
It occasionally happens that the spouse of a beekeeper is selling because they want to see the equipment go to a good home after their life partner has passed on.
There are many genuine reasons why used beekeeping equipment comes on the market. Just be careful.