A hive tool to a beekeeper is like a paintbrush to a painter, cleats to an athlete, an axe to a lumberjack, or plastic surgery to a celebrity. My mentor, Steve, once told me that you simply cannot be a beek (beekeeping geek) without a hive tool. Therefore, I imagine that he keeps his with him in the shower, under his pillow when he sleeps, and probably uses it as a utensil to eat.
All jokes aside, a hive tool really is crucial to success in hive management. It can be used for a countless number of tasks when inspecting a hive, which I have listed below. Further, it can be used for a lot of other non-beek related tasks. So, if you are like Steve and me, keep it with you at all times for its endless usefulness!
Hive related uses:
Hammer, for knocking a loose nail or staple back into your frame or hive box
Paint can opener
Powdered sugar measurer for mite counts
Small hive beetle squisher
Wax moth squisher
Burr comb scraper (shown in the picture below)
Hive lifter, so you can get fingers underneath hive
Frame mover (shown in the picture below)
Queen cell knocker-downer
Other convenient uses:
Tooth picker, especially if you get comb honey stuck in your teeth
Beer bottle opener, crucial for hot July beekeeping days
Garbage disposal clearer (not while it’s running though)
Cat scare-er away-er
Hub-cap popper for your yellow and black striped VW bug “Bee Mobile”
Murder weapon in beekeepers version of the game of “Clue”
Conductor’s baton, preferably for the “Flight of the Bumblebees”
Your hive tool can also be used to scrap burr comb off hive equipment. This makes inspections easier because frames and lids will not stick together.
A hive tool can be used to conquer so many tasks. Therefore, having one in hand or in your pocket at all times ensures that you can easily and quickly inspect your hive, limiting the invasiveness caused by opening the hive box. Certainly other tools have sharp edges and a curved lever, but you can’t beat having both in one small and extremely cheap tool. It’s a must have.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!