Having the right tool for the job makes all the difference. You can try to drive a nail into the wall with your shoe to hang that picture and it might work but even a crappy dollar store hammer will make that job a cinch because the hammer is specifically designed to accomplish that task. Those Top-Siders… well, not so much.
Tools for beekeeping are no different and today I want to introduce the hive tool to you. There are a few different types and I've got two of them. The one I'm not talking about in this post is flat with a 90 degree bend on one end. Both ends narrow down and can be used for prying or scraping. I like it. I'll talk about it in the future.
But in this photo you can see my other hive tool – the J-hook style hive tool in action. It has a flat end that tapers to a narrow blade and this is also useful for prying apart hive bodies, particularly when they are stuck together due to propolis. Visible in the picture is the J-hook end that is great for lifting up one end of a frame in order to grab hold of it. This is quite helpful when removing the first frame in the box because there isn't a lot of room anyway and adding a bunch of bees to the mix only makes it that much more difficult to get a good grip on the frame. Those (as GardenFork's own Rick would call them) “bugs in a box” seem to have a keen sense for being exactly where I need to put my fingers. Not wanting to crush any bees (or get stung in the process), I just use the tool to carefully move the frame into a position where I can more easily grab it.
There are a few other tools that are useful when inspecting a hive. I'll write about those in the future.
Matt (twitter @MattInTheGarden) can be found most summer weekends mowing grass. He's nonplussed about trimming the ditch along his farm's road frontage. He stinks at throwing a baseball and really isn't particularly skilled at throwing objects in general. Matt likes his steaks grilled medium and never uses steak sauce.