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In addition to a beehive and bee suit, beekeepers also keep a small arsenal of tools ready.  The most versatile of these tools is the hive tool. The hive tool is a very simple looking instrument, but it has many important uses.  This article will explain everything you need to know about hive tools, as well as review the best hive tools for sale.  

What is a Hive Tool?

A hive tool is a handheld, metal tool that is about 10 inches long. Bee hive tools are used for both inspecting and maintaining beehives.  While there are different styles of hive tool, the 2 main types of hive tool used are the standard hive tool and the J-Hook hive tool.  

Both tools serve the same purpose.  Hive tools are mainly used for prying things apart and scraping things off.  Hive tools are also used as levers to lift frames

Standard Hive Tool

The standard hive tool has one end for frame levering and one end for box levering. It basically looks like a smaller version of a crow bar.  Standard hive tools are generally cheaper than the J-Hook hive tool.  

J-Hook Hive Tool

The J-Hook hive tool is just like a standard hive tool, but it’s a little longer and has a curved hook at one end.  The curved hook and longer shaft are useful for when you need extra leverage. However, you must be careful where you place the the hook, as it’s possible to break the frame when positioned wrong.  The J-Hook hive tool also tends to have a small hole which can be used to remove small nails. 

How to Use a Hive Tool

Hive tools can be used many different ways.  They are most commonly used for prying things and scraping things. Honeybees like to glue things in the hive together with propolis.  Because of that it can be difficult for beekeepers to maneuver through a hive by hand. That’s where the hive tool comes in handy.  

The following are common uses for hive tools:

  • Pry open the hive top
  • Pry frames out of the hive
  • Scrape beeswax off frames
  • Remove burr comb
  • Scraping propolis from the hive and frames
  • Removing debris from hive
  • Remove protruding nails or staples
  • Pound in loose nails 

What to Look for in a Hive Tool

You’ll be using your hive tool a lot, so you want to find one that is sturdy and durable.  Most hive tools are made of stainless steel. I’ve also seen some hive tools that feature a wooden handle for grip.  

Many hive tools are painted on one end.  This is so it is easier to see if dropped, and you will be less likely to lose it.  The most common colors for hive tools I’ve seen are red, orange, or blue. Choose the color that appeals to you most.  

Another thing to consider when looking at hive tools for sale is the length of the tool.  Some hive tools are as short as 9 inches, while some are as long as 11 inches. Longer hive tools are good if you need extra leverage, while shorter tools are generally easier to use.  

Where to Buy Hive Tools

Beekeeping supplies are generally not the easiest to find in stores, but you may have luck finding hive tools for sale at a hardware store.  You can also find many hive tools for sale online, from various retailers.  

It is recommended to buy more than one hive tool at a time.  That’s because they tend to get lost easily, so it’s good to have a back up. Hive tools are pretty inexpensive and are also sold in 2 packs.  

Best Hive Tools for Sale

Kinglake Steel Hive Tool 

Features

  • Standard hive tool
  • Made of high quality steel
  • Measures 9 inches in length
  • Painted with durable red paint

Product Information

You can’t go wrong with the Kinglake Steel Hive tool.  It’s made of high quality stainless steel, so it is quite durable.  It has one sharp end that works great for scraping comb, propolis, and even paint. The levering end is great for lifting frames and prying apart hive bodies and supers.  

Half of the tool is painted red for easy visibility in case it is dropped.  The length of 9 inches makes this tool very easy to use and comfortable in the hand. 

Kinglake Steel J Hook Bee Hive Tool

Features

  • J-Hook hive tool
  • Measures 10.5 inches in length
  • One sharp edge
  • Made of durable steel

Product Information

Another hive tool from Kinglake, this one features a J-Hook.  The J-Hook is a great tool for lifting out frames. This hive tool is slightly longer than the Kinglake standard hive tool, as it measures 10.5 inches long. It is made of durable steel, which is difficult to bend or break.  

There is one sharp edge on this tool that can be used for scraping comb and propolis.  Like the standard hive tool, this J-Hook hive tool is painted red so it is easy to find if dropped.  If you are looking for a J-Hook style hive tool, this one is highly recommended.

Weichuan Multifunction Hive Scraper Tool

Features

  • Made of stainless steel
  • Wooden handle 
  • Measures 10.6 inches in length
  • Detachable hammer
  • Nail remover

Product Information

As you can see, this hive tool looks different than the previous 2 I reviewed.  That’s because it has a few more functions. The tool itself is made of high quality stainless steel.  It has a wooden handle that makes it easier to grip, especially when wearing gloves. The handle does make it bulkier than traditional hive tools, but that was not an issue for me. The wooden handle measures 4.3 inches. 

One end of this multifunction tool has a nail puller, hive scraper, and frame cleaner.  The other end has a pry bar (similar to a J-Hook), hive scraper, and a queen bee excluder cleaner.  The top of the tool has a detachable hammer. The hammer attachment is small, 1 inch across and 0.6 inches tall.  It is suitable for pounding small nails back into the hive.  

This tool is heavier than traditional hive tools, but that can be remedied by removing the hammer attachment.  If you are looking for a multifunctional hive tool, this is a good choice.  

Mann Lake Steel Hive Tool

Features

  • Constructed of strong spring steel
  • Large hook end
  • Flat end for scraping 
  • Measures 10-inch length by 1-3/4-inch width by 1-inch height
  • Painted blue for visibility

Product Information

As you may know by now, I am a fan of Mann Lake products.  They consistently make good quality, easy to use beekeeping supplies.  And this hive tool is no different. Constructed of strong spring steel, this standard hive tool measures 10 inches long.  It is painted a nice shade of blue for added visibility.  

One end of this hive tool has a large hook end used for lifting frames.  The other end is flat and is used for scraping wax and propolis. It is an ideal thickness, as it is strong enough to pry apart hive bodies and supers, yet thin enough to cause no damage. 

Overall, a really great must have tool for beekeepers.  It’s well made, affordable, and gets the job done. (Also comes in red). 

Farmstand Supply Pocket Hive Tool

Features

  • Made of stainless steel
  • Small size, fits in pocket
  • Lifts frames
  • Flat side for scraping
  • Nail remover

Product Information

This pocket hive tool from Farmland Supply is a good, small, handheld tool.  It measures 6.5 inches long, so it’s quite a bit shorter than most hive tools.  It’s also very lightweight and fits comfortably in a pocket. 

Despite it’s small size, this hive tool is strong and has no problem lifting frames.  The flat end works great to scrape off burr comb and propolis. 

Because of it’s shorter length, this hive tool offers less leverage than it’s larger counterparts.  However, it should work well for most hives. I think this would be a really good tool for children involved in beekeeping, as it will be a good fit for their little hands.  

Summary

The hive tool is indispensable for beekeepers.  There are 2 main types of hive tool – the standard, and the J-Hook. You can find hive tools for sale in hardware stores or online. 

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