The components of a beehive are often stuck together with a sticky resin the bees have collected from buds of trees known as propolis. Gaps between frames, boxes, roofs are glued together with this. Propolis creates an airtight seal that keeps the environment and intruders out. Bees place brace comb between combs adding strength to their nest. Brace comb is found along the tops and bottoms of frames, between the outside frames and box and top frame and lid. Bees have an amazing ability to glue any and everything in the hive.
As the beekeeper, inspecting frames of bees or lifting off a honey box is an ongoing requirement during the season. You will need a tool designed to prise apart beehive components. The tool is made of harden steel, often with a hook at one end and a small blunt blade at the other. Appropriately it is called the hive tool.
The hive tool is used for:
- Prying the lid off
- Separating boxes (supers)
- Loosening hive components such as frames
- Removing bur comb
- Scraping hive components free from beeswax and propolis
- Scraping debris off the floor board.
- Scraping out stings.
It is important to clean your hive tool after use, wash honey off with water when inspecting more than one hive. Bees diseases such as AFB and EFB are easily transfer between colonies by the beekeeper. Reduce the chance of disease by washing honey off your hive tool. As you select your purchase, consider how comfortable it feels when placed in you hand. A brightly coloured tool is useful as it stands out if you have dropped it on the ground.