Christmas is just around the corner, and many of you may have started thinking about what to buy your friends and family for Christmas. If you have a beekeeper on your list, I am here to help you.
Let me start by saying that I am not a huge fan of Christmas presents because I don’t think rampant consumerism is the best way to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, I recognize that others really enjoy buying, wrapping, giving and receiving presents. (I know this because I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and gift giving is a love language.) Beekeeping is mildly addictive, and you may find that your friend or loved one has become all consumed with their hobby. Giving a gift related to beekeeping makes sense, but the problem is that many beekeeping items require some technical knowledge and are only sold at specialty stores or through the internet. Your loved one may really want a new smoker or need a new hive tool, but those are not the sort of thing one picks up on a quick trip to Target. This blog is all about gifts you can buy your beloved beekeeper without having any special beekeeping knowledge. The gifts suggested can be easily purchased from stores you probably drive by on a regular basis. (NOTE: Web links, stores, and products mentioned in this blog generate no revenue for me. I blog like I keep my bees, for the love and not for the money.)
- Cooling Rags – You can find these in sporting goods stores or general merchandise stores like Wal-Mart. Working the hives in the summer while wearing a bee jacket is really hot. If you ever saw Doug after a hive check in July, you would think he is about to die from a heat stroke. The only way you would know not to call 911 is because he always smiles after he has been in the bees. My mother had the idea to buy us some cooling rags. We wet them and refrigerate them so they are ready when we need to perform a hive check. We keep them handy to use once the check is over, but you could wrap them around your neck under your bee jacket.
- Journals – Keeping good records on your hives is important. From year to year you can look back to see how much honey was harvested, when a queen was replaced, when medications were administered, and all sorts of other details that help you track the health and performance of your bees. Doug suggested that we buy a special app to track our bees. Because I am a good steward of our finances, which is a nice way of saying that I am cheap, I took a 3-ring binder from the basement, added some loose leaf notebook paper, taped a picture of a bee to the front of the binder, and declared it our bee journal. We kept good records at the beginning of the year, but our diligence in recording information faded as the summer progressed. Having a nice journal with a beautiful cover and lined pages makes recording information more pleasurable. Bookstores like Barnes and Noble sell wonderful bound journals with blank pages and decorative covers. These journals would make an excellent gift for any beekeeper.
- A subscription to The American Bee Journal – This publication has been in circulation since 1861. The ABJ is full of scientific articles and product information. You can buy digital versions of the ABJ or paper copies. A gift subscription would make a wonderful present for a loved one who also loves bees. The ABJ is now published by Dadant and Sons, and you can go the journal’s website by clicking here.
- Wood Chips – This may sound like a crazy gift, but keep reading. Beekeepers use smokers when working the hives. The smoke keeps the bees calm and makes hive checks easier. Beekeepers use many different materials in their smokers depending upon what is available to them. Pine needles are a favorite of many, but I have read of corn cobs, natural cardboard, and cypress mulch being used as smoker fuel. Most beekeepers use whatever is functional and free in their area. You have to plan ahead, though, to make sure you have a large supply of dry fuel when you need it. If your plan is to just scoop needles up from the ground before you check your hives, you may or may not get dry needles. You can buy quick lighting pellets for use in the smoker, but they don’t last very long and are only good if you have to do a quick check. Hardware stores like ACE Hardware (my favorite store) sell wood chips to be used with grill smokers. These wood chips are usually kiln dried and are of fragrant, natural woods such as pecan or apple. What a luxury to have a premium wood chips to generate pleasant smelling smoke during your hive checks! Just make sure the chips haven’t been coated with some fragrance additive. You want all natural wood chips.
- Iron On Appliques – These are my personal favorites. You can either give the applique as a stocking stuffer, or you can use the applique to make a unique creation for the gift recipient. Hobby Lobby has some great appliques of honey bees. I buy long-sleeved t-shirts from the All American Clothing Co. and then add the honey bee applique. These shirts are great for wearing anytime, but I especially like to have them when I speak about beekeeping to groups of school children. I am in the process of creating a pollinator based wardrobe with butterfly, bee, and flower appliques.
- Specialty Honeys – The color and flavor of honey is dependent upon the flowers from which the bees gather nectar. Honey coming from maple trees is dark and tastes like maple syrup. Orange blossom honey tastes different from clover honey or sourwood honey. You get the idea. You may think that honey is an odd gift to give a beekeeper since beekeepers should already have a large supply of honey. Tasting specialty honeys from different geographic regions can be a real treat for someone who knows and appreciates honey. Look in gourmet food shops, or you can order online at sites such as Crigger Farm, which is a local business in our part of the state.
If you search on-line, you can find t-shirts and hats with beekeeping related logos. My husband has a hat he really likes that says “Keeper of the Bees.” Bee related bling is also an option, and bee earrings, pendants, and charms all make fine gifts but usually have to be ordered on line unless you are lucky enough to find something at a local department store.
What would you add to the list? I would love to hear from you in the comments section. – Happy Holidays