Branding Iron and why you may need one

Just so you know: beekeeping is becoming more and more popular and so is stealing bees…

There are plenty of reports on vandalism and theft of honey bees and equipment in Europe as well. I read about at least one reported “large” case a month. Since, keeping bees nearby on your property may not be an option, I recommend marking every piece of equipment with your name and phone number. Permanent marker does not wash off untreated and unpainted wood (the inside of your hive). Every frame should also be branded with your name and phone number (mine has Rowe Apiaries stamp). If you don’t feel like writing by marker, or have a storage full of equipment, as I do, you could by a branding iron. I have a very small one, from Branding Irons Unlimited, which cost me $117.15, including shipping. There are other reliable manufacturers, I am sure, but the point is that it does not have to cost you a fortune.

To prevent vandalism, the best thing may be to keep the hives concealed behind tall, spiky bushes, painted in muted earthy or green colors. Holly bushes grow very fast, so do barberries, although they can be invasive. If the colonies are very close to each other, you can paint the top front of the bottom board a different color (yellow, blue, black), so that the bees do not get confused. I keep the same bottom board through the season, until it is time to replace the comb.

Finally, for people who keep hives on an isolated property, it may be useful to use metal brackets on the supers and run a laptop or bike lock, instead of straps through all of them and the hive stand. Nothing can stop a determined thief, but you can at least make it difficult…

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