March 3, 2022

Dealing With Old Equipment (063)

Dealing With Old Equipment (063)

What can you do with all that old beekeeping equipment you don’t need, don’t want and is in the way most of the time? There are several ways to look at this, and the first way, of course, is to simply trash it, burn it, bury it. That works, but...

What can you do with all that old beekeeping equipment you don’t need, don’t want and is in the way most of the time? There are several ways to look at this, and the first way, of course, is to simply trash it, burn it, bury it. That works, but there’s maybe a better way.

In this week’s episode, Kim and Jim discuss how they deal with old equipment!

First question to consider: Is it clean? In some states, you’ll need an inspector’s seal of approval if you’re giving it to someone so you don’t spread AFB that you didn’t know you had. Know if there are regulations to consider.

Sell it if it’s in good condition and clean, is an option. Maybe not to new beekeepers, but certainly to experienced that know the value of what they are getting. A deep super, in good shape, without frames for $5? I’ll take 5!

Old frames….2 choices. Sell as is and let the buyer take care of the mess of old wax. Or, melt it down…or, no, get rid of them and the wax, or sell them and the wax.

What’s an old smoker worth? In an antique store, you can buy a week’s groceries with that, whether it works or not. If it works, a good smoker with all the parts for $10? I’ll take two.

What do you do with old equipment? Let Kim and Jim know by leaving a voicemail on the website or via email!

Listen and follow today!


Thanks to Betterbee for sponsoring today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at


Honey Bee Obscura is brought to you by Growing Planet Media, LLC, the home of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Music: Heart & Soul by Gyom, Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus, original guitar music by Jeffrey Ott

Copyright © 2022 by Growing Planet Media, LLC


Honey Bee Obscura

Episode 63 – Dealing with Old Equipment


Kim: Hey, Jim. It's going to snow tonight, and I got to get my car in the garage, and it hasn't been in the garage very often this winter because we haven't had much snow up until now. I tried pulling in, and I squeezed in just barely to get it so I can open the door and get out of the car. I got so much really good, but old used equipment, beekeeping equipment in my garage. I got to get rid of some of it, but I don't even know where to start. What do you do?

Jim: Oh, Kim. Can you give me some time to get my arms around this because I've got my own old equipment issues? What do you do? That's a good concept. I'd like to talk with you about it, see what you think we deal with.

Kim: Hi, I'm Kim Flottum.

Jim: I'm Jim Tew.

Kim: We're here today on Honey Bee Obscura. We're going to try and figure out what you do was good, useful, but old the equipment that you don't need anymore.

Introduction: You are listening to Honey Bee Obscura, brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today Podcast. Each week on Honey Bee Obscura, hosts Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun, and the challenges of managing honeybees in today's world in an engaging and informative discussion meant for all beekeepers, long-timers, and those just starting their journey with bees. Sit back and enjoy the next several minutes as Kim and Jim explore all things honeybees.

Kim: I've got a lot of it. Apparently, you do too.

Jim: Yes. A lot. Through the years, you have a lot. You lose it, you get more. If you lose that, you get more. Is that-- What's that word? Sisyphus, that Sisyphean movement where you're always rolling a rock up the hill in the underworld. That's what we're doing, but right now, I've got a good deal of it. Kim, you got the jump on me. My garages have been full for decades of woodworking tools and just good stuff. I don't collect junk, Kim. I get good stuff. Mine is all outside, Kim. The first thing you're going to do is, what do you decide to get rid of? With your history and your depth, what are the things, I'm wondering, is that old equipment that you're selling, is that old cabinet grade, high-quality A.I. Root stuff that you've got, or is that latter-day, is it more recent than that?

Jim: Well, two things. One is I'd rather give it away than sell it, let me put it that way. I'm not looking to sell it or make money; I just need to get my car in the garage. That's the top goal. Some of the equipment goes back 30 years, and when the

Root company was still making bee boxes, and some of it I got last summer because it was brand new, and it looked like a neat widget, and it turned out not to be a neat widget and I'm willing to let it go away.

Jim: I love those neat widget things, always buy those right away because you may not be able to get them for very long, but that would be enjoyable to go through, to figure out what was early A.I. Root equipment and what was later sold basically good equipment. How did you decide what to get rid of? How did you decide what to keep? The first thing I've got to do is what's good, what's bad, what do you keep, what are your junk?

Kim: There's one big division that makes it easy for me. I'm using strictly 8-frame equipment, and I still got some 10-frame equipment sitting in the back there. That makes it simple. That's the first thing to go. The other things are the 10-frame boxes, the 10-frame inner covers, and bottom boards, and those, that's an easy thing, but you take a look at those 10-frame boxes and almost every one of them has got drawn comb in it.

Jim: There's a rub. I thought the wax moths would have taken that out, but they would just get brood comb, wouldn't they? That's just going to be a basic mess. There are no wax moths at all?

Kim: I store them. I learned a long time ago how to store supers so that you don't get wax moth. You need light and air and you just crisscross them. There's probably some, I'm not going to say none.

Jim: Boy, when I stack moth up outside, the wax moths are crazy for that. Kim, that's a topic for a different time. A lot of what to get off the subject on that. If you've got that old comb, does that matter? I don't know that that has any value. You probably got a bee inspector involved to be sure that your bees out in the yard are all disease-free and that you're not a disease source before you start dealing with all combs, right or wrong on that?

Kim: No, you're exactly right. That's a good idea. I'll get the inspector up here to look at my bees and look at this equipment because I see this carefully knocking on wood. I've never had American foulbrood. The minute I say that I'll go out this spring and I'll find some but getting the inspector seal of approval that this equipment is clean.

The other thing is there's an old rule of thumb. My friend Buzz taught it to me. You take an old comb, an old dark comb, and you hold it up to the sun, and if you can't see through it, it's too old. That's the old rule of thumb. Now, it's two years in my book, two years and you're gone. Most of this stuff in the 10 frame boxes is more than two years old when I stacked it up not to use it anymore. I'm wondering about just to eliminate any issues with contaminated wax, either pesticides or miticides or anything and just melt it all down and just sell boxes with empty frames in them.

Jim: You can do that. I was going to go a different way. You're going to say I'm lazy. I was going to say, "Hey, you want a good deal on this box, I'll give it to you, but you got to take these frames with it," and let them deal with it.

Kim: [laughs] That's a smart move.

Jim: They can melt it down because there won't be much wax there, or they can burn them, and then they can deal with picking up the nails that are going to be left from the burn pile. I wasn't trying to be funny there, but I was thinking, "If you want a nice free box, really solid, good to go, do something with these frames. You can use them or not, your call." Some people may try to recover those frames that had those foundation inserts on them, the more modern frames. There are people who will try to clean that up, recoat that, and reuse those. If it's the old, wired stuff or anything else like that, it's really inconvenient to refurbish that.

Kim: Then I got the rest of the stuff. I own seven smokers, believe it or not, six of them have been used pretty well. One of them is still in the box, brand new. That one, I'll sell, but what's an old smoker worth? The plate on the bottom is flimsy at best, maybe missing. The bellows are cracked on some of them. One of them, the thing that holds the bellows onto the can is loose, those sorts of things. You mentioned the inspector. As I'm sitting here listening to you, I think probably the first thing I'm going to do is contact my local association and tell them what I got. If somebody is interested, come and look, set it up, and we'll see what we can do.

Jim: Kim, as you say you're going to do that, it hurts my heart because how many times have you and I, 20, 25 years ago, been sitting in bee meetings that had some old guys stand up and say, "Hey, I've got to downsize. I got to be giving this stuff away and getting rid of stuff." Here we are doing that very thing. We have come of age.

On the smoker business though, that's an interesting diversion. Number one, if it was a smoker that you used, and someone dear to you used it, then retire that. I've got my dad's smoker, for instance, my dad's smoker and my dad's hive tool, and it just sits on a shelf, and it'll sit there until I am no more, and then someone will probably throw it away and use a hive tool to open windows or whatever.

Number two, I see those smokers in antique shops all the time for insane amounts of money. No beekeeper in their right mind would buy those things, but a bee smoker can be like a woodworking plane. Some people really think that they've got something there when they take home an old stinking smoker.

Kim: Yes. Stinking, that's a part.

Jim: It may have an alternative use in a different world, the antique world. Even though it's no more antique than you and I are, still, may have a use there. Then finally, if it's new, sell it, and if it's just too old and the bellows are shot, throw it away.

Kim: There are 1,000 beekeepers in my local group here. I probably might expand my search a little bit and talk to a couple of local county groups next to me, get maybe a few more people involved. I'm thinking out loud here. Probably what I'm going to do is I'm going to make a list and see if I can get that into some new or free for the taking, give me a call sort-of- thing, and have people come and look at it, but I got to have that inspector seal on it. That's at the top of the list. I got to get an inspector here to confirm to the world that my stuff is clean.

Jim: Kim, let's take a short break while you make that list. We'll hear from the people who help pay the bills here.


Announcer: Betterbee is pleased to sponsor today's episode of Honey Bee Obscura Podcast. For over 40 years, Betterbee has supplied beekeepers across the country with the tools, equipment, and knowledge needed to succeed. Because many Betterbee employees are beekeepers themselves, they understand your needs and challenges and are better prepared to answer your beekeeping questions. From their colorful catalog to their supportive beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast, Betterbee truly lives up to their tagline of, "Beekeepers, serving beekeepers." See for yourself at

Jim: Well, I don't know what else to say about the equipment thing. You could repair it; you could use it again if it's equipment that could be used. Some has to be given away, some has to be burned. Repairing is, you've said time and time again, what's your time worth? If you start repairing an old box or an old telescoping cover, it really should be because at that moment, you really don't have anything else to do.

Kim: [chuckles] Yes.

Jim: Because once you're good at repairing, then you've just got a repaired box, and years going by, it happened all the time. People kept things. People repaired things. People use things. I've got a sign above my desk here that says anything can be fixed. Well, those days are gone. Most things now cannot be fixed. They weren't designed to be fixed. As a woodworker, you can do something with those boxes, but once they reach a certain age, they just go to the burn pile.

Kim: You just reminded me of something. Good idea. The boxes that need repair. If they don't need too much repair, I've already got two stacks of three medium boxes out in my yard full of potting mix. I got flowers growing in them. Make a nice big pot, and it works well. I can do that with-- well, I think about it, I can do it with all of them as a matter of fact, but I still got the covers and the inner covers and the bottom boards and all the rest of the things out there.

Jim: That's like that smoker, isn't it? It's an alternative use, an alternative group. You'll take an old bee box, retire it from the bee world, but you'll move it to the floral world where it now becomes part of a floral design system and make it really coveted so people pay big money for it. I take a saber saw with a metal cutting blade on it and saw the box down, make a simple stool out of it. Just a small table, small step stool, whatever, and then put a flower pot on that, or I don't know, whatever you want to set on that some particular time. It's easy to cut those things. Cut them down just to make a short table, simple stool, whatever.

Kim: I guess that would work. You don't really care about leaving them out in the rain because that's what they spent their whole life doing anyway.

Jim: It's already rotted out.

Kim: [chuckles] Well, I'm going to start on this garage thing this weekend, and the first thing to go is the 10-frame equipment. The next to go is the equipment that I'm not using anymore that I got five of instead of two, and I guess we'll take it from there.

Jim: Well, you got the jump on me. Mine's all outside. It's all covered with snow and mud. I'm going to leave mine right where it is for the time being, but I'll get to it in a couple of months, but I'm going to cheer you on right now. You go ahead and clean up, move out, give away.

Kim: I'm going to, okay.

Jim: Make someone's day. You can fill their garage with old equipment.

Kim: No, there's a thought that's maybe a way to promote this. You got an empty garage, I got ways to fill it for you, come on down. Well, that gets me started, Jim. I think I'm going to start and not do this quite as fast as I thought and still try to dance around it in the garage, but I got a plan now. I think I got a way to go and where to get first calls and second calls from my local association. If I got anything left after that, I'll call you.

Jim: Well, call me, but I have no storage room, but I'll put it outside with my other equipment, stacked neatly in my bee yard.

Kim: Okay.

Jim: All right. That's it. Hey, everybody, thanks for listening. You got old equipment you want to get rid of, contact him, he’s going to have some storage space coming up.

Kim: [chuckles] All right, Jim, I'll talk to you later.

Jim: Bye-bye.

[00:14:53] [END OF AUDIO]