The Most Useful Tool You Can Own is Actually Made for Beehives

I don’t use it for whatever it’s designed for, but I do use it for nearly everything else.

Hive Tool
Photo: Courtesy of the retailer.

A serial do-it-yourselfer, I’m always in the middle of at least one home-improvement project. As a result, I’ve become reliant on several different hand tools and power tools. Some of my favorite tools were handed down to me by my father. Others I’ve bought along the way. Only one did I find at a beekeeping supply store.

It’s called a hive tool, and it’s designed for prying beehives apart or some such apiary activity. At least I assume that’s what it’s designed for. That’s not what I use it for at all. But I do I use it for nearly everything else.

Most pry bars are designed for demolition work, so they’re large, heavy, and unwieldy. The hive tool, by comparison, is 1.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches long, and it weighs only five ounces, so less than a slice of pizza. One end is bent at 90 degrees and beveled to a sharp edge. I’ve used that end to pry up hardwood flooring and chop boards into narrow pieces. The opposite end flares out and is ground down to an imperceptible thickness, perhaps less than 1/64 inch. It fits into the smallest cracks, so it’s great for removing room moldings, roof shingles and house siding without causing any damage. And it has a double-keyhole slot that’s great for extracting nails.

The key to the hive tool is its flexibility. It’s made from spring steel, which is nearly indestructible but still has some give. Unlike with a standard pry bar, which gets its strength from its weight, you can apply a tremendous amount to force to a hive tool without it snapping in two. When a traditional pry bar is too heavy or unwieldy for a task, a hive tool usually isn’t. It can split wood shingles, shim windows, spread spackling, smooth wet caulk, and scrape off hardened glue.

I actually use mine so much that I bought two: The first one stays at my workbench, and the second I carry in my toolbelt. There’s no way I could do that with a typical pry bar. At least not without bruising my thigh.

Beekeeping hive tool