Embarking on the journey of beekeeping? One of the first and most crucial investments you’ll need to make is in a bee suit. These protective outfits are worth their weight in gold, offering you the confidence and peace of mind that comes with minimizing the risk of stings!
Choosing between a beekeeping suit and jacket depends on your bees’ behavior, your local climate, and your personal comfort. Modern beekeeping suits are designed to keep bees from having direct access to your skin, but you’ll still need additional clothing underneath to prevent a bee’s stinger from reaching you.
Struggling to decide between a beekeeping suit or a jacket? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of information available to help you make an informed decision, and you might even change your mind along the way!
What’s The Difference?
Let’s be honest, beekeeping gear isn’t exactly high fashion. But who cares about style when you’re tending to your hives? Plus, there’s something undeniably charming about bee jackets with round hats and veils!
When it comes to your beekeeping attire, you have a few options. It’s recommended that all your bee gear zips together, so a suit and hood or jacket combination would be ideal.
The beauty of a jacket is its simplicity and ease of use compared to a full beekeeping suit. A zip-up jacket is much easier to get in and out of than the ones that pull over your head. Buying a size or two larger than you usually wear can also be beneficial, as it can fit over a heavy jacket during colder months.
A beekeeping jacket is a vital part of a beekeeper’s defense against bee stings. The jacket often resembles a parka or a firefighter jacket, but designs can vary. The best beekeeping jacket is one where a hat and a veil can be zipped together. This is practical, as you can easily unzip the hat and veil so that it can drop behind your head but still remain attached to your jacket!
Beekeeping jackets are made from a variety of materials, including aerated, polycotton, and other ventilated materials. The aerated bee jackets are made using polycotton fabric, with foam panels and mesh added to the chest and back area for extra airflow.
Polycotton bee jackets are made with a 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton. These materials are woven together using specific interlocking patterns that make it impossible for bee stings to penetrate your skin.
Meanwhile, ventilated bee jackets feature a 3D layer design and have 100% synthetic fabric on the outer side of the jacket. They also have a foam core that provides an air gap between the two different layers of fabric. This specific air gap is much thicker and longer than the length of a bee’s stinger, offering you full protection!
THE BEEKEEPING SUIT
A full bee suit has its own set of advantages. It provides one-piece coverage while keeping your regular clothes clean!
Beekeeping suits are the most comprehensive way to protect yourself. Full body bee suits are a favorite among experienced beekeepers and do an excellent job of protecting most of your body.
With full-body beekeeping suits, it’s crucial to ensure that there are no gaps at your feet or hands, so socks, boots, and gloves are a must.
A high-quality bee suit comes with a number of features to assist you as a beekeeper, including thumb ties for easy insertion into gloves, a sturdy front zipper, and a veil. It’s also beneficial if the suit has elasticated ankles for a snug fit around your socks or boots.
Many people wonder whether a beekeeping suit is necessary if they already own a beekeeping jacket. This is often due to factors like heat and comfort, as a beekeeping suit can get quite warm during the hotter months of the year.
Wearing any protective clothing can quickly make you break a sweat. If you find yourself rushing your hive inspections because you’re too hot, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities. Never rush a hive inspection- use your time wisely and efficiently, never cut it short because you’re uncomfortable!
To combat this common issue, beekeeping clothing is available with sufficient ventilated materials. It might seem counterintuitive that a material offering ventilation can also protect you from bee stings, but that’s where the magic of triply-ply materials comes in!
These materials work on the principle that bee stingers are larger than air molecules. Ventilated bee suits are available, and the difference in cost, compared to regular protective clothing like jackets, is not that significant, especially when you consider the many hours you’ll spend wearing the clothing as a beekeeper.
Additional Protective Gear
The Hat And Veil
The beekeeper hat protects the head, while the beekeeping veil shields the neck and face. These are critical and sensitive areas that need robust protection from potential bee attacks. A sting to these areas can cause severe swelling and pain, and can even be dangerous.
Whether you’re a seasoned beekeeper or a novice, we all know that our heads are the most critical areas to protect. The beekeeper hat alone doesn’t provide sufficient protection. That’s why a beekeeping hat should always be worn with a beekeeping veil.
Typically, the hat is covered by the veil on the outside to form a single piece. While the hat and the veil can be separated, it’s more practical to keep them together. One advantage of this hat and veil structure is that they can easily fasten to the beekeeper’s suit, making it impossible for any bee to enter.
Beekeeping gloves are typically worn with the beekeeping suit as they provide protection for the beekeeper’s hands. Bees can become easily agitated when there’s honey in their hives, so gloveless beekeepers should tread carefully.
It’s recommended to wear the appropriate protective gloves along with the suit for maximum protection. However, some beekeepers prefer not to use gloves for fear of accidentally squashing their bees. The downside to this is that you can easily get stung and suffer painful swelling.
If you’re allergic to bee stings, it’s never a good idea to inspect your beehives without proper protection, including gloves.
Beekeeper boots are the final accessory that complements your beekeeping suit. When harvesting honey, it’s common for bees to drop to the ground, crawl inside your clothes, and sting. This is where beekeeper boots come in handy.
These boots ensure that no bees can crawl up into your trousers and deliver their painful stings! The boots should always be worn with the rest of the accessories that make up the suit.
When shopping for beekeeper boots, it’s wise to choose those made from quality rubber because they’re incredibly durable and will last much longer.
WARNING: When Your Bee Suit Will Not Work
Imagine investing in a top-quality bee suit, only to find it’s not entirely effective. You might not be fully aware of how to wear, wash, or care for your bee suit correctly, and it could end up being a costly mistake if you don’t know how to maximize your bee suit’s effectiveness.
There are three instances when your bee suit won’t protect you. I’m not talking about attacks from killer bees, but rather stings during regular beekeeping activities. Let’s delve into this list:
When you don’t wear your suit.
It might seem obvious, but if you don’t wear your suit, it won’t protect you.
It’s easy to make excuses for not wearing your beekeeping suit. Perhaps you feel it takes too long to put on for the tasks you’re performing, or maybe it’s too hot.
Remember, bee gear is a fundamental part of beekeeping safety for both you and your bees. Take the time to suit up, and you’ll reap the benefits.
When you put on your gear but don’t ensure that it’s fully zipped up.
Many beekeepers juggle other jobs, like myself. Whether you’re beekeeping as a hobby or a full-time job, it’s important to stay calm, relaxed, and take the time to do things properly.
Not properly zipping up could lead to bees getting inside your suit, veil, shirt, or pants, and I think we can all agree that would be a rather unfortunate situation!
You’re not washing your gear correctly.
If a bee stings your suit or gets honey on it, you’ll become a magnet for other bees. The sting will put all the bees on high alert, and the honey on your suit will attract more bees to you.
That’s why it’s crucial to wash your suit and gear correctly; otherwise, you’ll get stung. You could even use the bee smoker on yourself or take a break to wash the stung area or the area covered in honey.
If you’re gearing up to start beekeeping, always ensure you’re wearing the right protective gear to safeguard yourself from potential bee attacks. Bee stings are not only painful, but bees can also be dangerous when they swarm. This is just one reason why beekeepers should always take precautions to ensure their safety.
With time, you’ll find what works best for you. You can speed up this process if you try on hats, veils, bee suits, and gloves before you buy them. If you have a local beekeeping supplier, you’ll be able to see and feel the gear before you buy. While physically going out to buy gear can be time-consuming, it’s the best option in the long run.
The best protection from bees is a complete beekeeper suit, complete with all its accessories such as gloves, a hat, a veil, a beekeeping jacket, and boots! Whatever option you choose, make sure it allows you some freedom of movement, so choosing one size up could be beneficial. And remember, if you think beekeeping is a fashion contest, you’re in the wrong hobby!
Title: Beekeeping Suit vs. Jacket: Making the Ideal Choice for You
Beekeeping, also known as apiculture, is a fascinating and rewarding practice that requires a careful approach towards the wellbeing of both the bees and the apiculturist. Moreover, beekeeping requires certain protective gear to ensure the safety of the beekeeper. Two of the predominant attire options include the full beekeeping suit and the beekeeping jacket. Making a choice between these two can be challenging for both beginner and veteran beekeepers alike due to the various factors involved. This article takes a comprehensive look at the key differences between the two to help you make an informed choice fitting your specific needs.
Understanding Beekeeping Suits
A beekeeping suit is essentially a full-body ensemble specially designed to protect from bee stings. It commonly includes a zip-on hooded veil to protect your face and neck, gloves to protect your hands and wrists, and often boot coverings for total body protection. Plenty of suits now are ventilated, which can provide a bearable environment when working in hotter temperatures.
Beekeeping suits are ideal for individuals working with more aggressive bee species like the Africanized bees or situations where disturbing the bee colony is unavoidable. A significant advantage of a suit is that it offers superior protection because all areas of your body are covered, minimizing the risk of stings.
Understanding Beekeeping Jackets
On the other hand, a beekeeping jacket is a simpler, lighter option. It looks very similar to an ordinary jacket, but with the addition of a zip-on hooded veil for face and neck protection. However, unlike the full-body suit, the jacket typically only covers the upper body and needs to be worn along with a pair of separate pants.
Beekeeping jackets are perfect for brief inspections and routine visits to the apiary. They are not only comfortable and easy to move in but also relatively cooler, making them the go-to choice for beekeepers in warmer climates or during hot summers. However, jackets lack the full-body protection suits offer, posing a higher possibility for stings on the lower body.
Making Your Choice
Your choice between a full beekeeping suit or a jacket should be drawn from assessing your individual needs, considering the type of bees you work with, climatic conditions, and the extent of protection you require.
For those working with gentler bee species or in apiaries populated by fewer hives, a beekeeping jacket may be sufficient. Similarly, if you only occasionally visit your apiary for routine checks, a jacket should suffice.
On the contrary, if you manage multiple bee colonies, frequently handle bees or work in an environment where bees’ aggressive behavior is anticipated, investing in a complete suit might be the smarter choice.
Furthermore, temperature regulation is crucial for comfort. If you live in a hotter region, you might want to consider a ventilated suit or a jacket for better breathability.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to choosing between a beekeeping suit and a jacket. Your choice should reflect your personal comfort, safety needs, and the specific requirements your beekeeping activities demand. Whichever you choose, remember, the goal is to safely and effectively tend to your bees without risking unnecessary harm to yourself or the bees. Make a mindful choice and ensure that your beekeeping journey is safe and enjoyable.